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.
‘No Lone Zone’ is a military term designating an area where, for reasons of safety and security, the presence of just one person is not allowed. The phrase can also be used metaphorically to describe a highly sensitive or unstable place, such as the vulnerable environments that proliferate in the context of postcolonial globalisation.
27 May to 21 August 2011
Violence as an integral part of daily life: pain and death are constant themes in the work of the Mexican artist Teresa Margolles. The Museion exhibition tackles the murders and disappearances in the city of Jaurez in Mexico: a central element of the presentation is a wall with visible bullet holes left by executioners.
The show also features a filmed action created by the artist in Bolzano, inspired by the thought that all places have a story of suffering etched into their past.
At first glance, her works often seem to be minimalist in their form. Viewers only discover that they are deeply emotional and dramatic when they become aware of the rigorous realism in the choice of material.
R. Klanten (Author, Editor), M. Hubner (Editor), A. Bieber (Editor)
This book examines the interplay between the forms of protest used by environmental and civil rights activists and the techniques used by artists, which are of interest since both groups often address the same topics. It looks at how art and the media are not only reflecting a political agenda, but also how they are influencing political reaction. Consequently, Art & Agenda is not only an insightful documentation of current artwork, but also points to future forms of political discourse and decision-making.
Art & Agenda explores the impact of political activism on contemporary art. The book introduces a variety of artists who are advocating political and social reform on a local or a global scale. Some are influenced by the traditions of Agitprop and the Civil Rights Movement of the 1960s and work with posters, urban interventions, or graphic design. Others prefer established art forms such as painting, sculpture, or performance.
The personalities and approaches of the featured artists are as diverse as their subject matter the artists goals, techniques, and degrees of radicalness depend on the cultures to which they belong as well as the social and political circles in which they move. Some of the younger artists featured in the book are fighting against poverty and for women s rights. Others are working to rebuild Haitian communities in the wake of that country s devastating earthquake. Still others are using mass communication to criticize transnational oil companies.
While Latin American artists are expressing their powerlessness in the face of totalitarian governments, Chinese artists are commenting on the radical changes taking place in their country, calling for human rights and freedom, and an end to cronyism and environmental destruction.
Selected Artists from the Book:
Filippo Minelli, Contradictions, 2010, Brescia, Italy
Life has become significantly more political in the new millennium, especially in the aftermath of the worldwide banking crisis. Art is both driving and documenting this upheaval. Initially, it was mostly young artists and activists who were raising their voices to protest globalization and the pollution of our environment, but increasingly the work of established artists is also becoming dominated by political topics.
Roland Roos, Free Repair
During two years, Roland Roos repaired broken, displaced or damaged things he encountered in public space. He took before and after photos of the unsolicited repairs and sold them for 320CHF each which is the average amount of money that is spent for one repair (materials and labor).
Superflex, GUARANA POWER
GUARANA POWER is a soft drink developed by a farming cooperative in Maues, Brazil in collaboration with the Superflex collective. The drink contains guarana, a plant native to the Amazon whose fruit has long been harvested by indigenous communities for its medicinal and invigorating properties. The farmers have had to organize themselves against a cartel of corporation whose monopoly on purchase of the raw material has driven the price paid for guaraná seeds down by 80% while the cost of their products to the consumer has risen. Besides, the beverage these companies sells is only a sugary, diluted energy drink. GUARANÁ POWER attempts to use the strategies of global brands as raw material for a counter-economic position, to preserve local economy and the livelihoods of the farmers and to reclaim the original use of the Maués guaraná plant as a powerful natural tonic.
Gregor Schneider, Bondi Beach, 21 Beach Cells, 2007
Gregor Schneider’s cells on Sydney’s famous Bondi Beach questions “the ideal of a casual, egalitarian leisure-loving society”, while evoking strongly another famous location by the ocean: Guantanamo Bay.
Helmut Smits, Photo Tip, 2004
The artist pushed the provocation even further with Photo Tip, an installation which allows people to be portrayed as a hostage flanked by threatening terrorists.
Ai Weiwei, self-portrait with aGrass Mud Horse
Denmark, 2009 | 108 minutes | Color, Black and White
In this graphic psychodrama, a grief-stricken man and woman retreat to their cabin deep in the woods after the accidental death of their infant son, only to find terror and violence at the hands of nature and, ultimately, each other. But this most confrontational work yet from one of contemporary cinema’s most controversial artists is no mere provocation. It is a visually sublime, emotionally ravaging journey to the darkest corners of the possessed human mind; a disturbing battle of the sexes that pits rational psychology against age-old superstition; and a profoundly effective horror film.
Dedicated to Andrei Tarkovsky (The Mirror).
Lars Von Trier’s Antichrist Movie Stills
Offical Website: www.alfredojaar.net
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.”
2. A logo for America, 1987
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.
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…”
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.
Doris Salcedo was born in 1958 in Bogotá, Colombia. Salcedo’s understated sculptures and installations embody the silenced lives of the marginalized, from individual victims of violence to the disempowered of the Third World. Although elegiac in tone, her works are not memorials: Salcedo concretizes absence, oppression, and the gap between the disempowered and powerful. While abstract in form and open to interpretation, her works serve as testimonies on behalf of both victims and perpetrators.
Marina Abramović: The Artist Is Present
March 14–May 31, 2010
This performance retrospective traces the prolific career of Marina Abramović (Yugoslav, b. 1946) with approximately fifty works spanning over four decades of her early interventions and sound pieces, video works, installations, photographs, solo performances, and collaborative performances made with Ulay (Uwe Laysiepen). In an endeavor to transmit the presence of the artist and make her historical performances accessible to a larger audience, the exhibition includes the first live re-performances of Abramović’s works by other people ever to be undertaken in a museum setting.
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.