Cḥen Tamir will lead a panel discussion with fellow guest screening curators Regine Basha and Adina Popescu about their approach to the archive and their selected film programs. Click on each program for a description and list of works.
Curated by Regine Basha
Regine Basha is an independent curator based in Brooklyn. Since 1993 she has worked in Montreal, Texas, and New York and has realized several projects in parts of the Middle East and Latin America. Her curatorial projects and collaborations with artists often involve working with specific contexts and alternative formats concerned with temporality and place.
It is hungry. It is Immortal.
Curated by Adina Popescu
Adina Popescu is a writer, who curates and works with art in different ways. Born in Bucharest she left to study Philosophy at the Freie Universität in Berlin. During her studies she worked for Prof. Kittler on Cybernetics and Media Theory and later for German Filmmaker
Alexander Kluge as a Researcher. She is affiliated with Eyal Weizmann’s Research Centre for Architecture in London and is working on the notion of the cityscape as a theatrical stage, both in
communist and capitalist societies. Recently her play on political dissidence, “The Ethics of Pirating,” was staged at Eigen+Art in Berlin as a theater performance in the gallery space. She has curated many shows including >The Saloon< at the Moscow Biennale in collaboration with WPS1 Radio and at the Venice Biennale ’07. In New York she curated The House at Nyehaus. She has had Residencies at the Palais de Tokyo and the Goethe Institute in New York and her
texts have been published in many artist books and museum catalogues. She is a regular contributor to Artforum, has been invited to speak at SculptureCenter and the e-flux Video Rental Space in Berlin.
Taking It On
Curated by Cḥen Tamir
Cḥen Tamir is an independent curator and arts writer based in New York, and sometimes Toronto and Tel-Aviv. She is also the director of Flux Factory, an arts collective in Queens. Her primary interests are
video works, interventions, and interactive or social art. Cḥen holds an M.A. in Curatorial Studies from Bard College’s Center for Curatorial Studies, a B.A. in Anthropology, and a B.F.A. in Visual Art
from York University. She has recently curated exhibitions at TPW, the National Gallery of Saskatchewan, the Barnicke Gallery at the University of Toronto, and the Ise Cultural Foundation. Her writing has been published in various monographs as well as magazines such as Flash Art, C, and BlackFlash.
actor, beguiler, bluffer, charlatan, cheat, con artist, deceiver, empiric, fake, faker, four-flusher, fraud, hypocrite, imitator, impersonator, masquerader, mimic, mocker, mountebank, pettifogger, phony, pretender, pseudo, quack, scorner, sham, sharper, shyster, trickster.
This video program examines how the artist, or the position of art, can be an imposter in society and how through various guises or lies (as Oscar Wilde would have it), one may catch a glimpse of a fleeting truth or truths. The videos selected here represent incidences of rehearsing a persona, a speech, a belief, or a musical interlude that is fraudulent in some way. These acts embody within them various affective intents; to conjure or inhabit the “other” within (Fernandes), or to pass or assimilate into another culture (Bozhkov), to access a deeper sense of authenticity (Blum, Bozhkov), or to invoke a sense of “real” sentiment (Karamustafa). Each considers, sincerely and without irony, the craft of the staged performance. Each becomes in itself an instance of undeniable truth.
The artist is lying under a bed that is covered with a yellow-and-brown striped blanket. Answering the questions of an inquisitive and persistent interrogator off camera, he rehearses the typical general-knowledge questions asked by the U.S. Immigration and Naturalization Service. Generic and tricky questions alternate. Simple answers repeat often and become increasingly difficult.
Grace Under Pressure, 2005
The artist considers what the scent of Ernest Hemingway might be after hearing a rumor that he had stayed in the same Turkish hotel in the 1920s. He produces (genuinely) a men’s fragrance based on this supposed scent. The video becomes a commercial for this product, featuring finalists from the annual Ernest Hemingway look-alike contest in Florida as the judges.
The artist receives lessons from a hired acting coach to teach him the “accents” of his cultural backgrounds (Indian, Canadian, African). Though not interested in the authenticity of these accents, he is more interested in the idea of being taught to speak in these voices. The text he is reciting is taken from a book with the same title as the piece. This book, a sequel to “Robinson Crusoe,” was written by J. M. Coetzee. In it, Friday (the savage) has been mutilated; his tongue has been removed and he cannot speak.
Valerie Tevere + Angel Nevarez
Touching From A Distance, 2008
With the participation of Mariachi Ciudad de Guadalajara (interpreting Joy Division’s 1979 song “Transmission”).
The artists invite a traditional Mariachi band to perform a rehearsed interpretation of Joy Division’s 1979 song titled “Transmission.” The performance takes place in Guadalajara’s Plaza de la Liberacion, a public space where protests happen daily.
Men Crying, 2001
Gülsün Karamustafa uses the narrow streets and spacious courtyard apartments of Istanbul as sets for a trio of short, melodramatic vignettes. Karamustafa was interested in how popular films of the ‘60s and ‘70s first revealed a soft side of macho Turkish men. She hired a director of such films and three of the Cary Grants of their day to (re)create climactic scenes, each of the now older actors brought to tears by the actions of a strong woman.
#1 Melanie Perfect, 2003
From a series of psychic readings of spaces, commissioned by the artist in an attempt at connecting with the past of domestic or exhibition spaces, despite the limitations of rational discourse. The video is not edited, respecting the actual duration of the performance.
The program brings together works that crescendo from dance to violence. Dance, by its very nature, is the most immediate expression of the body, constantly wavering on the sublime brink between beauty and carnage. In these works, the body always maintains this tension, remaining indecive as to which way to lean.
Anniversary Waltz, 2007
In David Adamo’s video we see the artist dancing by himself to a waltz by Richard Strauss.
Die Jagt (The Hunt), 1992/1997
For a week, Jankowski lives off goods he hunts down in the supermarket. Archaically armed with bow and arrow, and yet nobly pushing his trolley, he shoots down deep-frozen chickens, margarine, bathroom tissue, and other consumables.
In her performance piece Walse, Russian artist Elena Kovylina provokes the fragility of a situation that could deteriorate at any second into a violent outburst, yet never does. Kovylina keeps the tension under control, always prepared to fall.
Nocturne Arabesque, 2009
Pola Sieverding produced Nocturne Arabesque during her stay in Palestine. We see male faces, close ups of their hands, necks, and upper bodies until we realize these men are dancing, either by themselves, or with each other. Their movements look oneiric, almost hypnotic, and their dance, which is shot in slow motion, appears to be soft and almost sensual in a feminine way.
For people living in polarized societies, where extreme viewpoints vie for support, pressure is often strong to join one faction and lose oneself to the seeming madness. How can ordinary individuals living in difficult conditions exercise agency and affect the world around them? What outlet is there to their personal frustrations and ambitions?
If, at her very core, an activist is simply a person who attempts to affect change around her, then the videos in “Taking It On” clearly fall under the rubric of “activist” art. Their creators are mere individuals armed with nothing but a camera. But when they take to the streets, confront people around them, or document the hardships of their lives, it becomes an exercise of individual power.
Yossi Atia & Itamar Rose
Sorry That We Kill You, 2006-2007
Independence Day, 2006-2007
Yossi and Itamar have made a career out of confronting people on the streets of Israel with the ridiculousness of popular beliefs and reductionist politics. Their short satirical films tackle every taboo from homosexuality to murder, focused on the double standards infused throughout Israeli society. In Sorry That We Kill You they asked members of the public to create drawings of goodwill and voice apologies for the army’s accidental killing of three innocent Palestinian civilians in a recent attack. The frank refusal of most respondents is telling of a militarized society where war is believed to be an unfortunate necessity at best, and a desirable, effective strategy at worst. In Independence Day Yossi and Itamar don the personas of Arabs who were evacuated from the land that is now a treasured national park often used as family celebration grounds during Independence Day. They ask revelers to stand for a moment of silence in the memory of the eradicated villages and are met again with typical self-righteousness and clumsy refusal.
Subtext Film/Anxious Escapism, 2005
In a somewhat similar vein, Anan Tzukerman documents his trip to a Jewish settlement in the Occupied Territories asking for hospitality. In effect, it is an individual’s attempt at encroaching on others’ land, even resorting to pitching a tent in a school yard. Tzukerman confronted the Jewish settlers with their own approach, laying claim to land under the pretense that it belongs to all Jews, even secular ones such as Tzukerman.
Taking the idea of social experiment to its extreme, Artur Zmijewski set up and filmed a scenario in Poland in which small groups representing conflicting social factions, such as conservatives, skinheads, socialists, and gay rights activists are brought together. In a closed, workshop-like setting the groups are asked to construct symbols representing their ideal Poland. They are then asked to react to each others’ various flags and drawings, resulting in violence and discord.
Wait, It’s the Soldiers, I’ll Hang Up Now, 2002
Avi Mograbi’s approach is often infused with irony and wry humor, but also with anger as it documents the absurdities of life under war and occupation. In Wait, It’s the Soldiers, I’ll Hang Up Now Mograbi films himself in his studio on the phone with a Palestinian filmmaker in Jenin whose home and neighborhood is at that very moment besieged by the Israeli army.
Cage House, Hebron, 2007-2008
Close Range Shooting, 2007-08
For a more vivid picture of life under occupation are two short videos not made by artists. They are the product of a documentation project to arm ordinary Palestinians with video cameras to document their lives and is administered by B’Tselem, the Israeli Information Center for Human Rights in the Occupied Territories. The camera has a double function, to witness human rights violations and to act as a protective weapon against them, as soldiers and settlers tend to be on better behavior when a camera is present. In the first clip, Cage House, Hebron, a woman is taunted by settlers and a soldier through the fence “protecting” her house, which neighbors a Jewish settlement. The second clip, Close Range Shooting, depicts from afar a struggle between the men in a Palestinian family and two Jewish settlers passing at the foot of their home. One of the settlers has a gun and shoots three of the Palestinians. The nature of their dispute is unclear; it is a blatant portrayal of violence and hatred at the most basic level.
The works in “Taking It On” are far from hopeful. Each demonstrates deep social chasms that must be overcome, but as these works demonstrate, doing so would require not just compromises on each side, but drastically altered worldviews.