[spectre] Exhibition announcement: „State of Transit" | 19 April, 19.00 pm

Open Space office at openspace-zkp.org
Sat Apr 14 15:57:34 CEST 2012

*° State of Transit* | 20 April – 21 May 2012

Opening: *19 April, 19.00 *

Project curators: Frida Carazzato & Maria Garzia

Participating artists:


Taysir Batniji

Esra Ersen

Mario Rizzi

Zineb Sedira

In the past the Mediterranean was a place of flourishing cultures that
developed owing to the economic, cultural and social relations between the
peoples living on its shores. As recently stressed by various curators’ and
artists’ projects, the concept of the Mediteranean is much more than simply
a geographical term. The movements of capital as well as of people, the
ideas that these entail, the stories of every individual person and the
inevitable effort and possibilities that these movements cause and trigger,
constitute elements that transform the Mediterranean to a space in which
politics, business, literature and desires mix.

Marked by colonial history and later processes of decolonialisation, the
Mediterranean area is still having to struggle with political and
territorial conflicts and with the ongoing fall of dictatorial regimes,
which now brings to light the opposites that were previously hidden under a
precarious balance. A region that presents itself as a bridge between the
peoples, while on the other hand also being a region of cross-overs between
all the populations that are driven to escape unequal economic developments.

In his essay *Routes*, the anthropologist James Clifford introduces the
term of the “travelling cultures”. By this he wants to say that modern
cultures should no longer be interpreted as static and bound to a certain
place, but rather from a new perspective, linked to the notion of
travelling. Thus as movement, mobility that is to be seen as a departure
from the home country and return to it, on the way to somewhere else so far
unspecified because of states of emergency or needs. The aspect of the
journey in the sense attributed to it by Calvino, as a journey of knowledge
on the basis of the notion of ‘elsewhere’ – see a comparison of the
dialogue between Marco Polo and Kublai Khan in the *Invisible Cities* –
becomes a metaphor for the search for an individual identity and at the
same time a collective identity concerning the subjects in movement, but
also for the search for identification as process of the reappropriation of
the self. Transnationalism, decentralisation, migration and hybridisation
are phenomena that irretrievably change the culture of these countries and
their relationships to one another. Mobility seems to stress two further
dynamics: the process of destruction and the subsequent reconstruction of
being and a permanent state of instability, a state of transit that is
expressed in the precarious living conditions.

* *

*State of Transit** *presents five artists who – based on the state of
transit that has always characterised the region in question – have
dedicated part of their research to the Mediterranean area and its dynamics
of mobility. The works presented in the exhibition narrate personal stories
reflecting also collective living conditions that are linked with
emigration because of various events or emergency situations. *State of
Transit* focuses on the artists’ effort to capture the “presence” of these
stories of transit and constant new beginning. These are extinguished or
often forgotten stories like that of Ali Akilah in the film by Mario Rizzi
or those that remain anonymous precisely because they take place under the
spotlight of the mass media, like the animation by the
/barbaragurrieri/group. These are stories from everyday life that appear
almost banal because of simple clichés, such as in the video by Esra Ersen
or those reporting about places that are normally left behind or where you
decide to stay, such as in the shots by Zineb Sedira or places of transit
such as in the “stolen” pictures by Taysir Batniji. The movement of the
individual within more complex dynamics, often going beyond him or her into
the area of geopolitics, the economy and major social upheavals, is
represented through the media of photography and of video, which have
meanwhile become protagonists of the live global transmission of the
events. Although the works presented were produced some years ago, they
remain topical – less the isolated facts than those of the state of transit
and the presence of a time captured in the picture.

* *

*Artists info:*

*/barbaragurrieri/group *

*11AL9T20*, 2009* *

Video animation, DV PAL, colour, sound, 3’40’’

* *

*11AL9T20* uses animation to examine the experienced reality on the shores
of southern Italy, where people looking for a life in another country land
in makeshift boats almost daily. The animated video tells of the
difficulties during the journey, it contrasts the helpfulness of the
initial supportive measures with the subsequent “suspension” of the
necessary legal and moral solutions and reveals the important role of
information, whose sensationalist reporting methods highlight the
perception of the message at the expense of a critical evaluation. The
behaviour of the boat and at the same time its situation, in limbo or
floating on the surface of a sea that resembles a kind of a staircase,
refers to the universalation of the condition of transit. The drawing
enables /barbaragurrieri/group to initiate a process of abstraction and
universalation, which precisely because of the subtraction making the
drawing seem almost “emptied” becomes the characteristic element of their

*Taysir Batniji *

*Transit*, 2004* *

Video, colour, silent, 6’18”

In 2003 Taysir Batniji decided to secretly document the journeys from Cairo
to the border of Rafah in the Gaza-Strip, which the Isrealis had closed in
2006 and reopened in 2011. *Transit* developed in 2004 on the basis of
these shots: a series of photos mounted as slide show whose only sound is
provided by the regular change of images in a slow sequence.
*Transit*deals with the difficult mobility of the Palestinians in the
city of Rafah,
which became even more severe after the beginning of the second Intifada.
Many men, women and children are waiting to leave or return, because the
Israeli miliary only allows a limited number of transits. The artist takes
a perspective in the midst of them. As a traveller among travellers he
abolishes the distance betwen the recorded subject and the invisible
camera, and thus presents this hardly known reality differently to the way
it would appear in a documentary. The shots are not precisely adjusted and
their sequence is slowed down in order to emphasise the state of waiting.
The film and photo work here thus tries to provide a counter-information
and should be seen as action in a situation in which waiting seems to be
the only activity.

*Esra Ersen *

*Hello! Where Is It?*, 2000* *

DVD PAL, Mini DV, 7’50”

The video *Hello! Where is it?* deals with the fundamental stereotype how
the Occident sees the Orient. The video presents three banal conversations
taking place in Istanbul in three cars crossing the bridge over the
Bosphorus. A couple discuss how they will spend their umpteenth weekend
together, a man talks to his fellow passenger about his professional
worries, and two friends joke about the 1999 earthquake. During the
crossing, towards the end of the film the camera focuses on the two
“Welcome to Europe” and “Welcome to Asia” signs, as if these panning shots
were just accidently moving away from the conversation. The two signs thus
perpetuate the rhetorical formula of the cultural idiosnycracies and the
cliché according to which Istandbul and Turkey are regarded as bridges
between the cultural spaces, between Orient and Occident. The daily commute
across the bridge thus constitutes a clear opposite to the cultural
division between the two territories that the artist has chosen as the
background of this urban crossing.

* *

*Mario Rizzi *

*impermanent*, 2007

Digi beta pal, colour, stereo, 15’08’’

* *

Ali Akilah is a 96-year-old Palestinian physician. He lives in Amman, but
was born in Lifta, a Palestinian village that is now part of Jerusalem. The
short film *impermanent* was made in 2006 within the scope of a larger art
project shot in Palestine, Israel and in Jordan. The video installation *
neighbours* from 2006 and Ali‘s nostalgic narration came about as a
reflection on Giorgio Agamben’s term of the “state of exception”, which
considers the suspension of the judicial order as normal paradigm of
government increasingly determining the politics of the modern state. The
film focuses on Ali’s personal story and memories of his youth, on his
student years and his lovers. His view seems to be focused on an ideal
screen, showing the pictures from a film of his own life. The difficult
memory becomes painful when he conjures the days in Lifta and his parents’
home, which he fled from in 1948. Here, the state of instability of his
life and the insecure feeling of belonging become very obvious reflecting
the universal dimension of a refugee, the state of somebody who is always
in the in-between.

*Zineb Sedira *

*Transitional Landscape*, 2006* *

Diptych, C-print, 154 x 50 cm each

Courtesy of the artist and Kamel Mennour Galerie (Paris)

* *

*Transitional Landscape* is a diptych that Zineb Sedira produced in 2006
during her work on her video *Saphir*. The photogpraphy almost always
precedes or is in parallel with her videos. As the artist herself
confesses, it is a still, subjective lingering in front of something that
attracts us, a detail that stays still while things glide past. Shot on an
Algerian beach, from which young people usually watch the sea and
everything it has to give, everything seems to be floating in space on
these photos, and the endless sea becomes a screen on which hopes,
expectations and sometimes a feeling of homesickness become evident. For
the artist, the pictures are a kind of a documentary of this place and how
it is experienced by the people who inhabit it and decide to leave it, the
relation that develops between people and landscape. There is no specific
biographical reference; the man with his back to us rather becomes a
presence that makes the viewer reflect on the eternal dilemma of the
traveller: staying or leaving, standstill or transition, belonging or the
escape from it.

*supported by*


Stadt Wien – Kulturabteilung MA 7

Italienischen Kulturinstitut, Wien – Istituto Italiano di Cultura, Vienna

*kind support provided by*

* *


* *

* *

*About us:*

Open Friday, Saturday 13.00 – 18.30 and open for the rest of the week by
appointment only. Admission free


*Open Systems *

Zentrum für Kunstprojekte

Lassingleithnerplatz 2

A - 1020 Vienna


(+43) 699 115 286 32

for more info: office at openspace-zkp.org


*Open Systems*- Zentrum für Kunstprojekte aims to create the most vital
facilities for art concerned with contributing a constantly developing
model strategy for cross-border and interregional projects.
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