Art in the auditorium iii

Jalal Toufic

Rachel Rakena

Niles Atallah

Stephen Sutcliffe

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December 7, 2011 - December 14, 2011

With Kelly Nipper, Jalal Toufic, Rachel Rakena, Niles Atallah, Joaquín Cociña and Cristóbal León, Giorgio Andreotta Calò, Morthe Thorshaug, Ergin çavuşoğlu, Elodie Pong, Huang Xiaopeng, Dihn q. lê, Stephen Sutcliffe

In collaboration with ten other international institutions, Beirut art center presents the third edition of art in the auditorium, a touring program of video art organized by the Whitechapel Gallery in London. Over a week, the works of eleven international contemporary artists will be screened in the auditorium, each artist representing one of the participating institutions. The project aims to offer an overview of contemporary video art and its diverse formats.

Ballroom Marfa, Texas, USA
Kelly Nipper
Weather Center (2010, 5’55”); Sapphire (2008, 4’56”)

In Weather Center a dancer reenacts the original choreography of Mary Wigman’s witch dance from 1914, a dance that primarily takes place on the floor. Inspired by a minute-long film of early 20th-century performance, the dancer moves around haltingly and like Wigman wears a mask to cover her face. While the original performance was accompanied by percussion and wigman’s voice, nipper’s variation, however, is carried out during silence, accompanied only by a voice-over counting from one to ten. The camera moves unsettled around the dance, cutting sharply between takes and angles.

Kelly Nipper (Edina, Minnesota 1971). Lives and works in Los Angeles. She received her bfa from the Minneapolis College of art and her mfa from the California institute of the arts. She works with videos, installations, photography and live performances to explore the moving human form.

Beirut art center, Lebanon
Jalal Toufic
Lebanese performance art; circle: ecstatic; class: marginalized; excerpt 3 (2007, 5’)

On 3 January 1889, on coming across a horse being whipped by a coachman at the piazza Carlo Alberto, in Turin, Nietzsche reportedly threw his arms around the horse’s neck to defend it, and collapsed. had this philosopher who signed the following day several of his letters with “the crucified,” and who was discerning enough not to view himself as the owner of “his” body come across Twelver Shi’ite participants in the yearly ten-day commemorative event ‘âshûrâ’, would he have intervened likewise between them and “their” bodies as they whipped and slapped the latter, exclaiming all the while, in the words with which Saint Francis addressed and referred to “his” body: “brother donkey!”?

Jalal toufic is a thinker and a mortal to death. He is the author of many books.

City Gallery, New Zealand
Rachel Rakena
kaore te aroha (endless is the love) (2009, 7’50”)

Water is a consistent feature of rakena’s work. The artist has spoken of it representing a tribal, Ngai tahu, space—destabilising assumptions that Maori identity is primarily land-based. It also operates metaphorically, providing a kind of amniotic fluid for the protection of culture. In kāore te aroha (endless is the love), the seated figure appears immersed to the waist in dark still liquid; he eats at the ‘table’ of Tangaroa, the māori god of the sea. The raw fish he consumes with gusto comes from the sea, a source not only of food but of stories, particularly discovery narratives. The sea and its fishing grounds were as important to early māori as the land; traditionally kaimoana (seafood) has always played a fundamental role in hospitality and celebration. In this film the water seems to embrace the figure; it surrounds, nourishes, and protects him.

Rachel Rakena (Ngai Tahu, Nga Puhi) has a master of fine arts (distinction) and is a lecturer at Massey University, School of Maori visual arts.

Fundación proa, Argentina
Niles Atallah, Joaquín Cociña and Cristóbal León
Lucía (2008, 3’50”); Luis (2008, 3’50”) from the series Lucía, Luis y el lobo

A story that seems to tell itself, but that ultimately transmits a relationship between time and fear, between childish disguises and bare nakedness in the face of great facts, developed through three audiovisual moments integrated into a controlled disaster. lucía, luís y el Lobo may seem like a horror story, but it is not; rather, it is a suspense narrative told through stop motion animation and careful acoustic and scenographic work, based on object recognition of the elements used in the video. this is what separates the animations Lucia and Luis from the realm of pure film, situating them instead in a territory of object recognition that displays the selection process involved in art direction, and at the same time conceals the extensive labor behind the over six minutes of animation that comprise the story in the video.  It is to be precise, rather than to conceal, that they divert attention from the technical impeccability towards the construction of a recognizable place from its disastrous constitution.

Niles atallah is an audiovisual director. He lives and works in Santiago de Chile. He has a degree in art from the University of California in Santa Cruz. Joaquín cociña lives and works in Santiago de Chile. He has a degree in art from the catholic university of Chile and is working on his master’s from the University of Chile. Cristóbal león is a filmmaker and does animation. He lives and works in Amsterdam. He has a degree in design from the catholic university of Chile.

Galleria d’arte moderna e contemporanea di Bergamo (gamec), Italy
Giorgio Andreotta Calò
volver (2008, 4’)

Volver portrays the artist hovering above the outskirts of Milan in a worn boat, accompanied by rainy skies. Attached to a rotating crane from a rooftop the vessel circles rapidly over the city, between aged residential areas and new high rises. Calò sits in the back of the boat, overlooking the area. He seems to be steering, but without any real effect as the boat is controlled entirely by the crane. the video was part of calò’s first solo show, entitled Atto Terzo, Volver (third act, Volver. 2009) which in turn was part of his series of works il prodigioso cristo di limpias (the prodigious Christ of limpias.)

Giorgio andreotta calò (Venice, 1979). Lives and works in Amsterdam. He studied sculpture at accademia di belle arti, Venice and khb kunsthochschule, berlin. He was also a student at the Fondazione Antonio Ratti advanced course in visual arts with visiting prof. Marjetica Potrc.

Henie onstad kunstsenter, Norway
Morthe Thorshaug
The legend of ygg (2009, 17’)

The legend of ygg is modern legend of death riders in Norway. Under the influence of a riding instructor, a group of girl riders drive each other to extremes. Based on an Old Norse legend, they use roads to test their own and their horse’s courage. Their aim is to become fearless. The girls go riding in the dead of the night dressed in black. By their use of the road as a ritual arena, they cause mysterious car accidents in the Norwegian countryside. This 15-minute thriller art film merges with ancient mythology and current circumstances. Marthe thorshaug’s Norwegian production is as compelling, complete and beautiful as any art film in memory.

Marthe Thorshaug (1977) lives and works in Hamar, Norway. She graduated from the art academy in Oslo in 2003.

The institute for the readjustment of clocks, Istanbul modern, Turkey
Ergin çavuşoğlu
empire (arter Andy Warhol) (2009, 9’43”)

empire (after Andy Warhol) is a single-channel video that explores the constructs of ideas on place, non-place, and placelessness. The work reframes an ordinary building in reference to the representation of an iconicized structure, while shifting from the global to the local. Borrowing its title from Andy Warhol’s film empire, which consists of a single shot of the empire state building and runs 8 hours and 6 minutes and chronicles the passage from day to night. Cavusoglu’s work captures in a static shot the transition from day to night surrounding a residential apartment block, thus reframing the extant strangeness of a minaret rising through the roof of the apartment. The flats in the block, built a quarter of a century ago in karabük (turkey), remain occupied and the main part of the mosque with the prayer room for worshipping is situated in the basement of the apartment.

Ergin çavusoglu (tangoviste, Romania, 1968). Lives and works in London. In the early 1980s, Ergin çavusoglu studied at the national school of fine arts. He consequently received a ba in mural painting from the University of Marmara, Istanbul, an ma from goldsmiths, the university of London, and a PhD from University of Portsmouth.

Kunsthaus Zürich, Switzerland
Elodie Pong
even a stopped clock is right twice a day (2008, 2’34”); after the empire (2008, 13’50”); je Suis une bombe (2006, 6’12”); endless ends (2009, 6’47”)

Certain moments and figures in the history of humanity lie deeply anchored in our collective memory. We all know them and they consciously or unconsciously form us. The artist Elodie Pong has selected such icons from contemporary history and pop-culture for her video piece, after the empire (2008). There she stages encounters among them and has them recite elements of famous speeches and statements in monologues and dialogues. Karl Marx meets Marilyn Monroe, Elvis meets a Japanese version of Minnie mouse and martin Luther king meets Frieda, a woman from rural Zurich – the latter inspired by pong’s grandmother.

Elodie Pong (Boston, 1966) is an artist and filmmaker known for her subtle, analytic works, often built as cycles or in series.

Para/site, China
Huang Xiaopeng
guess love everyday (2007, 2’51”); the explosion is a voice at time the generation hear (2007, 5’46”); only you (2009, 2’50”); Italian aria (2008 – 2009, 2’42”); hit me baby one more time (2010, 5’31”); excuse me, degree has the neighborhood already had no toilet? (2008, 5’37”); it’s gonna pop you idiot! (2006, 7’01”)

Huang Xiaoping’s work sits on the verge of the last empire, a country burdened by history and where the one official language has a homogenising role in a place with 292 languages. There is a common denominator through his research which positions language in the forefront of his practice. But this position is a political one that analyses the relationship between language and technology. It is an ironic twist that through his video works and installations the artist uses common online translation tools, such as Google, a corporation that has engaged in multiple political disputes with the Chinese government. Huang Xiaoping’s ‘over-translation’ pointedly captures the sense of a troubling surplus or a shortfall vis à vis the original. His video soundtrack features pop songs translated from English to Chinese and back again through machine translation in random permutations. The process shows up not only distorted representation, slipshod translation, flat mistranslation but also creative mistranslation’ – ‘out of sync’ rendition that spawns new insight, fresh semantic stuff.

Huang Xiaopeng (Shanxi, 1960). He has a ba in fine arts from the Guangzhou academy of fine arts in china, and later studied at the Slade School of fine art in London before returning to China to take up the post of professor of fine art at Guangzhou academy of fine art, china.

San art, Vietnam
Dihn Q. Lê
from father to son: a rite of passage (2007, 10’)

From father to son cunningly illustrates the complex familial stereotype between fathers and sons, between ideas of nation and subject and the popular circulation, and indeed exacerbation of masculinity in Hollywood culture. Cutting film excerpts of Charlie sheen in platoon and his father, Martin Sheen in apocalypse now, le cuts the screen in half. In one half, Charlie sheen watches his father (in the other half) deal with the post-traumatic trauma of the Vietnam War. In a desire to see his father reclaim his sense of self, Charlie is sent to the frontline in an effort to better understand his father’s terror. From father to son ends in an escalation of violence and war, where human suffering and anger relentlessly continues.

Dihn q. lê (ha-tienm, 1968). He received his ba in art studio at UC Santa Barbara in 1989 and his MFA in photography and related media at the school of visual arts in New York City in 1992.

Whitechapel Gallery, United Kingdom
Stephen Sutcliffe

despair (2009, 7’22”); deleuze un album (2009, 23”); said the poet to the analyst (2009, 1’19”);the garden of Proserpine (2008, 2’08”); six essential books (2008, 1’34”); vacillation (2008, 35”); we’ll let you know (2008, 58”); o come all ye faithful (2007, 47”); come to the edge (2003, 1’36”)

Using his extensive archive of VHS and audio recordings, Sutcliffe meshes soundtracks with moving images to create a sophisticated visual language. These often very short ‘video collages’ create complex, disjointed associations from fragments of written and spoken word, found broadcast images, animation, and music. Moments of British cultural history from pastoral poetry and Monty python to the pre-digital VHS aesthetic of the media, collide with a contemporary interest in appropriation and ideas of original material.

Stephen Sutcliffe (Harrogate, 1968). He studied at Duncan of Jordanstone College of art and design and Glasgow school of art (from where he participated on an exchange programme at cal arts, Valencia California.