| EXHIBITION HALL |
Curated by Malin Barth
Kunsthall 3,14 is proud to present three distinct artists and their projects, Unending Lightning by Cristina Lucas in the Exhibition hall, Tir'ras (Target) by Zartosht Rahimi in the Vault, and Shot Gun Architecture by Justin Bennett in the Parabol (www.kunsthall314.art/parabol).
These projects thematize different aspects and effects of geography of power and war-making. Through the various artworks, we are invited to see and discuss some of the more central and inflamed forms of power in our own time. It is the space between the extremes, on one side the underlying issues and relations that might trigger war and on the other the devastating consequences for human inflicted by war, which are explored and transformed into artistic acts.
computer based 3-channel video, mixed media installations
Cristina Lucas´ exhibition thematizes different aspects and effects of geography of power and war-making. Through the various works of art, we are invited to see and discuss some of the more central and inflamed forms of power in our own time. It is the space between the extremes, on one side the underlying issues and relations that might trigger war and on the other the devastating consequences for civilians inflicted by war. These aspects are explored and transformed into her artistic acts.
Lucas is featured with three works in the exhibition. They come together as a narration, starting with the single video projection of the work Piper Prometheus (2013), where an aircraft flies a commercial banner with the print of the formula that enables it to fly. The desire to be free from Earth and able to fly freely has captured human´s imaginations for as long as the time remembers. Thanks to the lift formula L= (1/2 d v2 s CL) and invention of flying machines, aircrafts were already implemented in warfare from the Italo-Turkish War starting 1911.
Lucas` 3-channel six plus hour long video installation Unending Lightning (2015-) is an open-ended work-in-progress. Global cartography of aerial warfare, that shows all aerial bombings over civilians since man started to implement bombing as a tool of war. The project is composed around historical investigations that is evidently endless, and grievously ongoing due to current events.
The three screens are synchronized, and time has been condensed with images changing every 3 seconds; representing one day. The viewer is on one screen presented with the respective military forces responsible for dropping the bombs, date and type of bombs, the city under attack and if known the number dead civilians available for the public. The center screen is Lukas´ cartography indicated where in the world the bomb was dropped, while on the last screen documentary images and film footage are seen of the devastating horror of the act; damage, injuries and death. Unending Lightning has also been divided into three chapters. The fist presents the beginning of aerial bombardments until the first atomic bomb was dropped in 1945. The second part runs through to the end of the cold war in 1989, while the third section is running through our current time. This also includes remote-controlled drone attacks. Lucas´ project aims at creating a solid remembrance over the civilian aspect and consequences of war.
The video has an open framework. It can be updated on the basis of present day research or information that have been forgotten, de-classified or disclosed lately. For this edition Unending Lightning has now an expanded and up to date section of aerial bombing and its civilian casualties in Norway during Second World War. The film ends horrifyingly, only one month short of the inauguration of the exhibition. To a large extent, a sense of massive powerlessness and hopelessnes, anger and fustration turned inward, is an effect of the work’s temporality.
In Ignominy Map (2018) Lucas´ has left out the contours of the boarders of the word map. As viewers, we are left with indication through her embroidered black city names. Included on a world scale are only cities that have experiences destruction, obliteration, and civilian casualties caused by aerial bombardments.
- There are no winners for humanity in war, only losers.
Those who insist that we cannot afford to take in the world’s misery should make more of a concerted effort to ensure that we are not helping to create the world’s misery. It is however through the work Ignominy Map that Lucas´ opens the discussion of a way forward and hopefully leaving Unending Lightning as a reminder of gruesome events in the past. In the work there are no border lines, not even borders formed naturally by oceans, by mountain ranges, rivers or lakes etc.
Most borders are entirely man-made. They are essentially imaginary lines, either agreed or imposed. They keep people in, they keep people out. A great deal of time, money and resources are spent defending these arbitrary constructs. Millions of lives have been lost to protect the integrity of something entirely made-up. Given the serious and often deadly nature of borders, it is only natural to wonder, what would a world without borders look like. John Lennon, in his song, Imagine, wasn’t the first to imagine all the people sharing all the world, but his dream of a world without conflict and division became one of the world’s most popular songs. Imagine reflects on the natural human desire for peace. We perceive national borders as a natural phenomenon, and in doing so, we often forget the unnatural, political origins from which they arise.
If any of us want to move across borders we will meet immigration procedures. If we want to move to a different country in hope for a better future, or just seek new cultural experience and new job possibilities, or if a person has to escape from armed war or lack of food and water. Whatever reason you might have for moving you will meet the immigration officers. Your possibilities will depend on your passport and your economic and social situation. Highly unfear it is, when the procedures are more difficult for the person fleeing from war and atrocities and even more unfear when the person try to enter the region that has caused the problem for the person needing to leave in the first place.
However, if we try to address the problem of limiting human freedoms and solidifying the inequalities that already exist around the globe, would the answer be a world without boundaries? Or maybe a world with reduced border constraints? How would that world look like? Would it be freer and more prosperous or perhaps even more turbulent and unstable? Some economists predict that a world with less stringent borders can accelerate economic growth, but also further mass migration where there are economic possibilities and possibilities for a greater standard of living. This will benefit a greater number of poorer people in their nation of residence who would otherwise endure the harsh reality. On the other side, lack of border may also disrupt the ability of governments to preserve national sovereignty and safety. But should we look closer and question our domestic biases and consider the option of a borderless globe if the general result would allow for broader freedom and higher equality?
Writers, artists, and many others are constantly trying to imagine and describe a universal vision for humanity. For instance, L. Zamenhof at the end of the 19th century, created the international auxiliary language; Esperanto. While in 1953 Garry Davis, the international peace activist, formed a World Government of World Citizens. It now exists as an organization called the World Service Authority based in Washington DC. This organization issues a world passport based on Article 13(2) of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights stating that «everyone has the right to leave any country, including one´s own, and return to one´s country».
We can not deny the reality that as technology becomes more sophisticated, the world becomes more interconnected. As governments lose the capacity to strictly control migration, it may naturally become more united. However, many obstacles and challenges remain to be resolved before we attempt to unify our world, such as the prospect that right-wing nationalist organizations will respond to such a demographic shift. Furthermore, it may be regarded irresponsible and premature to eradicate boundaries when the world is in a present state of conflict, leading to more chaos than peace.
Over time, it may be better for this process to unfold in clusters of systematic changes, policy reforms, and other types of developments that are already occurring with internet growth and globalized world politics. Giving this opportunity a place in our collective imagination can, in essence, enable us to take concrete steps towards a more equal world and bring that vision closer to the present only if it proves beneficial to humanity and only if we mitigate its potential risk.
Cristina Lucas Lives and works in Madrid, Spain. She uses performance, happenings, video, photography, installation, drawing and painting to focus on the irrationality of human activities and to contrast traditionally conflicting concepts such as reality and fiction. Her works analyze the main political and economic structures of our time in an effort to reveal the contradictions between the official story, the true story, and collective memory. She enjoys challenging historical, social, political and cultural clichés and takes a critical stand on issues such as the position of women, Western domination and humankind’s ambition to control nature. Her work can be seen in many European museums, including Musac in León and the Centre Pompidou in Paris, as Manifesta 2018. Cristina Lucas is educated from Rijksakademie van Beeldende Kunsten, Amsterdam, NL. She has a master’s in fine arts from the University of California, Irvine, US.
Exhibition opened by Susanne Urban, cosmopolitan born in Baghdad, architect in Bergen. Member of the board of the International Women's League for Peace and Freedom - Bergen.
Cristina Lucas present at the opening.
Review in Kunstkritikk >>>
List over organisations whose databases, reports and research were used extensively in this project >>>
Special thanks to BEK, for their technical support.
| VAULT |
"Tir'ras (Target)", 2018
installation, mix media
Curated by Malin Barth
Zartosht Rahimi presents in his exhibition the installation Tir’ras (Target). At first glance man is still the first weapon of war. Two soldiers seemingly confront and threaten each other at point-blank range, but this is a story of deception and as the viewer approaches and comes closer, we find that a third soldier has clear shot directed at us. We are faced with a situation that make most of us uncomfortable and in one way or another we are implicit becoming a part of it.
The installation is only composed by two materials, the ready-made camouflage net and the transparent cnc cut plexiglass figures. The artist is playing with the form, the light, the shadow, and the camouflage, all sign that we need to have insight into the geography of power. And how transparent is their relationship? Invisibly in the background, where most of us don´t recognize them and therefore can´t oppose or resist their influence.
The project Tir’ras (Target) thematizes different aspects and effects of geography of power and war-making. The work invites us to see and discuss some of the more central and inflamed forms of power in our own time. It is the space between the extremes, on one side the underlying issues and relations that might trigger war, which is explored and transformed into the artistic act. We know there is a distinction between direct power, indirect power, consciousness-controlling power and structural power. But we still need to raise the questions of who holds power? Who has the opportunity to use it? Who really uses it, and for what purpose?
Social scientists often emphasize that power is exercised in different ways. Today they talk about the three phases or three dimensions of power. One is power in open conflicts, the second is invisible power overt the agenda, while the third is power over ways of thinking in forms of manipulation.
The first phase, power is seen as a relation between individuals. It is one person’s capacity to comply with others that alter how they act as a consequence of the exerted power. It can be seen in ruling elite systems, where few individuals have significant authority. As such, power is direct, identifying a problem and responding to it in a unique way. Essentially, it’s about making decisions. This can be seen in governmental power, then the government decides, and the decision, can most often be publicly discussed along the manner with opportunities for consultation and challenge. It is all about making decisions. This can be viewed as an ’open phaze,’ where it is evident who makes the choice and why. As this can be seen, with little issue it is more probable to be trusted and therefore obeyed.
The second phase, the agenda provides the more subtle system of power, where decision-making takes place within a complicated scheme. Power is not only about making decisions in this circumstance, but also about setting the agenda that contributes to decisions. In other words, you can affect those decisions if you can regulate the context within which decisions are created. This can be seen in governmental power in desitions taken ’behind closed doors’ and in the ’corridors of power’ where it is rarely evident who decides and why. In such situations, power is retained not only by elected officials, but also by whisperers and assistants setting up meetings, shaping agendas, and writing minutes. It can be seen as a ’secretive phaze,’ where it is not clear who is making the decision. This can lead to issues as other individuals suspect that the decision is based on corrupt components such as political agendas and personal profit.
The third phaze is a much more subtle dimension of manipulating the psychology of anyone and anybody affected. Here, the ability to control what people think is ’ right ’ can lead to unquestionably accepting biased decisions. In state power, this becomes visible in propaganda and spinning, and making speeches that are intentionally intended to alter minds before announcing the rulings. This can be seen as a ’deceptive phaze,’ where manipulation and psychological techniques are the main instrument for shifting values and altering what is essential and important to individuals. The issue with this strategy is that it can result in a massive loss of credibility and lack of trust and resulting in betrayal when it is detected.
All these aspects might be seen to lure within this work of art; Tir’ras (Target).
Rahimi is an artist living and working in Iran. At the age of thirty, he has not been able to travel beyond the boarder of his country yet; this is due to the fact that he is a pacifist and refuses to do his mandatory military service. In general, his artworks bring forth various discourses of his environmental realities. His main artistic concerns are the urge to freedom, exploring ways for universal dialog, paradoxical aspects of politics, culture and religion in Iran. In the work Tir’ras (Target) he focusses on the exercise of power dominated by polarized representations and investigates and discuss the structures that often results in armed attacks. Geo-political constellations and grid locks changes the world constantly. The path of our lives and choices, influence our choices and ways of thinking. How to influence and challenge this dynamic?
It might be natural to discuss Rahimi´s work on the base of the influence of network structure, both within the country as well as that of international relations. Here sets or successions of three or triad exist, keeping in mind the three central figures in the work Tir’ras (Target). The Middle East has become the world’s most polarized region and, paradoxically, its most integrated. The story of the contemporary Middle East is one of a succession of rifts, each new one sitting atop its precursors, some taking momentary precedence over others, none ever truly or fully resolved. The three centers of power in Iran are the Supreme Leader, the president, and the Islamic Revolution Guard Corps. They are competing in shaping the course of Iranian foreign affairs. Their agendas are split. There are much at stake dependent on who draws the longest straw, for it might result in an altered balance of power in Teheran and affect the economic framework, as well as instigator or preventer of war. Since US diplomats were taken hostage in the wake of the Iranian Revolution in 1979, there has been no diplomatic communication channel between Tehran and Washington. Rahimi is also from a generation that grew up in one of Bush´s three countries rhetorical mark: «Axis of Evil». Aristotle used three terms to explain how rhetoric works: logos, pathos, and ethos, something that might affect and mark people exposed to classifying and restrictive labels. Then sketching up a different line of thought; against Iran, but standing united with the USA is Israel. Both countries are perceiving war as part of their resent electoral or coming strategy for re-election. And then there is Saudi Arabia, who joins in on isolation issue of Iran, enemy number one of all three nations. Serious misreadings of the other side´s intentions or actions could quickly escalate to full blown war. Moving on to the White House´s stated objective; overthrowing of the Iranian government. A critical question until recently has been who exercise the most power in achieving this, President Donald Trump, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, or National Security Advisor John Bolton (dismissed last week - 10th of September). In Washington the following day, Trump appeared to take a step back from his own administration’s «maximum pressure» operation against Iran.
At the moment of the opening of Tir’ras (Target) at Kunsthall 3,14 it could seem that the US President Donald Trump, was the last to draw the longest straw. The situation in the region may change from day to day or week to week for the duration of the exhibition period, so the text might be updated several times. Regardless, maybe it is appropriate now to quote the British philosopher, logician, mathematician, historian, writer, essayist, social critic, political activist, and Nobel laureate Bertrand Russel: «War does not determine who is right – only who is left».