Video Weekly Programme #5

(Or “The Tale of Why You Shouldn’t Get Out of Dystopia until Further Notice”)

by Teobaldo Lagos Preller
With Marcela Moraga, Maria Thereza Alves, Juan-Pedro Fabra and Julia Mensch

Female voice: “Suddenly I’m falling. I’m falling upright”
Male voice: “I was falling and twisting”
FV: “I’m falling upright”
MV: “Slow. Twist. Head over. Feet. Stretching out. Increasing in speed. Mouth open wide, no sound.
FV: “It’s in space. A complete feeling of space and nothingness. Nothingness.”
“Dreams” by Delia Derbyshire, 1964

When future scenarios crash apart, there is a moment where borders between different time tenses or parameters for distance become blurry. In times of crisis, we tend to analyze retrospectively, always way too fast, almost too fast. What if we used a fictional narrative to talk about certain recent (hi)stories? Would the impact of the present (say the virus, say imminent transformation or loss) be enough to tell a story backward? What is the labor of historians when uncertainty breaks our relationship to contexts?

There is a place in the future in which we’ll think retrospectively about now. And there will be voices, ways of constructing or approaching space, maybe the individual will be the new social. And maybe there will be ways for continuing with a projection of the real over our bodies, knowledges, temporary surfaces.

  • Marcela Moraga, “FUTURO”, Video-Performance, Punta Arenas, 2018, 4’, Cut: Ginés Olivares, Music: Eduardo Velásquez

“FUTURO” is the last chapter of Marcela Moraga’s artist book “Neither Spices nor Species. Chronicle of Patagonia”. According to the artist, it can also be understood as a video-performance realized at the Strait of Magellan, at the very end of South America, toward the Antarctic, 500 years after Ferdinand Magellan circumnavigated the earth and passed through this region. The artist walks across a wasteland and then sticks a flag in the sand. The flag has the word “Futuro”, which is only possible to be read if the whole image is put upside down.

Marcela Moraga (San Fernando, 1974) is a Chilean artist based in Berlin. Her work develops through video, performance, and workshops dealing with questions of dystopia, environment, and political histories. She has shown her work at the Havanna Biennial, Dakkar Biennial, MERCOSUR Biennial, among others. She won 2019 the Villa Romana Price (Florence, Italy).

  • Maria Thereza Alves, “Oculesics: An Investigation of Cross-Cultural Eye Contact”, Video, 2008, Color, sound, 11’11’’

Maria Thereza Alves asked Europeans what did they think if a person did not look them in the eye while conversing. The consensus is that the person is lying, guilty, or lacking in courage. But most non-Europeans view direct eye contact as a sign of aggression and lack of respect.

Maria Thereza Alves (Sao Paulo, 1961) is a Brazilian/US-American artist based in Berlin since the 1990s. She has worked and exhibited internationally since the 1980s, creating a body of work on the histories and circumstances of particular localities, revealing silenced narratives and discourses. Her projects are research-based and develop out of her interactions with the physical and social environments of the place she lives in or visits for exhibitions and residencies. Alves creates spaces of agency and visibility for oppressed cultures through relational practices of collaboration that require constant movement between fixed territories. Her work has been shown at Sao Paulo Biennial, Documenta 13, Berlin Biennale, Sharjah Art Biennial, and the Moscow Biennale, among other international events. She won the Vera List Price for Art and Politics (2016-2018).

  • Juan-Pedro Fabra Guemberena, “Chile 2017. Y Arriba Quemando El Sol”, 4-channel video, 2017, (Special Edition, 2020)

“Chile 2017. Y Arriba Quemando El Sol” is a composition that follows Chiles geography in two directions: west to east (from the sea to the Andes) by dragging a huge canvas and collecting material in this trajectory, and from south to north by filming the remains (ruins) of the thematic park “Mundo Magico” that recreates Chile’s map/geography in miniature and was built in the ’80s. Fabra’s work highlights historical buildings and geographical landmarks. This work alludes to Alfredo Jaar’s project “Chile, 1981. Antes de partir” (“Chile, 1981. Before Leaving”)(1981).

Juan-Pedro Fabra Guemberena (Montevideo, 1971) is an Uruguayan/Swedish artist living between Berlin, Stockholm, and Montevideo. He holds an MFA at the Royal College of Art in Stockholm (2002). He has divided his life between Uruguay, where he was born and partially raised, and Stockholm, where he arrived as a refugee in the late 1970s. According to the artist, an element that has become central to his artistic practice is mapping out “narratives and imagery of the extreme and the sublime”.

His work has been extensively and internationally shown, at “Delays and Revolutions” at the 50th Venice Biennale 2003, Marta Herford Museum, 2006, the Moderna Exhibition, The Modern Museum of Art, Stockholm, 2006; Favored Nations, 5th Momentum Biennial, Moss, 2009; 1st Biennale of The Americas, Denver, 2013, The School of Kyiv, Kiev, 2015; the University Of Disaster at the 57th Venice Biennale, 2017.

He is represented in collections such as The Modern Museum of Art, Stockholm; Sammlung Goetz, Munich; and The Wanås Foundation, Knislingen, Sweden.

  • Julia Mensch, “La vida en rojo” (“Life in Red”)

“La vida en rojo” (“Life in Red”) is an ongoing project being developed by Argentinian artist Julia Mensch. Her family migrated to Argentina from Salashi, Ukraine during the time of Nazi occupation and prosecution. Rafael Mensch, her Grandfather traveled 1973 with a delegation of Argentinan members of the Communist Party for half a year through socialist countries in Eastern Europe as well as through the Soviet Union. The goal was to learn in a practical way about socialism. The Worker Union member and Printer from Buenos Aires were for some time away from her country of origin. Meanwhile, a coup in Chile was taking place. Juan Perón is elected for the third time. Her grandfather ended in Cuba and wrote letters periodically. Many decades afterward, Julia migrates to Leipzig and Berlin to study art. She reconstructs her autobiography and the palimpsest of narratives composing this relationship between personal and political histories, affects, and possible futures.

Julia Mensch (Buenos Aires, 1980) is an Argentinian artist based in Berlin. She studied at the National Art University in Buenos Aires and the Hito Steyerl’s class at the UdK, Berlin. She develops her practice based on long term research, reading fiction and theory, visiting archives and territories, doing interviews. Her work is an intersection of text, drawing, installation, public events, photography, video, and lecture-performance – from which she opens collective dialogues about political and social contexts and future scenarios. Her practice deals with the history of Socialism and Communism in Latin America and Europe, and with environmental socio-political conflicts in Latin America with a focus on the condition of the continent as an exporter of Nature since the Spanish Conquest. At the moment she is working on a project about Extractivism, with a focus on the model of transgenic agriculture applied in Argentina since 1996, its negative consequences on health and environment, and on the growing resistance and alternatives creating new horizons and ways to relate to nature.

Mensch was granted by the DAAD, Robert Bosch Foundation, National Art Found/AR, etc. She took part in several residency programs and international exhibitions like 21st Contemporary Art Biennial Sesc_Videobrasil, São Paulo (2019), Soil is an inscribed Body, Savvy Contemporary, Berlin (2019), Bienal de la Imagen en Movimiento, Buenos Aires (2018), Naturaleza Salvaje, Bienal Sur, CNB Contemporánea, Buenos Aires (2017), On Offshores, Museum für Fotografie, Berlin (2016). And her solo shows include La vida en rojo, Kunstraum Baden, Switzerland (2019), EAC, Montevideo (2018), CCR, Buenos Aires (2016), 1973, Galerie im Turm, Berlin (2014), Salashi, Pyecka Galery, Kosice, Slovakia (2013).

Many thanks to all artists for their participation.
All videos are courtesy of the artists:
Marcela Moraga, Maria Thereza Alves, Juan-Pedro Fabra Guemberena, Julia Mensch.

Video Weekly Programme Archive