Carl Michael von Hausswolff
Anachronism looks at the work of artists from different generations who have insistently grappled with history, both personal and general, and related issues of nostalgia, retrospection, and temporality. More specifically, their work often refutes the image of history as a neat trajectory moving smoothly forward in time. The Otolith Group presents his film "Otolith I", that probes the potency of archival images, exploring the poeticisation of mediated memory.
curated by Elena Filipovic
Anachronism looks at the work of artists from different generations who have insistently grappled with temporality and history - both universal and personal. More specifically, their work often refutes the image of history as a neat trajectory moving smoothly forward across time. They have opted to work against time - creating works that deliberately counter linear order and received ideas of how to represent the chronologies implicit in history’s unfolding - past, present, and future.
The cinematic cut, spatial dislocation, re-enactment, appropriation, collage: these are just some of the means these artists use to construct dissonant temporalities within the same work of art. From Tobias Buche’s Aby Warburg-inspired panels of photocopies and Internet images of historical events and aesthetic forms in the 20th century to David Claerbout’s juxtaposition of a still photographic image of an American fighter plane shot down in Vietnam with a filmic backdrop of the changing light and vegetation of the same site in the present day, and from Carl Michael von Hausswolff’s documentation of a 1960s scientist’s experimental recordings of the voices of the dead to Aneta Grzeszykowska’s systematic self-effacement from every picture in her family’s photo album, these artists’ anachrony is subtle, complex, and highly idiosyncratic. In still other examples, the subjects of works in the exhibition are as diverse as the fall of Communism, the legacy of the modernist project, the repetition of the logic of war, but also marginalized figures, the recurrence of forms, or the revision of one’s past. In diverse ways and through various media, each of the works thus reveal the ultimate constructedness of all historical narratives as well as the problems inherent to the idea of an inexorably progressive and productive future. And if the possibility of changing the world according to philosopher Giorgio Agamben, lies above all in the effort to “change time,” the promise of these works is that through them we might all the better be able to read and question our past and present and thus also possibly redefine the course of the future.
Pieces by nearly 20 international contemporary artists - with several in situ new productions, including a functional cinema conceived by Tobias Putrih - are featured against the exhibition’s backdrop of a continuous screening of La Jetée, Chris Marker’s historic cinematic meditation on the paradoxes of time and memory.
With work by: Boris Belay, Guillaume Bijl, Tobias Buche, David Claerbout, Babak Ghazi, Felix Gmelin, Aneta Grzeszykowska, Carl Michael von Hausswolff, Erwan Maheo, Chris Marker, Deimantas Narkevicius, Sophie Nys, Paulina Olowska, Roman Ondák, Tobias Putrih, Pia Rönicke, Martha Rosler, and Bojan Sarcevic.
The Otolith Group
In its first floor exhibition space Argos will present the film Otolith I, by the Otolith Group. The Otolith Group was founded in 2002 by the artist Anjalika Sagar and the cultural theorist Kodwo Eshun, who collaborated with the artist Richard Couzins to make Otolith I. The film essay probes the potency of archival images, exploring the poeticisation of mediated memory.
Taking its name from otoliths, the minute particles found in the inner ear that help us to balance and to navigate our way across space, the film aims at reorienting our perceptions of the world by weaving personal and public histories together into a meditation upon the persistence of utopian aspirations. “Earth is out of bounds for us now; it remains a planet accessible only through media”, the viewer is told at the beginning of the film, suggesting a post-nuclear future in which humankind is confined to outer space. Through prolonged space travel, the film tells us, otoliths have ceased to function, leaving homo sapiens unable to walk the earth. Instead the new mutants research images “sifting aging history from the tense present in order to identify the critical points of the twentieth century”.
The film’s narrator is Dr. Usha Adebaran Sagar, a fictional descendant of Anjalika Sagar, living in space in the year 2103. The narrator looks back at several generations of women from the Sagar family, linking her own experiences with those of Sagar’s grandmother during the 1960s when she met Russian cosmonaut Valentina Tereshkova, the first woman to orbit the Earth. “For us”, the narrator declares, “there is no memory without image and no image without memory. Image is the matter of memory”. Her attempts to understand multiple dimensions of the historical, the terrestrial and the evolutionary bring together existing images of very different qualities and registers: 35 mm footage of mushroom cloud explosions that have indelibly seared the collective consciousness; digital video footage of London’s peace marchers in the run-up to the Iraq war; private memories captured on Standard 8 film from 1970s London and Haridwar.
The Group filmed Sagar floating in micro-gravity at Star City outside Moscow, where cosmonauts still train. Sagar’s physical and temporal disorientation is echoed by the contrasting film stocks, subtly tinting the world different shades as they refract and redefine the past. Bringing together numerous fractured histories with difficult presents represented by India and Pakistan’s embrace of nuclear armament, Otolith I projects a ‘past-potential future’ thereby allowing for a different perspective on the present.
The Otolith Group (Kodwo Eshun & Anjalika Sagar) was founded in 2002. Based in London, their work engages with archival materials, with futurity and with the history of diverse provenances. Recently the Otolith Group have shown their work at the Stedelijk Museum, Amsterdam, Project Arts Centre, Dublin (2006/7), Seville Biennial, Seville, 2nd ICP Triennial of Photography and Video, New York, the Hayward Gallery, London, Fondazione Sandretto Rebaudengo, Turin, the Tate Triennial, London (2006), Homeworks II, Lebanon, Cornerhouse, Manchester (2005), and Transmediale, Berlin (2004).
Image: Chris Marker, La Jetée, 1962.
Opening 24.03.07 h.18
Argos - Centre for Art and Media
Werfstraat 13 Rue du Chantier - Brussels
Hours:Tue - sa h12 - 19