The Pergamon Project

Alfredo Jaar: The way it is. An Aesthetics of Resistance

The Neue Gesellschaft für Bildende Kunst (New Society for Visual Arts) presents an exhibition by Chilean artist Alfredo Jaar simultaneously at three Berlin institutions. The monographic show offers a retrospective survey of an artistic production spanning close to four decades.

Read More
Jean Luc Godard 2 or 3 things

2 or 3 Things I Know About Her By Jean-Luc Godard

2 or 3 Things I Know About Her is perhaps Godard’s most revelatory look at consumer culture, shot in ravishing widescreen color by Raoul Coutard

Read More

Tout Va Bien by Jean-Luc Godard

France  |  1972  |  96 minutes  |  Color

SYNOPSIS: In 1972, newly radicalized Hollywood star Jane Fonda joined forces with cinematic innovator Jean-Luc Godard and collaborator Jean-Pierre Gorin in an unholy artistic alliance that resulted in Tout va bien (Everything’s All Right). This free-ranging assault on consumer capitalism and the establishment left tells the story of a wildcat strike at a sausage factory as witnessed by an American reporter (Fonda) and her has-been New Wave film director husband (Yves Montand). Tout Va Bien is a masterpiece of radical cinema, a caustic critique of society, marriage, and revolution in post-1968 France.

Read More

Francis Alÿs: A Story of Deception

May 8–August 1, 2011
Sixth floor

Francis Alÿs uses poetic and allegorical methods to address political and social realities, such as national borders, localism and globalism, areas of conflict and community, and the benefits and detriments of progress.

Alÿs’s personal, ambulatory explorations of cities form the basis for his practice, through which he compiles extensive and varied documentation that reflects his ideas and process. As one of the foremost artists of his generation, Alÿs has produced a complex and diverse body of work that includes video, painting, performance, drawing, and photography.

Read More

Eduardo Villanes: The Extinction of Corn

Peruvian artist, Eduardo Villanes explores the loss of the incredible biodiversity of his native land, the ancestral home of more than 600 varieties of potatoes and endless amount of other plant and animal species.

Villanes’s works dealing with GMOs appear quite benign: seductive, highly optical creations, rather than dry, conceptual political pieces. For the past few years, the artist has been translating DNA sequences of variety of plant species into four-color patterns (which each color standing for one of the four DNA nucleobases: adenine [A], cytosine [C], guanine [G] and thymine [T]), which he later materializes as what he calls “microtextiles,” or beadworks, tiny pieces of fabric woven with thin nylon string and glass beads. The fabrics are then installed in slide mounts and either displayed on light tables or – enlarged multiple times – projected onto the walls of a gallery. The Extinction of Corn took on the latter form, presenting itself as an alluring spectacle of luminous, vibrant colors totally consuming the exhibition space.

The artist statement published in the exhibition catalogue unequivocally condemned genetic modification of living organisms and corporations standing behind mass implementation of GMOs into industrialized agriculture.

For the savvy in Peruvian society and politics, however, it evokes recent violent conflicts between the government and indigenous tribes (and specifically bloody massacre in Bagua in June 2009) over the rich in natural resources land of the selva. Neo-liberal policies, encouraging the use and industrial extraction of valuable goods, especially natural gas and water energy, by foreign corporations clash with the local way of life, dependent on the incredible nutritional and medicinal value of the immense variety of the plant species of the forest, where the bond with nature has multiple sacred dimensions. Villanes, who spent long periods of time in the jungle in the second half of the 1990s, is obviously concerned with the cultural and spiritual heritage of the local traditions and, not without a reason, extends his focus onto the issues that impact us all, regardless of the current place of residence: agriculture and food.

Politics in Contemporary Art: Alfredo Jaar

Offical Website:

Through installations, photographs, and community-based projects, Jaar explores the public’s desensitization to images and the limitations of art to represent events such as genocides, epidemics, and famines. Jaar’s work bears witness to military conflicts, political corruption, and imbalances of power between industrialized and developing nations.

“I strongly believe in the power of a single idea,” says Alfredo Jaar. “My imagination starts working based on research, based on a real life event, most of the time a tragedy that I’m just starting to analyze, to reflect on…this real life event to which I’m trying to respond.”

1. Gold in the Morning, 1997

In 1985 Alfredo Jaar went to Serra Palada, an open cast gold mine in north-eastern Brazil. There he photographed and filmed the astonishing working conditions of the self-employed miners. An insistence on the importance of context to the subsequent interpretation and distribution of his work has been central to Jaar’s practice; and the Serra Palada material was initially installed on a New York subway station alongside indicators of fluctuations in world gold prices.

“I always describe myself as a project artist. I’m not a studio artist. I do not create works in my studio. I wouldn’t know what to do. I do not stare at the blank page of paper and start inventing a world coming from my imagination. Every work is a response to a real-life event, a real-life situation.”

Gold in the MorningGold in the Morning

2.  A logo for America, 1987

logo for america

The representation of geography and the intricacies of global relations influence Jaar’s every thought and action.

In more recent projects, this obsession has led to critical investigations of cartography. A logo for America was an explicit demonstration of the significance of the images and language of geography – its representation and articulation. It also appropriated an amendable technology that utilized Jaar’s interest in texts, words, film processes, and graphic design. Part of a six – year program sponsored by the Public Art Fund, Inc. in New York, Jaar was one of thirty artists invited to produce a 45 – second computer animation / intervention on the Spectacolor lightboard in the heart of Times Square.

3.  One Million Finnish Passports, 1995


Finland has a historically stringent immigration policy, staunch nationalists they accept only a tiny fraction of the citizenship applications they receive, far less than any of their neighboring countries. Observing this, Jaar somehow managed to get 1 million Finnish passports printed up to represent the number of people who should have been nationalized as Finnish citizens but weren’t.  Now obviously this poses somewhat of a security risk, so the passports were housed behind a fortress of bullet-proof glass and the passports would be burned after the exhibit ended.passports

One million replicated Finnish passports, glass, 800 x 800 x 80 cm.

“I could say that everything I know about art, I learned as an architect. As an architect, I give myself a program, taking into account a specific space. Space is not just physical. It’s also social, cultural, political. Studying the space, I try to reach what we call the essence of the space. Then I combine that with the essence of what I am trying to say. All these elements are incorporated in the program, in which I have an objective.”

4. Infinite Cell, 2004


Iron bars, painted wood, mirrors. 145 5/8 x 177 1/8 x 102 3/8 inches.

“A mirror is a simple object of daily life, and the perfect articulation of the narcissism of our society- a society that only cares for itself. In ‘Infinite Cell’, it’s about seeing ourselves in infinite projection and thinking about what we want to do as artists, as intellectuals. What do we want to say as producers of culture? And to whom are we speaking? Am I my public, or is it someone else? It also has to do with the horrors of the twenty-first century. This piece is probably one of my most emotionally charged works. Unfortunately, it has a universal life: all countries have histories of horror. And so, in a way, this piece asks, ‘How do we make art in the world, the way it is now? How do we make art today?’”

5. The Cloud, 2000


Public intervention, Valle del Matador, Tijuana, Mexico-San Diego, USA Border. October 14, 2000.

“People describe me sometimes as a conceptual artist, as a political artist, with work of a strong political connotation or social content. I always reject those labels. I’m an artist, and believe it or not I’m interested in beauty and I’m not afraid of it. It is an essential tool to attract my audience, and sometimes I use it to introduce horror because the audience has to be seduced.”

6. The Skoghall Konsthall, 2000


Public intervention, Skoghall, Sweden.

Jaar was invited to Skoghall where he constructed a paper museum, organized a one-day exhibition, and then had the structure set on fire. The timing, temporarily, and duration of this project—as well as its denouncement—had a theatrical character.

“I was shocked to discover that a community could exist for thirty years without any visible cultural or exhibition space. How do you represent it the absence of this space for culture in an entire community? I found it hard to believe that people could live without it the intellectual and critical stimulus that visual art can provide^to question, to speculate, and to search. It blew my mind. I sought a spectacular way to deal with this lack. I created an exhibition space for twenty-four hours and then burned it away I wanted to offer a glimpse of what contemporary art is and what it can do in a community. Then by “disappearing” it in such a spectacular way, I hoped to reveal its absence”.

7. Lights in the city, 1999

In Canada Alfredo Jaar completed a project referred to as Lights in the City, in 1999.  This is a historic landmark which had burnt around five times before Jaar completed this project. The building is called Copula of the Marche Bonsecours. There were approximately a hundred thousand watts of red lights installed within the Copula so that when a button is mashed the copula lights up with a red color inside of it very brightly so that it can be seen all around the city of Montreal.

Detonating devices have been placed in multiple places such as Accueil Bonneau, la Maison Eugenie Bernier and la Maison Paul Gregoire, and homeless shelters that are located within five hundred yards of the Cupola. Each time a homeless individual enters one of these areas they are free to push the buttons located within these areas so that the Cupola will light up inside with bright red colors. The entire point of this is to allow homeless individuals to be recognized as a person within the city without humility.

“I submitted my proposal to the people at the shelters. They appreciated that I was not exposing them through photography. They liked and approved my idea. These red lights connected to the shelters were my way of sending a distress signal to the city—of making the homeless visible withcnit pointing at them directly Of course, the red hghts also recalled the fires that consumed the building many times, but metaphorically. ”

“We wanted the Cupola to become a permanent monument of .shame, and other shelters wanted to join us and get connected, but six weeks later the mayor canceled it. like all of my projects, it failed. We did not give the homeless a home. We did not resolve their problem. We gave them a brief, hopeful moment when they regained their humanity, when people started acknowledging their presence, smiled at them, when the press also contributed to the dialogue, but eventually they returned to their status as homeless. With these projects you change so little…”

Nan Goldin’s Scopophilia at the Louvre

Louvre Museum
11.04.2010 to 01.31.2011

NAN GOLDIN is a photographer whose work is a record of her life.

In exhibitions and in books, she has included some self-portraits, a few of which presented devastating views of her own self-destructiveness. But, she suggests, no portrait of her could be complete without the people she loves and what’s around her. ”The Ballad of Sexual Dependency,” the work in which she first documented her friends and herself, her scene, forged a genre, with photography as influential as any in the last 20 years.

Nan after being battered, 1984

For the past few years, Nan Goldin has been keeping a personal diary that is no doubt one of the most moving stories ever. Her slideshow of photographs captures the whirlwind of life: love, death, illness, but also celebration, the fragility of human relations, hope and despair. This new work created for the Louvre pairs her own photographs of faces and bodies with photographs she has taken of artworks in the museum.

Read More

Allora and Calzadilla at the Lisson Gallery

Lisson Gallery
October 13, 2010 – November 13, 2010
52-54 Bell Street
London, NW1 5DA

Jennifer Allora (American) and Guillermo Calzadilla (Cuban) have been collaborating since 1995. On October 13th they will debut new large-scale works incorporating performance at the Lisson Gallery in London.

“Hope Hippo”
2005. Mud, whistle, daily newspaper, and live person.
nstallation view: 51st Venice Biennale.

Read More

Iñigo Manglano-Ovalle at MASS MoCA

Gravity is a Force to be Reckoned With
Dec 12, 2009–Oct 31, 2010

Iñigo Manglano-Ovalle’s project Gravity Is a Force to be Reckoned With (download gallery guide), is based upon Mies van der Rohe’s uncompleted project, the 50×50 House (1951), a square structure open to view on all four sides through glass walls. In Manglano-Ovalle’s work, the house will be constructed at approximately half scale and inverted, the ceiling of the original becoming the sculpture’s floor, the floor becoming the ceiling, and all interior elements such as Mies-designed furniture and partition walls installed upside down.

This singular mysterious tableau provides a touchstone linking the glass house to what is widely regarded as the first science fiction novel; Yevgeny Zamyatin’s We (1921). Set in a futuristic world where individual freedom does not exist and all inhabitants live and work in transparent buildings, the novel tells the story of a state-employed engineer who falls in love with a terrorist and ultimately finds himself in a political and emotional state of desperation culminating in his futile attempt to destroy power and banging his head on glass walls.

Read More

Tania Bruguera: On the Political Imaginary

On the Political Imaginary
January 28-April 11, 2010 at the Neuberger Museum of Art

Powerful Performance and Installation Art That Explores Issues of Exile, Displacement, and Instability

Tania Bruguera: On the Political Imaginary. This is the first survey of her interdisciplinary work focusing on the relationship among art, politics, and life. Featured are her powerful, innovative installation and performance works created for various international venues over the past twenty years. (The museum has recreated those venues in a striking installation in two of its largest galleries.) In this show, the artist explores such urgent issues as exile, displacement, and instability — and individual and collective responses to them, from submission, fear, and endurance, to the hope for survival and possibility of self-expression. Multiple daily performances are included throughout the run of the exhibition.

Read More

Pedro Reyes: Palas Por Pistolas

10th Biennale de Lyon: The Spectacle of the Everyday
Palas Por Pistolas (Pistols Into Spades). 2008
50 shovels made of metal from 1,527 destroyed weappons from people of Culiacán, Mexico.

The shovels are the outcome of a programme launched by the Mexican government – at the instigation of the artist – for “handing in” illegal weapons so as to stamp them out or at least limit their use. Reyes melted down the metal of 1,527 weapons, which was then used to make shovels for planting trees, with the help of community associations, everywhere the work goes on show.