Something in Space Escapes Our Attempts at Surveying

Charbel Ackermann, The New Geometry, 2003 – 2006
Francis Alÿs, Sleepers, 1999 – 2006, Courtesy: the artist, David Zwirner Gallery, New York
Francis Alÿs, Sleepers, 1999 – 2006, Courtesy: the artist, David Zwirner Gallery, New York
Ricardo Basbaum, Influences, Me-You Series, 2002
Ricardo Basbaum, Relations, Love Songs Series, 2000
Samuel Beckett, Quad I, 1981, Courtesy: Suhrkamp Verlag, SWR
Samuel Beckett,Quad II, 1981, Courtesy: Suhrkamp Verlag, SWR
Samuel Beckett, Quad II, 1981, Courtesy: Suhrkamp Verlag, SWR
Samuel Beckett, Quad I und II, Diagramm
Peggy Buth, Superparadise, 2013, Detail
Peggy Buth, Superparadise, 2013, Detail
Yao Jui-Chung, Roaming Around the Ruins, 1991–2011
Yao Jui-Chung, Roaming Around the Ruins, 1991–2011
Yao Jui-Chung, Roaming Around the Ruins, 1991–2011
Šejla Kameric, Measure, 2012, Courtesy: Galerie Tanja Wagner, Berlin
Rabih Mroué, The Pixelated Revolution, 2012
Rabih Mroué, The Pixelated Revolution, 2012
Rabih Mroué, The Pixelated Revolution, 2012
Manuela Ribadeneira, Hago Mío Este Territorio (I Claim this Territory as Mine), 2007
Bill Spinhoven van Oosten, It’s about time #2, 1992
Mona Vatamanu & Florin Tudor, Rite of Spring, 2010
Mona Vatamanu & Florin Tudor, Rite of Spring, 2010
Mona Vatamanu & Florin Tudor, Land Distribution, 2010
Mona Vatamanu & Florin Tudor, Land Distribution, 2010
Mona Vatamanu & Florin Tudor, Land Distribution, 2010
Ester Vonplon, Wenn das Wetter ..., 2006 - 2008
Ester Vonplon, Wenn das Wetter ..., 2006 - 2008
Ester Vonplon, Wenn das Wetter ..., 2006 - 2008
Ester Vonplon, Wenn das Wetter ..., 2006 - 2008

Works in the Exhibition
Courtesy (unless otherwise noted): the artists

Charbel Ackermann
The New Geometry, 2003–2006

Installation with twenty drawings, one panel, banners
The installation The New Geometry by Charbel Ackermann takes the “axis of evil” dictum and surveys this abstruse construction using various different geographic and physical methods. Attaining visibility through the ironic exaggeration of his investigation are divergent factors that have been ignored in official political contexts, for example when, in the picture Axis of Evil Mostly in the Dark, the lack of access to electricity in the so-called “rogue states” is emphatically highlighted.

Francis Alÿs
Sleepers, 1999–2006

Slide installation with eighty 35mm diapositives
Courtesy: David Zwirner Galerie, New York
In his slide installation Sleepers, Francis Alÿs aligns the camera perspective to the level of the homeless people and dogs that sleep on the streets of Mexico City. The highly voyeuristic gaze is trained on this extremely precarious situation, which is at once peaceful and gracious. While the act of sleeping reflects a moment of highly intimate and private tranquility, and also the ultimate state of defenselessness, the surrounding public space points out how intrinsically available human shelter is no longer guaranteed for everyone.

Ricardo Basbaum
Spatial Installation with Various Diagrams, 2014

Etc.-Artist Series, diagram, 2004; Behavior, Me-You Series, diagram, 2005; Connections, Me-You Series, diagram, 2007; Identity, Me-You Series, diagram, 1996; Influences, Me-You Series, diagram, 2002; Love, Art & Life Series, diagram, 1994, Me/You Superpronoun: 9 Me-You Choreographies, diagram, 2003; Place, Local Global, diagram, 2007; Redirection Passageways, diagram, 2001; Relations, Love Songs Series, diagram, 2000; Space Transcrossing, diagram, 2002; Transformation, Me-You Series, diagram, 1999
Ricardo Basbaum uses certain terms—such as behavior, connections, identity, influences, love, art and life, or relations—to title his diagrams, which are based on personal and collective experiences or courses of action. Featuring varying background colors, these maps seem to form a system for describing a wealth of different concrete situations. Their presence and staging in space—in the form of wallpaper, poster archives, or freely distributed flyers—additionally helps to foster the deciphering of content and sensory input.

Samuel Beckett
Quad I and II, 1981

Video; performers: H. Foron, J. Hummel, C. Knupfer, S. Rehe; production: Süddeutscher Rundfunk
Courtesy: Suhrkamp Verlag, SWR
The absolute space of the quad, that is, of the squared stage, and the precisely defined diagonal courses of the four protagonists establish the choreographic pattern of the television production Quad I and II, which was realized by Beckett in Stuttgart in 1981. The performers are confined to this abstract space of absolute nature to the point of exhaustion. The exterior is a black hole, a state of nothingness, whence the protagonists first appear and into which they later vanish again.

Lysann Buschbeck
Glas splittern (Shattering Glass), 2011

Video, color, sound, 3’
The video Glas splittern (Shattering Glass) displays autobiographical characteristics in the broadest possible sense. When in 1997 the artist Lysann Buschbeck moved to the socially unstable Hecht district of Dresden, an empty apartment in the immediate vicinity had been recently appropriated by youth. The artist started accompanying the youth with her camera, a process that spanned numerous years. The video shows Maise, a protagonist in the photo series, while being filmed for several minutes through a life-sized pane of glass that she is holding in her own hands while standing in the light of a lantern along a nocturnal street. She looks into the camera, and then past it, with a bored countenance before ultimately tossing the pane onto the ground: the glass shatters.

Peggy Buth
Superparadise, 2013

Twenty-part photo/text tableau, three-channel video installation
Produced in the scope of the Werkleitz Festival 2013, Halle
Courtesy: Klemms, Berlin
In the photo and video installation Superparadise, Peggy Buth photographically hones in on the Nollendorf neighborhood of Berlin, which since the nineteen-seventies has established itself as a vibrant queer utopia. This queer spatial appropriation and the related visibility—that is, the act of occupying visible realms—has also turned the neighborhood into a hub of homophobic violence. Having created photomontages for various sites that often display a doubling of the people shown—suggesting a spectral, spatiotemporal shift—Buth combines them with texts on the concrete incidents of violence against homosexuals. However, the pictorial and textual content share no direct correlation. Manifesting in this piece is the paradox that a space which has been occupied and appropriated in order to negotiate free relations is simultaneously a catalyst for excesses of violence. It likewise follows that this utopian space, in the gesture of appropriation, is misunderstood as being non-shareable.

Olga Chernysheva
The Train, 2003

Video, black-and-white, 7’ 30’’
Courtesy: Galerie Diehl, Berlin
The video The Train shows a train ride somewhere in Russia. Beggars, musicians, and other travelers stream toward the camera, which slowly pans from the last railway coach to the front. The interior space of the train has remained unchanged over time, and it is here that those who were forced into mobility after the collapse of the Soviet Union now congregate.

Juan Downey
Video Trans Americas (V.T.A), 1976

Fourteen-part video installation, black-and-white, sound, outline of the American continent
Courtesy: Museo Nacional Centro de Arte, Reina Sofia, Madrid

Between 1973 and 1976, the artist Juan Downey created an utterly iconic, space-consuming installation called Video Trans Americas about the odysseys between various places, times, cultures, political manifestations, and mythological projections. Based in the twentieth-century urban center of the West, New York, the artist embarked on a journey to his home country of Chile. In this fourteen-part video essay, the travel journal format is intervolved with gestures of the documentary, which are fragmented in terms of both image editing and the staging approach adopted in the exhibition space. The journey is associated with the desire to localize oneself through the process of travel. This is a desire that was abruptly cut off on September 11, 1973, when General Augusto Pinochet bombarded the palace of the socialist president Salvador Allende with the support of the United States. As Juan Downey notes: “I shall never, never, never forgive!”

Susan Hiller
Dream Mapping, 1973

Documentary reconstruction
In the summer of 1973, Susan Hiller extended an invitation to participate in a collaborative dream action that was to take place in a field that displayed so-called “fairy rings.” These are elevated circular surfaces that come about due to special underground conditions or plant growth. The fairy rings are associated with diverse mythological narratives. In Hiller’s action, they marked those zones where participants could go to place their dreams. The group had already met ahead of time for a dream seminar where different cartographic methods for capturing dreams or dream landscapes were discussed. These jointly developed methods provided the foundation for sketching maps of one’s dream experiences and contrasting them with those of other participants.

Yao Jui-Chung

Roaming Around the Ruins, 1991–2011

The Civilization Built by Skeleton, 1991–2011; Quiet on the Western Front, 2003–2011; Gods & Idols Surround the Border, 1991–2011
Multipart, extended photographic documentation, black-and-white
As perhaps one of the most prominent themes in art, roaming involves aimlessly yet intently moving toward something, exploring a phenomenon and “roaming around” it, until it presents itself with all its contradictions and at the same time with its precise relation to reality. The over three hundred photographs from the series Roaming Around the Ruins by the Taiwanese artist Yao Jui-Chung, of which a strongly reduced selection is shown in the exhibition, roam around the current source of conflict in Taiwanese society. This has spanned the structural change from classical industrial production to a service economy and the economically determined suspension of the military confrontation with China. The artist’s target in traveling through the representational spaces of this conflict are desolate military and industrial complexes and also deserted amusement and religious parks. Besides references to failed investments in the auspicious new entertainment industries, the latter refer to the circumstance of global warming having significantly heightened the power of typhoons in the region. This has caused certain coastal regions to lose their status as potential building land.
Roaming Around the Ruins is thus a far cry from any semblance of romanticized ruins.
The Mosquito Project, 2010­–2013
Mirage. Disused Public Property in Taiwan
The Mosquito Project is directly associated with the artist’s Roaming Around the Ruins. As part of his research work, Yao Jui-Chung encountered ruins scattered around Taiwan, most related to misguided investments made by the state. Since it proved impossible for one person alone to document the sheer multitude of these ruins arising from the atmosphere of corruption and effusive “new town development projects,” the artist made the documentary process the subject of a seminar at Taipei National University of Arts. The title The Mosquito Project alludes to the warm and humid climate of Taiwan, which turns the ruins into an ideal hotbed for mosquitos.

siren eun young jung

Act of Affect, 2013
, 15:36’
Act of Affect, 2013
, 19:28’
Lyrics I, 2013
, 2:39’ (loop)
Lyrics II, 2013
, 6:12’ (loop)
Lyrics III, 2013
, 3:21’(loop)
Five-part video installation, color, sound
siren eun young jung describes a very specific approach to certain transformations that structure microsocial communities while simultaneously offering the potential for new appropriations of reality. Through different layers of time and narration, the artist follows actresses who have devoted themselves to traditional Korean Yeosung Gugeuk, a popular song and dance theater where even the male roles are played by women. The absolute nature of the temporary switch of gender as played out on the stage, which influences both the act of speaking and physical expression, likewise engenders a radically shifted relationship with everyday space beyond the stage.

Sejla Kameric
Measure, 2012

Installation, red cotton (mesh shirt), steed nails
Courtesy: Galerie Tanja Wagner, Berlin
The wall installation Measure features a red mesh shirt that is spanned with hundreds of nails at a height of 59 cm and a length of 240 cm.

Rabih Mroué
The Pixelated Revolution, 2012

Installation, video, fine art prints, wall text
The video installation The Pixelated Revolution by Rabih Mroué, based on the eponymous performance, makes reference to a video created in the context of the ongoing Syrian conflict that the artist found on the Internet. The video appears to have been taken by one of the rebels who at the very moment of camera/eye contact with a sniper is shot by the same individual. The video abruptly ends with a black screen and with the rebel calling out that he has been hit. All certainties dissipate in the unprecedented spatial and mediatic densification emerging between the act and its recording, between the site or the reality of the events and the site or the reality of the beholder, as well as between the perspectives of rebel, camera eye, gun barrel, and beholder. To the point of exhaustion this question remains open: What did we actually see in this conflict situation spatially conveyed through media?

Uriel Orlow
The Short and the Long of It 14.0, 2010–2014

Installation: Anatopism, slide projection, eighty-one slides, 2010; The Bitter Lake Chronicles, twenty-one pigment prints on Hahnemühle paper, painting; Lessepsian Migrants, series of twenty-three drawings, 2011; By Way of Illustration Fig. (Nationalisation), one-channel video, pigment print
The installations of Uriel Orlow usually deal with constellations of various different works that are interwoven through space and time, touching on many historical events. Of relevance here is not so much the simultaneity of the events, but rather their grotesque intensification—yet without culminating at a dramaturgical pinnacle. For example, the Six-Day War in 1967 between Israel, Egypt, Jordan, and Syria, which was followed by an eight-year closure of the Suez Canal, provides the framework plot for a pan-national enclave that arose amidst this multilateral conflict situation. The acts of war caused fourteen transport ships to be stranded in the Suez Canal. The crews on the ships set anchor at the so-called Great Bitter Lake and founded the Great Bitter Lake Association (GBLA). The constitution of this micro-community of states was not impacted by Egypt’s national annexation of the Suez Region, nor did the macrostructure of geopolitical conflict parties notice that the GBLA Olympics was carried out in right smack in the middle of their territory. And if that was not absurd enough, the Bitter Lakes were in the middle of a geobiological exclusion zone for a special kind of migration named after the developer of the Suez Canal, Ferdinand de Lesseps: the Lessepsian migration, where unusual aquatic species (and other organisms) move into the Mediterranean Sea from their native Red Sea habitat.

Manuela Ribadeneira
Hago Mío Este Territorio (I Claim this Territory as Mine), 2007

Installation with engraved knife
This work is made up of an illuminated pocketknife that has been rammed into the wall at eye level. Etched into the blade of the knife is the mirror-inverted sentence “Hago Míio Este Territorio” (I Claim this Territory as Mine). It is the immaterial reflection of lighted writing on the wall that first makes the text readable.

Bill Spinhoven van Oosten
It’s about time #2, 1992

Interactive installation, clock, monitor, camera, computer
An oversized, frame-like clock is positioned in the exhibition space, rotating steadily on a vertical axis. At the end of the room the clock reappears in a live projection of data, though here distorted from a circular shape into a Möbius strip. The exhibition visitors experience a similar transformation upon entering the room. In the projected image they appear as mere smudges or are dissolved in spirals. Their likeness only becomes stabilized when they are standing still. Bill Spinhoven van Oosten, who counts among the first protagonists of interactive art, engaged in a simple but effective manipulation of the camera image based on Einstein’s theory of relativity: the pixels that are distributed across the X and Y axes are merged at a minimal lag in time. The artist developed the program for this image manipulation in the late eighties himself.

Mona Vatamanu & Florin Tudor

Rite of Spring, 2010

Video installation, 7'
The video Rite of Spring follows children who are playing on the streets, dotted with cotton-like poplar seeds, of an unnamed European city. The game requires nothing more than a half-functioning lighter and these extremely flammable seeds. One by one, the children torch the various threads of white poplar-tree fluff, which extinguishes just as quickly as it blazes up. Clinging to the urban surfaces, each fire lights up the contours of the sidewalk, the rubbish, or the tufts of grass projecting up through the asphalt. A plurality of interpretive possibilities is engendered by the camera frame, the sheer concentration on this incredibly economical play activity, and the firestorm en miniature that spreads out across the urban periphery.

Land Distribution, 2010
Installation, variable dimensions
The installation Land Distribution is comprised of thin iron bars and brown video magnetic tape that mark a sequence of evenly staked out fields in the exhibition space. Videotape is used by the rural population of Venezuela for demarcating the plots given to them by big landowners facing political pressure from the plots of their neighbors. The artists have also liberated this obsolete material originating with the entertainment industry from its earlier utilization context. In the picture of cordoned off claims, a series of allusions rises up about the new and old conflicts surrounding the distribution of space and ownership. Such conflicts were common in postsocialist countries (here generally moving from collective to private ownership) or in the course of neoliberal forms of expropriation. At the same time, it references the sculptural and spatial program of Minimalism, or the utopia of at least brief duration, indicating that the medium of video would contribute to a democratization of mediatic space.

Ester Vonplon

Wenn das Wetter nicht mehr kaputt ist, werden wir spazieren gehen:

Rahovec / Orahovac – Kosovo, 2006–2008
Photographic series, inkjet prints, black-and-white

Es gibt nicht mehr Sonne:
Rahovec / Orahovac – Kosovo, 11/2007
Series of Polaroids
A stateless Roma family living in Kosovo, which the artist Ester Vonplon has followed photographically for many years now, had no choice but to settle at a NATO Kosovo Force (KFOR) base due to the turmoil surrounding the formation of new states in the area of former Yugoslavia.

Rahovec / Orahovac – Kosovo, Spring 2008
We spent hours playing soccer in the fields outside of town or aimlessly strolling across the hilly landscape. While thus engaged, the children told me the story of the masked men who attack the town at night.
They taught me to dance and sing. When dusk came, the women with families invited me into their homes for a cup of mocha coffee. They divined my future. A sweet man, many children, jewelry . . . an important message.
Today I still visit and photograph the same family in the small divided town, which is protected by KFOR troops. The newly founded state has not favorably impacted the situation of minorities in this country. They did not celebrate. Regardless of who assumes power—now, in the past, or in the future—the situation will barely improve for these people
(Ester Vonplon).

further information / Introduction …

further information / Dates + Credits …

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