ELIZABETH PRICE ‘RESTORATION’ @ THE ASHMOLEAN, OXFORD
- Film made in response to the collection at the Ashmolean and Pitt Rivers museums.
- 2 screens/diptych
- music, percussion, rhythm
- artificial voice voiceover
- creates lives and narratives for objects and the people who handle/document them
- “no object was made for the museum”
‘LIQUID TRACES’ MOSAIC ROOMS
Lorenzo Pezzani presented his [and Charles Heller’s] work on the Liquid Traces project at Goldsmiths department of Forensic Architecture, which utilises satellite and mapping technologies to investigate cases of migrant deaths in the Mediterranean sea, as part of a demand for accountability for these deaths.
- forensic oceanography – investigates deaths of migrants
- ‘left to die boat’ – 63 died, 9 lived. Boat spent 14 days drifting in some of the most surveyed waters in the world, but were not rescued.
- remote sensing tools repurposed to find evidence of guilt
- themes of visibility and transparency
- each ‘incident’ of deaths at sea provokes calls for more surveillance and militarisation, but the cause of the migrant sea journeys is the strict visa regulations and lack of mobility.
- smugglers only exist because of policies of enclosure
- policies create the environment for crimes to go unchallenged. institutional crime.
- disobedient gaze – show the violence of border regimes but try not to expose migrant routes
- structural and infrastructural violence
- policies of non-assistance
- ‘pull factor’ – argument that rescuing ships encourages more journeys
- Mare Nostrum boat, operation Triton, Frontex
This talk was really interesting. I was interested in the accusatory tone of the film/research that Pezzani presented, in that it is refreshing to see the use of data/mapping/technologies/research in an explicitly political way rather than just the dry presentation of facts.
‘MIGRATING DREAMS AND NIGHTMARES’ GOLDSMITHS COLLEGE
Co-organised by Nirmal Puwar and Mariam Motamedi Fraser
Exhibition in the Kingsway Corridor at Goldsmiths College.
- exhibition in response to Jean Mohr and John Berger’s novel A Seventh Man (1975)
- deals with issues of migrant labour and experience
- work by Sadek Rahim, and Antoinette Brown in collaboration with Nirmal Puwar
HEATHER PHILLIPSON WHITECHAPEL GALLERY
– More Flinching (2016) is the outcome of Heather Phillipson’s writing residency at the Whitechapel Gallery
– Phillipson presents a sprawling poetic work, printed cheaply and distributed throughout the gallery. The piece combines writing about the shooting of a police dog interspersed with memories of the death of pet, and personal writings that evoke the sense of what it is to inhabit a body in all its fleshy intimacy. (amongst other things…)
– Alongside this was a film that showed a pianist playing a piece by Chopin that is mentioned in Philipson’s writing, which is cut with grainy images of a dog that flash and disappear before your brain can make sense of what it is seeing. The audio plays loudly throughout the gallery and gives a filmic, emotional quality to the experience of reading the text.
– I really enjoyed the text and found it’s sprawling form and malleable, loose structure to be engaging and addictive. I was only slightly disappointed that there was no large cut outs and sculptural works that she is known for, as that was what I was looking forward to seeing!
– Overall it made me think about the structure of my own text work and how I can push my writing in more experimental directions, yet remain accessible – which is what Phillipson does perfectly.
KIHLBERG & HENRY FIG2 @ ICA
– “I am the room’s breath”
-“Breath is the punctuation of your death”
– anxiety , diasasters, floods, earthquakes
– footage from cctv and building safety tests
-many stock/watermarked photos of architecture, particularly boarded-up houses and windowless buildings; derelict and abandoned buildings; minimal, modern, square forms
– this piece was somewhere between meditation video; with the voice-over breathing heavily and counting through the film, as the rectangular screen shrinks and grows as if breathing, and a slide-show of windowless, forlorn buildings.
– i liked the voiceover in this piece, which felt spontaneous and intimate
ANN VERONICA JANSSENS WELLCOME COLLECTION
– room filled with mist and coloured light to create an immersive, disorientating installation
– at once claustrophobic yet serene
– I liked the duality of the experience: I was with members of the public and could hear them moving about, yet the density of the mist prevented you from seeing them and gave the feeling of privacy and seclusion
– the piece was intended to make the viewer aware of consciousness, something intangible, through a physical, visual experience.
DINEO SESHEE BOPAPE ‘SLOW CO-RUPTION’ HAYWARD GALLERY
Artificial grass bristles underfoot, cut out eyes watch me from the walls and birds shriek from some unknown place as I maneuver through Dineo Seshee Bopape’s sprawling, exploded sculptural installation at The Hayward Gallery Project Space: her first solo exhibition in the UK. As you enter the room you are confronted by a mass of wires, rods, projections and stickers, with streamers draped in and amongst the rubble. Nestled in each corner are little monitors playing looped videos of grasses jittering in the wind. There is an atmosphere of restlessness and a sickly artificiality that is initially joyous, yet breeds a slow discomfort.
Moving on, I struggle through a heavy curtain to find myself in front of a rabbit spinning in a psychedelic vortex. why do you call me when you know i can’t answer the phone (2012) is a cacophonous, swirling video piece, where stock images float through a multi-coloured, over-saturated cyberspace. A kind of Google Image nightmare that feels both mesmerizing and stomach churning. Bopape describes this work as “a corruption of relationality”, likening the bombardment of images, signs and sounds to the development of Alzheimer’s. How can we imagine the feeling of reality slipping away? The pain of betrayal and how exquisite this must be when the perpetrator is one’s own mind. We recognize the images that float before us, yet any meaning or narrative eludes us. The use of generic clip-art stock imagery highlights this sense of alienation by removing vital traces of place or time that anchor meaning. At times this is comedic, frustrating and confusing.
The third room in Bopape’s slow-co-ruption invites you to watch is i am sky (2013) from the comfort of blue monochrome deckchairs. The artist appears before us from some windswept landscape, smiling and gazing towards the sky as the image pixelates and degrades. Her skin gives way to stars as the boundaries between dimensions tear and collapse. As the images shifts between real life and cosmic landscape, the sounds of wind on the microphone, deafening chimes and rhythmic drumming blare from a speaker behind my head. Made in part as a response to the trial of Julius Malema, convicted of hate speech for singing an (anti) apartheid-era song, the piece addresses politics, identity and memory. Bopape captures a sense of wanting to hang on to something; a place, a legacy or history as it slips away: “There is already much amnesia about the black struggle…it is an ongoing struggle, an ongoing song…”
slow-co-ruption feels to me much like a landscape. A degraded landscape where flora and fauna have been plasticized and digitalized: reduced to pixels and files ripe for corruption. Bopape transforms nature into some sickly, buzzing, glitching spectre. Every image and object, even sound, is opened out and expanded, so that meaning and connotation run into each other and blur. Everything is happening simultaneously and this sensory overload is both seductive and aggravating. I’m reminded briefly of Pipilotti Rist’s installation at Hauser and Wirth earlier this year, Worry Will Vanish (2014). Whilst Rist’s psychotropic, immersive journey through the undergrowth lulls you into a meditative stupor on the gallery floor, Bopape keeps you on your toes: bombards you with inescapable visual information. Motifs appear and reappear throughout the works; a colour, a shape, the grass beneath your feet. These unify installation with video, the real world gallery space with the hypnotic video cyberspace.
At face value this exhibition is playful, fun and excitingly garish, yet spending any time with these works reveals their darker, anxious undertones. There is a lyrical playfulness in Bopape’s language: “slow-co-ruption” perfectly describes the descent into nonsense and the breaking down of language, the rupturing of reality. I stand for a while, hypnotized by the jittering grasses buzzing on a glowing screen, nature reduced to a sad little throb of static lost in the concrete of the South Bank and wonder what my fellow viewers make of it all. I can imagine the confusion and saturation of her work could be quite frustrating unless you surrender yourself to the furor.
It would be unbearable if I weren’t enjoying it so much.
SOL CALERO ‘LA ESCUELA DEL SUR’ STUDIO VOLTAIRE
- “tropical” “exotic” stereotypical South American motifs that challenge preconceived ideas about ‘Latin America’ as a homogenous mass. “notions of creation, appropriation and cultural anthropophagy.” (from press release)
- cultural representation
- school-like installation – social space that will be used by education groups, was a bit boring when i was there on my own – felt like being in a school after everyone has gone home, eerie
- i liked the use of materials – inexpensive, simple
GEORGE BARBER ‘FENCES MAKE SENSES’ WATERSIDE CONTEMPORARY
“Imagine swimming to a place where you’re not wanted.”
- really interesting text/script/voice over that combines various strains of narrative: migrant experience, global trade and luxury travel. Playful use of language. The imaginary, the real, the personal, political, documentary, poetry – layered.
- Barber films English actors imagining scenes from migration experiences – buying a boat, arguing with an official at a border or office. The use of these actors, who don’t have costumes or sets and are just filmed in back gardens or parks, reveals the absurdity of these situations. Sometimes silly, almost funny. Highlights the bureaucracy of global movement and how slight and arbitrary political borders are, but what huge impact they have on people’s lives.
- At the other end of the spectrum Barber reveals the sad and morally dubious responses to migration, in a scene where the actors play a crew from a ship who didn’t help a group of people in a dinghy. They discuss the incident and whether to file a report, and try to rationalise their response to the situation “Maybe they didn’t need our help”, “maybe they were waving hello.”, “I’ll file a report, I’ll say it was dolphins, I’ll say it was a dot on the horizon.” The actors deliver these lines in an expressionless way, as if just regurgitating lines – the lack of emotion reveals the inhumanity of the situation.
- “biscuit packets are designed so that no biscuit is ever harmed during transit.” More care given to the import/export of goods than people. Money. Value.
- Found clips of adverts for luxury air travel – exposes the uneasy distinctions between ‘travel’ and ‘migration’.
From an interview with George Barber on his film about drones:
“So, partly, I’m adding to this debate using poetry as a way… or avant garde filmmaking in which to reinterpret and discuss it. I’m not claiming to bring any new knowledge in the sense that I’m an expert on war, or a politician, but what I can do is appropriate the subject and put an artist’s sensibility on it, which, you know, is just as valid as opening it up for discussion in a different way.” George Barber http://www.dazeddigital.com/artsandculture/article/15600/1/a-drone-goes-native
Barber G. (2015) ‘A Q&A With…George Barber, Video Artist’ Interviewed by Chris Sharratt for a-n, 20th October. Available at: https://www.a-n.co.uk/news/a-qa-with-george-barber-video-artist (accessed: 20/10/15).
“The work responded to a moment in 2014 when I’d been to a lot of film festivals and I kept seeing the same work; these appalling interviews with refugees talking about their terrible experience and losing everything. Art can’t really take on events of such immensity – in that sense it’s very difficult to make a work about, say, 9/11, which is still cascading on and its influence is still there. So I knew I couldn’t offer any solution but I wanted to bring it home. The idea was that I would get my friends or people I knew to actually rehearse some of the scenarios that these people faced, like buying a boat or having all your money taken off you or dealing with bureaucracy. There’s a lot of absurdity in these situations and the rehearsals point out the absurdity, but they’re also tragic as well. The trouble is that when people are in dire straits they’ll believe anything.”
“An artistic response is just as valid as a journalistic response, but let’s get it straight – art probably doesn’t affect anything. If you took Guernica, for example, we remember it because of that Picasso painting; if we hadn’t had the painting we probably wouldn’t know it so well. And there are various events historically that live on because of an art piece. But I don’t think any piece of art has ever changed a politician’s view point. So I don’t think that artists have that much power to change the world or affect politics, but obviously they’re part of a stream and as viewpoints change they’re part of that. And secondly, as an artist one just has to follow one’s heart if you get an idea.”
– interesting ideas on the role of the artist/art in political situations
– an exhibition in three narrative parts
– “The first part looks at the resonance between the inspiring, bizarre and sometimes tragic stories of these diverse bandits, the outsider rebel par excellence, often rewritten as mere criminals (or naively romanticised as wayward figures) and excluded from the narrative of revolutionary struggle. Ironically these figures most clearly articulate the incompleteness and inadequacies in existing oppositional movements political language and imaginary.
While the opening chapter expresses the longing for more radical forms of action and the characters’ urgent need to overcome their unbearable living conditions, the second part, Unforgiving Years (2014) – which is premiering in the UK – looks at what happens when these gestures are unfulfilled, for those who are not killed, somehow left behind. It examines a recurrent impulse to refuse the seeming ‘permanence’ of a capitalist-colonial present, that though defeated at multiple moments, continues to resurge and return. Unforgiving Years is about things lost and others glimpsed in the wreckage, about what can be conjured into being from the ashes. A victory in defeat. A provocation to rethink the seemingly unimaginable.” from the press release
- I liked the form of this exhibition, which comes across as quite chaotic – fitting for the political subject matter
- I would like to work on something like this that is research driven and uses/analyses lots of different sources. The papers everywhere, and the windowless basement room felt like we were in a war room/bunker/meeting place
- I liked the mixing of fact and fiction and the blurring of lines between places and events, moments in history