Program Vanishing Present

ROOM
Histories of a Vanishing Present: A Prologue
January 9 – March 26, 2016

Exhibition Schedule

Chapter 1: Jan. 9 - 23; Chapter 2: Jan. 27 - Feb. 20; Chapter 3: Feb. 24 - March 12; Chapter 4: March 16 - 26

Histories of a Vanishing Present is a long-term initiative conceived as a flexible structure for the production of projects invested in generating original scholarship. Imagining the exhibition as a temporal form that is shaped over time and across a multiplicity of spatialities including but not limited to thematic shows, new commissions, events and situations, and publications, Histories of a Vanishing Present intends to transform the usually insular process of academic research into a forum of (for) public scholarship; into a site wherein critical inquiry happens in direct dialogue with audiences. 

This curatorial endeavor is committed to a generation of artists rooted in the Global South who were born and came of age after 1980. Through the lens of postmemory, this project mines the Millennial Generation’s complex relationship to nationalism, cultural heritage, historical trauma, and identity politics. At the core of our investigation is an interest in understanding how formative historical moments have come to define an emerging generation of practitioners that did not experience them directly yet nevertheless has been deeply affected by memories inherited from those who did through images, stories, places, and actions. From independence movements in Africa, to military dictatorships in Latin America, to the transformation of the Middle East after WWII, to armed conflict and Western intervention in East Asia, to the formation of a post-Soviet Eastern Europe, Histories of a Vanishing Present navigates the consequences of violent pasts and their influence on the work and practices of those shaping the future of contemporary art. 

A Prologue is the first exhibition of this multi-year project. Organized as four rotating chapters of varying lengths, A Prologue introduces a constellation of artists, voices, positions, and geographies that will anchor the questions and inquiries guiding this initiative over the next three years. Two central themes structure this introductory show—history as struggle and history as material for reinvention and recreation. These two distinct approaches to engage with the past are revealed through the practices of ten artists living and working around the globe. Mobilizing  film and moving images these artists highlight the intricacies of trans-generational acts of transfer and the textured realities forging current sociopolitical, cultural,  and economic climates in regions often positioned at the periphery of art history’s canon. Participating artists in each chapter of this show will be announced as the preceding chapter closes and in conjunction with accompanying public conversations that will  contextualize the works presented; many of the works featured in this exhibition are being shown in Los Angeles for the very first time. 

Histories of a Vanishing Present is an initiative of The Mistake Room conceived by TMR Director and Chief Curator Cesar Garcia in consultation with an international advisory group. 

A Prologue is curated by Cesar Garcia with Kris Kuramitsu, TMR's Deputy Director and Senior Curator. 

 

CHAPTERS

CHAPTER 1 (Jan. 9 - 23) 

Basel Abbas & Ruanne Abou-Rahme: Collapse

Collapse brings together imaginary and actual moments of resistance and loss; an act of excavation that illuminates the deep disruptions that have shaped not only Palestinian lived experience and memory but shared histories of struggle. The sampled footage includes sequences from The Open Door (1963), The Battleship Potemkin (1925), and Edward Said as a young child in pre-1948 Jerusalem (In Search of Palestine).

A literal and poetic displacement resonates throughout the work, in part a meditation on a contemporary Palestinian landscape ruptured by a breakdown of community, memory, and narrative. Moments of recurrent potential and failure of resistance are repeated to critically reconstruct past fragments and uncover the suspension of the future in the present. This feeling of continual suspension and relapse, progress and deadly repetition is played out exploring the overlap between personal trajectories and multiple historical narratives.  It is in the ambiguities between absence and presence, nostalgia and an altogether frustrating sense of deja-vu, that the installation explores an anxious and obsessive state of being, trapped in the transition between past, present, reality and fiction.

Collapse was roduced with the support of the Delfina Foundation. 

Jumana Manna & Sille Storihle: The Goodness Regime

 The Goodness Regime is a film written and directed collaboratively by artists Jumana Manna and Sille Storihle. With the help of a cast of children, the film investigates the foundations of the ideology and self-image of modern Norway—from the Crusades, via the adventures of Fritjof Nansen and the trauma of wartime occupation, to the diplomatic theater of the Oslo Peace Accords. The Goodness Regime was shot in Norway and Palestine, and combines children’s performances with archive sound recordings (including US President Bill Clinton speaking at the signing of the Oslo Accords, and Prime Minister Kjell Magne Bondevik’s New Year address to the Norwegian people in 2000) and new documentary footage filmed on location. In the course of their research, Manna and Storihle interviewed Ron Pundak, one of the Israeli architects of the Oslo back-channel talks, and Hanan Ashrawi, the former Palestine Liberation Organization spokeswoman; the film premiere at the Kunsthall Oslo exactly twenty years after the conclusion and signing of the Oslo Agreement by Israel and the P.L.O. in August-September 1993. 

CHAPTER 2 (Jan. 27 - Feb. 20) 

Larry Achiampong & David Blandy: Finding Fanon Part Two

Finding Fanon Two, part of The Finding Fanon trilogy by UK based artists Larry Achiampong and David Blandy, is inspired by the lost plays of Frantz Fanon (1925-1961), a politically radical humanist whose practice dealt with the psychopathology of colonization and the social and cultural consequences of decolonization. Throughout the series, Achiampong and Blandy negotiate Fanon’s ideas, examining the politics of race, racism and decolonization, and how these societal issues affect our relationship amidst an age of new technology, popular culture, and globalization. For Finding Fanon Part Two, Achiampong and Blandy collide art-house cinema with digital culture’s Machinima, resulting in a work that explores the post-colonial condition from inside a simulated environment – the Grand Theft Auto 5 in-game video editor. The video work combines several stories, including how the artists’ familial histories relate to colonial history, an examination of how their relationship is formed through the virtual space, and thoughts on the implications of the post-human condition. 

 Finding Fanon Part Two was originally commissioned by Brighton Digital Festival and produced by Artsadmin. 

Aleksandra Domanovic: Turbo Sculpture

Turbo Sculpture investigates how image culture and information flows have contributed to the postwar cultural environment of the former Yugoslavia. Consisting of a digital slide show and audio narration, Turbo Sculpture traces the emergence of a new kind of public art in the ex-Yugoslavia republics wherein local authorities in a bid to provide new points of identification for their communities chose to erect bronze monuments of western pop cultural heroes—such as Johnny Depp and Sylvester Stalone’s ‘Rocky Balboa’—rather than immortalize their own political leaders following a tumultuous period of war and violence in the region. In this work Domanovic powerfully reveals the ways in which these statues memorializing popular commodities reflect the region’s own emergence within capitalist markets and how this rejection of the themes and figures typically associated with public monuments constitutes a denial of history through radical transformations of iconographic traditions. By looking at the efforts of a region that does not want to bear witness to its past, Turbo Sculpture’s anti-monuments highlight how history itself can become material for re-invention.

Maria Taniguchi: Untitled (Celestial Motors)

Celestial Motors is a visual meditation on an icon of modern urban Philippine life - the jeepney. This ubiquitous form of public transportation, originally built from U.S. military jeeps left on the islands after World War II, is normally exuberantly painted and personalized. Taniguchi's formal video portrait instead focuses on a gleaming stainless steel example, fresh from the Celestial Motors factory. Nearly static, abstracted details of the jeepney are intercut with deliberate pans across its body; it is silent and slow—two words one would never use to describe a jeepney in use—allowing this postcolonial object to resonate fully.

Celestial Motors was commissioned by the LUX Associate Artists Programme. 

Kemang Wa Lehulere: A Homeless Song (Sleep is for the Gifted) 

A Homeless Song (Sleep is for the Gifted) is an imaginative re-staging of historic South African play “The Island” by John Kani, Winston Ntshona and Athol Fugard. Choreographed in collaboration with Khayelihle Dominique Gumede, the film records the staging of a somber dance mapping a fractured history onto moving bodies. Two pairs of dancers navigate the space as units, bearing each other’s weight in various ways to emerge as new, shared forms. In acts of repetition that situate the archive in the realm of the corporeal, the dancers carry large bones from one pile to another, moving back and forth in a cyclical pattern that suggests the continual unearthing of history and the passing of bodies through land and time. Simultaneously, exchanging bones from pile to pile proposes death as both systematic and unknown, connecting to Wa Lehulere’s larger interest in working through the troubling ruins of the apartheid era and the many graves, both real and imaginary, that have yet to be discovered.

CHAPTER 3 (Feb. 24 - March 12) 

Vandy Rattana: Monologue

Monologue, like other recent works by Vandy Rattana, weaves its narrative through the landscape of his Cambodian homeland--a landscape irrevocably shaped by a recent history of violence that he and others of his generation are only beginning to process. In this quiet and seemingly matter-of-fact video, we see a pair of mango trees overlooking a field; the only soundtrack is the artist's voice talking to a sister he never knew. As the work progresses we learn that she, along with her grandmother, was one of nearly 5,000 people who were killed by the Khmer Rouge in 1978 and buried beneath this lush pair of trees--fertilizing the farmland that fans out below them. Rattana asks her questions that will never be answered, reinforcing the stark solitude of his voice. He describes the experience of the trees and eating its fruits, talking about the inevitability of human violence alongside the fertility and beauty of the land; showing us a trio of farmers in the motions of planting and harvesting. We see him in the landscape too, dwarfed by the enormity of the trees, as he talks about delivering relics from this land to his parents. There is however, no closure, only more questions and the overriding sense of the incommensurability of cultural trauma and personal tragedy.   

CHAPTER 4 (March 16 - 26) 

Ximena Garrido-Lecca: Toropukllay

Toropukllay (2012) takes as its subject the Fiesta Yawar--a ritual, public ceremony, and festival that takes place during the Independence Day celebrations of Peru in villages across the Andean highlands. A condor, captured by locals, is paraded through the town and looked after in anticipation of a public event that entails the condor battling a bull in a ring. During the event, the condor is lashed to the back of the bull and set loose in an arena in front of a crowd. The bull rages, trying to fight off the condor as the majestic bird tries to attack the horned creature's eyes. For many Andean people, the fierce struggle between the two animals symbolizes the relationship between the Incas and the Spanish conquistadors. If any harm comes to the bird during the battle, locals believe it to be a bad omen for the coming year.  After the encounter, the condor--a sacred bird among the Andean people--is returned to the skies. Artist Ximena Garrido-Lecca captured the event in this video, focusing solely on the two creatures; depicting the gruesome and sometimes bloody spectacle in slow motion and set to a haunting, abstract soundtrack.  Even in slow frames, the battle is visceral, urgent, and disturbing--a history of violence that reenacts itself again and again before our eyes. First documented in the historical record in the 18th century, the Fiesta Yawar epitomizes the complexities of mestizaje--the process of cultural transformation and intermixing that resulted from the encounter between indigenous and European peoples in the Americas as a result of colonization.  The event, as depicted by Garrido-Lecca in this work, is at its very core a painful reminder of the legacy of colonial rule and its resounding presence in our contemporary moment. Between spirituality and religion, rural and urban life, indigenous and mestizo identities, and animal conservation and cultural tradition,  two distinct worlds continue to exist--uncomfortably enduring one another.

Agnieszka Polska: Future Days

Agnieszka Polska's Future Days (2013) takes place in a fictitious afterlife for avant-garde artists who, for one reason or another, have disappeared from the art world.  They wander and mingle, zombie-like, condemned to an eternity without a future. The protagonists inlude Paul Thek, Jerry Ludwiski, Wodzimierz Borowski, Lee Lozano, Charlotte Posenenske and Andrzej Szewczyk, played by actors wearing rubber masks resembling their characters. The haunting landscape, home to disappeared artworks as well, provides a backdrop for this meditation on the creation of mythologies and our fantasies about history.

ABOUT THE ARTISTS

Basel Abbas and Ruanne Abou-Rahme (b. 1983) work together across a range of sound, image, text, installation and performance practices. They probe a contemporary landscape marked by seemingly perpetual crisis and an endless ‘present’, one that is increasingly shaped by a politics of desire and disaster. They have been developing a body of work that questions this suspension of the present and searches for ways in which an altogether different imaginary can emerge. They have exhibited and performed internationally and founded the sound and image performance group Tashweesh.  Solo exhibitions include The Incidental Insurgents, ICA (Philadelphia, 2015); Office for Contemporary Art (Oslo, 2015); and Akademie Der Kuenste Der Welt (Cologne, 2014); The Zone, New Art Exchange (Nottingham, 2011); and Collapse, Delfina Foundation (London, 2009). Recent group exhibitions include the 12th Sharjah Biennale (2015); Lest The Two Seas Meet, Warsaw Museum Of Modern Art (2015); the 31st São Paulo Biennial; 10th Gwangju Biennale; Insert 2014 (New Delhi, all 2014); Asian Art Biennale (Taiwan); 13th Istanbul Biennial; Points of Departure, ICA (London, all 2013); the 6th Jerusalem Show; (On) Accordance, Grand Union/or-bits.com, (Birmingham, both 2012); Future Movements - Jerusalem at the Liverpool Biennial, HomeWorks 5, Ashkal Alwan (Beirut, all 2010); Delfina Foundation (London), and Palestine c/o Venice at the 53rd Venice Biennale (both 2009).

Larry Achiampong (b. 1984) is a British-Ghanaian artist who has exhibited, performed and presented projects in various institutions within the UK and abroad including Tate Britain/Modern, London, UK; Hauptbahnhof (Documenta13), Kassel, Germany; Iniva, London, UK; ICA, London, UK; Yinka Shonibare’s Guest Project Space, London, UK; Westergasfabriek, Amsterdam, Netherlands; Ausland, Berlin, Germany; and the Bokoor African Popular Music Archives Foundation, Accra, Ghana.

David Blandy (b. 1979) has exhibited at venues nationally and worldwide such as Bloomberg Space, London, UK; Kiasma Contemporary Art Museum, Helsinki, Finland; The Baltic, Gateshead; Turner Contemporary, Margate; Spike Island, Briston; Künstlerhaus Stuttgart, Germany; MoMA PS1, New York, and Museum of Contemporary Art, Shanghai, China.

Aleksandra Domanović (b. 1981) works across a range of media to investigate how existing images and information circulate, and rearranges them in various ways to produce new meaning and content. A recurring theme in her work is the disintegration of Yugoslavia, a chapter in history that is closely tied to her own biography; Domanović was born in Novi Sad, which belonged to the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia before being transformed into the State Union of Serbia and Montenegro in 2003. Domanović’s work is concerned with the circulation and reception of images and information, particularly as they shift meaning and change register, traversing different contexts and historical circumstances. Her works create strange taxonomies and manic associative chains that poke and prod at copyright laws, unpack the geopolitical implications of web domains, or explore, for instance, the model of exhibitions (the co-creation of the collaborative exhibition platform vvork.com). Domanović has been awarded the 2014-2015 ars viva prize. The ars viva exhibition series will present a selection of works by the three award-winners through 2015 at the Hamburger Kunsthalle, Galerie der Gegenwart; Bonner Kunstverein; and Grazer Kunstverein. Domanović’s recent solo exhibitions include: Glasgow International 2014, Gallery of Modern Art, Glasgow (2014); Aleksandra Domanović, firstsite, Colcheste (2014); The Future Was at Her Fingertips, Tanya Leighton, Berlin (2013); Turbo Sculpture, SPACE, London (2012); and From yu to me, Kunsthalle Basel (2012).

Ximena Garrido-Lecca (b. 1980) was born in Lima, Peru, and currently lives and works in London. Garrido-Lecca studied at the Universidad Catolica del Peru and received her MA from Byam Shaw School of Art, London. Sh has had solo exhibitions at the Middlesborough Institute of Modern Art; Museo Mario Testino, Lima; Casado Santapau, Madrid; and 80m2, Lima, Peru. She has participated in group exhibitions at the Gallery o South Australia, Adelaide; International Biennale of Arezzo; Bienal de Cuenca, Ecuador; and the Mercosul Biennial. She was a finalist for the Pinchuk Foundation's Future Generation Art Prize in 2014 and in 2016 she received the Premio Luces from El Comercio, Peru. Garrido-Lecca will be in residence in 2016 at FLACC in Genk, the Neterlands.

Jumana Manna (b. 1987) lives and works in Berlin and Jerusalem. Selected exhibitions include Aftercinema, Beirut Art Center; Doubt of the Stage Prompter, Edit-Russ Haus für Medienkunst, Germany (both 2015); Menace of Origins, Sculpture Center, New York (2014); The Goodness Regime, Kunsthall Oslo; and Kunstlerhaus Bethanien, Berlin (both 2013). She participated in Meeting Points 7 (2013-4); the Sharjah Biennale; Performa 13, New York; Norwegian Short film Festival, Grimstad; the London Palestine Film Festival; and the International Film Festival, Rotterdam (all 2013). In 2012, Manna received the A.M. Qattan Foundation’s Young Palestinian Artist Award (first prize).

Agnieszka Polska (b. 1985) was born in Poland and currently lives and works in Berlin.  She studied at the Academy of Fine Arts in Krakow and the Universitaet der Kunste Berlin. Her solo exhibitions have been seen at Trafo, Budapest; Nottingham Contemporary, UK; Salzburger Kunstverein, Austria; and CCA Ujazdowski Castle, Poland amongst others. Her work has been included in group exhibitions at the Hamburger Bahnhoff; Artspace, Auckland; the Palais de Tokyo, Paris; and the Hirschhorn Museum, Washington DC. Her work has also been included in the Istanbul and Sydney Biennials. Venues for her screenings and performative lectures have included the Museum of Modern Art, NY; the ICA, London; and the Tate Modern amongst others. Polska was recently a resident at the Rijksakademie in Amsterdam and she was a finalist for the Deutsche Bank Foundation Award as well as the Future Generation Art Prize at the Pinchuk Art Center.

Maria Taniguchi (b. 1981) was born and raised in Dumaguete City, Philippines and currently works in Manila. She holds a BFA in Sculpture from the University of the Philippines, an MFA in Art Practice from Goldsmiths in London, and a degree from the LUX Associates Artists Programme in London. She has had recent solo exhibitions at carlier|gebauer, Berlin; Silverlens, Singapore/Manila; ARTSPACE, Auckland; and the Jorge Vargas Museum, Manila.  She has participated in the 8th Asia Pacific Triennial at the Queensland Art Gallery, Brisbane; Museum of Contemporary Art, Antwerp; the Khalid Shoman Foundation, Amman; and has screened her work at the Tate Britain, London; The Jewish Museum, New York, and Caixa Forum, Barcelona, among others.  She is the recipient of the 2015 Hugo Boss Asia Art Award for Emerging Asian Artists. In 2016, she will be in residence at Things That Can Happen in Hong Kong and will have a solo exhibition at Ibid Projects, London.

Vandy Rattana (b. 1980) lives between Taipei, Phnom Penh, and Paris. He has had solo exhibitions at various institutions including the Jeu de Paume, Paris; CAPC, Bordeaux; St. Paul. St. Gallery, Auckland; The Asia Society, New York; SA SA BASSAC, Phnom Penh; and the Hessel Museum of Art, Annandale-on-Hudson, New York. Rattana has participated in numerous international group exhibitions and has held residencies at AIT, The Backers Foundation, Tokyo; The Lower Manhattan Cultural Council, Governors Island, New York; and The Long March Space, Beijing. In 2015 he was a finalist for the Hugo Boss Asian Art Award. Rattana is the founder of the Stiev Selepak Artist Collective and a co-founder of SA SA BASSAC--a gallery and resource center in Phnom Penh dedicated to curating, mediating, and archiving Cambodian contemporary visual culture. He is also the co-founder of Ponleu Association--a binational organization that provides access to international reference books and publishes its own books in Khmer. 

Sille Storihle (b. 1985) is an artist and researcher based in Berlin, working mainly with short films and publications. She holds a BA in Fine Art from Trondheim Academy of Fine Art and an MA in Aesthetics and Politics from California Institute of the Arts. Her central areas of interest include gender politics, nationalism, and history. With Liv Bugge, she runs the Oslo based platform FRANK, aiming at building community, showing contemporary art and generating discussions addressing hegemonic structures in society relating to gender and sexuality. Her artistic and curatorial projects have been shown at The Norwegian Museum of Contemporary Art (2014), ONE Archives (2014), MoMA PS1 (NYABF, 2014), Manifesta 10 (On Board, 2014), The Jerusalem Show VII (2014), Kunsthall Oslo (2013), Bergen Assembly (2013), Performa 13 (2013), 11th Sharjah Biennial (2013), Unge Kunstneres Samfund (2013) and Kunstnernes Hus (2012).

Kemang Wa Lehulere (b. 1984) lives and works in Cape Town, South Africa. He has a BA Fine Arts degree from the University of the Witwatersrand (2011). Solo exhibitions have taken place at Gasworks, London (2015); Lombard Freid Projects, New York (2013); the Goethe-Institut, Johannesburg (2011) and the Association of Visual Arts in Cape Town (2009), in addition to Stevenson Gallery, South Africa. Notable group exhibitions include African Odysseys at Le Brass Cultural Centre of Forest, Belgium (2015); the 8th Berlin Biennale (2014); Public Intimacy: Art and Social Life in South Africa at the Yerba Buena Center for the Arts, San Francisco (2014); The Ungovernables, the second triennial exhibition of the New Museum in New York (2012); A Terrible Beauty is Born, the 11th Biennale de Lyon at the Museum of Contemporary Art, Lyon, France (2011) and When Your Lips Are My Ears, Our Bodies Become Radios at the Kunsthalle Bern and Zentrum Paul Klee in Bern, Switzerland (2010). Wa Lehulere was a co-founder of the Gugulective (2006), an artist-led collective based in Cape Town, and is a founding member of the Center for Historical Reenactments in Johannesburg. He was the winner of the inaugural Spier Contemporary Award in 2007, the MTN New Contemporaries Award in 2010, and the Tollman Award for the Visual Arts in 2012; he was one of two young artists awarded the 15th Baloise Art Prize at Art Basel in 2013, and won the first International Tiberius Art Award Dresden in 2014. He was the recipient of an Ampersand Foundation residency in New York in 2012.