Opening: Thursday 24 November, 7:00 p.m.
From 25 November 2016 to 15 January 2017, GAMeC is proud to present the eighth Artist’s Film International, a project that derived from an initiative of the Whitechapel Gallery in London. Since 2008 it has involved numerous contemporary art institutions on the international scene and artists from all over the world, some of whom have won major awards over the years and achieved great success on an international level (from Ryan Trecartin to Kelly Nipper, Ursula Mayer and Yuri Ancarani, to name but a few).
The eighth Artist’s Film International at GAMeC will open with the screening of the video Dark Content by the museum’s chosen artists Eva and Franco Mattes. This video will continue to be shown until Monday 5 December 2016. Then, over the following weeks, until 15 January 2017, the museum will present videos proposed by a number of other institutions, invited ‒ as in previous years ‒ to pick an artist from their country who uses video as their main line of research. Here is a list of this year’s artists and institutions:
Igor Bošnjak / Belgrade Cultural Centre, Belgrade, Serbia
Andrés Denegri / Fundación PROA, Buenos Aires, Argentina
Rohini Devasher / Project 88, Mumbai, India
Fareeha Ghezal / Center for Contemporary Art Afghanistan (CCAA), Kabul, Afghanistan
Igor Jesus / MAAT - Museum of Art, Architecture and Technology, Lisbon, Portugal
Rachel Maclean / Whitechapel Gallery, London, United Kingdom
Eva and Franco Mattes / GAMeC, Bergamo, Italy
Zeyno Pekünlü / Istanbul Modern, Istanbul, Turkey
Mateusz Sadowski / Museum of Modern Art, Warsaw, Poland
Karin Sander / Video-Forum of Neuer Berliner Kunstverein, Berlin, Germany
The Institute for New Feeling / Ballroom Marfa, Marfa – Texas, U.S.A.
Tor Jørgen van Eijk / Tromsø Kunstforening, Tromsø, Norway
Mak Ying Tung / Para/Site, Hong Kong
Once again, the event will feature videos, films and animations from a variety of different cultural contexts, offering up a selection of what has now become a global medium used by artists to recount their and our reality, employing different genres such as documentary and fiction, and registers ranging from poetry to social criticism. The theme common to all the videos presented this year is the relationship between art and technology, in the broadest and most diverse sense.
25 NOVEMBER – 5 DECEMBER 2016
Eva and Franco Mattes
GAMeC ‒ Galleria d’Arte Moderna e Contemporanea, Bergamo
Dark Content (2015)
What happens when we publish a picture or video on social networks or digital platforms such as Facebook, Instagram, Vimeo and other communication channels? What checks do the billions of files uploaded every day go through? Who checks them and what ethical and moral guidelines do they use to decide what can and can't be published? Most visual content undergoes computerized recognition: certain software is able to “read” the image, to understand its content and to establish in real time whether it can be authorized for circulation. But in addition to these images, there are others whose interpretation is not so immediate, for reasons that may range from cultural – such as the symbol of the swastika, which in most of the world is associated with Nazi ideology but is also a propitious religious symbol for Indian cultures such as Jainism, Buddhism and Hinduism ‒ to visual ‒ such as an image that is difficult to decipher, depicting more than one object. A small army of moderators has been formed to deal with this latter type of “dark content” image. It is made up of people from all over the world, who receive packages of images with often debatable or violent content from work agencies, without ever being informed of the end client. They then have to assess each one individually. It is a huge yet invisible job, carried out anonymously by people living in the shadows. Dark Content explores the individuality of these people, telling the story of their lives, places and methods of work, the unease they experience when viewing explicit content, the feeling of being heroes and of being alone. Each of the three chapters features a fictitious alter ego for the interviewees, ensuring that their anonymity is protected, while using their words to reveal the dynamics and experiences of a hidden and profane world.
7 – 19 DECEMBER 2016
Igor Jesus ⦁ Mateusz Sadowski ⦁ Mak Ying Tung ⦁ Andrés Denegri
MAAT - Museum of Art, Architecture and Technology, Lisbon, Portugal
Every viewer perceives the short film POV ‒ an acronym for Point of View ‒ in a different way, thus interpreting it in a subjective fashion. The artist proposes a dizzying and confusing vision: the camera follows the speaker in the foreground, which revolves rapidly but remains in focus and precisely in shot. The background, on the other hand, is blurred and unrecognizable due to the speed of the action. The horizon line is imperceptible. Sky and land are continually overturned, colours are merged and the spectator experiences a degree of annoyance, the desire to look away or, better still, to focus on the certainty of the acoustic aid in the foreground. All of a sudden, the speaker falls: the ground finally becomes recognizable. After the incident ‒ accompanied by an audible thud ‒ the video starts again, repeating the rotation of the speaker together with the confusing noise that it creates, until the next fall.
Museum of Modern Art, Warsaw, Poland
It Takes Time (2014)
The artist contemplates reality by focusing on the exploration and disclosure of mechanisms of perception, memory and dreams. This intent causes Sadowski to develop complex image generation and processing procedures, as is the case in It Takes Time. A stack of paper, which alternately grows and shrinks, is the central focus of the scene. Every different and sequential image is placed on top of another to create a narrative. In the first scene, for example, the twodimensionality of each sheet is broken, revealing a depth from which fire emerges, while the surrounding area is filled with ash. The artist has used the stop-motion technique to transform this collage of still frames into narrative sequences. The stories shown to us, as in a book flicked open by the wind, were originally digital films, whose photograms were isolated and printed out on paper. The subsequent composition and decomposition of the stack was carried out physically using the prints and then filmed digitally on camera to create the film.
Mak Ying Tung
Para/Site, Hong Kong
Disarming is a short video in which the artist removes the spines from a small cactus with a pair of tweezers, seeking to do away with the plant’s defensive capacity. The static camera and the close-up shot show us the plant handled by the artist herself, although we can only see part of her hands involved in the operation. Her creativity thus becomes destructive, a painstaking action that reveals a subtle degree of spite. The film features an operation that demands meticulousness, patience and precision to achieve a goal with a somewhat dubious essence. The public experiences the growing impression of watching a non-spectacle, a paradox, a nonsense that arouses perplexity. The seeming improbability of the action conceals the artist’s research, focused on social conduct and all those activities that conventionally have a single specific purpose. The artist uses disturbing acts to destabilize the public’s deep-rooted and established perception of the world and everything that surrounds it.
Andrés Denegri Fundación PROA, Buenos Aires, Argentina We Were Expected (lead and stick) (2013) 4’14’’
From start to finish, this film puts itself forward as a complex system in formal, technological and conceptual terms: a series of 16mm films are running constantly, while a film ‒ the same one recorded on the films themselves ‒ is projected onto their surface, which acts as a screen. The video is projected onto film, with a result as alienating as the explanation of the process. And yet it is a perfect short circuit in its complexity. Only by informing themselves subsequently can spectators understand what the images consist of, as the cyclical motion of the films prevents the screening from being seen clearly. It consists of documentary material mostly taken from the national general archives, film and photographic accounts that tell of the harsh repression implemented by the army and the police during the social, worker and student protests in Argentina from the early 20th century to the 1980s. The long rebellion led to the end of the last dictatorship and the return of the democratic system. Each image only lasts a moment, enough to show the height of the tension in a strike unleashed or received, an escape or an attack.
21 DECEMBER 2016 ‒ 2 JANUARY 2017
Igor Bošnjak ⦁ Zeyno Pekünlü ⦁ The Institute for New Feeling ⦁ Tor Jørgen van Eijk
Belgrade Cultural Centre, Belgrade, Serbia
The artist Igor Bošnjak produced a huge painting (3,7 x 5 m) of the European map, the subject of the films that gave rise to EUtopia. The Europe he portrayed, with a raised painterly technique, is not geographically accurate but instead reflects a subjective and imprecise ‒ albeit perfectly recognizable ‒ vision of the continent. The latter emerges as a great solitary island amidst dark waters, the metaphor for a Europe undergoing transformation, which increasingly resembles an independent, autonomous and isolated organism. The essential geographic features are experienced by the spectator through the movement of the camera, which runs across the painting, zooming in and moving away, sometimes making the European continent ambiguous and sometimes recognizable. This occasionally disturbing experience reveals an effective inability to access reality directly. The artist seems to ask himself if and how it is possible to continue living in a Europe where material assets circulate quickly and freely, while insurmountable walls are erected between living beings. This question is left unanswered.
Istanbul Modern, Istanbul, Turkey
How to properly touch a girl so you don’t creep her out? (2015)
How to properly touch a girl so you don’t creep her out? is a collage of videos taken from YouTube and forms part of the How to...? series. The work focuses on the role of the Internet in the production, unintentional dissemination and sharing of practical information. The videos used to make this piece are the top results thrown up by YouTube’s search engine when entering the question “How to pick-up a girl?” Life coaches and unlikely gigolos share their knowledge and seduction techniques on YouTube channels, making it free and accessible. The videos answer the following questions: What do women want? How to please women? How to ask for their phone number? How to convince them to come home with you? How to touch a woman without scaring her? As self-proclaimed ladies’ men and ambiguous experts provide details on how to seduce women, new means and expressions of the male language are revealed. The piece documents the translation process of the creation and sharing of random information from private chats to the public digital domain.
The Institute for New Feeling
Ballroom Marfa, Marfa (Texas), United States
This is Presence (2016)
The Institute for New Feeling art collective, founded by Scott Andrew, Agnese Bolt and Nina Sarnelle, is a research institute dedicated to the development of new ways of feeling and ways of feeling new. By combining traditional and new age medicine with spirituality and mysticism, the creators develop treatments, therapies and products for wellbeing, health and beauty. These alternative healing methods have been inserted into goods and service production, consumption and distribution methods specific to the contemporary digital era. The first image in This is Presence is a computer screen (the spectator could potentially be the user) with a Google search window open entitled “The Institute for New Feeling”: the operation is resolved in a flow of videos that correspond to the actual online search results. The public is therefore shown the activity of the cooperative through images ‒ both fascinating and disturbing at the same time ‒ of alternative and high-tech therapies for the human body.
Tor Jørgen van Eijk
Tromsø Kunstforening, Tromsø, Norway
The film Purgatory is a real digital video experiment in which the camera records its own image, generating feedback. Each piece of feedback is sent to the colorizer ‒ a system that colours the film in black and white ‒ and the frame buffer ‒ a video output device that generates the photograms visible on the screen, drawing the necessary graphic data from a temporary memory. The digital images follow promptly on from one another, according to a rhythm set by a sequencer. The digital audio is fed into the same generator mechanism and therefore follows the rhythm of the visual sequence. The creative action, which has been abandoned by the artist and entrusted totally to the camera, becomes a digital automation. The result is a disturbing and potentially hallucinatory effect: despite the fact that it only lasts twenty minutes, it is tiring to watch, because the same digital images alternate at lightning speed from start to finish and the viewer only grasps actual recognizable elements in a few rare flashes.
4 – 15 JANUARY 2017
Rohini Devasher ⦁ Karin Sander ⦁ Rachel Maclean ⦁ Fareeha Ghezal
Project 88, Mumbai, India
The video Atmospheres shows us the skyline around the Guaribidanur Observatory, near Bangalore in India, with a static shot and alternative viewpoint. The camera pointed by the artist towards the zenith produces a photographic distortion that makes the image similar to satellite photography of the planet Earth – a blue sphere in the darkness of the universe. The outcome is an innovative blend of sky and land, in which the latter forms a dark frame around the spherical central blue. The first view of the Earth from space dates to 1960: it was an unprecedented astronomical innovation, able to overturn our formal representation of the planet, which became even more conceivable as a single unit from then on. The changing shots of the skyline are furrowed by thin black lines, parts of the structures comprising the decametric wave radio-telescope of Guaribidanur Observatory. The artist is interested in the meeting between humankind, Earth and technology, and particularly the human vision of the world that they inhabit, boosted and expanded by increasingly powerful and rapid technological innovations.
Video-Forum of Neuer Berliner Kunstverein, Berlin, Germany
Sigrid 1930 (2009)
The video consists of the repetition of the same scene ‒ a brief extract from a 9.5-mm Pathé film ‒ showing a girl playing in a meadow. The film, which already existed, was not recorded by the artist, but instead found and reused. In fact, it dates back to 1930 and is an amateur home video. We see the happy protagonist in a woodland clearing, throwing a tennis ball in the air, running after it, picking it up, and repeating the simple game. It is evident that the original film was considerably damaged: the image is distorted by traces of rust-coloured mould; quivering marks and scratches dance and flicker together with the girl and her toy. The artist had previously exhibited blank canvases, under the premise that places and atmospheric conditions are what determine changing appearances. In this case too, the artistic criteria are positioned outside the act of artistic creation. The vulnerability of the medium of analogue film becomes the real subject of the piece, channelling its aesthetic meaning.
Whitechapel Gallery, London, United Kingdom
Hyperreal narratives, saturated with dazzling colours: Rachel Maclean’s videos are often filmed using the chroma-key digital technique, which makes it possible to digitally overlay the figures from one video on the background of another, creating rich and artificial colour effects. The artist is not only the sole creator, but also the sole protagonist of her films and photographs, in which she multiplies her figure, assigning it different roles, with the objective of reinterpreting contemporary culture. Germs, the film in question, is a short piece with all the characteristics of the world of advertising. It immerses us in a universe patinated by bright hues of pink and blue, where the artist plays the part of two attractive and exhibitionist young women. The narrative, with its ambiguous and confusing meaning, revolves around the presentation of different products ‒ a perfume, a facial skin treatment, a yoghurt and a cleaning product. However, something breaks the advertising stereotype and prevents the happy ending, revealing the inefficacy of the products and, what is more, the deceit of global capitalism, in which the exchange value of goods has completely replaced and suppressed that of use.
Center for Contemporary Art Afghanistan (CCAA), Kabul, Afghanistan
Mirror of heart
Mirror of heart shows us a discovery: we see some arms searching in an arid, sandy land, until finding a mobile surface, lifting it up and discovering their identity. It is a mirror, in which the image of the woman who dusted it off is revealed. Fareeha Ghezal is an artist whose production is closely tied to her homeland, Afghanistan. Since 2006, the Center for Contemporary Art Afghanistan (CCCA) has run an art centre devoted to female Afghan artists, and Ghezal is part of this. Violence against women is not only expressed here through political and civic injustice and physical maltreatment, but also through their total exclusion from the cultural scene, which is supressed in any case, particularly as regards contemporary art. In the light of a history of oppression and illegality, the images of Mirror of heart acquire clarity: the protagonist discovers herself after a long period of being unable to participate in social, political, economic and cultural life; she emerges from her state of invisibility, not suddenly but by digging her way out, fighting and persevering.