Meeting Points is a multidisciplinary contemporary arts festival focusing on contextualised presentations of art from the Arab World. The 7th edition of Meeting Points is a series of successive exhibitions, taking place from September 2013 to June 2014 in several cities of Europe, Asia and the Arab World: Zagreb, Antwerp, Hong Kong, Moscow, Beirut, Cairo and Vienna. In comparison with previous versions of Meeting Points, this sequence of exhibitions takes a step out of the Arab World – in terms of the cities where they take place, the list of participating artists and the general stance to refrain from national or regional representation.
This is very much to do with timing. The process of organising Meeting Points 7 coincided with the aftermath of the popular rebellion that has been shaking the Arab World since 2011, and also with the rise of various other social movements across the world. The last two years have been a time of intense public discussion about the existing social and economic system.
The events that took place, and continue to take place, have been celebrated as indications that political movements of a new kind – without hegemonic organisation or charismatic leadership – are emerging, promising alternative routes to emancipation. Yet these have also been decried as failed revolutions, allowing for speedy conservative restoration through an intact coercive apparatus, or, even worse, descending into chaos and ethnic and religious strife.
The recent uprisings in the Arab World are of specific interest within the narrative of progressive revolutions in the 20th century. Although their ultimate political outcomes are to be assessed, they reopened the question of how to think revolutions historically and politically – a question that had been suppressed for decades by neoliberalism after the defeats suffered by the leading oppositional ideologies. The Arab revolutions have also functioned as test-sites for the sharing of new political experiences across geographies.
The title of this exhibition is a quote from the revolutionary philosopher Frantz Fanon’s book Wretched of the Earth, written in 1961 as a reflection on Algeria’s liberation from French colonial rule, whose title, in turn, quotes the opening lines of the Internationale, the song of the world workers’ movement.
Fanon’s reflections on the anti-colonial struggle, his unforgivingly critical analysis of how nationalist movements behave once they are in power, his assessment of violence, the central importance he assigns to class struggle, his characterisation of the urbanised Lumpenproletariat as the “spearhead of the revolutionary movement”, his endorsement of international consciousness against the exclusiveness of identity politics, and of organisational structures as safeguards against the “pitfalls of spontaneity” – all this might be fruitfully employed for assessing not only the recent mass mobilisation in the Arab World, but also the events unfolding internationally since the beginning of capitalism’s latest structural crisis.
As an exhibition title, the phrase Ten thousand wiles and a hundred thousand tricks refers only indirectly to Fanon’s analysis of the passage from colonialism to neo-colonialism and the transformation of anti-colonial revolutionaries into the administrators of a post-colonial order, but it does use his insight to assess the role of middle classes in today’s movements and configurations, including the new globalised class of artists, curators and intellectuals. Similarly, the “wiles and tricks” make us think of the many creative counterstrategies for exposing, recycling and subverting oppressive infrastructures, which have erupted in recent protests and uprisings and forged new alliances between political activism and aesthetic gestures. Yet the exhibition itself is not an attempt to highlight or archive these outstanding episodes of our time. “Wiles and tricks”, rather, allude to the ever-shifting ground of complex, unfinished social processes that we see in the Arab revolutions and in the current radical reconfiguration of capitalist development throughout the world.
Ten thousand wiles and a hundred thousand tricks forays into the interwoven topics of revolution and counter-revolution, agency and co-optation, in an attempt to show how the waves of hope rise and sink again – the rhythm of expectation and disappointment. It does so in an attempt to point out our need for stubbornness and endurance in critical times, and to claim our right to optimism, wrestling it back from the language of advertising so that it may once again offer us new alternatives and perspectives.
Elaborating degrees of identity and difference between the past and the present, the exhibition adjusts to the specific geographies and histories in which it will be realised. It juxtaposes recent works by contemporary artists and filmmakers with historical positions. At M HKA both these aspects of the exhibition are illuminated by a selection of works from the museum’s collection. A variety of artworks are presented within an exhibition format imagined as a forum for critical pedagogy. Ten thousand wiles and a hundred thousand tricks believes in the explanatory power of images across cultures and time and understands the realm of images as a social location capable of mobilising ideas.
Meeting Points is a series of events organized by the Young Arab Theatre Fund that aims to create connections and interactions among artists from the region.
In 2004 and the beginning of 2005, YATF organized three main multidisciplinary events in Amman, Cairo, Alexandria and Tunis as part of its series of events under the same title “Meeting Points”. The events included visual arts exhibitions and installations, theatre and contemporary dance performances, video art and music.
In 2005, YATF organized the major event “Meeting Points 4” touring simultaneously in seven cities: Damascus, Beirut, Amman, Cairo, Alexandria, Minia and Tunis. The event promoted seventeen artists from Syria, Lebanon, Jordan, Palestine, Iraq, Tunisia and Egypt.
Since 2007 and Meeting Points 5, the event takes the shape of an international touring biannual program, presenting artists from all over the World in different cities.
Each consecutive edition is programmed by a different guest curator.
What, How & for Whom / WHW is a curatorial collective formed in 1999 and based in Zagreb and Berlin. Its members are Ivet Ćurlin, Ana Dević, Nataša Ilić and Sabina Sabolović, and designer and publicist Dejan Kršić. WHW organizes a range of production, exhibition and publishing projects and directs Gallery Nova in Zagreb. What, how and for whom, the three basic questions of every economic organization, concern the planning, concept and realization of exhibitions as well as the production and distribution of artworks and the artist's position in the labor market. These questions formed the title of WHW's first project dedicated to the 150th anniversary of the Communist Manifesto, in 2000 in Zagreb, and became the motto of WHW's work and the title of the collective.
More recent exhibitions include: 11th Istanbul Biennial What Keeps Mankind Alive?, Istanbul, 2009; Hungry Man, Reach for the Book. It Is a Weapon, Printed Matter, New York, 2010; Ground Floor America, Lakeside – Klagenfurt and Den Frie – Copenhagen, 2010; Art Always Has Its Consequences, former building of MOCA Zagreb, 2010; One Needs to Live Self-Confidently...Watching, Croatian pavilion at 54th Venice Biennial, 2011; Details, Bergen Kunsthall, 2011; Second World, steirischer herbst, Graz, 2011; How Much Fascism? BAK, Utrecht and Extra City, Antwerp, 2012, Dear Art, Museum of Contemporary Art Metelkova, Ljubljana, 2012, and Calvert 22, London, 2013. In 2013-14 WHW curates next edition of Meeting Points, an international multidisciplinary event taking place in Antwerp, Beirut, Cairo, Hong Kong, Vienna and Zagreb, and works on a long-term collaboration project Beginning as well as we can (How do we talk about fascism?). In 2014 WHW is curating exhibition Really Useful Knowledge in Museo Reina Sofia in Madrid.
The Young Arab Theatre Fund (YATF) is an international Association based in Brussels that cooperates with young artists living and working in the Arab World.
YATF offers financial support to individuals to produce and tour contemporary artistic projects within the region. YATF also offers financial support for independent spaces and venues dedicated to contemporary artistic expression in the Arab World through an open call for proposals.
One outlet for these activities is Meeting Points, a multidisciplinary, transnational, bi-annual event that takes place in different cities simultaneously in collaboration with local partners and institutions.
19.9 – 2.11.2013
24.10.2013 – 16.2.2014
Lawrence Abu Hamdan • Marwa Arsanios • Kianoush Ayari • Filipa César • Céline Condorelli • Alice Creischer • DAAR / Decolonizing Art and Architecture Residency • Paul De Vree • Simone Fattal • Robert Filliou • Simohammed Fettaka • Karpo Godina • Sharon Hayes • Adelita Husni-Bey • Iman Issa • Sanja Iveković • Maryam Jafri • Rajkamal Kahlon • Anton Kannemeyer • Kayfa-ta & Haytham El-Wardany • Runo Lagomarsino • Maha Maamoun • Jumana Manna • Azzedine Meddour • Tom Nicholson & Andrew Byrne • Anatoly Osmolovsky • Artavazd Peleshian • Marta Popivoda • Kerim Ragimov • C K Rajan • Alexander Rodchenko • Edgar Morin & Jean Rouch • Luc Tuymans • Mona Vǎtǎmanu & Florin Tudor
Beirut Art Center
2.4. – 3.5.2014
Artist and filmmaker Filipa César is interested in the history of colonialism and its imagery. Since 2008 her work has focused on the cinema of the former Portuguese colony, Guinea-Bissau. In the single-shot film Conakry, shot in the House of World Cultures in Berlin, Portuguese poet Grada Kilomba and American radio activist Diana McCarty reflect on a film of a 1972 congress and exhibition hosted by Amílcar Cabral, founder of the African Party for the Independence of Guinea and Cape Verde. A complex layering of personal voices and archival film, the work insists on the contemporary relevance of all-but-forgotten revolutionary imagery.
16mm film transferred to HD video, colour, sound (English and Portuguese with English subtitles), 10’20’’
Courtesy of the artistand Cristina GuerraContemporary Art
In her diverse practice, Iman Issa has repeatedly worked with the city of Cairo and the themes of architecture and urbanity. Her two works for Ten thousand wiles and a hundred thousand tricks, both made before the beginning of the Egyptian uprising, scrutinise the language, both visual and discursive, that is used for politics. In Colours, Lines, Numbers, Symbols, Shapes, and Images she experiments with the visual language of the political, deconstructing the aesthetics of election posters and the promises they make to explore their lingering effect on our memory once their primary function has become obsolete. The Revolutionary, a sound piece made with text-to-speech software, tells a convoluted story of a political radical, and uses contradiction and ambiguity to create an enigmatic portrait.
6 framed posters, archival inkjet prints, each 68.5 x 48 cm
The lingering spectre of colonialism and the aesthetics of (Western) ethnography are in continual focus for Rajkamal Kahlon. In Ten thousand wiles and a hundred thousand tricks, she exhibits Did You Kiss the Dead Body?, a series of over-painted US army prisoner autopsy reports, and three of her disconcerting cut-out figures, in which found anthropological images are transformed by added symbols of struggle such as grenades or weapons. These compositions use the strategy of collage to expose the colonial gaze and to give a belated visual rehabilitation to the figures depicted. Appropriating and subverting colonial imagery, Kahlon’s work stems from a desire to, in her own words, “deal with the revenge, violence and rage inherent in colonial exchanges&rdqou;.
130 x 130 x 20 cm
Kayfa-ta is a non-profit Arabic publishing initiative established by Maha Maamoun and Ala Younis. By using the form of popular how-to manuals (how = kayfa; to = ta), their project responds to some of today’s perceived needs, be they skills, thoughts, sensibilities, emotions, tools or something else. Rather than being strict transmitters of technical knowledge, these manuals situate themselves in the space between the everyday and the speculative, the instructional and the intuitive, the factual and the fictional. The first monograph, How to Disappear by Haytham El-Wardany, designs a set of exercises that show readers how to disappear and reappear, how to join and leave a group and other necessary skills, while also providing an analysis of the sounds of a middle-class household.
Publication (English and Arabic), 17 x 11.5 cm
Working primarily with photography and video, Maha Maamoun explores spaces of fissure between the representation and interpretation of certain events and their relation to political identities and hidden hegemonic relations. Through the ears, the pathways of both acceptance and rejection, The Listeners weave multiple auditive registers and references to literary and visual articulations of the act of listening and the status of the listener.
Video (work in progress)
Courtesy of the artist
Jumana Manna’s recent films have focused on questions of nationality and the writing of history. Based on an archival photograph, A Sketch of Manners reenacts a masquerade in Jerusalem in 1942, hosted by Palestinian National Front member Alfred Roch. The party took place during the most crucial period of the Second World War and shows the Palestinian upper class engaged in theatrical frivolity. A voice-over describes the complex political situation of the time, seemingly so distant from the Palestinian situation today. Manna’s film invokes a forgotten history, where the melancholy faces attending the masquerade point towards the events after the Second World War that would irrevocably change the future of Palestine and its people.
HD video, sound (English), 12’
Courtesy of the artist
Sanja Iveković’s practice continuously confronts issues of gender and politics in public space and the mass media. The Right One: Pearls of Revolution is a series of photographs that borrow the glamorous visual appearance of glossy fashion advertisements, but the images, featuring the feminist sociologist and activist Jana Šarinić, have not been digitally edited. Each photograph shows a slightly different frame of the model’s face as she rehearses the gesture of the partisan salute to determine which one matches ‘the right one’ as executed in a small archival photograph of Yugoslav women partisans. The model’s made-up face and the string of pearls she holds in her hand while trying to match the partisan salute create an contradictory situation that asks about the commodification of critical action and the idea of artistic autonomy today.
Series of 10 photo-graphs, 112 x 112 cm
Courtesy of the artist
Language Gulf In the Shouting Valley is an audio essay about the politics of language and the conditions of voice faced by the Druze community living between Palestine/Israel and Syria. Recordings of the Druze Soldiers working as interpreters in the Israeli military court system in the West Bank and Gaza are contrasted with recordings from the Shouting Valley in the Golan Heights, where the Druze population gather on both sides of the Israeli/Syrian Border and shout across the jurisdictions to family and friends on the other side. By inhabiting the border between Syria and Palestine/Israel the Druze complicate the solid divide. If we listen closely to the oral border produced by this transnational community we can simultaneously hear, in one voice, the collaborator and the traitor, the translator and the transgressor.
Audio visual installation, sound (English and Arabic)
Courtesy of the artist
Using a wide variety of media, Marwa Arsanios has explored narratives and architectures of modernity, personal history and memory. Olga’s Notes takes as its starting point the Egyptian left-wing magazine Al Hilal (“The Crescent”), published in the 1950s and 1960s, and important for its contributions to socialist theory and for its literary essays and translations. Published in a turbulent period of modernisation, the magazine reflects the ideological and social change that occurred at the time. To rethink the role of reading in the formation of subjectivity, and especially what people were allowed and encouraged to read, Arsanios has created a library for Ten thousand wiles and a hundred thousand tricks that includes material relating to Al Hilal. This library is also the scene of a performance composed of excerpts from the magazine and other related texts.
Library set, MDF, wood, 400 x 400 cm
Courtesy of the artist
Kianoush Ayari is a film director, producing both documentaries and feature films. The Newborns captures the vibrancy of the everyday on the streets of Tehran immediately after the Iranian revolution of 1979. Shots of impassioned street discussions, revolutionary theatre and distribution of political pamphlets, are interspersed with everyday scenes of leisure, showing the optimism and commitment permeating the public sphere. Ending with the announcement of the new constitution that will lead to the foundation of the Islamic Republic of Iran, the film documents a political limbo in which public space becomes an arena in which short-lasting promises of social transformation and revolutionary potential just before they are violently interrupted.
Video, sound (Farsi with English subtitles), 45’
Céline Condorelli’s practice combines art with in built structures functioning as exhibition architecture that support a wide range of functions and may be reinvented by their users. Something Stronger Than Skepticism superimposes a series of risographed images of newsprint conveying the reverberations of the Egyptian revolution of 1952 but also relating to the more recent uprisings in Egypt and the Arab world. Visually referencing a disposable test print, the work pulls together a series of reports from around the world into a single layered image that becomes a condensed document of global media reactions to the revolution. Something Stronger Than Skepticism is a portrait of a crucial moment in recent history where the question of possible and impossible futures remains unanswered.
Five framed overprint risographs, vegetable dye on newsprint, 29.7 x 42 cm
Courtesy of the artist
Artist, writer and curator Alice Creischer articulates the historical narratives of economics and politics. She often works collaboratively. In The Greatest Happiness Principle Party she portrays the complex foundations of contemporary capitalism as a spatial puppet-play, revolving around the fictional story of a party at the Austrian Credit Institute in 1931. This bank, heavily involved in speculation in Eastern Europe, was then on the verge of bankruptcy, which would make the Great Depression notably worse. Staged as a meeting of made-up and historical characters such as the philosopher Jeremy Bentham or the Nazi economist Gustav Schlotterer, the work prefigures events that would lead to the establishment of the International Monetary Fund, and the expansion of the market economy after the Second World War.
Installation, dimensions variable
Collection of M HKA
DAAR is an art and architecture collective and residency working with issues of spatiality, law and architecture in Palestine. Their intervention for Ten thousand wiles and a hundred thousand tricks focuses on new collective forms of protest and action, namely the idea of common assembly and its crucial role in current protest movements. The work investigates the potential of political associations that function beyond the sphere of the parliamentary, inquiring into their architectural, organisational and spatial characteristics and effects. Through strategies of appropriation, reuse and reconfiguration, DAAR challenges the structures of colonisation, posing the question: “Could we think of Palestinians camps not as places of refuge but rather as places of assembly?”
2011 (re-edited 2013)
HD Video Projection, sound (English and Arabic with English subtitles), 15’
Courtesy of Decolonizing Architecture
The work of poet, artist and publisher Paul De Vree is concerned with the sound, look and meaning of language. In concrete and sound poetry, and numerous works of visual art, De Vree plays with the formal qualities of language, creating new structures of meaning. His works often have a political and allegorical aspect, as in Revolutie and Revolutie 2 where the Dutch word for revolution is manipulated and inserted into a photographic collage. A recurrent theme is the relationship between language and body, exemplified by the work People where gymnasts intertwined with letters spell the word “people”, or his poems of mourning accompanied by photographs of his aging body.
Black-and-white photographs, each 40 x 30 cm
Collection of M HKA
In 1971, with the support of friends, the painter Simone Fattal decided to turn to the medium of filmmaking and to shoot over many hours the self-portrait she realised that she was unable to paint. Using tracking shots of the city of Beirut, family pictures and interviews with parents and friends, the black-and-white video is accompanied by a rousing soundtrack sometimes interrupted by periods of silence that are intense moments of emotion and seduction for the spectator. Both hesitant and spontaneous, sitting at a table smoking and drinking coffee, Fattal exposes herself and confesses her intimate memories. Her monologue leads to a reflection on love, men, religion, freedom and art.
2012 (filmed in 1972)
Video, sound (Arabic and French with English subtitles), 46’
Affiliated with the international Fluxus movement, Robert Filliou worked in film, poetry, happenings and sculpture. He used trademark Fluxus strategies of the ephemeral, comedy and the merging of life and art to create playful works that undermined established conceptions of art. Ten thousand wiles and a hundred thousand tricks includes a number of works by Filliou dealing with the relation between audience and artwork. One print refers to his Galérie Légitime, which consisted of art pieces transported and shown in his hat, as a personal, travelling exhibition. The works highlight his political sense of humour, as in the bittersweet multiple Boîte Optimiste 1 or in the work on paper where he urges the audience to “do as you like”, which is what he himself always did.
1969 – 1970
1971 – 2012
Colour lithograph, 65 x 68 cm
Collection of M HKA
Wooden box, 11 x 11 x 11 cm
Collection of M HKA
Working primarily in film, but also incorporating collage and photography, Simohammed Fettaka’s diverse practice revolves around ideas of collective memory and political representation. In his short video animation, The Greatest Show on Earth, a TV set flips between channels, showing the kind of content we’ve come to expect from television: a high-strung mixture of news, war, politics, and commercials. The animation is a flow of images with a suggestive sound track, telling a surrealistic visual story and referencing the strong 20th century tradition of the political collage. Fettaka humorously and ironically comments on the role of television in writing history and forming public opinion.
Video installation, collage animation, 4/3, colour, stereo, 5’12”
Courtesy of the artist. Co-production: CulturesInterface
Slovene filmmaker Karpo Godina is a pioneer of experimental cinema, whose deceptively simple short films examine complex political questions using a precise visual language. In Litany of Happy People, a series of static shots portray villagers in Vojvodina, then part of Yugoslavia, where many different national groups (Serbs, Croats, Hungarians, Slovaks, Romanians, Macedonians, Russians, Germans, Roma and many others) have painted their homes a specific colour to signal their ethnicity. A joyful song plays on the soundtrack, exclaiming a love for the various communities of the town. The beautiful ethnographic imagery together with the repetitive declaration of love makes for a sympathetic, if decidedly ambiguous, portrait. The authorities at the time were also in doubt, and the film was banned due its perceived ironic stance towards the principle of “Socialist Brotherhood and Unity”.
35mm film transferred to DVD, sound (with English subtitles), 14’
Sharon Hayes uses strategies from performance art to address themes such as gender, feminism and politics. Referring to the political context of the US-led invasion of Iraq, I March in the Parade of Liberty But As Long As I Love You I Am Not Free draws on the emotional landscape of protest actions. Between 1 December 2007 and 12 January 2008, Hayes walked the streets of New York, stopping at street corners and speaking a single, repeated love address to an anonymous and unnamed lover. Drawing from sources such as Oscar Wilde’s De Profundis and slogans from early gay liberation parades in New York, Hayes is using private speech to enact the promises and disappointments of collective political action.
2007 – 2008
Single-channel audio installation with framed silkscreen poster
Courtesy of the artist and Tanya Leighton Gallery
Adelita Husni-Bey works with film, drawing and installation to articulate her interest in self-organisation and education. Postcards from the Desert Island documents a three-week workshop conducted with children attending the École Vitruve in Paris, a parent-run experimental public elementary school. In reference to William Golding’s novel Lord of the Flies the children were invited to collectively build and organise a society on a fictional desert island in their school assembly hall. They quickly run into political difficulties, such as the structures of decision-making or the role and rule of law. The film shows ‘a world in a nutshell’ where the children’s discussions and experiments of self-governance echo the impasses of Western democracies and the struggle for power inside such systems.
2010 – 2011
SD video transferred to DVD, (French with English subtitles), 22’23”, painted backdrop
Courtesy of Galleria Laveronica
Maryam Jafri uses film, photography and text to reconsider the writing of colonial history, and its impact on contemporary international relations. For example, in her work Getty vs. Ghana, a series of photographs from Ghana’s Ministry of Information, showing the country gaining its independence in 1957, are compared to the same photos in the archives of Getty Images. Jafri’s juxtaposition reveals a number of disparities between these sets of images, such as erroneous dating, omissions and downright manipulations, thereby highlighting the political aspects of a seemingly neutral act of archiving. With its pared-down display aesthetics reminiscent of Conceptual Art, this work and others in the same series, critique Western presumptions of ownership over colonial history.
Archival ink jet black and white photos and framed texts
Courtesy of the artist
Cartoonist, publisher and lecturer Anton Kannemeyer has repeatedly confronted issues of racism and exploitation. Originally dealing with the history of his home country of South Africa, his bitingly funny and bold cartoons have come to centre on the legacy of colonialism and present-day relations between Africa and the West. As a white afrikaner who grew up under apartheid, Kannemeyer uses classic strategies of caricature, coupled with a style borrowed from the notoriously racist album Tintin in the Congo, to create a visual language of self-reflexive critique. Ten thousand wiles and a hundred thousand tricks presents a series of his newer work, forming a confrontational commentary on the continuing problems of race relations.
8 colour lithographs, 57.2 x 76 cm, edition of 25
Runo Lagomarsino often uses strategies of displacement and transformation to question the writing of history, especially the colonial legacy of South America. His installation More Delicate Than the Historian’s Are the Map Maker’s Colours focuses on the Christopher Columbus monument in Seville, nicknamed “The Egg of Columbus”, referring to Columbus’s retort to his doubters that discovering the Americas was as difficult as making an egg stand on its tip. Lagomarsino illegally imported eggs from Argentina, which he and his father then threw at the monument in an act of poetic retribution. Employing themes of travel and transport, the work comments on the received historical narrative and its continuing influence.
2012 – 2013
HD video, 6’18”, 2 egg trays and wooden shelf
Courtesy of the Artist, Mendes Wood, São Paulo and Nils Stærk, Copenhagen
Educated in French literature in Algiers and cinematography in Moscow, filmmaker Azzedine Meddour directed short films, documentaries and features during his long career. His film How Much I Love You, originally produced for Algerian state television, is a painfully ironic depiction of the French colonialisation of Algeria. Through an ingenious mixture of the genres of educational film, propaganda and documentary, and with a distressingly joyous soundtrack, the film uses the colonial film archives to chronicle the Algerian war of independence from the ”mother country”. It exposes the political and economic self-interests of the French administration and caricatures its narratives in a darkly sarcastic indictment of colonialisation and its effects.
Film, Beta SP, sound (French and Arabic with English subtitles),105’
Tom Nicholson works in a variety of media to explore historical processes and the idea of the nation-state, often taking the complex history of Australia as a point of departure. In Ten thousand wiles and a hundred thousand tricks he will present his multi-part Comparative Monument (Palestine), which focuses on the Palestine Monuments of Melbourne, erected to commemorate the Australian troops who fought with the British in Palestine in the First World War. Nicholson imagines the monuments transferred to Palestinian soil as a way to reassess the relation between the two countries and their shared history under British imperialism in the 1920s. The work proposes an alternative form of remembrance, one that takes into account the dispossessions and violence of history.
9 stacks of 2000 two-sided offset printed posters, each 50 x 50c m, for visitors to take away
Courtesy of the artist and Milani Gallery, Brisbane
9 looping recordings of voices, played through 9 speakers
of the artists and Milani Gallery, Brisbane
As a member of several artists’ collectives, and through his practice as artist, editor and theorist, Anatoly Osmolovsky has continuously strived for an art of political and social relevance. In Slogans, a series of text-based works, he slyly perverts the language of political agitation and theoretical discourse. Installed at ankle height with dust from vacuum cleaners, the sentences are awkward and hard to read, giving the powerful statements a subtle quality. The slogans are of varying length, each describing in clear, exclamatory language a political position or analysis. Osmolovsky’s work comments on the culture of capitalism and the possibilities of intellectual and artistic critique.
Installation made from dust and glue, dimensions variable
Collection of M HKA
Throughout a long life as an essayistic documentary filmmaker and film theorist, Artavazd Peleshian has constantly experimented with cinematic form and content, exploring theories of montage, sound/image relationships, and combinations of found and new footage. His innovative short film Beginning depicts the monumental events following the 1917 October Revolution in Russia. In its images of mass mobilisation, parades and battles, the film shows the desperation and hopes of a century in violent transformation. Peleshian uses quick cuts, coupled with a precise and powerful soundtrack, to create an incessant audio-visual rhythm that formally mirrors the energy inherent in the dreams of a new society.
Black-and-white film transferredto DVD, 9’
Yugoslavia, How Ideology Moved Our Collective Body is a cinematic essay that retells the history of socialist Yugoslavia and its dramatic dismantling from Marta Popivoda’s personal perspective. The film focuses on the mechanisms through which ideology was reflexively materialised in public space through mass performances. Spanning through decades of socialist Yugoslavia and its aftermath, from 1945 to 2000, the film juxtaposes new and old footage of society performing itself through youth work actions, May Day parades and celebrations of Youth Day, as well as the students’ uprising of 1968 or the civic demonstrations of the 1990s in Serbia. Narrated by author’s voice-over, the film creates an account of Yugoslavia’s post-war history through images of collective actions and probes the exhaustion of the idea of collectivity and solidarity in today’s political context.
Colour and black-and-white video, 62’, sound (English and Serbian with English subtitles)
Kerim Ragimov is a painter who emerged just after the fall of the Berlin wall and deals with the complicated relationship between painting and reality. His major work, the Human Project, is a series of paintings drawing their imagery from photographic sources. Conceived as a series of “portraits”, they show assembled groups of all kinds, from posing basketball players to relaxing workers. The images are painted in a variety of styles chosen according to the content of the image and clearly refer to Russian art history and the Soviet tradition of Socialist Realism. As a subjective composition of 20th century group portraits, Human Project reflects on the power and ideology embedded in images.
1993 – 1994
Oil on canvas, 121 x 170 cm
Collection of M HKA
C K Rajan was a member of the left-wing Radical Group, challenging the political and artistic establishment in his native India in the 1980s. In a series of collages aptly titled Ready-Made Insanities, he uses the formal qualities of his preferred medium and its capacity for political and visual transformation. Drawing on the surrealist tradition of appropriation, Rajan takes as his subject matter Indian modernism, recent history, advertisement, and urbanism. His work creates unexpected collisions of meaning and plays with the visual juxtapositions created by ruthless industrial modernism.
1992 – 1995
Framed collages, each 21 x 29 cm
Collection of M HKA
A prominent representative of the Russian Constructivist avant-garde, Alexander Rodchenko was an influential artist in many fields: painting, sculpture, photography and graphic design. After abandoning painting for ideological reasons he became a pioneer of early photographic experimentation in the Soviet Union. He often shot from unusual angles and with a distinctive eye for framing, which made his work formally innovative and visually energetic. The Live Badge shows a sport parade on Moscow’s Red Square where a live model is part of a celebratory set piece. Seen today as both artwork and historical document, the photograph portrays a time when society strove for a collective utopia.
Black-and-white photograph, 29 x 21 cm
Collection of M HKA
Chronicle of a Summer is a collaboration between the influential filmmaker and anthropologist Jean Rouch and the sociologist Edgar Morin. This was the film that introduced cinéma vérité as a strategy for documenting reality. From a simple beginning where the filmmakers set out to ask people in the street “Are you happy?”, the film evolves into a complex portrait of a society under strain. Shot as a self-reflexive documentary, Chronicle of a Summer centres on a series of interviews and discussions with different members of the working class in Paris. In their intimate dialogues they discuss both personal issues of work, love and depression as well as France’s war in Algeria, the situation in the Congo and memories of the Holocaust.
Black-and-white film transferred to DVD, sound, (French with English subtitles), 90’
Luc Tuymans is a painter working with themes of history and visual recollection. Often taking their starting point in found images from photography and film, his paintings are usually in small formats and executed in a pared-down, limited colour scheme. The images in Le Verdict are inspired by pictures showing colloquia and meetings found in the mythologised villa of the Centre d’édition contemporaine in Geneva, for which the work was originally commissioned. Printed on wallpaper and glued directly onto the wall, Le Verdict combines historical subject matter with simple images of innocuous details and situations to create an ambiguous narrative where the everyday blends with traces of the past.
Litographs on 7 rolls of wallpaper, various dimensions
Collection of M HKA
Mona Vǎtǎmanu and Florin Tudor’s collaborative practice centres on history and political representation. Appointment with History consists of a series of smaller scale paintings that depict recent and historical protests involving crowds on the street. Painted in the style of 19th century landscape painting, with nods to later traditions of realism, the work draws together different moments of public revolt, from demonstrations in Berlin in 1989 and anti-globalism protests in Genoa to the Syrian protests that began in 2011. A reading of the Communist Manifesto becomes a dominant background sound, but the paintings are also set in an ambience with empty chairs and a vacant lectern that invites the audience to act out political speech against these backdrops and thereby intervene in the present historical moment.
Installation, paintings, sound, dimensions variable
Courtesy of the artists, DT Project Brussels, Lombard-Freid Projects New York, Andreiana Mihail Gallery Bucharest