Our picks from Projections
Part of Art Rotterdam’s attraction is its off program. At Intersection, non-profit spaces present small exhibitions and offer performances and a series of talks. Projections features the fair’s selection of 12 videos, proposed by an equal number of galleries and exhibition spaces. 2016 brings the fourth edition of the Projections program, taking over a darkened 900m2 of the fair’s ground. Here are our favourites three videos.
Shana Moulton – Mindplace Thoughtstream
Still from Mindplace Thoughtstream. Image courtesy of the artist and 1646.
Shana Moulton’s Mindplace Thoughtstream follows Cynthia, the hypochondriac alter ego of the artist as she tries to find peace of mind and relief from her various pains and aches through the aid of new age-y apparatus, techniques and foodstuff. She orders the Personal Relaxation System, which murmurs soothing phrases into her earbuds, reminiscent of ASMR-videos, hugely popular on youtube since 2009. ASMR videos feature mostly woman who whisper softly to the viewer, meaning to provoke a euphoric sense of overall wellbeing akin to getting goosebumps upon hearing a piece of music you love. Later in the video, Cythia enters a temple where she eats an Activia-yoghurt, which prompt her insides to belly-dance like Shakira.
Spliced into the soundscape is a fragment of the 2008 TED talk by neuroscientist Jill Bolte Taylor called A stroke of insight. Dr. Taylor tells how she woke up with a blown vessel in her left hemisphere, the part of the brain understood to be responsible for connecting the here and now to the past and the future, and, more importantly, for understanding ourselves as individuals, apart from the world around us. Dr. Taylor was left with only the right-side of her brain, unable to define the boundaries of herself but rather “feeling at one with all the energy that was and it was beautiful there”, much like Cythia, who is anxiously seeking to have her “spirit soaring free like a great whale”.
The work reminds us of our wish to step out of ourselves and into the world, looking for connections and meaning, whether it’s via a digital detour, brain-hemorrhoid or youtube channels.
Mindplace Thoughtstream, Shana Moulton, New York, 2014, 9 min. Presented by 1646, The Hague
Liz Magic Laser – The Thought Leader
Still from The Thought Leader. Image courtesy of the artist and Wilfried Lentz, Rotterdam.
In Liz Magic Laser’s The Thought Leader, a boy of about 10 years old talks to a rapt audience of about 50 people. The set-up clearly resembles a TED talk; a platform where ‘ideas worth spreading’ are promoted onstage by a speaker taking the form of a guru, a ‘wizened one’ who has lived to tell a tale of inspiration. Here, too, the audience listens to the kid, who is deemed worthy of all this attention despite (or indeed maybe precisely because of) his very young age.
For the text of this video, Liz Magic Laser adapted the fragments of Fyodor Dostoevsky’s Notes from the Underground (1864), where a character often referred to as the ‘Underground Man’ offers a harsh criticism of determinism and intellectual attempts at dictating human action and behavior by logic, a train of thought very interesting indeed when being presented within the context of the TED talk. Laser insinuates the ‘Underground Man’’s views into the TED Talk format: she applies Dostoevsky’s attack on the socialist ideal of enlightened self-interest to its contemporary capitalist incarnation.
For us, the most important part of the video towards the end; where the child suddenly falls silent, as if understanding, for the first time, where he is and what he is doing. As if he’s comprehending the absurdity of his claims for the first time, he has nothing more to say.
The Thought Leader, Liz Magic Lazer, New York, 2015, 9 min, featuring actor Alex Ammerman. Presented by Wilfried Lentz Gallery, Rotterdam
Persijn Broersen & Margit Lukács – Establishing Eden
Still from Establishing Eden. Image courtesy of the artists and AKINCI, Amsterdam.
Establishing Eden by Persijn Broersen & Margit Lukács launches us into flight over a series of pancartes of mountain views, green pastures and skyscapes following one another in one mise en abyme after another. Like a stack of constantly shuffling cards, 2D becomes 3D before bending on itself again.
The video revolves around the idea of the ‘establishing shot’, a cinema term coined to describe a shot that sets the scene, in this case of a landscape being presented as a character in a story to come. In Establishing Eden, the artists recreate shots like these, but never-ending, creating an apparent reality, forever under construction.
The landscape looks beautiful, peaceful in its never-ending creation. After a while though, it becomes clear that we will never land, never actually arrive to set foot in this eponymous Eden. This thought is alienating and touches on how reality, (mass) media and fiction are strongly intertwined in contemporary society.
Establishing Eden, Margit Lukács, Persijn Broersen, Netherlands, New Zealand, 2016, 10 min. Presented by AKINCI, Amsterdam.
Other videos by:
Jakup Ferri – andriesse eyck galerie (NL)
Tamar Guimarães and Kasper Akhøj
Ellen de Bruijne Projects (NL)
Kerstin Honeit – cubus-m (DE)
Els Vanden Meersch – Annie Gentils Gallery (BE)
Hans Op de Beeck – Ron Mandos (NL)
Hajnal Németh – RAM (NL)
Chen Chieh-jen – Galerie Olivier Robert (FR)
Shezad Dawood – Galerie Gabriel Rolt (NL)
Emma van der Put – tegenboschvanvreden (NL)