Videos on Stage: RUINS and WOUNDS

curator: Basak Senova
artists: Javier Pérez, Payam Mofidi, Levi van Veluw, Claudia Larcher, Hacer Kıroğlu, Juan Pablo Ordúñez / MawatreS, Amparo Sard, Oliver Ressler, Karen Mirza ve Brad Butler, Maria Friberg, Joanna Rajkowska, and Aglaia Konrad
venue: Halic Congress Center
coordinates: ArtInternational, Istanbul, 2015

He loved the extensive vaults where you could hear the night birds and the sea breeze; he loved the craggy ruins bound together by ivy, those dark halls, and any appearance of death and destruction. Having fallen so far from so high a position, he loved anything that had also fallen from a great height

Gustave Flaubert

The Videos on Stage traces secret road maps of personal histories, stories, memories and dreams about wounds and ruins. Some wounds heal, leaving nothing behind, but a scar and some wounds stay with a pain that lingers. While indicating the infinity and cruelty of time, ruins also stabilize the sense of ephemerality. The correlation between wounds and ruins could branch out into multiple narratives, perspectives, entities, and realities that exist and possessed at the same moment.

“Ruins and Wounds” selection consists of three chapters that gather works according to their thematic and form-based links to each other. Each work invites the viewer to enter the maze of temporalities, while witnessing and grasping the wounds. In the mean time, the uncertainty of spatial, territorial and mental temporalities adds another dimension to the act of watching. Recalling and experiencing a wound is then, disguised with the act of watching.

Chapter 1

En Puntas (2013) 9’
Javier Pérez

A ballerina, whose point shoes are extended by a set of sharp kitchen knives, dances and twirls insistently until reaching exhaustion, fighting to maintain balance on the lid of a grand piano set on a stage.

The theatre with its red velvet warm lighting, resembles an oversized music-box. The camera turns around the dancer revealing the opposite side of the room: an empty and painfully bare theatre. The ballerina appears as an eerie figure expressing effort, sacrifice and pain in her strive for perfection. Both fragile and cruel. Initially shy and hesitant, her steps become more and more emphatic, menacing and not exempt of violence, scraping and cutting into the delicate surface of the piano with her sharp pointe shoes.

Using a strongly metaphorical language rich in powerful symbolism, Javier Perez reveals the weaknesses that become the boundaries between seemingly irreconcilable concepts such as: beauty and cruelty, fragility and violence, culture and nature or life and death.

Javier Pérez (1968, Bilbao) lives and works in Barcelona, represented by LA TACHÉ GALLERY.

Cohesive Disorder Series
Cohesive Disorder 1 (2013) 01’47”
Cohesive Disorder 2 (2013-2014) 02’17
Cohesive Disorder 3 (2014) 07’39”
Payam Mofidi

The Cohesive Disorder collection presents the viewer with an uncomfortable situation where a perception is formed at the crossroads of the viewer’s point of view and the three interconnected video panels. The carefully selected visual vocabulary is intended to nudge the viewer’s perception towards the artist’s angle without imposing a singular manner of thinking. In Cohesive Disorder videos, man is in a perpetual conflict with an existential phenomenon originating from his own essence. At times aware of it, other times frustrated by it, or subconsciously embracing it as part of his own being. In Cohesive Disorder trilogy, a situation is taking shape, as if a human characteristic is either propelled to flourishing, or pushed to obliteration. An originally non-human phenomenon becomes human, or the opposite.

Payam Mofidi (1980, Tehran) lives and works in Montreal, represented by ASSAR ART GALLERY.

Levi van Veluw
Spheres (2014), 10’
from the series The Collapse of Cohesion

Spheres, which is part of Levi Van Veluw’s body of work The Collapse of Cohesion, presents an image of a room filled with large structures of cabinets containing neatly arranged spheres. The whole arrangement is held in place by the very structure of the cabinets and the force of gravity, in a fundamental and continuous on-going struggle between the desire for order and the forces of nature. An unknown cause upsets this equilibrium and the cabinets are made to topple over. The symmetrical forms are no longer held in place, gravity takes over, order is turned into chaos.

Levi van Veluw (1985, Hoevelaken), lives and works in Amsterdam, represented by rosenfeld porcini.

In between the ocean (2013), 5’15’’
Claudia Larcher

In between the ocean is a juxtaposition of interior and exterior spaces in Japan that are somehow connected. The material for this video montage was recorded in Japan in fall 2013 in Tokyo, Fukushima and Tohoku regions. In between the ocean reflects the impact of energy policy on the natural and urban environment.

Claudia Larcher (1979, Bregenz), lives and works in Vienna, represented by GALERIA RAUM MIT LICHT.

Untitled (2009), 2’54’’
Hacer Kıroğlu

Hacer Kıroğlu’s performance-based works can be seen as reflections of her obsessive personality; acts of cleansing/erasing/(self)cleaning are transformed into a ritual and can be read as an artistic strategy. The artist is not interested in performing in front of an audience. Rather, she is more interested in what remains, how those remains are shown, narrated and what they express about her. In this sense, the products of her performances range from video to photography to writing on walls to objects.

Untitled (2009) shows a young woman (the artist herself) brushing first her teeth and then the rest of her face. The act of cleaning and being cleaned is transformed into an action of violence against the self, shifting from the moment of desirability and innocence. This work is a proposal suggesting that concepts such as work and home are not charged with peacefulness and happiness but rather violence and conflict.

Hacer Kıroğlu (1985, Istanbul) lives and works in Istanbul, represented by PILOT.

Sant Romá de Sau. (2014-2015), 3´34″
Juan Pablo Ordúñez / MawatreS.

One flies over the place aboard a memory. Flying through space with the arts of saying. Travelling in time with the subjective map of the story. Advancing to the escape point to cross it using the compass of experience. The flood has not managed to drown all the voices.

The day is dawning; we feel the surface of the water like a sheet of murmurs. Opposite, the mountain, it stopped producing echoes a long time ago. The journey unfolds on the map as we approach the signal and we see the carved stone at the base of the tower. Then, suddenly, time turns, changes course, memories are synchronized and the horizon opens. What does a bell sound like under water?

Juan Pablo Ordúñez / MawatreS. (1986, Madrid) lives and works in Bilbao. Basque Country, represented by GALERIA SICART.

Chapter 2

Hauptpunkt (2013), 4’
Amparo Sard

Nowadays we live as if we were in a train without stops or stations, where everything goes with a established rhythm. The most important is to take fast decisions and, if we are wrong, correct it with the same promptness. We’ve extinguished the meditation. Email, WhatsApp, Skype, whatever that is more useful or faster for each situation.

A “hauptpunkt” is a contemplative experience where the importance is given to the landscape, as the romantics did once. Observation and enjoyment of nature, beauty or the unknown are a source of pleasure,that lies in the examination of the perfect balance between what is ideal and the reality.

Amparo Sard (1973, Mallorca), lives and works between Barcelona and Mallorca, represented by N2 GALERIA.

The Visible and the Invisible (2014), 20’
Oliver Ressler

In recent years, Switzerland has become the global center for commodity trading. In no other country are more commodities bought and sold than in Switzerland; nevertheless, the crude oil, copper, aluminum, coal or wheat never reaches Swiss territory because the deals are carried out completely in a virtual world. Despite its importance for the Swiss and the global economy, the public knows very little about these secret transactions. This relative invisibility in Switzerland lies in contrast with the visible, often catastrophic impact that the mining and trade of raw materials under neocolonial conditions has for people, the environment and the states in the zones of extraction concentrated in the global South.

The film addresses a relationship of exploitation between the toxic industries and inhumane jobs in the global South and the gigantic profits from commodity trading in the hands of a few persons in the global North.

Oliver Ressler (1970, Knittelfeld) lives and works in Vienna, represented by GALERIE RAUM MIT LICHT.

The Unreliable Narrator (2014), 16’20”
Karen Mirza and Brad Butler

The Unreliable Narrator narrates the 2008 Mumbai attacks, alternately from a position of the terrorists and of a seemingly impartial commentator. The video sourced from CCTV recordings of the siege, together with telephone conversations between the attackers and their controllers, suggest that the event was performed for the benefit of news cameras: “this is just a trailer, the main feature is yet to come”.

Mirza and Butler expose the existence of an Unreliable Narrator who takes advantage of the gap between fiction and reality. We may imagine that in the street and at the gallery alike, we are tacitly comfortable with our own classic roles as actors and audiences. Making visible the self-propagating assemblies of circumstances, references and implications, the artists force a reconsideration of the mandate and power of the narrator, whether he, she or it is explicitly identified or merely implicit. Stories slip between construction, rhetoric and reality with implausible ease: language itself appears to create and propagate the conditions of authority, violence, and division. As the Narrator continues to hijack the rhetoric of cultural and political discourse to rupture, Mirza and Butler expose the absurd ventriloquist act.

Karen Mirza and Brad Butler lives and works in London, represented by waterside contemporary.

Chapter 3

Commoncause (2008), 7’30’’
Maria Friberg

The triangular composition of Friberg’s Commoncause is reminiscent of the great religious paintings of Renaissance masters. The dark forms tumbling downward bring to mind depictions of the last judgment. Like bodies weighed down by the gravity of their deeds, they descend into an abyss.

Of course for Friberg, Commoncause is not a religious work, but an investigation of power structures and those who are marginalized or cast out of society as a result. In fact, Friberg’s oeuvre can be placed within the tradition of women artists from the 1970s who had to contend with the myth of male genius and centuries of exclusion. Friberg chose the National Museum of Art in Stockholm as the setting for the piece. Her imagery acknowledges that the patriarchal structure of the art institution still presents challenges to those who question or fail to live up to its norms.

text by: Michelle Marie Roy

Maria Friberg (1966, Malmö) Lives and works in Stockholm, represented by GALLERI ANDERSSON/SANDSTRÖM.

The Peterborough Child (2014), 29’48″
Joanna Rajkowska

The Peterborough Child is the story of a public project in the fictionalised form of an animated film. The project was conceived for the city of Peterborough (UK), with its large Asian and Eastern European populations, associated tensions and high levels of deprivation. Since Peterborough is an ancient city with traces of human history reaching back to Neolithic times, the artist’s idea was to create a fake archaeological dig that would become a ’chakra’ – a point of strong energy generated by local people. Inspired by the oval-shaped Bronze Age burial sites in the region, it was a representation of the 3,500 years old grave of a baby girl, who had been believed to have had shamanic powers. The idea was inspired by the story of the artist’s baby daughter, who, at that time, was diagnosed with a rare eye cancer, retinoblastoma. The Peterborough Child was never installed in the city due to religious objections raised by some community representatives.

Joanna Rajkowska (1968, Bydgoszcz, Poland) lives and works between London and Nowogród in Poland, represented by Zak|Branicka, Berlin.

Concrete & Samples II Blockhaus (2009) 16mm transferred to video, 9’50″
Aglaia Konrad

Concrete & Samples I, II, III is a series of 16mm films on sculptural architecture. What the buildings and sites in all films have in common is the idea of ‘architecture as sculpture’ and a very distinct use of concrete that seem to depart from the free form of the whole in a sculptural manner. In the absence of a traditional narrative, it is the space itself that takes the role of the protagonist, while the camera proposes a narration through its travel and observation.

Blockhaus, the Eglise St.Bernadette-du-Banlay designed by Claude Parent and Paul Virilio in Nevers, France, has a compact form: monolithic, a cryptic building, a raw concrete bunker. Built upon a utopian idea, the inside with its ’surface oblique’ (two oblique ramps) creates a spatial dynamic in the matrix of time.

Aglaia Konrad (1960, Salzburg) lives and works in Brussels, represented by by GALERIA RAUM MIT LICHT.

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