The Ostkreuz agency was founded when what was probably the most important border in the history of Germany–the Berlin Wall–disappeared. Two decades later, the agency’s photographers set out on a search for today’s frontiers. Their pictures tell of discovering a state identity in South Sudan; they portray groups of indigenous peoples battling for their land in Canada and gay people in Palestine seeking exile in the enemy country of Israel. The focus is always on people: how do boundaries influence their everyday lives, and how do they shape their lives along those that surround them?
On Thursday i was in Turin and visited For President at the Fondazione Sandretto Re Rebaudengo. The timely, informative and a tad star-struck exhibition examines the American election campaigns, its calculated emotional moments, theatrical strategies and incestuous relationship with media. Part of the show is also looking at the interest Italy (and with it, the rest of Europe) is having for the American event, from a very brief article on page 3 of a daily newspaper in 1868 to the current front pages
Our society is governed by all sorts of systems and structures that organise and steer life. No system, however, whether political, judicial, economical, socio-cultural or spatial, can comprise life in its entirety. Every system has gaps, leaks and ambiguities.
The artists in the exhibition Mind the System, Find the Gap seek out these gaps. They set forth from this intermediate position to unveil, circumvent or criticise ruling systems and structures
One of the current interests of the Office involves an ‘overt research’ that attempts to build up an alternative and experimental knowledge source about the UK’s “Dark Places”, the labs and facilities of advanced technological development which are often (purposefully or not) concealed, secret or inaccessible to the public
The Cold Coast Archive project investigates and explores human beings’ efforts to preserve civilization and defy the inevitability of its demise. We look at the vault as a whole: its practical, political, historical and symbolic structure, its arctic location, as well as its infrastructure and cultural nuances, with all the research concentrated at this site, as a backdrop to explore the human relationship to time between now and eternity
There’s an exhibition featuring sci-fi, history, video games, homosexuality, soap operas, censorship and a powerful sense of humour at Cornerhouse in Manchester right now. The show is called Subversion and it questions and knocks around whatever assumption you might have about an homogenous ‘Arab world’, whatever image politicians and the media might have given you about its culture and identity
The film that inspires you to google your name again….
My name is Janez Janša is a documentary film about names and name changes, focusing on one particular and rather unique name change that took place 5 years ago, when three artists officially changed their names into the name of the Prime Minister of Slovenia, Janez Janša
‘ZOO, or the letter Z, just after Zionism’ starts at page number 437 of ‘The Atlas of the Conflict’ and continues into a fascinating exploration of ideas, snapshots and associations, that could be raised once seeing a white donkey tied with a rope, covered with beige tape and being transformed into a zebra by a beautiful Palestinian boy
You might never have heard of Abkhazia and that’s probably because only a handful of countries regard it as an independent state.
Abkhazia broke away from Georgia after a short, violent civil war in ’92-’93 and only Russia, Venezuela, Nicaragua and the atoll of Nauru recognised it as independent state in 2008.
The artists spent four years witnessing and documenting the country’s attempts to repopulate with new immigrants a country that is ravaged by the war, almost empty and in great economic distress
Jeremy Deller does art outside galleries. It thrives in ‘low culture’ and it is usually ambitious, socially-engaged and unexpected. Indeed, most of his career is built on looking for art in the most unpredictable places, working with the public or with people who have particular knowledge or skill but who wouldn’t otherwise be associated with the contemporary art world. They include unemployed miners, brass bands, a campaign banner maker, fans of Depeche Mode, a glam rock wrestler, experts in re-enactments, etc. He even collaborated on an art project with nightclub owner and trendsetter Peter Stringfellow
Hexen 2.0 charts the coming together of diverse physical and social sciences in the framework of post-WWII US governmental and military imperatives. The art works represent Suzanne Treister’s research into the development of cybernetics, the history of the Internet, the rise of Web 2.0, mass intelligence gathering and the interconnected histories of the counterculture. Through her work she explores the implications of new systems of societal manipulation and the development of a ‘control society’ alongside historical and current responses to advances in technology
Yesterday evening i went to Foto8 in London again for the screening of How to Start a Revolution, a documentary tracing the global influence of Gene Sharp’s work. Sharp believes that non-violent struggle has a greater chance of success than violent resistance, because violence is typically the most powerful weapon used tyrannical regimes and they will always have the upper hand. His booklet From Dictatorship to Democracy provide a list of 198 “non-violent weapons”, including mock awards, alternative communication system, wearing of symbols, pray-in, boycott of elections, withdrawal of bank deposits, consumers’ boycott, renouncing honours, etc.
Weaponized Architecture is an examination of the inherent instrumentalization of architecture as a political weapon; research informs the development of a project which, rather than defusing these characteristics, attempts to integrate them within the scene of a political struggle. The proposed project dramatizes, through its architecture, a Palestinian disobedience to the colonial legislation imposed on its legal territory
The Nigerian photographer is one of those rare photo-reporters whose work is shown in newspapers as well as in art galleries around the world (you can check his photos right now in the Oil Show at HMKV in Dortmund). He was in London to discuss the Oil Rich Niger Delta series and his new book Delta Nigeria – The Rape of Paradise on the oil exploitation in the Delta region of his country
War veterans are homeless people too. They might go back to a house after the war, they might have a roof over their head but it doesn’t feel like home anymore. They are traumatized to various degrees and feel like they’ve become strangers to the place where they used to live. They don’t function like they used to. They have been conditioned to be constantly on alert, to react on the spot to any unexpected light, move, noise, etc. They can’t turn off that aggressive instinct when they go back to civilian life
Heath Bunting gives insight into the networks at play that constitute an identity, like banks, health care and education. By using these different networks Bunting creates new synthetic identities. In his ‘Identity Bureau’ one can purchase official and legal UK identities
Architecture of Fear explores how feelings of fear pervade daily life in the contemporary media society. The cause of fear seems interchangeable and constantly fluctuating. Shifting from one thing to the next, often relating to invisible or indirect phenomena’s (terrorism, viral diseases, pollution, financial crisis), anything has the ability to become a potential threat. Rather than an immediate emotional strategy for survival fear is becoming a constant low level feeling in the background that gives rise to a new global infrastructure based on security, prevention and risk-management
This morning i left London unimpressed by the Frieze art fair and took the train to Manchester. The lady at the hotel reception manages to wear two sets of fake eyelashes on top of each other, the weather is lovely and i’m following Creative Tourist’s recommendation to embark on a Manchester Weekender, three days of celebration of art, literature, music and performances. First stop, On the March – An exhibition of banners made by Ed Hall
Z33 in Hasselt, Belgium, has just opened an exhibition with a very promising title. Architecture of Fear explores how feelings of fear pervade daily life in the contemporary media society.
I’m going to visit it on Thursday but in the meantime i thought i’d ask one of the participating artists, Jill Magid, to tell us about the work she is showing at Z33 and more generally about her experience with impersonal power structures (police, intelligence agencies, security systems, etc.) which, whether they contribute to it or fight it, are part of this ‘architecture of fear.’
‘The Intel – Cyprus Merger’ showed how the world’s first merger of a country and a corporation might be possible, and advantageous for both parties. Moreover through the execution of due diligence, stakeholder engagement and communication, how such a merger could be enacted responsibly, and in the best interests of both, or how at least it might appear so
The exhibition presents the provocative idea that art and journalism are two sides of a unique activity; the production and distribution of images and information. The exhibition brings to the surface how images and information are communicated, and the aesthetic principles used in the act of transmission
This book explores the current interrelationship between art, activism, and politics. It presents new visual concepts and commentaries that are being used to represent and communicate emotionally charged topics, thereby bringing them onto local political and social agendas in a way far more powerful than words alone. It looks at how art is not only reflecting and setting agendas, but also how it is influencing political reaction
Currently on view at Tate Modern’s Level 2 Gallery, Out of Place features four artists who explore the relationship between dominant political forces and personal and collective histories by looking at urban space, architectural structures and the condition of displacement
This book investigates this urge for the pure, but also advocates a much deeper need for the impure, not to reinstate a new organicism or back-to-nature movement, but to trace progression to a point where all modernist values reverse, where technology becomes an agent for the impure and the imperfect. Technology, long an agent for homogeneity and purity, is now turning into one for heterogeneity and global contingency
Guantanamo: If the light goes out illustrates three experiences of home: at Guantanamo naval base, home to the American community; in the camp complex where the detainees have been held; and in the homes where former detainees, never charged with any crime, find themselves trying to rebuild lives. These notions of home are brought together in an unsettling narrative, which evokes the process of disorientation central to the Guantanamo interrogation and incarceration techniques. It also explores the legacy of disturbance such experiences have in the minds and memories of these men
Arctic Perspective uses media art and the research of artists to investigate the complicated, global, cultural, and ecological interrelations in the Arctic, and to develop concepts for constructing tactical communications systems and a mobile, eco-friendly research station, which will support interdisciplinary and intercultural collaborations
The exhibition brought together Israeli artists who explore the daily struggle to define and stretch the boundaries of the territory. Obviously, the word ‘territory’ in Israel comes with tense references to occupied stretches of land such as the ones in the West Bank and the Gaza strip. The term also evokes Israeli settlements on Palestinian land, check points, separation walls, disputed borders, forced evictions, etc. The artists in the exhibition, however, approach territory in a more private context
Over 500 maps and diagrams provide a detailed territorial analysis of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, explored through themes such as borders, settlements, land ownership, archaeological and cultural heritage sites, control of natural resources, landscaping, wars and treaties. A lexicon provides a commentary on the conflict from various perspectives. As a whole, the book offers insights not only into the specific situation of Israel-Palestine, but also into the phenomenon of spatial planning used as a political instrument
Since the early days of photography, critics have told us that photos of political violence – of torture, mutilation, and death – are exploitative, deceitful, even pornographic. To look at these images is voyeuristic; to turn away is a gesture of respect. With “The Cruel Radiance”, Susie Linfield attacks those ideas head-on, arguing passionately that viewing such photographs – and learning to see the people in them – is an ethically and politically necessary act that connects us to our modern history of violence and probes our capacity for cruelty
The exhibition explores portraiture and the representation of political, economical and social power in the contemporary world through the works of contemporary artists. Portraits of famous political figures, investigations into the lifestyle of the social elite, as well as inquiries into the power structures of international institutions
To many of their fellow Israelis, they are traitors. They are attacked, arrested and demonised. Yet Israelis like Yehuda Shaul, leader of Breaking the Silence and Jonathan Pollack from Anarchists Against the Wall continue to struggle for a more peaceful Middle East. They believe that they can save their state by putting an end to the military occupation
Hwang Kim’s sbtly subversive fake documentary aims to introduce North Koreans to diverse aspects of western culture: pizza, Christmas, suitcase packing and dancing on pop music. The film also explores how design can contribute and impact on a social and cultural level, subtly challenging an ideological status quo
Conflict Kitchen is a take-out restaurant that only serves cuisine from countries that the United States is in conflict with. The food is served out of a take-out style storefront, which will rotate identities every 4 months to highlight another country. Each Conflict Kitchen iteration will be augmented by events, performances, and discussion about the culture, politics, and issues at stake with each county we focus on
In the controversial contemporary reality the online platform “Esse, Nosse, Posse: Common Wealth for Common People” focuses on “posse”, on the mode of production and being not only of the creators presented within this context but of all the contributors of today’s common wealth , as well as on the possibilities of re-appropriation of knowledge that may occur only through knowledge itself
Emily Jacir’s public intervention for the Venice Biennale was canceled by the municipal authorities without explanation. Stazione would have seen the 24 piers for the Route 1 water bus (the vaporetto that starts at the Lido stop and ends at Piazzale Roma) display the names of the stops in both Arabic and Italian, creating a bilingual transportation route up and down the Grand Canal. The Alberto Peola gallery in Turin is showing what the work would have looked like
Refuge – Architectural Propositions for Unbound Spaces explores the causes and spatial impact of migration through voluntary or involuntary “refugees” who are transforming cities around the globe. Individuals or groups are elegantly or forcefully encapsulated from within the context of the city and society. Refuge produces an ever more atomized urban tissue where the “camp” has become both spatial paradigm and everyday reality, be it in the form of a gated community, slum, or humanitarian refugee camp
The installation echoes the artist’s concern for the relentless threats against Iran made by many countries in recent years. Sentences that include “attack Iran” are scavenged from Google News and spoken using a text-to-speech synthesizer. The voice is then picked up by a microphone, analyzed, and translated into rhythmically corresponding smoke rings from a quartet of smoke ring makers
Laboral Centro de Arte y Creación Industrial in Gijón has opened a very very good exhibition a few days ago. ‘FEEDFORWARD – The Angel of History’ addresses the current moment in history where the wreckage of political conflict and economic inequality is piling up, while globalized forces–largely enabled by the “progress” of digital information technologies–inexorably feed us forward. I’ll write about it in details in the near future but i’d like to share with you straight away one of the most interesting artworks i’ve discovered there
Whether it’s from a hotel room in Vegas, secret prisons in Kabul, buried CIA aircraft in Central American jungles, Washington, D.C., suburbs, or a trailer in Shoshone Indian territory, Paglen’s reporting is impassioned, rigorous, relentless–and eye-opening. Blank Spots on the Map is an exposé of a world that, officially, isn’t even there
The audio file of a lecture by Prof. Wendy Brown who explains how the building of walls around the world today is so starkly at odds with images of a world that is ever more connected & unbordered. Bonus! Videos of Shooting Back, the project of an Isreali NGO that gives Palestinian families across the West Bank video cameras to document how they are treated by Israeli soldiers and settlers