Did you know there is a slum in Leipzig?
Living in or off a dump was the leitmotiv for Arte a Full, a three-day-exhibition presented by the Ser Humanos Foundation, which gathered artists from different countries working in different media in the Westwerk in Leipzig.
Art a Full brought forth several topics currently under discussion. See the full list of participating artists here >>
Concerning the concept of identity and the need to redefine it; Julia Gaisbacher for instance, questioned how our identity is being redefined in the information age, creating what she calls 21st century portraits by enlarging human finger prints thus stressing how portrait has changed from the depiction of a face to biometric data, more in accordance with our present surveillance society. Baluri Kim brought the gender issue into discussion by questioning what does it mean to be normal, in this way demanding an update of attitudes. Katia Klose´s installation, with photographs and recorded testimonies, also addressed how one builds one´s own identity, narrating one´s own story through, sometimes traumatic, past memories.
Concerning the image of the foreigner/ enemy, Alexander Jöchl and Victor Lopez reflected upon the concept of the „Other“ in relation to linguistic, territorial and economical borders. And Arcadio Ciccarese , Hein Petschulat and Martin Blankenhagen explored the different impacts the Media is having on our life today. In “The Next Best Superstar”, Ciccarese asks us to reflect if religious motivated fundamentalist attacks somehow don´t share a sort of 15-minutes-of-fame strategy we see on television castings every day. Unfortunately his question is far more interesting than the installation itself.
Hein Petschulat on his turn, considered the importance of headlines and breaking news, which we absorb both consciously and unconsciously on a daily basis. And Martin Blankenhagen´s manipulated photos not limited by trueness nor faithfulness to reality – just like the Media – which make use of violence and destruction, bringing it to a new aesthetic level, which – the author hopes – remind us of the responsibility each and any one of us has while dealing with such images today.
Questioning (the end of) ideologies in today´s world, Lucia Baruelli´s nomadic installation, playing with the interchange between the concepts of propaganda and communication, joined Kontantinos Goutos´ film “Pietà” in underlying exactly the schizophrenic gap between the political ideals of a few and reality for the most. As a flanêur, Goutos shot the scene without purpose nor plan, he tells us only when and where it took place. With our necessity to rebuild narratives, we presume that, meanwhile his accidental walk through the city of Athens just a few days before the parliament elections of 2007, he witnessed a girl lying on the ground – maybe because of drugs – and a friend possibly trying to help. On the background we hear a part of the elections campaign of the communist party in Greece, with popular, protest songs from the sixties, of Mikis Theodorakis… It unpretentiously shows the separation and incommunicability of worlds; how the blind struggle for power runs side by side with individualist escapist reverie.
“Wolfen Nord”, a documentary by Hagen Wiel, speaks exactly of the vacuum left behind by the failure of the socialist dream. Taking a new building style developed since the 50s that was part of a visionary project and what came out of it, he seeks to discover through his camera a possible meaning for a ghost landscape showing the essence of a time standing still.
Also concerning the passage of time and its consequences, Mirko Tzotschew´s „Moskauer Strasse“, depicted the frailty of thoughts and things under the unstoppable march of time. Experience which was dramatized by Roosevelt Asmani in his film „Kairo Intervention“, where velocity and our current hectic pace took the leading role.
Concerning documentary strategies, Claudia Balsters´work „Dallas.Von Menshen im Müll“, depicted exactly the daily life of those living off a dump. It made me think of Agnès Varda´s film ” Les Glaneurs et la Glaneuse“, in which the director focuses exactly on gleaners, those who gather the spoils left after a harvest, as well as those who mine the trash. Throughout Varda´s documentary, different people present their reasons for living off a dump. Against what one might think, it doesn´t always happen for economic reasons. Of course that the majority exist on the leavings of others for poverty reasons, but there are also those who choose to do it following their consciousness, exercising their ethic, turning their findings into art or, believe it or not, just for fun. In Varda´s film we are surprised to find out about a man with a high-degree education who choose to live his life off a dump and sleep in homeless shelters as a reaction against a capitalistic consumerist society. In his case it´s a moral, ethic and political attitude, an utopic act of resistance. Varda´s film manifolds how much more complex the subject in fact is.
Diagnosing social, economic, political restraints and, in Oswaldo Macià´s case even proposing a revolution on how we should apprehend reality, all artists present at Arte A Full seemed engaged in examining the causes and problems undermining today´s society. And in this way making the limits of the systems that entrap us more visible. Though some works didn´t quite deliver the complexity they promised on a theoretical level, after visiting Art a Full one does get the feeling that the limits of our cage are a bit more recognizable.