CAPC
musée d'art contemporain
de Bordeaux

Artworks notes

Strange & Close

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01

Mladen Stilinovic
An artist who cannot speak english is no artist, 1992

Born in 1947, in Belgrade, Serbia, lives and works in Zagreb in Croatia.

Mladen Stilinovic is a conceptual artist and a historic figure in the New Artistic Practice movement in Croatia, who believe in an art with critical and social scope, using irony and cynicism to denounce the way the art world is unfit for managing multiculturalism. Through an indictment of the supremacy of Anglo-Saxon cultural institutions in the artistic arena, he stresses that an artist who cannot speak English is no artist. Through this assertion he implies that the recognition of the artistic status is valid through its ability to be incorporated within an all encompassing plan. More radically put, if an artist does not master the English language, he or she no longer has any chance of getting his work to exist in our current context: he cannot request an exhibition, or be funded, or get his intentions and message across to a broader public. Using an obviously spare means—the apparent absurdity of a handwritten message affixed to a piece of pink fabric—Mladen Stilinovic thus accuses the hegemony of a dominant culture that has become international, irremediably forcing different societies to adapt and alter their specific cultural features by Westernizing them. 

 

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02

Artur Żmijewski
Repetition, 2005

Born in 1966, Warsaw, Poland, lives and works in Warsaw.

Repetition by Artur Żmijewski was made specially for the 2005 Venice Biennale. The work consists of a video film and a ‘film set’. The video was shown in the Polish pavilion in Venice. At the same time, the ‘film set’ was erected in the Kunsthalle in Basel, Switzerland, where a major retrospective of Żmijewski’s work was being held. The museum has bought the video film and the ‘film set’. Repetition is a recreation of the famous Stanford Prison Experiment conducted in 1971, in which test subjects were assigned the role of prisoner or warden. The subjects identified so closely with their roles that they changed into victims and torturers in no time. This experiment led social scientists to question the idea that people can make their own choices from their free will. In this case, Żmijewski’s recreation culminated in a surprising ending. Current discussions about prisons in Iraq and Guantánamo Bay in Cuba give the work an extra edge.

 

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03

Aydan Murtezaoglu
At room temperature, 2002 / 2003
Untitled (sitting on a bench with a dog), 1999
Untitled (Antenna), 2000

Born in 1961 in Istanbul, lives and works in Istanbul, Turkey.

Photographer Aydan Murtezaoglu’s approach is a militant one. As a female artist in a patriarchal society, she condemns the shortcomings of her country with regard to a system of parity that is ill-served by discriminatory measures. Aydan Murtezaoglu’s photographs are overtly political and committed, which does not mean that they are not gentle and light—seemingly. The artist’s demanding attitude is subtly revealed from mise en scène to mise en scène, where she appropriates the protagonist’s place, but without toppling over into the documentary vein or autobiography. Aydan Murtezaoglu thus depicts women, with her totemic figure symbolizing a long and arduous struggle against a legislation deemed to be too old-fashioned. Because despite real progress and reforms favourable to the female cause, Turkish society, according to the artist, remains too anchored in obsolete traditions and customs which do not permit women to achieve emancipation. In a country where household violence and female illiteracy (up to 50% in rural areas) remain sadly verifiable factual data, Aydan Murtezaoglu instills a wholesome and subtle militancy through her photographs, where femininity assumes a majestic pose.

 

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04

Homi Bhabha
Excerpt from the Talk at Eindhoven caucus, 2007

Born in 1949, Bombay, lives and works in Harvard, United States

Homi Bhabha is a Harvard professor of literature who is one of the principal figures in post-colonial studies. He has written extensively about hybridity and identity, seeking a way of describing relations between people and cultures that avoids the simplistic solutions of multiculturalism.
The brief extract in the exhibition is taken from a longer talk held at the Van Abbemuseum in 2007 as part of the project Be(com)ing Dutch. In it, he uses an example from the genocide of Tutsi people in Rwanda as a way to describe what can go wrong when we can no longer bear to live together as strange and close neighbours. This term “strange and close” became the leitmotiv for the curators of the exhibition, describing the difficult but necessary balance between sameness and difference that is essential to all successful relationships.

 

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05

Michelangelo Pistoletto
Donna che disegna, 1962 / 1975

Born in 1933, Biella, lives and works in Milan

The work by Michelangelo Pistoletto depicts a photograph of a woman drawing a scene. She sits facing away from us, towards whatever view is shown in the mirror. This view is the surroundings of the exhibition space where the work is shown but, paradoxically, she has to turn her back on the art and visitors to the exhibition in order to capture it for herself. Thus the woman makes her own view of reality that is reversed in the mirror image she sees. The work as a whole is also constantly changing, depending on the space it is in and the position of the real viewer, while the frozen act of a women looking and drawing remains constant.
Since 1962 Pistoletto has worked with mirrors and always dates his mirror works twice: 1962 and the date when the particular piece is made. As he says “Photography is most closely related to the mirror. The only difference is that the mirror gives an instant image while a photo is also based in the past. Mixing the two, allows one to present two related realities that support each other, even if they each remain independent.”
This relation between two aspects of time, and two people looking, is a way to understand the neighbourly relation at the heart of Strange and Close. Two elements can never be the same, however much we long for perfect union, and yet the tension of the difference is what gives us a perspective, a chance to relate and even to understand.

 

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06

Harun Farocki
Aufschub, 2007

Born in 1944 in Nový Jičín, Czech Republic, lives and works in Berlin.

Aufschub consists of silent black-and-white film shot at Westerbork, a Dutch refugee camp established in 1939 for Jews fleeing Germany. In 1942, after the occupation of Holland, its function was reversed by the Nazis and it became a 'transit camp.' In 1944, the camp commander commissioned a film, shot by a photographer, Rudolph Breslauer. However, this documentary in no way reflects the reality of this camp, because the many cuts made during the editing carefully avoid divulging Westerbork's real function. In 2007, Harun Farocki used the cut or simply censored extracts to make Aufschub. So another truth appears.

 “By exhuming the scattered fragments and traces of the phantom film (intertitle cards, ideas for the scenario, graphic elements), Harun Farocki inscribes the Dutch footage within the genre of the corporate film. It was meant to highlight the economic efficiency of the camp at the very moment its existence seemed threatened: at the time of filming, as the majority of Jews from the Netherlands had already been deported, Westerbork was converted into a labour camp with the approval of the commandant who feared its closure and was afraid of being transferred to another theatre of operations. In this respect, one of the revelations of Aufschub concerns the discovery of a camp logo consisting of a factory surmounted by a smoking chimney … This is found at the centre of a chart signalling with arrows and numbers, the “entrances” and “exits” (notably to the East) of the prisoners of the Dutch camp. Thus, the materials assembled for the Westerbork film clearly demonstrate its double function as labour camp and place of transit, antechamber of extermination.
Whatever the intentions of the creator of this striking logo might have been, for the viewers of Aufschub, the design echoes the tall chimneys of the crematorium installations at Birkenau. Taking this process as a source of inspiration, Harun Farocki chose to place the peaceful sequences of Westerbork in resonance with other tragic scenes and images that populate the collective memory and imagination. Over the innocuous scenes of the dental clinic, he evokes the gold teeth wrenched from the dead at Birkenau; over the white coats of a laboratory, the sinister medical experiments practiced at Auschwitz; over the exposed cables in a workshop, the heaps of women’s hair found by the Soviets; over the images of workers lounging in the grass, those of the open pits and the fields of corpses filmed by the Allies at the opening of the camps. In Aufschub, Farocki starts with a single source in order to evoke memory-images. The sequences of Westerbork thus become palimpsest of two images, which summon to the surface other image-strata, that recall the memory and history of cinema.”
Sylvie Lindeperg

 

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07

Absalon
Cellule, 1990
Cellule, 1991

(Eshel Meir) Born in 1964, Ashdod, Israel, died in 1993 in Paris.

Among the many examples of geometrical, sanitised aesthetics produced by minimalist sculpture, Absalon’s work occupies a particular position. It represents a possibility for the human body to establish close relations with those penetrable but exiguous volumes that he termed “cells”, half-way between architecture and sculpture. Entirely white-painted and neon-lit, windowless and summarily furnished, they are “habitation proposals” for individual use. The idea is to isolate the person as far as possible from the outside world, in a protective, ergonomic logic. Some of the prototypes are “practicable” to the extent that one can explore the space and reconfigure it at will. The isolation (both social and acoustic) suggested by the cells reveals a novel relationship between the body and the surrounding monochrome space, through a sort of immediate exchange, without alternative. It is clear that for Absalon this project was both a refuge and an interface that denoted a primal return to the self, far from the parasitic connections of the present-day world.

 

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08

Yael Bartana
Summer Camp, 2007

Born in 1970, Kfar Yehezkel, Israel, lives and works in Amsterdam and Tel Aviv.

In her video work, Yael Bartana merges the trivial and the serious, slow motion and repetition, documentary footage and staged scenes. Her subjects include customs, habits and daily life in her native country, Israel, and subtly expose social, religious and military power structures.
For Summer Camp Bartana filmed volunteers working for the Israeli Committee Against House Demolitions (ICAHD) while they were rebuilding a house on the West Bank that had been destroyed by the Israeli army. Her goal was not to make a documentary of the event, so she based the structure of the work on Helmar Lerski’s film Avoda (1935), a propagandist tribute to the Zionist pioneers who built new settlements. By contrast, Bartana’s film is about activists who challenge Israel’s policy of demolishing Palestinian homes.

 

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09

Marjetica Potrč
New Orleans: Shotgun House with Rainwater-Harvesting Tank, 2008

Born 1953, Ljubjana, Slovenia, lives and works in Ljubjana.

Marjetica Potrč often works in a case study mode. Based in deep research, many of her projects make visible others’ creative responses to unsustainable conditions and offer an opportunity to reflect upon them as models for change. Here, she responds to the grass-roots beginnings of New Orleans recovery from the devastating Hurricane Katrina (2005). The sculpture New Orleans: Shotgun House with Rainwater-Harvesting Tank (2008) is based on a simple type of house with a long, rich history. The idea of the “shotgun” house probably spread from the Caribbean to New Orleans and then throughout lower-income neighbourhoods in other parts of the United States, and is now seen as an important type of vernacular architecture. It references New Orleans role as a multicultural port city — the Mississippi River delta was once one of the first points of entry for many immigrants. As re-imagined by Potrč, this structure and the accompanying drawings pay tribute to the New Orleans citizens attempting to revive their city in a more socially and environmentally sustainable way.

 

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09 bis

Marjetica Potrč
New Orleans Diptychs, 2008

Born 1953, Ljubjana, Slovenia, lives and works in Ljubjana.

“Citizens are the ones who make the city,” says the social scientist/architect/anthropologist and artist, Marjetica Potrč. Through her work with grass-roots communities across the world, she challenges the boundaries made between art and design – constructing “informal cities” in museums, carrying out social empowerment projects and reinterpretation of statistical information through painterly infographic illustrations.
Her series, New Orleans Diptychs is only one of the elements resulting from Potrč’s research around possible vernacular solutions – such as rain-water harvesting and the shot-gun housing model – in the areas of New Orleans worst affected by the flooding in 2005. Here Potrč maps micro-level examples of community strategies to manage water and living space and juxtaposes these with the macro-situation of the city’s interdependence with the environment around it. After the collapse of 20th century modernism’s version of “progress”, Potrč argues, getting back to an old kind of wisdom about personal relationships, as well as cause and effect, can lead to a new understanding of sustainability and self-reinvention in urban contexts.

 

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10

Laurent Mareschal
Beiti – My Home, 2011

Born in 1975 in Dijon, lives and works in Paris.

Laurent Mareschal makes videos, installations, sculptures and drawings, a varied panel of media dealing with the ephemeral and absurd elements of our human destinies. The tiled floor made of spices on view in the nave fits into this approach through its fragility and its volatile character. Made up of five varieties of condiments (turmeric, ginger, zahtar, sumac and white pepper), this aromatic and delicate pavement only survives through the respectful attention paid to it by those looking at it. As a symbol of the house—beiti being the translation from the Hebrew—this installation describes in its sensual way the powerlessness of those who feel stateless in their own land. The pavement with its oriental-like motifs here incarnates the difficulty of living “feeling at home” another accepted meaning of the term beiti, in a situation of rivalry and tension. With neither grandiloquence nor extreme lyricism, the artist thus conjures up the condition of the Palestinian people forced to live in one of the most painful and controversial political contexts. As Laurent Mareschal emphasizes “in Hebrew, beiti means my house or, alternatively feeling at home, a double meaning which is anything but innocuous in a country in a constant state of conflict around territory. The house retains a smell, a taste like no other which may surprise us at the other end of the world, heart throbbing with memories, like that of a limb cut off within us”. This vulnerable and potentially fleeting place of life thus spills over from its household framework and achieves a dimension of universality. 

 

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11

Michal Heiman
Attacks on Linking: Scrolls, 2007 / 2010

Born in 1954, Tel Aviv, Israel, lives and works in Tel Aviv.

For over two decades Heiman has been exploring and formulating new relationships between the object of art and the subject. With projects such as her ongoing series, Photographer Unknown, Lying Women, What’s on your mind?, Holding, I Was There, Photo Rape, and the video series Attacks on Linking and Daughtertype, Heiman developed complex reciprocal relations between the practices of photography and psychoanalysis.
In the series of large scrolls hanging down from an hanging devices that are usually used in a photography studio as a background to a photograph, Heiman mainly scans photographs from an Israeli daily newspaper (Haaretz) and known paintings from Western visual culture. Like the Madonna and the child of Raphael’s, to this painting she linked an images of a Palestinian woman whose husband, a suicide bomber, was killed the day before, both in red-green outfits, both looks disconnected from their child in their hands. In this series Heiman indicates the editors’ repeated choice of iconic images from the collective image memory bank, maintaining that editors, whether consciously or unconsciously, select images reminiscent of icons from the history of art.
Attacks on Linking refers to the essay “Attacks on Linking” by psychoanalyst Wilfred Bion, where he theorises over the psychological effects of breaking the connection between cause and effect or emotion and logic. Heiman links in her work psychoanalytic texts and clinical case studies with autobiographic diaries, other artists’ works, childhood memories, and the news. She creates these links only to attack them. The knowledge manifested in these links must be displayed centre stage in order to be analysed - that is, destroyed. The creative and destructive acts are interwoven, dependent on each other, and that is Michal Heiman’s transgression.

Clarification of terms: Link – a unit serving to connect one element with another, elements that were separate from each other prior to the act of linking. Attacking a link entails isolating details, releasing them from other details, damaging connections, preserving autonomy; it entails rising against the stable signification that a sequence of elements may create, rising against co-dependency and reciprocal relationships, against punctuation, against the illusion of coherence of whatever may make itself heard or seen.

 

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12

Andrea Zittel
Prototypes for A-Z Platforms Beds, 1995

Born in 1965, Escondido, United States, lives and works in Los Angeles.

The proposals made by the “A-Z Administrative Service”, founded by Andrea Zittel, call into question our relationship to everyday objects, work and leisure environments and (more recently) our clothes. The entire logic of her work lies in examining the behaviour of individuals in relation to the materialistic modern world. After studying sculpture, she turned to artistic propositions concerning a central feature of the 1990s that the critic and curator Nicolas Bourriaud has called “relational aesthetics”. From this point of view, Zittel’s works are to a large extent interactive, and they assume the engagement of the viewer. Aiming at a redefinition of our habitats, they respond above all to our desire for comfort, with their combination of ergonomics, functionality and design. In the “A to Z” projects, the body dictates the dimensions of the form, and influences the choice of materials and colours. There are prototypes of platform beds that take up an indeterminate position, because they mark a given space with their colours and geometry. But as mobile elements, they occupy no precise location. It is for the viewer to place and arrange them, as if the museum space had suddenly become a private, familiar zone.

 

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13

Chto Delat ?
Perestroika Songspiel. The Victory over the Coup, 2008

Chto Delat? (What’s to be Done?) was founded in 2003 in St. Petersburg, as an artists’ collective whose name originates from the title of a 19th century novel written by the Socialist critic and philosopher Nikolai Chernyshevsky and a ground-breaking manifesto published in 1902 by Lenin. The visual approach of this group usually associates ideology, art and activism, aimed at re-politicizing Russian culture and keeping a fairly keen eye on the predominance of economic systems like capitalism and neo-liberalism. This politically committed artistic cooperative includes critics, philosophers and writers as well; they all share this same revolutionary spirit and this desire to bestir in the spectator a real political awareness of the world by way of installations and interventions in the urban space.
Perestroika Songspiel is a film which borrows its narrative structure, as part of its title suggests, from the German Singspiel, a theatrical opus alternating spoken dialogues and songs, akin to comic opera. This video presents archetypical characters of the Perestroika period contrasting with a choir symbolizing collectivism. Democrats, businessmen, revolutionaries, nationalists and feminists all put forward their viewpoint about the attempts at reform orchestrated by Mikhail Gorbachev between 1985 and 1991.

 

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14

Dan Peterman
Civilian Defense, 2007

Born in 1960, Minneapolis, United States, lives and works in Chicago.

Dan Peterman often uses recycled plastic, aluminium and other re-usable waste products in his work. He attempts to create a new function for the materials and explores the interconnections between ecological, economic and cultural systems. In a number of his pieces, he re-uses materials to create temporary shelters in the public space. He also fashions sculptures from steel, melted-down industrial plastic or other materials.
Peterman made Civilian Defense in 2007 for the Sharjah Biennial in the United Arab Emirates. The multicoloured cloth sandbags were inspired by the vibrant fabric trade in the city of Sharjah. The installation comprises 1,000 or more bags filled with about nine kilograms of sand each, stacked in a circle approximately six metres in diameter. In 2007 the work was a topic of discussion during the Caucus meetings of the project Be(com)ing Dutch organised by the Van Abbemuseum.

 

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15

Thomas Schütte
Collector’s complex, 1990

Born in 1954 in Oldenburg, Germany, lives and works in Düsseldorf

As a leading artist on the international scene, Thomas Schütte has between questioning our relationship to architecture and the art of building since the 1980s. Based on a body of works taking the form of models of administrative, industrial and residential buildings, the artist develops a line of thinking about our environment and our notion of scale. Collector’s complex explores these questions by confronting viewers with two architectural structures set on wooden tables. Each maquette can be visited from outside, with the public able to evolve around this construction split in two, end up in its centre, and peep through the windows. This complex—an imaginary project for a private museum—nevertheless has a surprising decoration: a factory chimney shatters its coherence. The disturbing element of this architecture conjures up the industrial world, mass production, and things manufactured. By connecting industrial and artistic spheres, Thomas Schütte thus dissects the inter-relations between art and craftsmanship, challenging the very status of the artist, the artwork and the apparent impermeability between culture and production.

 

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16

Artur Żmijewski
Repetition, (2005)
Installation and video, 75’. 30’’.
Collection Van Abbemuseum, Eindhoven.

Artur Żmijewski is born in 1966, Warsaw, Poland. He lives and works in Warsaw.

“The film Repetition is based on the 1971 Stanford Prison Experiment. For this role-play, conducted by psychologist Philip Zimbardo, a prison was built in the basement of Stanford University where twenty-one students took up residence for a fortnight. Whether they were to be ‘prisoners’ or ‘guards’ was randomly determined.

Within two days, the subjects, whose mental balance had been previously tested, identified fully with their assigned roles. It was found that a number of prisoners were not able to stand up to the emotional pressure and several guards were guilty of abusing their powers to the extent that their behaviour bordered on sadism. For these reasons, Zimbardo terminated the experiment on the sixth day.
Both the question of whether conducting such an experiment is ethically justified and the conclusion that circumstances can have such an impact on people’s behaviour that anyone can become a tyrant made this one of the most controversial experiments in the history of psychology and one that lives on in scientific literature as well as in Mario Giordano’s novel Black Box and Oliver Hirschbiegel’s film Das Experiment.
Now, almost thirty-five years later, Polish artist Artur Żmijewski has replicated the Stanford experiment, registering the interaction between ‘prisoners’ and ‘guards’ with hidden cameras. The result is Repetition, a 75-minute-long film. Instead of students, seventeen young unemployed Polish men were prepared to spend two weeks together in a ‘prison’ set up in a shed in Warsaw, for 40$ a day.
Żmijewski exactly replicated the Stanford experiment. Like Zimbardo, he assigned himself the role of supervisor, regularly reminding the ‘guards’ of their duties and responsibilities. While the ‘guards’ were dressed in khaki uniforms and could hide behind their dark sunglasses, the ‘prisoners’ were required to wear wide smocks that restricted their freedom of movement and were addressed by the number on their clothing. In addition to the film Repetition, the Van Abbemuseum has acquired an exact replica of the ‘prison’ which is now also being displayed for the first time. It is an example of ‘architecture of control’: the location of the rooms, the size of the cells, the space between the beds and several other seemingly insignificant details add up to a total lack of privacy and erosion of the prisoners’ identity.
Żmijewski does differ from his foregoer in one respect: participants were free to give up at any moment. In this case, too, the experiment did not make it the full two weeks; two ‘prisoners’ gave up in the first few days and after a week, the ‘chief guard’ decided in agreement with the others to halt the experiment prematurely.
It comes as no surprise that Żmijewski was fascinated by the Stanford Experiment. Human nature is a recurrent theme in his other works. Looking to explore the depths of the human condition in its most existential form, he breaks taboos and makes frequently confrontational films. The faces of the people he puts on stage are altered by disease, they have disabilities or traumatic histories. He also places them in extreme situations in which normal social behaviour no longer suffices. Equally typical of Żmijewski’s approach is the fact that he presents behaviour without judging or explaining it.

Żmijewski’s films raise questions that extend far beyond the borders of art. In a 2005 interview, he said ‘Art is often felt to be strange and inexplicable and hence unimportant. People often think that interpreting art requires an enormous effort on the part of experts, who preferably use unintelligible language. That way, art becomes superfluous, of no consequence. That is not something I wish to engage in. I like it when art is no longer art, when it stops being art.’ But even when Żmijewski teeters on the brink of psychological experiment, his films present individuals rather than scientifically valid conclusions. In Repetition, we see how a mechanism of sharply defined rules activates fear and violence, but more than anything, it is the way in which individuals respond that attracts most notice. The guard promoted to prison director and prisoner number 810 are not examples of human behaviour, they are flesh and blood individuals who call forth emotions of distaste and sympathy but also compassion; even six months after the experiment, the pained look on the ‘chief guard’s’ face still flashes before your eyes.”
Hanneke de Man

 

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17

Wilhelm Sasnal
Untitled (Wroblewski), 2005

Born in 1972 in Tarnaw, Poland, lives and works in Tarnaw.

“A man waits on the platform. He has what look like a roll of plans. The atmosphere and the clothing are old fashioned, perhaps the 1950s when the painter Andrzej Wroblewski was working in Warsaw.  It was a time perhaps when Poles could still dream about a good communist future. What are these enigmatic plans and what happened to them? What happened to the dreams?”
Charles Esche

As a young and internationally recognized Polish artist, Wilhelm Sasnal is a painter and video-maker. Working from images gleaned from the mass media, he goes beyond the frame of appropriationism and disfigures these visuals with their at times familiar reminiscences of their narrative content. His work questions our relation to the image and our permanent exposition to a rush of visual stimuli in our contemporary day and age. Through a treatment using flat tints and a necessary remove, the artist transmits to us his reflections on the way the media world transcribes events and, by extension, on the way we look at the world. After the demise of communism and the east’s opening up to western culture and capitalism, Wilhelm Sasnal asserts, through his paintings, that the influx of imagery inundating the former Soviet bloc calls for a vital period of adaptation, and hindsight.

 

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18

Danica Dakic
First Shot, 2007 / 2008

Born in 1962 in Sarajevo, lives and works in Dusseldorf and Sarajevo. 

The Bosnian artist Danica Dakic creates monumental installations, acoustic architectures and videos which question our individuality tested by the collective factor. Her works are based on language and identity to illustrate the tensions which govern a world where the human element is at once a specific entity and a social being which is part and parcel of a collectivity. The video First Shot was filmed in the House for the Protection of Childhood and Youth in Parazic, near Sarajevo, and explores this theme by staging its residents. The House, which was founded in 1949, then represented an example of socialist modernization through its status as the first institution for the mentally handicapped in Bosnia-Herzegovina. Originally planned to take in children and young people with disabilities, this establishment, which survived the Balkan war between 1992 and 1996, became, perforce, a safe haven for its occupants. Now adults, these inmates have spent most of their lives cloistered within the House, totally ignorant of the changes their country has undergone. First Shot is thus a world unto itself, a closed and fantastical place in which the histories, illusions and traumas of each person give rise to a violent contrast with the tangible reality experienced by onlookers. The other particularity of this film lies in the plant-inspired décor used as a backdrop by the artist. Named Isola Bella, this 19th century tapestry motif evokes the Garden of Eden in the guise of a desert island, a refuge area where the protagonists live cut off from reality.

 

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19

Nedko Solakov
Negotiations, 2003

Born in 1957 in Cherven Briag, Bulgaria, lives and works in Sofia.

Well before the Wall fell and the Soviet bloc was dismembered, Nedko Solakov had adopted an artistic approach where wit and irony helped him to criticize the Bulgarian communist government. From those years the artist retains a rebellious and fantasy-rich spirit which he distills in works mixing history with individual and universal dimensions. In Negotiations, Nedko Solakov tells us about his fear of exhibiting in Tel Aviv. His anxiety about being trapped in an attack is such that he decides to call on the Bulgarian authorities so as to guarantee that the state of conflict will abate during his stay in Israel. In the guise of a paranoid schoolkid joke, the artist also denounces the absurdity of a system. Accompanying Solakov’s text of intent, the two videos of the state representatives of Israel and Palestine appointed in Sofia offer viewers the demonstration of a thoroughly candid official discourse and the inefficiency of the diplomatic system, be it Bulgarian or Israelo-Palestinian.

 

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20

Ivan Boccara
Pièce sonore et images d’archives : Mémoires d’archives, 2011

Born in 1968, Marrakech, Morocco, lives and works in Paris and Morocco.

“Image and sound co-habit, following two perpendicular movements, one is visual and frontal while the other is sonorous and horizontal.”
Ivan Boccara is a Moroccan/French artist who was invited to make a new work specifically for the exhibition. He is a photographer, cameraman, and has made documentaries and short films. Current projects look at images and archives of the Moroccan Berbers and the Jewish Moroccan Berbers and what they tell us about the histories of migration and modernization. For his work here, Boccara visited a number of the official archives in the city of Bordeaux. Itself a project grounded in archival research, Mémoires d’archives traces the artist’s conversations with the city’s archivists and the experience of looking through the vast shelves of material that might tell the city’s history.
He focuses on the ways in which the archives are experienced by the people who work there and the sounds and images that happen in the midst of this quiet, intense way of working. By doing so, he plays with different senses of time passing, how the archives contain centuries of information that are managed by people minute by minute. He points out the atmospheres under which histories come to be recorded and analysed, making clear how subjective some choices can be and how many stories are often left out or undeveloped in the process. At the same time, he explores the co-existence of image and sound, focusing here on the cohabitation and confrontation between the sound of conducting research in public archives and images drawn from his family’s personal archives.

Pièce sonore et images d’archives : Mémoires d’archives (2011), 8’35’’
Sound designer: Félix Blume
Image edition: Benjamin Minot

 

Sound  2011
Archives municipales de Bordeaux (Municipal Archives of Bordeaux)
Archives départementales de la Gironde (Departmental Archives of La Gironde)
La Mémoire de Bordeaux, de la communauté urbaine et de ses communes (The Memory of Bordeaux)
Voices: Emilie Caubarus, Léa Souchard, Sonia Moumen, Anne Chimits, Cyril Olivier, Ivan Boccara et les chercheurs, les archivistes et les employés des Archives municipals de Bordeaux ainsi que des Archives départementales de la Gironde / the researchers, archivists, and employees of the Municipal Archives of Bordeaux and the Departmental Archives of La Gironde.
Sound actor: Cyril Olivier
Music: Excerpt from “ Syrinx” Flute Solo from a work composed by Claude Debussy in 1913 and performed by Georges Cuer.

Image 1971-72
Archival Fragment (1)
Middle Atlas, Maroc

Thanks to:
Geneviève Caillabet, documentaliste à « La Mémoire de Bordeaux, de la Communauté Urbaine et de ses communes », Agnès Vatican, Conservateur des Archives Municipales de Bordeaux, Georges Cuer, Conservateur adjoint aux Archives départementales de la Gironde, Cyril Olivier, attaché de conservation, chargé du bureau des recherches ainsi que Brigitte Cassard et Isabelle Deconninck, restauratrices aux Archives départementales de la Gironde. Robert Lucante, urbaniste, directeur d’étude à L’a-urba, Florence Kremper, Hanna Boccara, Myriam Boccara, François Chochon, Cécile et Henri Boccara, Matthieu Gaufogel, Benjamin Minot, Félix Blume, Julien Devaux, Abdellah Karroum, Emma Chubb, Maité Vissault. Sylvain Mavel, Pascal Lacampagne ainsi que toute l’équipe du CAPC.

 

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21

Erzen Shkololli
'Pejë, Kosovo, 1998' :
Patchwork I - V,
1998
Patchwork Triptych, 1998

Born in 1976, Pejë, Kosovo, lives and works in Berlin.

Erzen Shkololli created “Pejë, Kosovo, 1998” when he was twenty-two years old but only now, thirteen years later, is the work on public display for the first time. In the intervening years, the work was kept in storage, first in Kosovo and later in Berlin. “Pejë, Kosovo, 1998” was made during the time of the Kosovo war when Erzen, a young artist at the time, was stuck hiding with his family in Pëje for three months, while his entire neighbourhood was ethnically cleansed. In order to keep active, he used what he could find in the circumstances, which was material from his father's bespoke sewing shop and his mother's home sewing machine. As a result, he made a series of colourful patchworks, one twentytwo meters long along with eight banners.
When one looks at the long banner, human figures in a strong red colour strike the eyes at first sight. The people have no gender and they are made rather schematically or without much
detail. Most of the figures have their hands up, interspersed with coffins, houses and flowers all in different strong colours on a black background. Other patchworks are less colourful yet the same schematic images repeat. The works have an almost Matisse or CoBrA-like quality to them, European artists from the 1950s who were also active in the immediate aftermath of a war.
Alongside Erzen's patchworks, drawn postcards printed in seductive colours are placed on table. These postcards are some of hundreds painted by children in the refugee camp in the immediate weeks after the war as part of an humanitarian rehabilitation project. Erzen worked with the children as an artisttrying to normalize the experiences they went through and coming to terms with his life experiences at the same time. The postcards have the same mysterious quality as the patchworks, on the one hand being so beautiful and attractive and on the other hand being disturbing, even without any directly provocative images.
Erzen Shkololli is an artist, curator and co-founder of EXIT Contemporary Art Institute in Pejë. His art practice utilizes local rituals and folklore to draw attention to socio-political situations in Kosovo.

 

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Akram Zaatari
Untold, 2008
Writing for a posterior Time; Nabih Awada: Documents from Prison. Letter to Samir, 2008

Born in 1966 in Saïda in Lebanon, lives and works in Beirut.

Akram Zaatari is a video-maker and photographer who attaches great importance to archives and the way in which we are gradually documenting our recent history. For him, reports and objects are traces loaded with history which describe the traumas of our world by way of anecdotes. The artist evokes war, tensions and forced confinement in a Lebanese state marked by fifteen years of war. His ideas are political, and his use of visuality is aimed at demonstrating the preponderance of imagery in our modern societies. Untold and Letter to Samir thus recount a major fact for Lebanese political prisoners detained in Israel. In 1993, after a series of strikes, these detainees obtained from the Israeli authorities the right to be photographed and to correspond with their families, as well as with other prisoners, through the Red Cross. But the content of these exchanges is controlled by the powers on the spot and prisoners are forced to resort to other methods to get around this censorship and describe the reality of their everyday lives. This practice is called msamsameh writing and consists in writing a letter which, once folded, is as tiny as a sesame seed. This correspondence deals with security problems, especially in the central Nafha and Askalan prisons. Each missive, written in microscopic hieroglyphs is, once folded, wrapped and sealed in plastic to form an airtight capsule which discreetly passes hands through the grill in the visiting room. The series of portraits accompanied by prisoners’ letters rounds off the video, retracing the writing of a folded letter in msamsameh.

 

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Hüseyin Bahri Alptekin
Self-Heterotopia, Catching Up with Self, 1991 / 2007

Born in 1957, Ankara, died in 2007, Istanbul, Turkey.

Turkish artist Hüseyin Bahri Alptekin collected the multitude of objects that make up Self-Heterotopia, Catching Up with Self on his extensive travels between 1991 and 2007. In his work, Alptekin often uses “found objects”, most of which are cheap disposable items, implements and photographs that have no value to most people. Alptekin’s work focuses on the narratives that develop in his compilations, rather than on style or form.
His works show us the results of globalisation since the fall of the Berlin Wall in 1989. The economic and social developments that unfolded after communist influences waned brought a huge influx of cheap consumer goods into Turkey. Prosperity and luxury are represented by multicoloured disposable articles manufactured using low-cost materials. As the mobility of people, goods, images, advertising and imagery increases, so does homogeneity: we see the same objects everywhere we go.

 

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Joseph Grigely
Conversations in Ann Arbor, 1996

Born in 1956, Springfield, United States, lives and works in New York and Ann Arbor.

Joseph Grigely practises an art of conversation in which speech and a desire for communication with others occupy a decisive position. Conversations with the Hearing is the generic title of the setups he has produced over the last few years. His art of discourse may be ephemeral, but he conserves traces of it in installations based on oral experimentation. These generally appear as areas of conviviality, reconstituted from objects that have accompanied him in verbal exchanges. The decision to become involved in an activity that highlights the art of dialogue originated in an event that had an irreversible effect on his life – at the age of ten, he went deaf. In Conversations in Ann Arbor there is the kind of nondescript furniture that often figures in a discussion, with piles of objects on tables giving the impression that the exchange took place in a friendly atmosphere. In particular, there are numerous scraps of paper that were written on by the person with whom Grigely was communicating. In a way, they are remnants of an encounter during which information was continually being passed back and forth in the form of notes. Grigely has invented new forms of communication.

 

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Hannah Hurtzig
Flight Case Archive of Mobile Academy, 2003 / 2010

Born in Germany, lives and works in Berlin.

Audiovisual archive

Tattoos to Die For: The History of 9/11 Tattoos. By Jim Clark, tattooist
Does conceptual dance exist at all? By Prof. Dr Rudi Laermans
Pick yourself up with Anita O’Day: Applicable Survival Strategies of a Jazz Singer. By Marc Siegel, lecturer in film studies.
New Types of Masculinity. Intuition and Associative Thinking (only men allowed). By Redbad Klynstra, actor and theatre director. 

Have you ever wanted to know more about any of the above, or about Italo Calvino, Muhtar, metal recycling, theatre in the digital age, or how to disappear? FCA – (Flight Case Archive) is mobile continuously growing archive, it is a capsule in a wo/man size, where one can sit, watch and listen to an audio-visual discussion archive. FCA is being created around the theme of “Stories about places, cities and territories”. This project contains sharing knowledge between experts from a different filed, yet elaborate on the idea of collecting, meetings, intersections. sharing of ideas related to the subject of collective memory, collective knowledge and the policy of using of an expert. The Mobile Academy, the Black Market or other platform developed by Hurtzig allow professional knowledge and theoretical  discourses to encounter the practices of everyday life, work, and individual narration, thus creating a public geography in which knowledge and information is communicated visually and in a process of negotiation.
Part of the archive is online: www.blackmarket-archive.com

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