Disasters of Peace vol.5, Bienal de la Imagen en Movimiento, Buenos Aires, Argentina, ENERC Auditorium, 8 November 2018, 17.00, co-curated with Sam Jury as part of the Disasters of Peace initiative. With Reed O’Beirne, Sam Jury and myself present in the Q&A.
A distinguishing feature of our age is the seismic shifts that have arisen from the after-burn of the 20th century: the end of the Cold War, the failed colonial projects giving rise to civil war and mass migration, the unfettered consumption that is slowly destroying the planet, the shifts towards political extremes, and the defiance of the rule of law through mass surveillance. In Western Democracies, we consider ourselves to be in the longest period of peace, but we increasingly fear the other. Paranoia and anxiety infuse our media. We are beset by dis-ease and forebodings of disaster, yet major disasters have already happened: the genocides of indigenous populations, Chernobyl and Fukushima, the Syrian refugee crises, Hurricane Harvey (Texas), Hurricane Maria (Puerto Rico), to name but a few. How then can we represent these caustic aftermaths to expose the slow violence they continue to enact? What languages can transform the legacy of recent histories into a constructive future view? This touring programme draws together artist filmmakers who in a myriad of ways, challenge the prevalent representations of disaster, beyond the apparatus of spectacle. Featured here are films that in varying ways respond to the ideas of transformation and re-imagining, works that are positioned in a place where we are as likely to look back as we are to imagine a future.
Sam Jury: To Be Here To Be Here is a film about the long-term displacement of Sahrawi refugees living in camps in the Sahara desert region of Algeria, who fled from their Western Sahara homeland after the 1975 war with Morocco. The film was scripted in dialogue with local people who later took performative roles in the film. The focus is on the female experience of war and exile conveyed through the words of a young female Sahrawi translator. Shaped as an alternative form of documentary, the film interweaves staged performance, dramatic camera and personal stories to create a close-looking narrative conveying the human psychological effect of being stateless. The displacement of the Sahrawis is one of the refugee crises to date.
Shubhangi Singh: Dawn to Dust Dawn to Dust examines the position of man in relation to his environment while contemplating the impact on the personal and collective human existence. The film contemplates the impact this cyclical plundering of resources have on the personal and the collective human existence. Set in an ethos of geo-political displacement, mass exodus, mindless invasions and lost resistance, this piece is intended as an elegy to the present. Lamenting this cataclysmic involvement of mankind, it calls upon the viewer to enter a moment of collective mourning. Dawn to Dust is a mixed media video work that combines motion footage, found material and hand drawn images to weave a narrative.
Reed O’Beirne: $O$ Though a debt of $206 million remained on the structure, the Seattle Kingdome was demolished by "implosion" on a cheery Sunday morning in March 2000. Over 50,000 tons of concrete and steel came crashing down causing the equivalent of a magnitude 2.3 earthquake. $O$ documents that morning thru time lapse photography and other experimental film techniques. The destruction was the result of Referendum 48, a ballot initiative backed by $5 million in advertising (the most expensive ballot initiative campaign in WA state history.) The theme for this ad campaign was "Save Our Seahawks" from which came the name for the film.
Jazra Khaleed: Gone is Syria, Gone One day Syria decides to leave. She gathers up her words and her personal affairs, her airspace and ground forces, she takes her geopolitical position, and she leaves.
Cecelia Condit: Tales of a Future Past Tales of a Future Past, is a two-channel video about a giraffe and a zebra who fight over an undefined baby creature, in hopes of making it one of their own kind. Using toy masks and a sparse theatricality, Cecelia Condit creates a contemporary reflection on species extinction and the lonely, silent world that might ensue from it.
Marianna Milhorat & Brian Kirkbride: Sky Room Someone is missing. Plants grow, but at what cost? Technology threatens and seduces as humans attempt to solve a mystery through telepathy and mirrors. Stainless steel and broken glass strewn about an intergalactic discotheque.Commissioned by the Chicago Film Archives and made in collaboration with sound artist Brian Kirkbride, with footage and sound from the archive chopped, manipulated and arpeggiated into a fertile mix of anthem and narrative.
Zbigniew Czapla: Paper Box Paper Box is a desperate attempt to keep memories, reconstruct portraits of people and events from the past. An impression on the transitory nature of memory, inevitably fading, and on the destructive forces of the elements.
Kamila Kuc: I Think You Should Come to America Utilising 16mm archival footage the film explores a paradoxical fascination of the Communist Poland with the ideal of America as a ‘land of freedom.’ I Think You Should Come to America investigates the cultural conditions in which memories are created. While critically evaluating my own enchantment with America, I interrogate various patterns of perception in order to produce a form of reflection that is personal and political as the film aims to expose the patterns of cultural (mis)representation.