The Images Republic

The Disobedience Archive (The Republic) curated by Marco Scotini is a work-in-progress project, started in 2005 in Berlin. The show was hosted by Van Abbemuseum Eindhoven, Nottingham Contemporary, Raven Row of London, Massachusetts Institute of Technology of Boston, Bildmuseet of Umeå, and it is now in Italy at Castello di Rivoli.
The archive is divided into nine sections: 1977 The Italian Exit, Protesting Capitalist Globalization, Reclaim the Streets, Bioresistence and Society of Control, Argentina Fabrica Social, Disobedience East, Disobedience University, The Arab Dissent and Gender Politics. The archive includes materials by 16 authors: Atelier d’Architecture Autogérée (AAA), Mitra Azar, Gianfranco Baruchello, Petra Bauer, Pauline Boudry, Brigitta Kuster and Renate Lorenz, Bernadette Corporation, Black Audio Film Collective, Ursula Biemann, Collettivo femminista di cinema, Copenhagen Free University, Critical Art Ensemble, Dodo Brothers, Marcelo Expósito, Harun Farocki and Andrei Ujica, Rene Gabri and Ayreen Anastas, Grupo de Arte Callejero, Etcétera, Alberto Grifi, Ashley Hunt, Sara Ishaq, Kanal B, Khaled Jarrar, John Jordan and Isabelle Fremeaux, Laboratorio di Comunicazione Militante, Silvia Maglioni and Graeme Thomson, Angela Melitopoulos, Mosireen, Carlos Motta, Non Governamental Control Commission, Wael Noureddine, Margit Czencki/Park Fiction, R.E.P. Group, Oliver Ressler and Zanny Begg, Joanne Richardson, Roy Samaha, Eyal Sivan, Hito Steyerl, The Department of Space and Land Reclamation, Mariette Schiltz and Bert Theis, Ultra-red, Nomeda & Gediminas Urbonas, Trampoline House (Morten Goll & Tone Olaf Nielsen), Dmitry Vilensky and Chto Delat?, James Wentzy. I just want to spend a few words on the video material of the Archive, focusing my attention on two chronologically opposite sections, 1977 The Italian Exit and The Arab Dissent.
In the 1977 The Italian Exit section, videos are used as political tools; the uncut scenes of meetings or the fantasy political fiction narrative are mixed together to define the borders of counter-information cinema. Directors such as Alberto Grifi and Jean-Luc Godard contribute to redefine the use of different materials for a new narration of reality. This idea of cinema/video came directly from the avant-garde cinema (Godard’s group was named The Dziga Vertov group), but the directors started to reflect on the possibilities of mixing different materials to build new narrations.
In the other section, called The Arab Dissent, videos are very recent – from 2006 to 2011 – and they were made in Lebanon, Egypt, Syria. But, first of all, these videos have something in common: the use of New Media to spread news, and the use of new devices, such as cellphones, to record reality. The evolution of counter-information cinema, from 1977 to now, is tied to the evolution of the materials that artists and directors were able to use. Obviously, in the Disobedience Archive you can’t find the most famous video shooted in the Middle East during the Arab Spring. I’m talking about The Pixelated Revolution, made by Rabin Mroué and exhibited at last year’s Documenta 13 in Kassel (2012). “Syrians are filming their own death:” this is the beginning of the Pixelated Revolution; Mroué uses footage materials taken from YouTube and uploaded by Sirian rebels who died while shooting the videos. The tendency of using materials uploaded on the internet is a common practice; we can find it not only in Mroué’s work , but in many videos. In some of the videos that were shown in the Disobedience Archive, like Wael Naureddine, July Trip, or Mosiren Collective, The camel battle, there is an inclination to use cellphones to record and the internet to share images of the riots. Even though technologies have always been an important aid during political protests, today’s new media have the capability to jump over traditional boundaries of time and space.
This is not a reflection on new media, I cannot analyze the whole phenomenon, but only on the evolution of the practice of video making, of photographic recording, and their relationship with the evolution of recording devices – starting from the Farm Security Administration (FSA) and the well known influence of its photography program: photographers and writers were then hired to report and document the plight of poor farmers; focusing on photographic works, we can notice that the documentation work was possible thanks to the introduction of new models of cameras, lighter and more simple to use. It was a medium “evolution.” The photographers, thanks to the new machines, could take more pictures than before; it was the beginning of an era of extensive documentation of reality. Now, if we consider today’s new devices of recording, such as cellphones, we could only imagine their potentialities, and the images we could take. If these “poor images” – like Hito Steyerl writes in her essay In defense of the poor images – are related to reality, we can state that they have the potentiality for new narrations. As it has already happened in the past, today artists and directors are trying to redefine the way of telling stories just by looking around and taking what is already in the air.

Disobedience Archive, curated my Marco Scotini at Castello di Rivoli, Turin through June 30, 2013

Ursula Beeman. Performing the border. Disobedience Archive at Castello di Rivoli, Turin

Ursula Beeman, Performing the border. Disobedience Archive at Castello di Rivoli, Turin

Black audio film collective. Handsword Song. Disobedience Archive at Castello di Rivoli, Turin

Black audio film collective, Handsword Song. Disobedience Archive at Castello di Rivoli, Turin

Alberto Grifi. Festival del Proletariato al Parco Lambro. at Castello di Rivoli, Turin

Alberto Grifi, Festival del Proletariato al Parco Lambro. Disobedience Archive at Castello di Rivoli, Turin

Harun Farocki and Andrei Ujică. Videograms of a Revolution Disobedience Archive at Castello di Rivoli, Turin

Harun Farocki and Andrei Ujică, Videograms of a Revolution. Disobedience Archive at Castello di Rivoli, Turin

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by Vincenzo Estremo
in Columns, Focus on Europe

Wed Development by Digital Art Factory