Wednesday, December 22, 2021, 12 pm
Artists’ Film International 2021: Care

Online-screening with works by Sena Başöz, Patty Chang, Kiri Dalena, Kerstin Honeit, Hylozoic/Desires (Himali Singh Soin and David Soin Tappeser), Agnė Jokšė, Polina Kanis, Neda Kovinić, Thania Petersen, Sajia Sediqi, Giulio Squillacciotti, Kenneth Tam, Victoria Verseau, Rehana Zaman

The n.b.k. Video-Forum presents the program of Artists’ Film International (AFI), which in 2021 was curated under the title Care. Artists’ Film International is an initiative by the Whitechapel Gallery in London and presents artists from the fields of film, video and animation. International partner organizations select individual works to be shown by the participating art institutions. In 2021, these institutions include a. o.: Bag Factory, Johannesburg; Ballroom Marfa, Texas; Bonniers Konsthall, Stockholm; Belgrade Cultural Center; Centre for Contemporary Art Afghanistan, Kabul; Contemporary Art Centre, Vilnius; GAMeC – Galleria d'Arte Moderna e Contemporanea di Bergamo; Hammer Museum, Los Angeles; Istanbul Modern; Moscow Museum of Modern Art; Museum of Contemporary Art and Design, Manila; Neuer Berliner Kunstverein (n.b.k.); Project 88, Mumbai und Whitechapel Gallery, London.

The works are grouped in three sub-chapters: “Relearning”, “Memory and Loss”, and “Resistance”.


RELEARNING (78:52 min)

Patty Chang
Invocation for a Wandering Lake Part 1 & 2, 2016
Two-channel video, 12 min
Selected by Ballroom Marfa, Marfa, Texas

The lifeless body of a whale floats off the coast of Newfoundland’s Fogo Islands, a former fishing hub. The artist Patty Chang (*1972 in San Leandro / USA) is seen meditatively washing the deceased animal. With similar attention, she scrubs the shell of an abandoned ship in the desert of Muynak / Uzbekistan, a defunct seaport on the receded Aral Sea. These repetitive acts seem almost absurd and unnecessary, as these entities could never return to life. Nevertheless, the artist continues to perform rituals of care and signals a connection with the fateful end of entities surrounding us.


Kenneth Tam
Breakfast in Bed, 2016
Single-channel video, 32 min
Selected by the Hammer Museum, Los Angeles

Part social experiment, part absurdist theater, Kenneth Tam's (*1982 in New York)
Breakfast in Bed explores male-to-male intimacy, roleplay, and constructions of masculinity. For the video, Tam recruited seven non-actors from online forums such as Craigslist and Reddit to participate in a mock men's social club. Occupying a stage-like domestic space built within the artist's studio, participants engaged in team-building activities, ritual-like movement exercises, and sincere exchanges of affirmation. Despite their lack of affiliation with one another before filming these activities seem to foster a sense of tenderness among them. Employing playful improvisation and guided collaboration, Tam's project undermines normative male social conventions and deconstructs codes of behavior.


Agnė Jokšė
Dear Friend, 2019
Single-channel HD video, 24:17 min
Selected by the Contemporary Art Centre, Vilnius

Dear friend
is a video by Lithuanian artist Agnė Jokšė (*1993 in Vilnius / Lithuania). It is performed by Jokšė and is based on her letter-form text written in contemplation of friendship as platonic love between queer women. Balancing between reality and fiction, the work openly and sensitively speaks about various forms of love, affection and care in the contemporary world.


Hylozoic/Desires (Himali Singh Soin and David Soin Tappeser)
Setting the Stage For a Gathering of Friends, 2020
Video, 10:35 min
Selected by Project 88, Mumbai

Setting the Stage for a Gathering of Friends by Hylozoic/Desires (Himali Singh Soin, *1987 in India, and David Soin Tappeser, *1985 in Germany) was made in the heart of the pandemic of 2020 in Delhi. It is about uncertainty, fear, chance, missed connections, false promises, a return to something we once felt, a repetition of something we had never experienced. It charts the path of an Ensō, a depiction of a whole or a void, a different cosmology, depending on the way you look at it, up-close or at a distance. The circle holds together the improvised elements of free jazz and the disparate footnotes found in fortunes opened at random. It sets the stage for a gathering of friends and proposes that waiting can be a form of love.



MEMORY AND LOSS (71:10 min)

Giulio Squillacciotti
What Has Left Since We Left, 2020
Single-channel 4K Video, 21:08 min
Selected by GAMeC, Bergamo, Italy

On February 7th 1992, the Treaty on European Union was signed in the Dutch city of Maastricht. In the video
What Has Left Since We Left by Giulio Squillacciotti (*1982 in Rome) the representatives of the last three countries left in the European Union meet again decades later in the very same room where it was signed, this time to deliberate on the permanent shutdown of their Union. In what seems to be a looped therapy session, the three characters – helped by a British interpreter as a self-appointed analyst – try to deal with their feeling of loss. The conversation allows their political and personal bonds to be woven together metaphorically, compelling them to face their identity crisis and acknowledge what no longer is, what is left and what still can be of that Union.


Kerstin Honeit
my castle your castle, 2017
HD video, 14:47 min
Selected by the Video-Forum, Neuer Berliner Kunstverein (n.b.k.)

The video work
my castle your castle by Kerstin Honeit (*1977 in Berlin) focuses on the debate about the reconstruction of the Berlin Palace on the foundation of the Palace of the Republic, the former seat of the People’s Chamber, the legislature of the German Democratic Republic (East Germany). Kerstin Honeit invites two of the craftsmen involved in the construction and demolition of the palace to a conversation at the palace construction site. The setting plays with the ambience of a television talk show and thus underscores the stage-like nature of the large construction site, which serves as a platform for a wide variety of stakeholders and interest groups. A musical interlude by two queer cowboys interrupts and caricatures this reference. The castle as an “identity-forming” building of national importance is thus reoccupied as a space by protagonists whose voice is otherwise lost in the debate.


Sena Başöz
The Box, 2020
Single-channel video, 4:31 min
Selected by Istanbul Modern

The Box
(2020) by Sena Başöz (*1980 in Izmir / Turkey) consists of a sequence of various objects hidden inside thick, dark, long hair being picked over sometimes by a male and sometimes by a female hand. In the video compassion and care trigger phenomena in contrast such as concealment and revelation, holding on and letting go, death and life.


Victoria Verseau
Approaching a Ghost, 2021
Video, 20:15 min
Selected by Bonniers Konsthall, Stockholm

With
Approaching a Ghost, Victoria Verseau (*1988 in Mariestad / Sweden) tries to capture the memory of her friend Meril and their time together in a remote town in Thailand, where both met whilst preparing to undergo gender confirmation surgery. Three years after the operation, Meril decided to end her life. Instead of being able to capture the memory of her and Meril when traveling back to that town, the artist encounters nothing but a void underlining the absence of her former presence. The video captures the atmospheric emptiness and abandoned places, such as the run-down hospital where Verseau and her friend underwent the surgery, a desolate hotel and the tidal lands – in constant transition. With her work the artist addresses existential concerns, such as who am I and who do I want to be? “I was always afraid to speak out loud, but now I've found my voice; even when I whisper I want to tell my story and remember Meril and all those who did not have the energy or were not allowed to continue. "


Sajia Sediqi
From Red to Black and White, 2020
Video performance, 11:42 min
Selected by the Centre for Contemporary Art Afghanistan (CCAA), Kabul

For her video performance
From Red to Black and White Sajia Sediqi (*1995 in Afghanistan) chose the ruins of a former psychiatric hospital in Kabul called Aliabad. It was the first and only psychiatric hospital in Afghanistan, where severely ill patients were once treated. The artist aims to examine women’s lives in Afghanistan, which have become more restricted during the different political regimes and the pandemic.



RESISTANCE (71:59 min)

Rehana Zaman
Sharla Shabana Sojourner Selena, 2016
HD video, 22:13 min
Selected by the Whitechapel Gallery, London


In Rehana Zaman’s
(*1982 in Heckmondwike / United Kingdom) Sharla Shabana Sojourner Selena six female narrators share personal experiences in an audition roll call, some scripted, some spontaneous. Their testimonies describe perverse scenarios where racialization and gender dynamics inflect the encounters of each protagonist in the workplace, religious spaces or sexual trysts. The Stories are intercut with moments of physical contact in a beauty salon, a space where inter-corporeality and pleasure is offered as an alternative to the anxieties of collective experience.


Kiri Dalena
Mag-uuma (Farmer), 2014
Video, 2:06 min
Selected by Museum of Contemporary Art and Design, Manila

Mag-uuma (Farmer) features a young female dissenter from Mindanao whose performance during a peasant demonstration caught the attention of filmmaker and visual artist Kiri Dalena (*1975 in Manila). After agreeing to document the song she sang during the rally, Dalena filmed the young woman in the middle of a rice field while farmers submerged in knee-deep paddies continued to plant. This song of protest is an old ballad learned from her mother, its verses speaking of a history of exploitation and poverty, circumstances that continue to cast a shadow on their community and personal lives.


Thania Petersen
KASSARAM, 2020
Video, 12:11 min
Selected by the Bag Factory, Johannesburg, South Africa

KASSARAM interrogates the artistic strategies historically used by European colonial forces to demarcate oppressive hierarchies of people in South Africa. It highlights how present-day imperialist agendas perpetuate these practices by continuing to impose contemporary “orientalist” views onto diverse communities worldwide. The old Malay word kassaram means a “big mess” or things being “out of place” or “upside down”. Being from a community of the so called “Cape Malays” – descendants of Indonesians that have been deliberately brought to South Africa by European colonial traders, the artist Thania Petersen (*1980 in Capetown) addresses with her work the intricacies and complexities of her identity in contemporary South Africa.


Neda Kovinić
Together Apart, 2020–2021
Video, 11:15 min
Selected by the Belgrade Culture Centre, Belgrade

Together Apart is a dance-narrative performance conceived by Neda Kovinić (*1975 in Belgrade / Serbia) that confronts both the participants and the public with the (in)ability of performing and communicating in the times of pandemic culture. How can we practice togetherness and care through dance now when physical distancing is the ultimate performance? How can an interactive art process, which implies the practice of togetherness, palpable and corporal, not only virtual, be possible in the world of the pandemic?


Polina Kanis
The Friendship Tree, 2021
Full HD video, 24:09 min
Selected by the Moscow Museum of Modern Art (MMOMA)

The Friendship Tree
by Polina Kanis (* 1985 in Leningrad) explores a utopian vision of political and ecological symbiosis. The friendship tree in the Tsentralny district in Sochi, southern Russia, symbolizes the context of a failed global utopia. Nation-states are represented by donated branches of citrus trees that have been grafted together into a monstrous, artificial whole. Today there are more than 630 of these additional shoots brought in by prominent representatives from politics, art, science or sport from 167 different countries. The grafting ritual is also reflected in gifts from all over the world that were given on public occasions. The work is part of a long-term research by the artist for new possibilities of relating to our planet and for new forms and spaces of resistance against the prevailing structures, which are not solely based on the concepts of “action” and “resistance” or the dichotomy of “action” or “passivity”. With her work, the artist proposes the model of a “toothless resistance”.