photo: Rossella Biscotti, The Trial, 2010-2011, Installation view from performance at Rijksakademie, 2010

Five young artists or collectives from Europe and the United States have been invited by Martha Kirszenbaum, an independent curator and writer based in Paris, to contribute to the project in a variety of media including collages, video, sculpture and performative installation.

Martha Kirszenbaum on the “Please Close Your Eyes” exhibition:

The exhibition “Please Close Your Eyes” is a reflexion on the notion of political and social event, and is articulated around three themes: impact, reaction/interpretation, hypnosis. What does remain of an event in our collective and individual memory, and to what extent can our contemporary tools be useful to decode and understand its significations? “Please Close your Eyes” also appears as a distorted mirror of the event that the European Congress for Cultural itself is, lasting for four days, which corresponds to the average time that media deals with information.

Some artists in the exhibition have interpreted and re-enacted historical or political events. “The House of Energetic Culture” by Paris-based collective Claire Fontaine (formed in 2004) is a work commissioned for the exhibition and an adaptation of the neon that once overlooked the House of Culture in Pryiat—nowadays a ghost-town nearby the former Chernobyl nuclear station. Evoking the history of Central Europe in its relationship to the Soviet Union, “The House of Energetic Culture” also represents a blinking reminder of contemporary energetic policies. The performative installation “The Trial” by Italian artist Rossella Biscotti (b. 1978) is a re-enactment of the infamous April 7th trial, which, in 1983-1984, brought to court important members and intellectuals from the Autonomia Operaia, including Antonio Negri. Rosella Biscotti creates a Kafkaian mise-en-scène based on the original audiotape of the trial and staging a local simultaneous translator and a typist.

Others have used found materials or footages to deconstruct, assemble and recreate reality. In her double-channel video installation “19:30”, Berlin-based Slovenian artist Aleksandra Domanović (b. 1981) brings together images of idents from former Yugoslavian countries’ nightly TV news, juxtaposed to found footage, and accompanied by their original themes remixed by techno DJs. “19:30” grounds a reflexion on social changes within the post-communist context and the extended use of the internet. New-York based Polish artist Anna Ostoya (b. 1978) New-York based artist Anna Ostoya (b. 1978) presents “Untitled (Non-Spaces)”, a new series of abstract collages on canvas made of cut-outs from the blank parts of daily newspapers, containing neither texts nor visuals. Referencing notions of non-space, Ostoya’s compositions point towards the “subaltern”, a marginalized or oppressed position existing outside of established authorities and hegemonic power structures.

Finally, as the fermata of the exhibition, Danish collective Superflex (formed in 1993) has invited a professional hypnotist to be the unusual narrator of the video “The Financial Crisis”. In each of the piece’s four chapters, the hypnotist tells us the story of the economic crisis, leading us though a collective therapy that starts from plenty and ends with a psychotic catastrophe, suddenly interrupted by a spell-breaking finger snap to wake us comfortable, fresh and happy.

Artists: Rossella Biscotti, Claire Fontaine, Anna Ostoya, Aleksandra Domanović, Superflex

Curated by Martha Kirszenbaum

This exhibition has been made possible thanks to the generous support of Ambassade de France in Warsaw, Institut Français de Varsovie, Galerie Air de Paris, Paris and Galerie Chantal Crousel, Paris.

Photo credit: Rossella Biscotti, The Trial, 2010-2011, Installation view from performance at Rijksakademie, November 2010, courtesy the artist.

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TAGS: Martha Kirszenbaum, 10x10, Rossella Biscotti, Claire Fontaine, Anna Ostoya, Aleksandra Domanović, Superflex

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