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The Storyteller: “The Battle of Orgreave” by Jeremy Deller and Mike Figgis

August 26th, 2010

Last chance: Jeremy Deller and Mike Figgis’s video work The Battle of Orgreave closes this Sunday at the AGO!

Jeremy Deller and Mike Figgis, The Battle of Orgreave

Jeremy Deller and Mike Figgis
The Battle of Orgreave, 2002
Single-channel DVD video with color and sound
62 minutes
Courtesy of Artangel, London and Channel 4

Jeremy Deller is a British artist whose work typically involves collaborations with large groups of individuals from diverse backgrounds.

On June 17, 2001, in Orgreave, South Yorkshire, Deller staged an historical reenactment of the violent clashes that took place in June 1984 between strikers from the Orgreave coking plant and the police. The battle marked a turning point in the Thatcher government’s efforts to overcome the political opposition posed by the trade-union movement. Many of the people who were part of the original clash—both striking miners and policemen—participated in the reconstruction (although sometimes in reverse roles), which was recorded by filmmaker Mike Figgis.

Figgis’ documentation, combined with filmed interviews with the participants and photographic stills of the original event, form the basis of the video Battle at Orgreave. The piece is a kaleidoscopic representation, wherein a new vision of a landmark event in modern British social history emerges from a multitude of individual takes.

The work is on display at the AGO as part of The Storyteller exhibition, which closes this Sunday, August 29, 2010.

The Storyteller: “Spielberg’s List” by Omer Fast

August 19th, 2010

Omer Fast’s video work Spielberg’s List is on display for a limited time at the AGO.

Spielberg's List by Omer Fast

Omer Fast
Spielberg’s List, 2005
Two-channel digital video with color and sound, two hard drives
65 minutes
Courtesy of Cine Plus, Berlin

Omer Fast is an Israeli-born artist living in Berlin who takes contemporary media culture as his point of departure.

In the two-screen installation Spielberg’s List, Fast interviews Polish extras who played both Jews and Nazis in Stephen Spielberg’s 1993 blockbuster Schindler’s List. Views of Krakow, the film, and film set are interspersed with close-ups of the interviewees as they recount their experiences during filming and discuss the relationship of the depicted events to their own lives.

In part a critique of the spectacularization of historical trauma in Hollywood films, Fast’s video avoids simplistic interpretation by also considering the very real way in which the extras’ theatrical experiences influence their understanding of history.

The work is on display at the AGO as part of The Storyteller exhibition, which runs until August 29, 2010.

The Storyteller: “Save Manhattan 02″ by Mounir Fatmi

August 5th, 2010

Mounir Fatmi’s installation work Save Manhattan 02 is on display for a limited time at the AGO.

Save Manhattan 02 by Mounir Fatmi

Mounir Fatmi
Save Manhattan 02, 2009
VHS tapes, glue, table
Dimensions variable
Courtesy of the artist and Lombard-Freid Projects, New York

Mounir Fatmi is a Moroccan-born artist whose multi-media work references conditions of exile, repatriation and global conflict, as well as the methods of communication through which these conditions are comprehended and disseminated.

The sculptural installation Save Manhattan assembles once ubiquitous, now obsolete, videotapes on a table to recreate the New York skyline pre-9/11.

According to Fatmi, while political crises cast doubt on the validity of traditional institutions like religion and politics, they also necessitate new commitments, new attempts at building. Save Manhattan uses imagined recorded histories as building blocks in a fragile configuration that, model-like, stands somewhere between past and future.

The work is on display at the AGO as part of The Storyteller exhibition, which runs until August 29, 2010.

The Storyteller: “Objects of War” by Lamia Joreige

July 22nd, 2010

Two videos from Lamia Joreige’s series Objects of War are on display for a limited time at the AGO.

Lamia Joreige, Objects of War no. 4

Objects of War no. 4, 2006
Single-channel video with color and sound
72 minutes
Courtesy of the artist

Born in Beirut where she continues to live and work, Lamia Joreige’s paintings, installations and videos combine archival documentation with fictional elements to explore the multiple ways in which history is narrated and received.

Objects of War is an ongoing video project consisting of testimonials on the Lebanese war. Each video portrait centers around an object of the protagonist’s choosing that in turn becomes the locus for his or her personal experience of war. The final result brings together individual stories with collective narration so as to affirm the possibility of shared experience while denying any single representation of history.

Objects of War no. 3 and Objects of War no. 4 are on display at the AGO as part of The Storyteller exhibition, which runs until August 29, 2010.

The Storyteller: “Iraq” by Steve Mumford

July 8th, 2010

Selections from Steve Mumford’s series Iraq, are on display for a limited time at the AGO.

Steve Mumford
13A3, John, a contractor, giving a firearms class to Iraqi police in
Khalis, July, 2004. The Iraqis had to be convinced to replace the
rifle stocks on their AKs
(from the series Iraq, 2003-05), 2004
Watercolor and ink on paper
12 1/4 x 15 3/4 in.
Courtesy of Postmasters Gallery, New York

Steve Mumford is an American artist based in New York.

In 2003, dissatisfied with the superficial reporting on the war in Iraq, Mumford traveled to the war-torn country armed with his sketchpad. The result is a series of lyrical watercolors and ink drawings that depict his experience of daily life in and around Baghdad including images of military actions, oil fields, and mass graves, as well as encounters with Iraqi artists, local workers, and the serene countryside.

Mumford’s Baghdad Journal sets these drawings in context, providing personal anecdotes and stories shared by his friends and companions that establish a more intimate vision of the conflict than the one shown in the news.

As Mumford puts it: “If photojournalism captures a decisive moment, making a drawing is more about lingering with a place and editing the scene in a wholly subjective way… For me the act of drawing slowed down the war, recording the spaces in between the bombs.”

Twelve works from the series are on display at the AGO as part of The Storyteller exhibition, which runs until August 29, 2010.

The Storyteller: “Albanian Stories” by Adrian Paci

June 24th, 2010

Adrian Paci’s video work Albanian Stories is on display for a limited time at the AGO.

Albanian Stories, Adrian Paci

Adrian Paci
Albanian Stories, 1997
Single-channel video transferred to DVD, color, sound
7 minutes
Courtesy of Galleria Francesca Kaufmann, Milan

Adrian Paci is an Albanian-born, Milan-based video artist who left Albania following the fall of Communism in 1991 and whose work addresses the political turbulence of his native country as well as his life as an emigré.

Albanian Stories features Paci’s three-year-old daughter recounting a series of improvised fairytales in which folkloric characters, such as a cow, cat and rooster, commingle with surprising references to “soldiers” and “international forces.”

In this half fictional, half real-world account imparted by an innocent narrator, the fairytale becomes a vehicle for exposing both the particularity and the universality of conflict, as well as the way in which our understanding of events is colored by the circumstances surrounding their reception.

The work is on display at the AGO as part of The Storyteller exhibition, which runs until August 29, 2010.

The Storyteller: “Whose Utopia” by Cao Fei

June 9th, 2010

Cao Fei’s video work Whose Utopia is on display at the AGO for a limited time.

Cao Fei, Whose Utopia

Cao Fei
Whose Utopia, 2006
Single-channel video with color and sound
20 minutes
Courtesy of the artist and Lombard-Freid Projects, New York

Cao Fei is a Chinese artist, born in Guangzhou and currently working out of Beijing, whose videos, photographs and performances take as their subject the changing demographics of contemporary urban China and the hopes and dreams of its inhabitants.

For Whose Utopia, Fei asked the workers in a Guangdong Province light-bulb factory to enact their ideal occupation. Set in the factory, the result is a three-part video that is divided, much like a traditional story, into distinct chapters: “Imagination of Product,” “Factory Fairytale” and “My Future Is Not a Dream.” An initial Metropolis-like focus on the modernist efficiency of the factory gives way in the second and third segments to the factory workers’ imaginative enactments of their chosen personas, all set to an emotionally stirring score composed by a Guangzhou-based rock band.

The work is on display at the AGO as part of The Storyteller exhibition, which runs until August 29, 2010.