In our current age of uncertainty, both art and journalism are struggling in their different ways to make sense of the present time. This exhibition of Adam Curtis’ works aims to try and break down the divide between art and modern political reportage, to open up a dialogue between the two.
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The challenge, in other words, is not to summon selfless goodwill or progressive content, but to find intelligent forms of voyeurism – that is, a mode of visual production that faces up to its own strategies of entertainment, infotainment and/or objectification. I think there’s much to say for strategies [that] elude simple notions of solidarity and empathy in favour of an analysis of our very fascination with the outlandish, be it touching or violent or both…
Artraker celebrates and awards new ideas and art works that make a direct positive change in countries which have experienced social upheaval and violent conflict.
Martin John Callanan, Letters 2004-2006 published by Book Works London, ISBN 9781870699983
Collected in this book are a selection of responses to a series of letters mailed between 2004-06, ranging from the bemused response of the Secretary to the Archbishop of Canterbury to the question “When will it end?” to appreciative letters from the offices of President Mubarak of Egypt in response to the declaration “I respect your authority”. Each letter poses a deceptively simple question or even inane rhetorical statement and the collected responses.
Jon Fawcett’s work is about freedom, empowerment and potential. His practice is developed from research into conspiracy theories, new age ideas and new science. His object-based work is highly engineered, using military or high-end materials and technologies. Most of his objects are devices that imply a function or a bodily effect on the viewer. His films are documents of activities that, while appearing to be covert military/scientific operations, have less rational objectives.
Each of his works involves research and collaboration but they stretch beyond this research and process, incorporating several layers of rationale and influence. While the resulting aesthetic is minimal, it is apparent that there is a lot more than meets the eye, prompting the viewer to explore further – something that the artist encourages.
'According to the People’s Daily (the [Chinese] government newspaper) which, in an online opinion poll, asked a large sample of young people what they would do if they were to see a fallen elderly person: “87 per cent of young people would not help … People will only help when a camera was present.” The reluctance to help signals a change in the status of public space. Even in a public space, I am still within my private space, engaged in no interaction with other people. In order to count as public, the space has to be covered by security cameras.’
The real 'Hurt Locker': Photographs show the moment bomb disposal expert defuses device strapped to bomber's chest
'In a scene reminiscent of the Oscar-winning film The Hurt Locker, images have emerged of a bomb disposal expert, dressed head-to-toe in protective gear, defusing a bomb strapped to a man wearing a suicide vest in Afghanistan.”Independent Newspaper
Sarah Charlesworth Figures (1983 - 1984)
Cibachrome with lacquered wood frame
“The idea…was that standing behind any individual’s identity or the way in which we position ourselves in the world, there is a whole set of pre-articulated possibilities of what is sexy or powerful,”
Sarah Charlesworth in conversation with Sara VanDerBeek
“Object Construction Number 1: Reflective Abstraction (Mishima)”, 2007 by Falke Pisano.
In Mourning and Rage, Suzanne Lacy and Leslie Labowitz (1977)
A Foucauldian anxiety over information and the way it is accessed, received and composed has opened the archive up to intense scrutiny and interrogation within contemporary art practice. If history is never truly ‘knowable,’ but actually a series of interpretations manipulated through successive contemporary concerns; whether these are ideological or distilled through the dominant methods of disseminating information, the margin for error in the archive is great. Taryn Simon’s recent project The Picture Collection exposed the complexities, arbitrariness and chance inherent in the archive’s codes through her work in the New York Picture Library. The archive, which holds 1.2million images taken from secondary sources and is organised into a complex cataloguing system of over 12,000 subject headings, was Simon’s material for investigation in the work. Selecting categories such as ‘Chiaroscuro, Handshaking, Haircombing, Express Highways, Financial Panics, Israel, and Beards and Moustaches’ she then overlapped the presented images so that only fragments were visible. For example, the word ‘Veil’ produced a series of incongruous images of women in bridal wear and burkhas, producing a visually inconsistent composite that served to undermine the reliability of the cataloguing system.
A productive way to side step the potential errors of viewing history as a rigid, static or ‘objective’ pursuit is to re-evaluate the pre-occupation with truth that the archive operates upon. What happens if the historical document is used as a springboard for new discoveries; for re-enactment and re-invention, for the opening of spaces where the unexpected can arise; spaces that cannot exist without artistic intervention? Alongside increasing attempts to correct and expose the archive’s errors and omissions there is a growing alternative model for accessing and understanding history that uses error as a tool to unique and creative ends. ‘Error’ here refers to the deliberate deconstruction of the dominant logic of the archive by reversing or challenging its terms. These include the artist’s unfaithfulness to its material through re-enactment or heavy-handed appropriation, the dismissal of the idea of history as linear progression and a de-fetishisation of visible remains and ‘originals’.