November 1, 2016 - Edith-Russ-Haus for Media Art - The Fevered Specters of Art (Die fiebrigen Gespenster der Kunst)
November 1, 2016

Edith-Russ-Haus for Media Art

The Fevered Specters of Art (Die fiebrigen Gespenster der Kunst)
November 11, 2016–January 15, 2017

Opening: November 10, 7pm

Edith-Russ-Haus for Media Art
Katharinenstraße 23
D-26121 Oldenburg
Germany

www.edith-russ-haus.de
Facebook / Instagram

The Fevered Specters of Art (Die fiebrigen Gespenster der Kunst)
November 11, 2016–January 15, 2017

Opening: November 10, 7pm

Edith-Russ-Haus for Media Art
Katharinenstraße 23
D-26121 Oldenburg
Germany

www.edith-russ-haus.de
Facebook / Instagram

Exhibition: Ho Tzu Nyen, Rajkamal Kahlon, Naeem Mohaiemen, Wendelien van Oldenborgh, Catarina Simão, Suzanne Treister

Cabinet: Marwa Arsanios, Klaus vom Bruch, Felix Gmelin, Johan Grimonprez, Hito Steyerl
 

In our time of constant crises that impact both the political and the economic sphere, the level of high discontent is manifested in different forms of (non-) violent protest movements and insurgences that overthrow governments. Nevertheless, most actions are not able to establish even short-term structural changes. This is exactly the context in which the project looks back on the epoch of Cold War radicalism and anti-colonial revolution, when ideas of and the belief in the possibility of radical social change permeated the globe.

With its title inspired by a poem by activist and poet Kirill Medvedev, The Fevered Specters of Art presents a variety of approaches that, through specific events and historical contexts, survey the theories and practices of radical leftist politics of the 1960–70s and the relationship between politics and aesthetics.

The project also investigates the ways in which artists rethink the possibilities of new political subjects and how very complex sociohistorical connections can be adequately questioned and revisited in the realm of art. There is particular focus on artistic strategies that work with a variety of narrative structures and cinematic ways of storytelling and that utilize documents and archives.

The starting point of the exhibition is recent artworks in which a new wave of interest can be detected toward revolutionary ideas of the 1960s and ’70s, especially those that expressed political ideas violently in order to provoke social change on a large scale. The foundation of these works is not nostalgic fascination but rather an analytical interest in radical progressive ideas, with a special need to investigate the reasons behind the inability of most movements to realize their revolutionary goals.

All the artworks deal with precarious political realities and offer various methods for the critical analysis of historical political material. This questioning of the ways in which history is organized is connected to the corruptibility of images and how political resistance translates into aesthetics.

While the revolutionary social and political movements of the 1960s and ’70s operating in the western hemisphere have been extensively investigated (for example, the history of the RAF), what happened in other parts of the world much less. The project thus prioritizes an exploration of the exchange of revolutionary ideas across geopolitical and cultural boundaries, including how grassroots leftist organizations were formed and how they influenced each other. What happens when revolutionary ideas and theories travel? How did they travel, translate, and influence? Who were the protagonists behind these transfers?

The project is also grounded in the political history of the city of Oldenburg and revisits the seemingly little-known legacy of the so-called Namensstreit, a clash over the naming of the University of Oldenburg that began in 1972. Left-oriented university initiatives and the state of Lower Saxony were at odds for nearly 20 years over naming the university after Carl von Ossietzky, a German publicist, pacifist, and 1935 Nobel Peace Prize laureate who was imprisoned and tortured in a concentration camp near Oldenburg.

A new conversation about this legacy is taken up both by the newly commissioned work by Rajkamal Kahlon as well as by the performative events organized by Felix Gmelin with students of the Oslo Art Academy and the Carl von Ossietzky University of Oldenburg. The latter also touch on the future of the university as a space for political organization during a time when post-secondary institutions are being reshaped by a neoliberal agenda.

To expand the exhibition, The Fevered Specters of Art includes an additional space, titled the Cabinet, and a cinema screening program that traces the ongoing inquiry into the rise and fall of the revolutionary impulse and explores filmic strategies that develop new approaches to discussing the past and present of global resistance.

The project’s final component is a publication edited by Nataša Ilić. An extension of ideas explored by the exhibition, the book includes commissioned essays by writers and critics, visual essays by participating artists, reprints of material related to the artists’ research, and archival visual material pertaining to the exhibition and individual works.

Curated by Edit Molnár, Lívia Páldi, Marcel Schwierin

 

Related program

Artist talk: Rajkamal Kahlon and Catarina Simão
November 11, 7pm
Edith-Russ-Haus, Seminar room 

Screening: Eric Baudelaire: The Anabasis of May and Fusako Shigenobu, Masao Adachi and 27 Years Without Images 
December 14, 8pm
Cine k, Bahnhofstr. 11, 26122 Oldenburg 

Screening: John Akomfrah: The Stuart Hall Project 
December 21, 8pm
Cine k, Bahnhofstr. 11, 26122 Oldenburg  

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