23 May – 4 July 2015
The Documentary. Resistance and Critical Tendencies in Art.
Kasper Akhøj, Otto Berchem, Dora García, Maria Pask and Susan Philipsz
Ellen de Bruijne PROJECTS proudly presents the exhibition The Documentary. Resistance and Critical Tendencies in Art. This group exhibition focuses on the use of documentary in art as a form of resistance; as a way to show or to form alternative communities.
The power of the documentary and its critical potential derives from its capacity to disclose unknown or unseen events. As such, the documentary can become a form of resistance, or undercurrent. It can twist the way events were formerly depicted, serving as critique, or it can create a different, alternative way of looking at those events, sometimes by merely displacing or relocating them.
The work presented in The Documentary, is created around existing documents, photographs, songs, literature and folk-stories. They are taken up by the artists to distillate meaning and critical content. In their choice for existing “facts” or documents, all the artists engage in historical or political debates, without becoming explicitly political.
Captain Gervasio’s Family (Venice) (2012) by Kasper Akhøj and Tamar Guimaraes is a silent black and white portrait of a Spiritist community in Palmelo, a small town in the outback of Brazil. It’s a town of 2000 inhabitants, half of whom are psychic mediums. The film refers to a map drawn by a Spiritist woman in Palmelo, charting twenty astral cities hovering above the whole of the Brazilian territory. Cities ‘like those on earth, but infinitely more perfect’. These astral cities are a splendid vision of modernity and a utopia of continuous progress and urbanisation. With their qualities as medium the community living in Palmelo shows projections of a city yet to be; it shows an alternative way to imagine the city.
In his work presented Otto Berchem uses archival photographs depicting international revolts and protests incorporating his colour alphabet. Inspired by the writings of Jorge Adoum and the medical condition of Synesthesia, Berchem developed his own alphabet of designated colours. This results in a series of work reviewing iconic images and creating his own archive by strategically deleting pre-existing meanings and slogans, and replacing them with his interpretation of reality.
The scripted performance The artist without works (2009) by Dora García will be on display, consisting of a written performance script by Dora Garcia, a picture and newspaper clippings. The performance itself consisted of a guided tour in the temporary sculpture park during Art Forum Berlin in 2009, and is about the artist who refuses to produce anything. The tour-guide speaks about this artist but is not informing the visitors about anything. The public is left empty-handed because all materiality seems to be evacuated from the situation. What is the verdict of the crowd, is the artist taken seriously after not delivering what the public is expecting from him: a product? Or is the majority in power, and is there no space left for the artist mind, who is considered an outcast, as the inadequate.
Starhawk! the musical (2004) by Maria Pask, is a musical realised with art academy students around the themes of spiritual and political activism. Interested in alternative concepts of life style and community organization, Pask chooses to focus on the existing personality of Starhawk. Starhawk is an ecotopian and feminist activist based in San Francisco. The musical, in fact, evolves through a series of workshops Pask develops with students who have applied to participate by answering the ads she spread around the academy in search of the cast (“WANTED! Enthusiastic student to work on developing a musical score for an art project.”). In four acts – ‘Beginning,’ ‘Direction,’ ‘Teaching,’ and ‘Witness’ – and a number of scenes the students are free to reinterpret and improvise the script according to their own interests, knowledge, experiences, fantasies, and artistic convictions. There is no distinction between the rehearsals and performances themselves: the camera is the audience that is permanently present, registering all stages of the development.
In her work The Internationale (2000), Susan Philipsz displaces the song “The Internationale” from its time and context, by using her own voice. She mixes the song into a different space, for instance during the 3rd Manifesta in Ljublijana, In this former communist state the song has different meaning as in Berlin, Amsterdam or Paris. It generates reflections on our mutual historical background, and our communal memory .this time the exhibition space of Ellen de Bruijne PROJECTS. “The Internationale” (French: “L’Internationale”) is a widely sung left-wing anthem. It has been one of the most recognizable and popular songs of the socialist movement since the late 19th century, when the Second International (now the Socialist International) adopted it as its official anthem. The title arises from the “First International”, an alliance of socialist parties formed by Marx and Engels, who held a congress in 1864.
Image: Kasper Akhøj and Tamar Guimaraes. Captain Gervasio’s Family (Venice), 2012. 16mm film, 14 minutes, silent.