BERLIN: “I’m keen on understanding why the world is haunted by accidents produced by modernity and its large crimes, reminiscent of fascism, colonialism, slavery… What Algerian psychoanalyst Karim Lazali calls ‘The rogues of the Enlightenment,’” says French-Algerian artist Kader Attia, curator of the twelfth Berlin Biennale, entitled “Nonetheless Current!”
The biennale, which runs till Sept. 18, makes an attempt to render seen these ‘historic wounds’ of Western modernity, together with systemic racism and capitalist extraction, drawing hyperlinks between particular person damage and collective trauma.
Ariella Aisha Azoulay’s “The Pure Historical past of Rape,” for instance, presents a largely textual post-World Struggle II archive by way of nameless diaries documenting the rampant sexual abuse of girls in Berlin by the hands of the allied forces — their ‘liberators.’ The pictures she consists of function a destroyed metropolis somewhat than violated our bodies — a deliberate touch upon the incompleteness of the historic archive.
In sharp distinction are the specific, desensitizing pictures of bloodied, tortured male our bodies in Jean-Jacques Lebel’s “Soluble poison: Scenes from the American occupation in Baghdad” — a labyrinthine construction through which larger-than-life-sized prints on cloth of the disturbingly acquainted pictures taken by US troopers in Abu Ghraib recur and blur, disrupted by grainy black-and-white imagery of a disfigured Iraq.
“With these works, we’re trying on the house in between aggressors and victims. All crimes unify the victims and the perpetrators, psychoanalysts know that,” says Attia.
Lebel’s work was essentially the most talked-about following the present’s opening, with many critics claiming that it appropriated Iraqi our bodies. A typical concern was that the publicity of injustice doesn’t equate to reparation. And even artwork.
The Iraqi artists whose works adjoined Lebel’s — together with Raed Mutar, who contributed a melancholic portray, and Sajjad Abbas, who introduced a public intervention on Iraq’s Inexperienced Zone — requested to be moved.
“The work of the curator isn’t simply concerning the artwork, it’s additionally about structuring narratives from the completely different universes represented by the work,” Attia says. “Mapping the world must create an archipelago of voices, that’s why I invited artists from each Palestine and Israel, and different areas of the world. I’m imagining the biennale as a map — an archipelago of eager about the crime, but additionally of hope.”
The colonial dialog — a spotlight of the present — is, Attia believes, dominated by blind spots surrounding ecology and extraction, restitution and reparation, and fascism and colonialism.
“First, there’s a must decolonize feminism; to suggest that there’s a feminism within the South that’s completely different from that within the North and provides room for that. I consider that artists have the capability to shine the sunshine on these blind spots,” he says.
The late Egyptian artist Amal Kenawy’s 2009 work “Silence of the Sheep” (or ‘lambs’) is a living proof. It paperwork a staged efficiency through which she leads a ‘flock’ of crawling males by way of the streets of downtown Cairo, whereas a crowd of indignant males collect across the artist. Attia sees this response as a symbolic precursor of the Arab Spring protests that will comply with.
Virtually a 3rd of the biennale’s artists hail from the Arab world. Asim Abdulaziz’s performative movie “1941” is a residing sculpture of modern, shirtless Yemeni males knitting in an deserted Hindu temple. Algerian artist Ammar Bouras creates a shocking mosaic-like montage of a recomposed Taourirt Tan Afella mountain, referencing the 1962 Béryl explosion brought on by French underground nuclear exams in his homeland.
Basel Abbas and Ruanne Abou-Rahme stage a haunting audiovisual set up of juxtaposed screens — “Oh Shining Star Testify” — through which fragmented pictures of windswept akkoub sunflowers are interspersed with CCTV footage of 14-year-old Yusef Al-Shawamreh, who was shot lifeless by the Israeli army in 2014 as he crossed the Israeli ‘Separation Wall’ to forage for akkoub. “Give me your scarf to wrap my wound,” the textual content says.
The Turner Prize-winning Lebanese artist Lawrence Abu Hamdan has wrapped a complete room with a strip of unfurling pinkish-grey clouds that index Israeli army violations of Lebanese airspace for “Air Conditioning.” It additionally speaks to Attia’s curiosity within the hidden patriarchal imperial determine. As he places it, “The oppressor is invisible.”
Taysir Batniji’s “Suspended Time,” made the 12 months he left — and couldn’t return to — Gaza, is a horizontal hourglass by way of which the sand can’t move. Taking a lateral view of time, it might be a metaphor for Attia’s notion of the frozen current, formed by a violent understanding of the previous. It ties in with Attia’s curatorial assertion, through which he writes that artwork slows down time, free from algorithmic governance.
“Knowledge might be analyzed to generate statistics on the financial system of artwork or the networks affiliated to it,” he writes, “however it could possibly by no means foresee what the artwork of tomorrow will seem like.”