System error: war is a force that gives us meaning

System error: war is a force that gives us meaning

Palazzo delle Papesse, Siena

Israel Rosas, Oaxaca, Mexico, 2006

January 16, 2007

System error: war is a force that gives us meaning
February 3 – May 6, 2007

Curated by Lorenzo Fusi & Naeem Mohaiemen

Opening reception: February 3, 2007, 18.00 h. 
Private press preview: 3 February 2007, 12.00 h., 3rd floor
Palazzo delle Papesse
Via di Città, 126, 53100 Siena
T 39 0577 22071
F 39 0577 42039

Press Contact : Carlo Simula

I saw from the way in which he recited the details that, in the name of charity and the need for news, this little boy had been turned into an automaton or an agony-machine. Insert a coin into the slot, and hear a recitation about rape.
[Amitava Kumar, Husband of a Fanatic]

Palazzo delle Papesse opens the first exhibition cycle of 2007 introducing the group show System Error: War Is A Force That Gives Us Meaning. The show is co-curated by Papesse chief curator Lorenzo Fusi and New York/Dhaka based artist Naeem Mohaiemen.

Featuring the artwork of more than 40 international artists working in video, music, comics, flash animation, print, sculpture, installation, collage, t-shirts, and various other media, the show will explore the response of artists to the current period of expanded and endless wars, both and intense cross-border battles, and the quiet violence of “disappearances”.

The curators set out to explore this fundamental question: if war is universally opposed, why do new conflicts keep breaking out? Is there an addiction to warfare in the human psyche? Has it become a drug we cannot quit? These and many other questions regarding the nature of “soft” conflict; the allure of flags, national anthems and nationalism; and pop culture’s fascination with bloody violence are explored in this show.

Artists in the show range from internationally established pioneers (Chris Marker, Walid Raad, Lebbeus Woods) to newer rising artists (Chris Koji Naka, Rheim AlKadhi, Yara el-Sherbini), as well as people who have never shown in the museum or gallery context (Chaleerat Ngamchalee, Manic Street Preachers). While many of these artists have exhibited at venues such as the Whitney Museum, Venice and Sydney Biennials, the two curators also discovered many of these works while attending protest rallies, going to concerts, browsing a comic book store, and surfing YouTube and Flickr. In the choice of artists, mediums and genres, this project represents a look at the future of politically engaged visual arts, both inside gallery walls, and on the streets of modern cities.

As well as the established mediums of video, sculpture, print, and conceptual art, the show has a special emphasis on newer mediums and genre-breaking work: this includes work in flash animation (Young-Hae Chang), Hollywood mashups (Chris Naka, Jackie Salloum, Chris Moukarbel), TV satire (Yara el-Sherbini), t-shirt wars (Usman Haque), comic books (Joe Sacco, Dawolu Jabari Anderson), national anthem collission (Julieta Aranda), video games (Jon Haddock), library recovery (Tom Nicholson), music mix (DJ Spooky), street performance (Richard Dedomenici), museum intervention (Meir Gal), radio piracy (Negativland), and musicals (Damir Niksic).

While certain conflicts tend to dominate global media, the curators also emphasized conflicts that often slip outside the global radar. Some of the conflict zones that the artists look at include Beslan school raid, U2′s expensive lawyers, rebranded School of Americas, East Timor library, Oaxaca burning, Darfur refugee camps, Rome assassination, Iraq’s managed chaos, “Safe” Area Gorazde, D.W. Griffith’s Night Riders, Vietnam’s burning monk, Oliver Stone’s 9/11 blockbuster, Jetblue’s t-shirt policy, Paris cat graffiti, Newsweek’s Rwanda amnesia, Iranian embassy takeover, Che Guevara’s New York visit, Bangladesh’s gun culture, and Thailand’s rose coup.
Artists on show:
Brian Alfred, Rheim Alkadhi, Dawolu Jabari Anderson, Julieta Aranda, Shishir Bhattacharjee, Sarah Bridgland, Matt Bryans, Kevin Carter, Richard Dedomenici, Birgit Dieker, Meir Gal, Felix Gmelin, Jon Haddock, Usman Haque, Young-hae Chang, Heavy Industries, Alfredo Jaar, Emily Jacir, Agnieszka Kalinowska, Chris Marker, Paul D. Miller aka DJ Spooky, Carlos Motta, Chris Moukarbel, Chris Naka, Negativland, Chaleerat Ngamchalee, Tom Nicholson, Damir Niksic, Stefano Palumbo, Gilles Peress, Sarah Pickering, Wilfredo Prieto, Walid Raad/Atlas Group, Joe Sacco, Jackie Salloum, Yara El-Sherbini, Francesco Simeti, Speculative Archive, Do-Ho Suh, The Critical Voice, Alejandro Vidal, Lebbeus Woods.
Artists in Companion Book
Ayreen Anastas René Gabri, Doug Ashford, Jimmie Durham, Jean Fisher, Coco Fusco, Matt McAllester, Josh Neufeld Martha Rosler, Michael Rakowitz, Raqs Media Collective, Israel Rosas, Collier Schorr.
[Published by Silvana Editoriale in bilingual edition]

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Palazzo delle Papesse, Siena
January 16, 2007

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