with Harun Farocki, Nisrine Bouhkari, Oleksiy Radynksi, Red Forest, and Subversive Film
Stoa, 1 TurunlinnantieHelsinki, 00900 Finland
This exhibition takes its name from the Zapatista Commission' statement released on March 2nd titled THERE WILL BE NO LANDSCAPE AFTER THE BATTLE (On the invasion of the Russian army into Ukraine) - and it is a humble return to this urgent call.
“As Zapatistas we do not support one State or the other, but those who fight for life against the system. (...) Those who win in this war are the big weapon-manufacturing consortiums, and the big capitals that see this opportunity to conquer: to destroy-reconstruct territories, that is to say, to create new markets of commodities and consumers, of human lives. (...) To resist is to persist and to prevail. Let us support our relatives in their resistance, that is, in their struggle for life. We owe them this, and we owe it to ourselves. (..) Therefore, we call upon [people in struggle] to manifest themselves — according to their calendars, geographies ways and possibilities — against the war, and in support of Ukrainians and Russians [and all] who struggle in their geographies for a world with freedom. (...)The war must be stopped now. If it continues and, as expected, escalates, then perhaps there will be no one to account for the landscape after the battle.”
In these lines the exhibition concentrates in the question of movement, images in movement and the mobilisation that images trigger. Learning from Farocki’s work, it aims to rise questions such as: How art can contribute to a collective conscious against war? How can artistic processes become a meticulous effort to transform reality and part of collective actions for systemic change?, What resources do we need in moments of struggle and transformation in the quest for justice?, and How can collective sensibility becomes a link between battles in the defence for life?
About the artists and their works:
Harun Farocki (1944 - 2014) was born in Novy Jicin (Czech Republic, annexed to Germany at the time). Farocki wrote essays, film and television scripts. His work was exhibited at Documenta 12 in Kassel and in many international retrospectives. Harun Farocki began making films in the late 1960s amid a highly politicised cultural milieu. Citing the influence of such Marxist cultural practitioners as theatre director Bertolt Brecht, philosopher Theodor Adorno, and film director Jean-Luc Godard, Farocki consistently addressed two principal subjects: the practices of labour and the production of images. Farocki is particularly known for his explicitly political essay films, through which he examined these subjects while also openly confronting the inherently persuasive, manipulative properties of the cinematic medium. Many of his direct-cinema works unobtrusively observe media productions, training sessions, and product demonstrations. In his later works, Farocki explored what he termed “operative images”—technical images created for military and surveillance purposes that were not necessarily intended for public consumption. Farocki prompts viewers to think about the powerful role of visual media in shaping our understanding of ourselves and others, as well as about the social and political systems that send images into the world.
Farocki dedicated an extense part of his work to analyse war and the ideology encrypted into the images it produces. For this exhibition, we dedicate a one-day screening to engage, learn and reflect through a selection of works spanning from 1969 to 2010.
Nisrine Boukhari is a conceptual artist living in Vienna and Stockholm. In her art-based research projects, she uses language to invoke a distinctive mind's energy on discovering a new terrain of the imagination implicating the body and the mind in an immersive poetic and conceptual experience by using conceptual writing, fragmentation, and deconstructed narrative. Boukhari's art's genesis extends outwards from the conventional use of language to the complexity of a traumatised memory and the instantaneity of self-generated thoughts. Since 2012, Boukhari is researching on the State of Mind-Wandering, where she investigates the effects of trauma on the human psyche and the use of the artistic practice in a therapeutic trajectory. Thus, Boukhari has coined Wanderism as a form of mental diversity and aims to explore potentials on destigmatising mental health issues based on her interest in studying philosophy of mind.
The Day Before…, Damascus, 2010/2012
Video installation, length: 28 min
Twenty-eight minutes of visual meditation as poetic cartography of Damascus as I want to remember it in The Day Before... As the title refers to the concept of time, this film is an urban journey of what "where" means when people dwelled together peacefully in Damascus. I filmed these genuine moments of life in the old town of Damascus in 2010, just a few months before the events that would change our life and the city once and for all happened. The film shows the intimacy of people's movement, the narrow spaces accumulating the colourful urban soul of Damascus through time, with all of its symbols and hidden secrets. Each space is like a heart full of treasures, where you can barely imagine its depth due to the multiplicities of layers and colours that constitute its shape. I was filming in the old city, even without asking the shops' owners if I could do this. It was a spontaneous act in a peaceful town with good-hearted people. Many were interacting happily, without knowing what it was all about or what might become of it in a gloomy future waiting for us. When the war broke out, and we were witnessing destruction by all means, and when I left the country for another place, I wanted to keep this memory alive as the last mapping of the life -as I knew it- in my city. Could anyone imagine that there is an ongoing war there?
Oleksiy Radynski is a filmmaker and writer based in Kyiv. His films have been screened at International Film Festival Rotterdam, Kurzfilmtage Oberhausen, Docudays IFF, the Institute of Contemporary Arts (London), and S A V V Y Contemporary (Berlin), among others, and have received a number of festival awards. After graduating from Kyiv-Mohyla Academy, he studied at the Home Workspace Program (Ashkal Alwan, Beirut). In 2008, he cofounded Visual Culture Research Center, an initiative for art, knowledge, and politics in Kyiv. His texts have been published in Proxy Politics: Power and Subversion in a Networked Age (Archive Books, 2017), Art and Theory of Post-1989 Central and East Europe: A Critical Anthology (MoMA, 2018), Being Together Precedes Being (Archive Books, 2019), and e-flux journal.
Director: Oleksiy Radynski, DOP: Max Savchenko, Sasha Bojko, Sound: Oleksandr Gorbunov, Editing: Mykola Bazarkin and Oleksiy Radynski, Line Producer: Lyuba Knorozok, Production: Svitlana Zinovyeva
Length: 28 min
Landslide is a film that represents post-revolutionary Ukraine through a community of people who ‘try to build a new society’ in the cracks and pores of a collapsing social system. The film unfolds in central Kyiv, in a space that has been reclaimed from the city by forces of nature. As a result of a series of landslides, the area of Petrivska street has become untenable and was subsequently occupied by the outcasts and outsiders of all kinds. It also became an important meeting spot for counterculture and artistic underground. A secretive graffiti team, a group of tech geeks and an avant-garde gay theatre that fled the war in Luhansk all struggle to create a place where they could coexist outside the pressure of dysfunctional social structures.
Red Forest is a constellation that grounds together research, art, political imagination, and social actions thriving for transformative justice and ecological reparations. In 2021 they initiated a pan-continental research focusing on the intersections between contemporary extractivism and datification processes. Red Forest assembles and organises their work with infrastructures of collective reciprocity and interdependency as actual potentiality. Their research contributes to the theoretical framework of Energetic Materialism to conceptualise urgent cultural and social processes in the defence of life and the construction of pluriversal futures in dignified flux. Red Forest is mobilised by David Muñoz Alcántara, Diana McCarty, Mijke van der Drift and Oleksiy Radynski, after their collective practises collided during a 2019-2020 BAK Fellowship in Utrecht; and started the Energetic Materialism Laboratory as Kone Fellows 2021. Red Forest develops radio plays, experimental films, installations and philosophical elaborations, and unfolds as a growing constellation of artists, activists, researchers, media producers, filmmakers,philosophers, educators and time travellers making interdisciplinary projects. Recently contributed to OFF-Biennále and developed a performative project with VCRC Kyiv. They are currently the Artistic Directors for the German Pavilion at the 23rd Triennale di Milano, 2022, commissioned by Goethe Institute. They have an upcoming performative project at HKW, Berlin.
When Collective Junctures Become Power, 2022
When Collective Junctures Become Power by Red Forest communicates the necessity to transform indignation into organised rage for the long term anti-capitalist project. It is is a banner and a portable mural stamped on jute sacks, a work that is grounded in peoples mobilisation and the weaving of internationalist dimensions in struggle.
Subversive Film is a cinema research and production collective that aims to cast new light upon historic works related to Palestine and the region, to engender support for film preservation, and to investigate archival practices. Their long-term and ongoing projects explore this cine-historic field including digitally reissuing previously overlooked films, curating rare film screening cycles, subtitling rediscovered films, producing publications, and devising other forms of interventions. Formed in 2011, Subversive Film is based between Ramallah and Brussels.
Film, length: 23 min
Al-Jisser is a mixed media installation, consisting of a printed film programme and single channel video. The film programme catalogues seven works invoking the bridge-crossing sequence, produced between 1967 and 1976. None of these films is to be shown; the programme merely evidences their existence. Each film is now rare; like the bridge-crossers, they are scattered worldwide – in private homes, institutional archives, and forgotten caches. By figuratively reassembling these film fragments, the programme imparts a form of poetic retribution: now the films see their state of diffusion and loss recast as metaphor. Like the bridge-crossers before them, they accrue a symbolic value to the extent that their visibility is prescribed and their own voices are silenced.
Perpetual Recurrences, 2016
Length: 57 min
Perpetual Recurrences is an exercise in programming films. Rather than curating a selection of entire films, this exercise curates a selection of scenes. Though they are montaged, the core of the exercise is to look at recurring patterns in Palestinian cinema and cinema on Palestine. The selected scenes gather around each other to form sequences. They do this dictated by repetitive occurrences be that location, political discourse, mise-en-scene, object and so on. From the classroom, to the militant in an open field delivering a speech with a tree somewhere in sight, to handheld camera shots in tight alleyways of refugee camps, to travelling shots from inside cars moving through streets, checkpoints and landscape, the scenes are plucked out from their heavily politicised filmic contexts, form and content wise. When placed in sequences they are screened to observe the political canopy of the moving image produced in and about Palestine over the past decades.
The fragments were extracted from a number of films and videos created over the last four decades about Palestine, tracking repetition in works from militant filmmaking during the Palestinian revolutionary period 1968-82, the post-Oslo period and the more contemporary films and videos. The following are the titles of the films and their authors from which the scenes of this programme were extracted: “Oppressed People Are Always Right” (Nils Vest, 1976, Denmark); “Al-Fatah” (Luigi Perelli, 1970, Italy); “L’Olivier” (Groupe Cinéma Vincennes, 1976, France); “Palestine – RAF” (Almut Hielscher, Manfred Vosz and Hans-Jürgen Weber, 1971, West Germany); “The Palestinians” (Johan van der Keuken, 1975, Netherlands); “Palestine RE: (Video Test)” (Mahdi Fleifel, 2011, Denmark); “The Long March Of Return” (Ugo Adilardi, Carlo Schelliono and Paolo Sornaga, 1970, Italy); “The Red Army/PFLP: Declaration of World War” (Masao Adachi and Koji Wakamatsu, 1971, Japan); “Palestine In The Eye” (Mustafa Abu Ali, 1977, PLO); “They Do Not Exist” (Mustafa Abu Ali, 1974, PLO); “Fertile Memory” (Michel Khleifi, 1980, Palestine, Belgium, West Germany, Netherlands); “Pasolini Pa* Palestine” (Ayreen Anastas, 2005, Palestine); “Home Movies Gaza” (Basma Alsharif, 2013, Palestine, France).
The silk prints emerge from an invitation from Subversive Film to participate in the Re-print workshop, and research for Documenta Fifteen. These pair of silk re-prints are an ongoing conversation between Subversive Film and Red Forest
Author of the two poster images: Abdel Rahman Al Muzain, circa 1985
(woman with camera) Arabic translation: The Palestinian cinema, recording the past, animating the present, illuminating the future.
Special thanks to STOA, Sanna Nuutinen, Soko Hwang, Antje Ehman, Harun Farocki Institut, Pietu Pietiäinen, Johanna Rojola, and Gabriele Marotta.