QUIET ODD #15 _ In the Event of Amnesia
For the last QUIET ODD session in collaboration with n.b.k., Video Forum curator Silke Wittig selected four videos by Niklas Goldbach, Denis Beaubois, Mwangi Hutter and Yael Bartana, exposing different reflections on privacy in public space.
Niklas Goldbach, Habitat C3B, 2008, 7:36 min
Since 2005, Niklas Goldbach (* 1973 in Witten, lives in Berlin) works in his videos with a fictional character in a white shirt and black suit pants, who embodies the prototype of the contemporary city dweller, although it is not always clear whether this figure is banker or waiter, master or servant. HABITAT C3B was filmed in 2008 in the district of Beaugrenelle in the 15th arrondissement in Paris. The district, built in the 1970s, is a result of Georges Pompidou’s attempt to modernize the city, now largely fallen into disrepair. The video explores a nearly deserted urban environment populated only by a handful of identical men engaging in an unknown mission. The clone-like characters chase one man that breaks from the group, recalling stock plot twists from science fiction. The video chronicles the implied protagonist’s journey through a modern yet despondently barren cityscape, it heightens tensions between fact and fiction and the ambiguity of reality in an anonymous yet artificial city.
Denis Beaubois: in the event of amnesia the city will recall…, 1997, 9:59 min
The work of Denis Beaubois (born 1970 in Moka / Mauritius, lives in Sydney) includes photography, video and performance. The video work In the event of amnesia the city will recall… was created on the basis of a three-day action in the public space of Sydney. It questions the role of surveillance in public space by trying to reach beyond the anonymous surveillance camera system and to get in contact with what’s behind it. Emphasizing the city as audience, collaborator and performer, it explores the relationship between the individual citizen and the metropolis. Twelve sites were selected around the city where surveillance cameras were prominently placed. The performers seem to directly communicate with the cameras through text messages on boards that are directed towards the motion-sensitive camera lenses.
Mwangi Hutter, Eastleigh Crossing, 2009, 8:05 min
After a long period of common life, Ingrid Mwangi (born 1975 in Nairobi) and Robert Hutter (born 1970 in Ludwigshafen, living in Berlin and Nairobi) gave up their individual artist identities in 2005 and started to co-sign their work as “Mwangi Hutter” and act as a collective individual in which one’s sexual and ethnic identity is projected onto the other. The video Eastleigh Crossing shows Irene Mwangi performing in a public place of Nairobi. The unwritten rules and regulations on how to comport oneself in public spaces are broken by her performance act. There are public spaces in which one should not eat, drink, speak, dance or even breathe and these rules are constraints that make an open and public space a closed space and area of restrictions. The act of rule breaking by Irene Mwangi’s performance is not to be interpreted as an act of agitation, but rather an act of grace or even healing through which, by creating a vent in the closed system, a controlled outlet is provided. It’s about confronting the location, intervening, creating a halt in the busyness of daily life and transforming the place for a moment into a creative space.
Yael Bartana: The Recorder Player from Sheikh Jarrah, 2010, 7:20 min
Yael Barta (born 1970, Kfar Yehezkel, Israel) is an Israeli artist working with video, installation and photography. Her work investigates the imagery of identity and the politics of memory. The video The Recorder Player from Sheikh Jarrah shows a young woman playing the flute along a human chain of uniformed Israeli soldiers. She plays famous combatant songs of the socialist workers’ movement like the Internationale and the solidarity poem, which are usually played at official memorial events in Israel. The flute player belongs to a group of demonstrators who are formed against the expulsion of Muslim inhabitants from Jerusalem, initiated by Jewish settlers. With her game, she breaks the human chain and joins the group’s protest. Yael Bartana is increasing the convincing effects of her message with choosing a slow and at some points undisclosed image, which at first provokes slight inner weakness. In her music and in her powerful withstanding elevated in the video, the player is able to capture and demonstrate the strength embedded in our notion of protest as she breaches the separating wall she is facing.