THE IMAGINARY REPUBLIC
Tatiana Fiodorova | Brandon LaBelle & Octavio Camargo | Sala-manca group | Joulia Strauss
18.10. - 16.12.2018
The Imaginary Republic looks at questions of public life and civic culture in today’s globally fraught environment. It questions ongoing social and political unrest and how this has led to an intensification of grass-roots initiatives, artistic activism, and practices of commoning. In particular, the project considers the creative expressions and dissident imaginaries of contemporary political subjectivity.
The exhibition features participating artists whose works and practices engage with communities of struggle, transitional zones and the drive of autonomous cultures. It brings into play forms and fictions by which emergent social configurations work as solidarity machines. As such, it sets out to dialogue with what Stavros Stavrides calls “communities in movement”. These act as expressions of social thresholds, where borders function less as fortifications and more as points of contact with others. Communities in movement suggest new lines of collective power and imagination by traversing and upsetting demarcations of the managed self. Such configurations of sociality may rework patterns of neoliberal life described by Isabell Lorey as “governing through insecurity”. Instead, they bring forward a culture of co-existence and poetic world making that often hovers in the gaps of political life. The works presented in the exhibition dialogue with these larger issues and realities, articulating fragile meetings and temporary dwellings, imaginary journeys and the creative resistances found in small gestures of care. As such, they document and point toward ways of figuring an art of survival.
About the artist projects in short:
Tatiana Fiodorova tells stories through the struggles of aging Moldovan women in order to help us rethink the Soviet past and present, bringing us closer to the informal conditions and often illegal practices found within states of transition. Octavio Camargo / Brandon LaBelle lead us into the special environment of Sala 603, an unofficial theater space located in a house in Curitiba, Brazil. Presented through two parallel video projections, the work narrates a poetic maze of hope and despair, the joy and exhaustion of creative movement. The Sala-manca group explores the politics of cultural translation through two works that speak towards questions of belonging, manifesting processes of “artistic smuggling” in Jerusalem as well as through an unseen migratory voice set free in the gallery. Joulia Strauss participates with her work “Molotus”, in collaboration with Clara Mosconi. A hybrid sculptural form bringing a Molotov cocktail and a meditation lotus flower together, the work aims to blast the notion of an artwork as a product, and celebrate the flow of an artistic process.
* Stavros Stavrides, Common Space.
* Isabell Lorey, State of Insecurity.
The Imaginary Republic is organized by Brandon LaBelle.
THE OLD MAN DOES NOT NEED ANYON
The title of the project "The Old Man Does not Need Anybody" is a commentary by an elderly woman selling at a flea market in Chisinau and references her old age and the aging. The project covers such countries as Moldova, Georgia and the not recognized Moldovan republic of Transnistria.
The topic of the plight of pensioners in the post-Soviet space now again becomes relevant as never before. Following the collapse of the USSR, during the transition to a market economy appropriate mechanisms were not created to protect low-income, socially disadvantaged groups of the population, such as pensioners. This topic is especially painful and difficult in countries where pensions are very small and the unemployment rate is quite high.
The new challenges and risks follow from ongoing reforms to increase the retirement age, which were taken by almost all countries in the post-Soviet space. At a pensioner’s age it is rather difficult to find jobs in these countries, and the person turns out to be useless to neither society, nor the state, without pension and work.
> drawings on toilet paper 2016 -2018 (Moldova, Transnistria, Georgia)
The presented series of drawings is an attempt to outline the different ways of female survival in particular, from illegal trade, “dacha” business (growing vegetables and fruits for further sale), collecting waste paper and bottles to begging.
“Only I know how we survived”
> artist’s book 2018 (Chisinau, Moldova)
In search of her identity and facts determining her future, Tatiana Fiodorova has turned to the older generation of Moldovan women, many of whom are already retired. The focus of attention is the artist’s mother who has worked as a saleswoman at a flea market for the last ten years. The book ‘Only I know how we survived’ presents drawings made on toilet paper, an interview with the artist’s mother, and small stories from the sellers at the flea market, which is located near the Chisinau railway station. For two years, 2016-2017 the artist has documented and observed the life of this place. In the summer of 2017 the flea market was closed by the authorities of the city of Chisinau. Portraits and stories of women tell of the difficult everyday life of the aging Moldovan women and help to rethink the Soviet past and present Moldovan today. What is a woman’s future for the country of Moldova?
"Archeology of everyday life"
> objects (Iasi, Romania)
The archeology of everyday life and the rethinking of contemporary urban garbage became the starting point in this artistic study. Continuing to develop the topic associated with inconspicuous social violence and social indifference to the pauperized existence of older people, the artist draws attention to the fact that a person in old age in the post-Soviet space becomes a social waste. A person at this age is no longer useful to society or the state. His/Her social body was used in due time and thrown out in the trash with a meager pensions.
Fragments of old and unnecessary things, such as umbrellas, music plates, sunglasses, other items found by the artist at a flea market were repaired with fragile paper material to acquire a new life.
> 2018 (performance)
Continuing her focus on archiving and archeology of everyday life, the artist continues to explore the theme of fragility and unnoticeable social violence, lawlessness and poverty, using everyday practices like hair cutting. The artist cuts the hair of her heroines working in the flea market in Chisinau, as well as her entire family for many years. This enables the family to save money and redirect resources to other necessary needs. Heroines in the process of cutting tell about their past years and share experiences of survival.
Brandon LaBelle and Octavio Camargo
THE AUTONOMOUS ODYSSEY
> (video installation)
The work is developed as a set of five monologues that speak towards questions of contemporary struggle, and the bonds that may arise through the sharing of particular social imaginaries. Staged by a group of performers associated with the special environment of Sala 603, an unofficial theater space located in a house in Curitiba, Brazil, the work is presented through two parallel video projections. As viewers we follow each performer as they reflect upon journeys made and journeys still to come, leading us deeper into a poetic maze of hope and despair, and possibilities for transformation. They speak of the squatting of abandoned buildings, the creative and critical endeavors found in making life together, the joy of shared resistances and the exhaustion. Recorded throughout the rooms of Sala 603, the work creates an uncanny relation to the city, and the ongoing demonstrations that were taking place during the making of the work outside the jail where former President Lula continues to be held. Echoes and frictions come to pass between the interiority of the house and the city outside, which points to the necessity to relate the forms of interior life, and practices of social reproduction, with the political conflicts of public action.
Chiris Gomes, Raquel Rizzo, Eliane Campelli, Pagu Leal, Fernando Marés, Andressa Medeiros, Richard Rebelo, Denis Mariano (drums)
Rodrigo Augusto Ribeiro
what of the world outside
what of the time it takes
what of the shelters holding against all this
what of the conflicts and the clashes
what of the figures that steal into the night
what of the lonely
what of the disappearing community
what of the memories they share like a music
what of the frustrated conversations
what of the trials and the accounts
what of the barred entrances
what of the hand that passes a hat
what of the declarations made
what of the listening in the dark
what of the stones marked with mysterious messages
what of the angry crowds those that capture the flags of the nation
Lea Mauas and Diego Rotman
> (video documents, in vault)
In the lead-up to the 2014 Sukkot holiday, the Sala-manca Group together with Itamar Mendes-Flohr and Yeshaiahu Rabinowitz decided to create a public sukkah on the Hansen grounds in Jerusalem, a temporary dwelling for its activities during the holiday. They collaborated with Al Korshan family of the Jahalin Bedouin tribe to delve into the sukkah’s charged meaning in the Israeli context and to highlight the temporary nature of the structure and its associations with exile and refugee issues. The Sukkah was bought a year later by the Israel Museum for their collection of Contemporary Art.
"Preserved within Myself"
> (audio guide)
"I don’t want to tell you the story of the museum, nor the circumstances of its inception, or its location and objectives. I want to tell you just a few things about myself." this is the beginning of an audio guide recorded by one of the guides of the Museum of the Contemporary, a day after she dreamt she was a rose.
Joulia Strauss (2017) with Clara Mosconi (2018)
> (video installation)
Molotus a hybrid between a molotov cocktail and a meditation lotus. It is an emblem of Avtonomi Akadimia and has participated in the Parliament of Bodies of the recent documenta 14. We blast the notion of an art work as a product, and celebrate the flow of an artistic process. By the moment of the exhibition opening, Molotus will have experienced an intervention by Clara Mosconi, the first active participant of the socio-cybernetic experiment Anarchist Ashram (to be held at Kunsthall 3.14, November 7-14, 2018). Our Totem object will serve as a magic écran for teleaffective meetings between Bergen and Athens, which will take place throughout the duration of the Imaginary Republic.