Good storytelling strengthens social movements
Borderline is a multi-part project focusing on utilising artists’ projects as a means of questioning how emerging European artists and designers are engaging with ideas around borders, nationhood, alternative methods of social organisation and collaboration.
The project also aims to explore the role of art in framing these ideas, particularly in relation to the current state of European politics and increasing social unease within many rapidly changing populations.
Feral Trade Café opens at HTTP Gallery in London for 8 weeks during Summer 2009. Serving food and drink traded over social networks, Feral Trade Café by artist Kate Rich (AU) provides a convivial setting from which to contemplate broader changes to our climate and economies, where conventional supply chains (for food delivery and cultural funding) could go belly up.
For 20 years, the Human Rights Watch International Film Festival has showcased the stories of activists and survivors across the world and empowered viewers with the knowledge that personal commitment can make a very real difference. This year at the Institute of Contemporary Art in London is offering some extraordinary new films from the festival, including a screening and director Q&A for Afghan Star, winner of two major awards at Sundance recently, which is being released at the ICA for a longer run later this month.
20 March 2009 - 26 March 2009
“The neighbour, neither friend nor enemy, is the one who may not be in your “network”, but is nevertheless in your world.” (Sukumaran)
Bombay-based Ashok Sukumaran is one of the few artists in the world making work that directly addresses issues of infrastructure: the ideological and human landscapes that surround flows such as electricity, water, data and trade. Beyond the claims of infrastructures of access, his work engages with ideas of distance, hierarchy, directionality and doubt amidst the “networks”. This March he presents The Neighbour in P3, in what used to be a giant concrete-testing hall, deep under the University of Westminster in central London.
This ambitious project is Sukumaran’s first major one-person exhibition in the UK. In The Neighbour, two ostensibly “mobile” habitats share space. One is a “static” mobile home from the late 1970’s, which developed as a way for lower-middle class families to partake in “caravan culture”, or escape longer term from the city and its property regimes. The second, coming from another direction in the same period, is a camper van, which follows gypsies and travellers in an attempt to produce the continuously nomadic home, built in the car factory.
These two objects, from the inside and out, ask us to inhabit questions about the contemporary “housing industry”, the overlaps in our landscapes of desire, of crisis, and the psychic dimensions of enclosure and spacing that have evolved not just among people, but also among competing machines, and their regulatory frameworks.
Sukumaran says: “these are maybe second cousins, somewhere between the family and the polis. They are neighbours as a result of a mutual migration, from more traditional forms of modernity. This is an allegory of neighbourhood, a result our inability to fully escape each other.”
Psychological analyses of the neighbour (from Freud to Zizek) suggest the “logical tragedy” of the Judeo-Christian injunction to love thy neighbour “as thyself”. The landscape darkens, and curiosity, obsession and suspicion appear as deep forces that overflow the ideology of tolerance, or “safe distance” from the other. Still the neighbour remains largely unknowable, opaque.
Sukumaran: “Lurkers, pests, potential collaborators, potential spies, potential contaminants seems to appear often in our recent work. Their threat or presence shapes relations, and gives rise to the leaks, negotiations and traversals that we are interested in, those that test the older network paradigms.”
Ashok Sukumaran (b.1974) came to international prominence with the extraordinary work Glow Positioning System, 2005: a public lighting installation that involved street decorators, shop owners and residents to produce a giant panorama of lights, across a city square in Bombay, that one could move with a small hand-crank. His recent work is commissioned and exhibited internationally. In 2008, he co-founded CAMP, a space for critical artistic research, imagination, and archiving projects.
Sukumaran was awarded the first prize of the 2005 UNESCO Digital Arts Award, and received a Golden Nica at the Prix Ars Electronica, 2007. He recently showed (with Shaina Anand) the video ensemble “Lossfulness” in the Indian Highway exhibition at the Serpentine Gallery, London and is currently developing (with CAMP) a two-part work on the sea trade to Somalia, for the Sharjah Biennale, 2008.
On view: 13 March - 9 April 2009
P3, London, UK
University of Westminster
35 Marylebone Road, London, NW1 5LS
Fever Press is a forthcoming exhibition featuring six artists and designers dealing with contemporary political issues. The exhibition will open at London College of
Communication (LCC) from Monday 2 February 2009.
Artists featured in the exhibition cover a wide range of media within their practice, including photography, print, film, performance and painting. The group collectively work to challenge areas of political unrest. They seek to create work that will inspire change and direct action through graphic image making.
Leigh Clarke said: In today’s political climate…new challenges arise in relationship to the media and form in which communication takes its shape. Contemporary warfare is virtual and information is delivered and shared ubiquitously, sometimes revealing obscenities and travesties beyond media restrictions enforced by our Governments…The function of visual communication in this political age is one of reaction as opposed to that which informs and inspires.
Private view: Friday 6 February 2009, 6.30pm to 8.30pm
Open to public: Monday 2 February until Friday 20 February 2009, 10.00am to 6.00pm
Venue: Upper Street Gallery, London College of Communication.
Selected tag: London
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Régine Debatty writes about the intersection between art, design and technology on her blog we-make-money-not-art.com.
She also contributes to various design and art magazines, curates art shows and lectures internationally.