Mark your calendars and join us in Mexico City! From 8-12 June 2010, Storefront for Art and Architecture, in partnership with Museo Experimental El Eco, Tomo and Domus Magazine, will host the third edition of Postopolis!, a public five-day session of conversations curated by bloggers from the fields of architecture, art, urbanism, landscape, art, music and design.
Gosh i'm so happy to be part of the Postopolis! adventure again. The first edition was held in NYC at Storefront's gallery space. Last year we had a stellar cast (will definitely miss Bryan, Dan, Geoff, David and David who could not make it this time) and were freezing our typing fingers on the rooftop of the spectacular and very chichi Standard hotel in downtown Los Angeles. This year, it's the courtyard of the Museo Experimental El Eco that will host our informal discussions, interviews, slideshows, presentations, films and panels focusing on an interdisciplinary approach of architecture and urban space.
Every evening we will be interviewing some of Mexico Cityʼs most influential thinkers and practitioners - including architects, city planners, artists and urban theorists but also military historians, filmmakers, photographers, activists and musicians. The talks will be conducted in either Spanish or English, and translations will be available.
After each session some of Mexico Cityʼs most influential music bloggers will host an after-party.
Ah! a thank you to our beloved and esteemed sponsors: Mexicana, the British Embassy, Urbi VidaResidencial, UNAM, Difusión Cultural UNAM, el Museo Experimental El Eco, Cityexpress and XXLager (i take it we'll get free drinks then?)
Craftwerk 2.0: New Household Tactics for the Popular Crafts, an exhibition curated by Clara Åhlvik and Otto von Busch for the Jönköping county museum in Sweden, has been prolonged to March 21, 2010.
I'm going to get out of my comfort zone and write about an exhibition which, alas!, i haven't visited. Still i felt the post was due because 1. god knows if i'll ever set foot in Jönköping to report about this show or any other one for that matter, 2. Craftwerk presents the work of talented Swedish (and non-Swedish) artists/crafters i might otherwise never have got to know.
The pieces on display -whether they stem from activism, relate to techno-enhanced textiles, or are objects anyone can buy on Etsy- challenge today's conceptions of economy, durability, sustainability as well as the public's expectation of what art and design can be. Interestingly, the title of the exhibition plays on the idea that Alexander Dorner, director of the Hannover Museum during the 1920's, had of a modern museum. He defined it as a Kraftwerk, a dynamic and flexible powerhouse that would embrace other fields and disciplines and consequently function as a bridge between the art and society as a whole while. That's exactly what the workshops, lectures and the Craftwerk exhibition at the Jönköping County Museum are trying to achieve.
Over the last decade there has been a surge in crafts among young practitioners, often combined with political aspirations and networked efforts over the internet. From being a personal hobby the textile crafts have gone public and methods, techniques and tools are shared among users in ways similar to what we have seen in internet phenomena like Facebook and Wikipedia.
Craftwerk 2.0 explores the new "updated" textile crafts that are developed by a new generation of serious amateurs, innovative craftsmen, engaged entrepreneurs and political practitioners. Once again the home is the workshop where economic and ecologic innovation happens - not only in the labs of the industrial expertise. After decades of outsourcing, the new modes of production are in the hands of the layperson.
Now how about a few works and artists i've discovered while reading about the exhibition?
Ulrika Erdes has been embroidering on bus seats as a means to reclaim public space with textile crafts and to bring more feminine expressions into a cold functionalist and masculine world. You're invited to be take her cross-stitch patterns on the bus with you today!
Rüdiger Schlömer's Schalalala is a a fan scarf remix project. Using the Remix-Interface software, football team fans can mix and match elements of existing scarves to create individualized knitted fanscarvess. Et voilà! The humble fan scarf becomes a social media in itself. Schlömer created a special edition of fan scarf letter archive especially for the workshops at the exhibition, using the typographies of popular local teams.
The number you can read on the first hand of the Body Count Mittens is 1524, it's the number of American casualties in Iraq on March 23, 2005, the day Lisa Anne Auerbach started knitting the mittens. 8 days later she began the second mitten. The number had jumped to 1533. The amount is much higher now.
Zoe Sheehan bought for a few dollars a series of garments at Wal-Mart, copied them by hand, using matching pattern, fabric, and embellishments. She then sew the tags from the original item into the duplicate and 'shopdropped' it on the Wal-Mart rack for potential sale at the original price.
In 2008, there were a number of squats all over Sweden as a protest to the housing shortage, in particular in biggest cities. "Cross Stitch Ninja" a.k.a. Maria Halvarson (part of the famed online collective Radical Cross Stitch) decided to make a cross stitch based on a photo from an article about one of these squatting actions. The text on the banner says "Homes For All".
Views of the exhibition space:
Craftwerk 2.0: New Household Tactics for the Popular Crafts exhibition will continue until March 21st at the Jönköping county museum (Sweden.)
Related exhibitions: Diritto Rovescio, Threads that weave art, design and mass creativity, Pricked: Extreme Embroidery and Delirious knitting show at Craft Council.
First the usual warning: i don't do announcements and i don't copy/paste PR material but i also like to find exceptions to the rule.
Ulla Taipale who runs Capsula, a unique programme about the intersection of art, science and nature, has set up a fantastic series of talks, workshops and field trips called Herbologies/Foraging Networks together with Andrew Gryf Paterson and Signe Pucena. The sessions are kicking out next month during the Pixelache festival (btw, check out their ongoing call for applications.)
Now comes the copy-paste party!
The Herbologies/Foraging Networks programme of events, focused in Helsinki (Finland) and Kurzeme region of Latvia, explores the cultural traditions and knowledge of herbs, edible and medicinal plants, within the contemporary context of online networks, open information-sharing, biological and hydroponic technologies.
The traditions of finding and knowing about wild food in the local Nordic environment are slipping away from the current generation. How can one attract their attention? With books, online maps, workshops, mobile-guided tours, open-source information or DNA code? Or learn how to grow them yourself, over the dark winter months?
The Pixelache Festival events introduce the different meeting points between the three collaborating partners, including seminar presentations by international artists and Finnish botanical experts; workshops sharing that knowledge with the public; a round-table discussion about foraging in the urban context; and a localised manifestation of the Windowfarms Project (US).
Following, in a pre-midsummer expedition to rural Rucava in Kurzeme, Western Latvia, SERDE Interdisciplinary Art Group will lead fieldwork to learn about the cultural heritage of Balts using wild plants, and create documents for the younger 'digital native' generation.
PIXELACHE PROGRAMME OF EVENTS
As part of Pixelversity.
Saturday-Sunday 20-21.2.2010, Kiasma 'taka-ikkuna', 12.00-18.00.
Participatory workshop open for people to attend (as part of Pixelversity). Construction led by Mikko Laajola (FI), Niko Punin (FI), Andrew Gryf Paterson (SCO/FI), Ulla Taipale (FI) + other enthusiasts.
As part of Pixelache Helsinki Festival.
Friday 26.3.2010, Kerava Art Museum (Camp Pixelache), time to be confirmed.
Contribution to DIY/Bio-tech/Open-source Hardware themes with short presentation by Niko Punin (FI) of 'LetsGrowIt' and remote/recorded presentation by Britta Riley (US) about the Windowfarms Project.
Saturday 27.3.2010, Kiasma Seminar Room, 13.00-16.45.
Herbologies/Foraging Networks Seminar
Introduction to full Herbologies/Foraging Networks programme (10mins)
*Urban Space* (1hr 15 mins)
*Information & Sharing* (1hr 30 mins)
Saturday 27.3.2010, Kiasma Seminar Room, 17.30-18.30.
VivoArts Workshop with Adam Zaretsky (US)
American bio-artist Adam Zaretsky will lead a performative workshop inviting to get involved with plant DNA using DIY methods and household implements.
Sunday 28.3.2010, Botanical Garden Kaisaniemi (Linkola & Elfving Rooms), 11.00-14.00.
Wild plant expert Ossi Kakko (FI) and artist-producer Signe Pucena (LV) will share traditional methods for processing herbs through fermentation (villivihannesten hapatuskurssi) and vodka tincture-making respectively.
Sunday 28.3.2010, Kiasma 'taka-ikkuna', 18.00-19.00.
Windowfarms Project Closing
Dismantling event with music.
MIDSUMMER EXPEDITION TO KURZEME, LATVIA
In collaboration with Centre for Interdisciplinary Arts SERDE (LV),
Expedition to Rucava, June 20-25, 2010.
An expedition of fieldwork will take place in Rucava, Kurzeme region, building upon SERDE's experience of engaging cultural heritage subjects as an arts organisation. Here the Herbologies/Foraging Networks project aims to preserve and document traditional cultural values related to herb-gathering in Latvia, promoting and developing a more diverse society than the traditional understanding of the cultural manifestations of the past and today, the identification and assignment needs.
Several persons from the assembled network: Kultivator (SE), Klaipeda Cultural Communication Centre (LT), Ossi Kakko (FI) as well as coordinators Andrew Gryf Paterson (SCO/FI) and Ulla Taipale (FI), are invited to Latvia from Sweden, Finland and Lithuania, along with Latvian experts, cultural workers and other documenters.
'Documentation Sprint', SERDE Art Residency Centre, Aizpute, June 26-30 2010.
Using a method from extreme software development and project management, 'Sprints' produce collectively-made artefacts (software, manuals, etc.) quickly over a set period of time.
In this case, several of the key invited collaborators will be invited to stay longer, to write up the fieldwork in the form of stories, charts, manuals, recipies, reports, diagrams, and process media or data. Several information and media experts will be invited from Riga to help with the process, as well as nomination of persons who would translate as much textual content as possible into the different regional languages (Latvian, Lithuanian, Russian, Finnish, Swedish, English).
The ambition of the sprint will be to make a proof layout of a new 'Traditional Booklet', published by SERDE, and online documentation, to be ready in September 2010.
Expressions of interest to join the expedition should be sent to herbologies [-at-] pixelache.ac by 30th April 2010.
Previously: Interview with Ulla Taipale from Capsula, Day 1 at the VivoArts School for Transgenic Aesthetics: Seed broadcasting workshop. Photo on the homepage: Big Window Farm at Eyebeam.
While in Athens, i checked out the Mark Amerika retrospective at The National Museum of Contemporary Art. How could i miss it? I knew so little about Amerika, an artist who, as the press release reminds, had been described as one of the "Time Magazine 100 Innovators" of the 21st century.
Amerika describes himself as a "thoughtographer", an "artist-medium", a "fictional philosopher", a "remixologist", a "network conductor", a wonderer who constantly changes identities and roles in a fragmentary world where time acquires an a-synchronic and non real dimension. By trying to express the complexity and the interest of contemporary digital reality, he delves into different aspects of himself and draws on elements and traits that he transfers to the characters of his works, by using the media the technological platforms of our time. Developing projects on the net, filming with mobile phones, remixing common moments and figures of today`s culture in an VJ-like audiovisual rhythm, Amerika redifines the characteristics of today's culture and opens up the possibilities for new interpretations and thoughts from the audience itself.
What is sure is that he's probably the only net artist who is not only responsible for a publication that Publishers Weekly described as "the literary publishing model of the future" but also the director of a feature-length film shot entirely on mobile phone. After having seen the digital videos -Society of the Spectacle (A digital Remix) is particularly good- and internet artworks on show at the museum, i feel more puzzled than ever. It's one of those shows that require a second viewing (at least in my case) because everything doesn't come to you at the first visit. Just like the OK TEXTS printed on stickers and hidden under the steps of the stairs when you go downstairs to see the Amerika retrospective. I only saw them on my way out of the museum.
I copy/pasted a couple of them below:
We cannot process your information. Your information is corrupt and needs cleansing. Erase brain?
An error has been detected in your consciousness. All source-code is corrupt. Continue?
Revolutionary double-speak has engendered a new information war. The system is about to crash. Download drugs now?
The application could not be opened because your genetic code is dysfunctional. Abort?
A cyborg orgy is not valid. Only digicash transactions are available at this time. Would you like to pay for the privilege?
The network is monitoring your Digital Being. Create alias?
This document wants to blow you. Go to finder?
A transfer of $247,789.40 is about to download. Are you sure you want to disconnect?
At least, I'll get a second chance with the online works which EMST has listed on one of its webpages and made accessible to visitors in their Media Lounge.
P.S. You can also see Immobilité Remixes at the Vivo Arte.Mov festival in Belo Horizonte, Brazil, on November 12 - 15, 2009.
I normally don't blog about events i can't attend but some cultural initiatives call for exceptions. Cruel Weather. Arab Middle East Film Festival is a festival of recent film/video from the Arab Middle East that opens in Aberdeen on October 2 and will move to other Scottish cities afterward. In parallel with the movie, Peacock Visual Arts is setting up Identities in Motion, an exhibition of Ayah Bdeir's work, a media artist whose ingenious and sometimes tongue-in-cheek projects invite us to have another look at media's tendency to flatten the Arab identity and reduce it to a set of cliche images and iconographies.
Cruel Weather explores artistic responses to crisis and the role of the moving image in today's Middle East. The festival showcases a series of award-winning documentaries, experimental and mixed genre works, many of which have never before been screened in Scotland.
Why did you call the festival "Cruel Weather"?
I hope it's an imaginative title. There is a sort of maelstrom going on in the Middle East, and it's cruel in that much of this suffering is avoidable. Although many of us may feel disconnected from it, it is directly related to U.S. and U.K. actions, and the acquiescence of the E.U. I have a writer friend in New York who feels when she's going down the street as if she is walking on corpses, but a profound dissociation is far more typical.
How did you get to be involved in films from Arab Middle East?
I've been involved in Palestinian solidarity work of one kind or another from the late '80s on. It was the theme of an issue of the magazine I did at one time, Red Bass, in 1988, and then a book anthology I edited that was published in 1993. At first it was a matter of competing representations, since the Palestinian struggle on film was rare at one point, and Palestinian filmmaking a small handful of people, whereas now there are widening developments, and remarkable talents like Elia Suleiman who take things to another level altogether.
"Cruel Weather" is in another period and concerns itself with another matter: it is not an issue so much of righting or balancing the censorship of points of view (not that this is resolved, far from it, especially in countries like the United States), but of providing a glimpse of a very inventive and wide-ranging creativity that has gained momentum especially just in the past decade.
It's hard not to detect some political undertones in the festival's programme. Do you expect Cruel Weather to stir controversy?
It would be very controversial in much of the U.S. and England, but there is a different political complexion in Scotland (due to its own colonized history perhaps?). There could still be a backlash, but I've only seen very solid support for this idea. It is also meeting a real need, since to our knowledge (and those of our partners in Glasgow, Edinburgh, and Dundee), none of these works have been screened here before.
The films you selected speak of dynamism, hip hop music, culture jamming, future, etc. They explore several regions of Arab Middle East. How did you choose the movies to be presented in the festival?
I remained with the work from the Levant and Egypt, because I'm most familiar with that, also being mindful of the limitations of our resources and time, since there are many films emerging from the Middle East, and video is a tool used across the region. I also think much of the best work has come from those spots, although what the festival often reflects is more of a thoroughly globalized poetics of location from artists on the move rather than specific geography. I feel the selection is somewhat unpredictable and quirky (Roy Samaha's video is inspired as much by William Burroughs' "cut ups" and Carlos Castaneda as contemporary Beirut, Chahine's "Chaos" is not one of his best received films, other films have a raw and improvisatory quality, while "Slingshot Hiphop" is a very assured first feature from Jackie Salloum), even while including some of the usual suspects.
Slingshot Hip Hop trailer:
Could you tell us a few words about the state of cinema making in Palestine? Are there organizations, structures and schools for documentary, animation and feature-film directors in the country?
There have been initiatives like the Cinema Production and Distribution Centre, started by filmmaker Rashid Masharawi in 1996, there is a virtual gallery at Birzeit University, and a number of filmmaking collectives, of which Annemarie Jacir's Palestinian Filmmakers Collective is only the best known; foundations like the A.M. Qattan Foundation, support residencies and awards and training for young artists, including filmmakers. But I think largely the infrastructure is still very embryonic, and most filmmakers study in the metropolises to learn their trade, and bring that knowledge back home to bear on its current realities.
An exhibition of artist Ayah Bdeir accompanies the festival. Can you tell us something about the works selected for the show? How does her exhibition complement the film festival?
Ayah Bdeir was the choice of the outgoing curator at Peacock Visual Arts, Monika Vykoukal, and I think she is a perfect choice in her play with cultural expectations, her diversity, inventiveness and range, which goes from animation and visuals for music concerts (such as Guy Manoukian's August 9 at Beiteddine, Lebanon outside Beirut) to electronic lingerie (Teta Haniya's Secrets).
Bdeir was born in Montreal but grew up in Beirut, and is currently a senior fellow at Eyebeam in New York; the issue of 'tradition' and identities and their relations with the metropolis are all foregrounded and problematized in her work, as they have to be. Bdeir participates in this very radical questioning of identity (for example in Jayce Salloum's "there is no Arab art") or probing the "withdrawal" of tradition (as in Jalal Toufic's writings) that is also central to the film and video artists presented here. As Toufic has written, "We do not go to the West to be indoctrinated by their culture, for the imperialism, hegemony of their culture is nowhere clearer than here in developing countries." I think Bdeir's work often traffics in this counter-intuitive and shifting relation of centre/periphery, in the electronically-hacked items in her The Arab Store, for instance.
See also Jay Murphy's essay about Cruel Weather (PDF).
Previous entries about Ayah Bdeir's work: littleBits, pre-engineered circuit boards connected by tiny magnets, SP4M. D0 Y OU SWA1LOW? and Underwear for airport searches. Also this interview with the artist at How to Win.
In his book Gramophone, Film, Typewriter, Friedrich Kittler draws parallels between the introduction of a new media and spiritism. The Morse alphabet was quickly adopted in seances of spiritism to converse with the deceased. On some photographic plates one could sometimes discern the face of a ghosts. In 1893, Edison described the 10 uses he imagined for the phonogram and one of them was to record 'the last words of dying persons'.
'Awake Are Only the Spirits' - On Ghosts and Their Media, an exhibition currently open at HMKV (Hartware MedienKunstVerein) in Dortmund, explores the presence of the supernatural, the manifestations of spirits, and (trans)communication with the beyond facilitated by technical media.
Curated by Inke Arns and Thibaut de Ruyter, the show aims to tell a 'ghost story' that explores the question of why, for all our enlightenment, irrational capabilities are regularly ascribed to the new media and technologies of a given time - for instance, the ability to act as a channel for messages from the beyond. The projects exhibited question the existence of ghosts, they explore the integration of new media and technologies in spiritualist contexts, make visible or perceptible the invisible and trace the political implications as well as the aesthetics of such contemporary transcommunication phenomena.
The selection of works is exceptional. It might sometimes seem that i'm disillusioned with media art and indeed i'm not finding much pleasure anymore in works and exhibitions that are more the result of techno-fetishism than of a meaningful and far-reaching reflection on technology. 'Awake Are Only the Spirits' has everything that makes me enthusiastic about media. The exhibition manages to be intelligent, spectacular (starting with walls painted in a mystic purple hue) and engaging in spite of what would look at first sights as a rather puzzling focus. 'Awake Are Only the Spirits' doesn't just introduce you to some exciting artworks, it also makes you question your beliefs and your perception of the world.
One of the starting points of the exhibition at HMKV is the audiotape archive of Friedrich Jürgenson who discovered in 1959 the Electronic Voice Phenomenon (EVP), electronically captured sounds that resemble speech, but are not the result of intentional voice recordings. In the 1950s, the painter, film producer and archaeologist found traces of extra voices on tapes with which he was trying to record birdsongs. He believed the voices were coming "from the other side." Over the years, Jürgensen made thousands of recordings of the voices of the dead, from his family to Vincent van Gogh and even Himmler's masseur.
Jürgenson died in 1987 but the hundreds of tapes he recorded have been preserved, archived at the ZKM in Karlsruhe and are now part of the exhibition 'Awake Are Only the Spirits'. The other archive in the show is the one of an anonymous Aachen-based researcher who recorded images of deceased persons he believed were appearing on a running tv set.
In the early '80s deceased relatives of Klaus Schreiber informed him via EVP: 'We're on television, too'. Thanks to much efforts, money and time, Schreiber developed a method based on video feedback for distilling relatively clear images of his loved ones -including his two deceased wives- from the inﬁnite expanses of bleary reﬂections. The Archive of an Anonymous Ghost-Seer curated by Hans W. Koch and presented at HMKV bears witness to this process.
Donald Judd Faces of Death, by Joep van Liefland, responds directly to Schreiber's findings on Instrumental Transcommunication (ITC). A large silkscreen poster displaying the blown-up image of a scrambled TV screen evokes the untuned screens where Schreiber used to see faces. Watch it as much as you want, no face ever turns up on Van Lieﬂand's installation. Not even on the video that is also part of the work. The installation also features an object made out of empty and glossy video cassette boxes, is an ironic take on Abstract Minimalism and Pop Art.
For some time, it was even rumoured that Black Sabbath's song-Into The Void contained secret Satanic messages if played backwards. Jason and Lucas Ajemian transcribed the music and text of the track to create a new version, a project called Out of Nowhere/From Beyond. In the new version, the track is played backwards by a ten-piece orchestra with Jason Ajemian as the conductor and his brother singing phonetically in reverse.
Video of the artists discussing the idea and preparation behind From Beyond:
The performance was documented on video, but you can also get your hands on an audio recording pressed into 10-inch vinyl record. HMKV is also exhibiting the score printed on plexiglass as well as an original Black Sabbath cover splashed with Yves Klein blue as a reference to Klein's work with voids.
The International Necronautical Society (INS), a pseudobureaucratic organization founded in London in 1999, aims to examine radio in all its (necro-)poetical and also political aspects.
Black Box is comprised of a series of texts compiled by the author Tom McCarthy from local Dortmund radio shows, newspapers, and weather reports. These were transcribed and recorded onto a black box, from which the text lines are transmitted twenty-four hours a day via ultra-short wave (USW) which can be received in the vicinity of the PHOENIX Halle.
Nina Fischer & Maroan El Sani
Fischer and El Sani took pictures of abandoned rooms which had been maintained throughout time. The site is represented from two viewpoints: colour photography shows the visible, whereas high-frequency photography depicts phenomena that usually remain invisible to the human eye. The photos refer to a 19th century belief that psychological activity generated discharges which could be recorded later. Could former occupants of the room really have left something there?
Kathrin Günter has invented a number of so-called 'intraocular light eye cameras', portable devices consisting of a Polaroid camera back mounted on a small black box which is strapped over the user's head. Günter's Polaroids are thus produced by the light emanating from the sitter's eyes. The resulting picture is inﬂuenced by the interferences that occur during the 'transmission' process of the image from the retina to the instant photographic paper. Visitors are invited to wear the camera and record the images that have accumulated in their eyes.
The exhibition continues until 18 October 2009 at Hartware Medienkunstverein Phoenix Halle, Dortmund, Germany. It is accompanied by a series of film screenings, lectures and workshops. Check out the HMKV website for more details. More images on flickr, Derwesten and HMKV.
Related: Spy Numbers at the Palais de Tokyo, an exhibition inspired by the shortwave radio stations that broadcast artificially generated voices mysteriously reading streams of numbers, words, letters, tunes or Morse code.