Reading group Postcolonialism, May 2nd 2011

In connection with The Marx Lounge, SMBA has organised an intensive public programme of reading circles, lectures, film screenings and artists’ presentations. Here you can read Andreas Zangger’s report of the Postcolonialism Reading Group of May 2nd. To read Jelle Bouwhuis’ report in Dutch click here.

Two artists on Congo

By Andreas Zangger

How do you present suffering in art? Laokoon (wikipedia)

How do Westerners see Congo, if they even look at all? What picture of Congo is presented to them? And what can art contribute to this picture? On Monday May 2nd SMBA hosted the reading group on postcolonialism organized by artist Joris Lindhout to discuss the book Congo – Een geschiedenis (Congo – A history, 2010) by David van Reybrouck and the film Episode III – Enjoy poverty (2008) by Renzo Martens, who was invited as an artist expert.

 

Cover David Reybrouck - Congo, A History (2010)

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Overview ‘The Marx Lounge’ – Alfredo Jaar

Neon Sign

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ArtSlant on Alfredo Jaar – ‘The Marx Lounge’


Alfredo Jaar – ‘The Marx Lounge’

Click here to read Andrea Alessi’s interview with Alfredo Jaar, as published on ArtSlant.

Alfredo Jaar’s lecture at the opening of ‘The Marx Lounge’, 16 April 2011

Opening ‘The Marx Lounge’ – Alfredo Jaar

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Extra: Article N’Goné Fall ‘The Repositioning of Contemporary Art from Africa on the Map’

Internationally operating curator and art critic N’Goné Fall has recently published an article in which she maps out the landscape and the positioning of contemporary art from Africa. Fall contributed with this article to the catalogue of Ars 11 in the Kiasma Museum of Contemporary Art in Finland, an event that will ‘change your perceptions about Africa and contemporary art’, in which also Alfredo Jaar participates.

Fragment of N’Goné Fall’s article:
“As a curator with an obvious focus on art production in Africa, I often had the bad feeling that I was seen as a wood dealer or a hyper enthusiast promoter of hand made mass-produced tacky exotic junk for tourists. And no I am not paranoid. For decades, ethnographic museums had the monopoly on non-western cultures. [...] While looking at the work of Matthew Barney or Olafur Eliasson people will never refer to their supposed Celtic or Roman origins.”

Click here to read the article on the website of GAM – Global Art and the Museum.

Project ’1975′ Essay T.J. Demos

Art critic and curator T.J. Demos wrote the third Project ’1975′ essay ‘Poverty Pornography, Humanitarianism, and Neo-liberal Globalization: Notes on Some Paradoxes in Contemporary Art’. In reaction to Gerardo Mosquera’s former essay T.J. Demos demonstrates a less optimistic vision on globalization. He criticizes humanitarian aid that only seems to reaffirm unacceptable power structures. He starts by referring to back to Renzo Martens’ Episode III: Enjoy Poverty, a film that generated much critique and initiated SMBA’s current programming.

T.J. Demos states: “…Renzo Martens’ film, Episode III: Enjoy Poverty, set in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC), provides a devastating alternative optic on the brutal nature of North-South relations of inequality and the exploitative image economy that stubbornly mediates it. Despite all its risks – perpetuating stereotypes of Africans as helpless victims, reducing Congolese people to neo-colonized servants and neophytes, reproducing a pornography of poverty – Episode III bears important lessons. Among them, a reality check for optimistic globalists and a lethal blow to the ambitions of concerned documentarians, especially those that seek to ameliorate suffering by representing abjection in developing countries.”

The author furthermore rejects contemporary art practices that focus on political malaise elsewhere and do not consider their own space as a political one, not acknowledging subsequently to be actively participating in a problematic system. Alfredo Jaar’s The Sound of Silence, 2006, is also analyzed by Demos as a critical investigation of the relation between globalization’s image economy and humanitarian photojournalism. In the end Demos explains how Abderrahmane Sissako’s film Bamako (2006) “goes beyond the negative fatalism of media and artistic stereotypes that Okwui Enwezor condemns as ‘Afropessimism’.” Thus the critic sheds light on the many political implications that determine Project 1975. Download SMBA newsletter 121 to read ‘Poverty Pornography, Humanitarianism, and Neo-liberal Globalization: Notes on Some Paradoxes in Contemporary Art’.

T.J Demos is a critic and a Reader in the Department of Art History, University College London, and the co-curator of ‘Uneven Geographies: Art and Globalization’ (Nottingham Contemporary, 2010). Writing widely on modern and contemporary art, he is the author of Migrations: Contemporary Art and the Politics of Globalization (forthcoming, Duke University Press), The Exiles of Marcel Duchamp (MIT Press, 2007), and Technology/Transformation: Wonder Woman (Afterall/MIT Press, 2010).

Exhibition ‘The Marx Lounge’ – Alfredo Jaar

For ‘The Marx Lounge’ by Alfredo Jaar, the Stedelijk Museum Bureau Amsterdam has been transformed into a reading room with comfortable sofas, reading lamps and a large reading table. The reading table offers a myriad of publications with topics spanning Marxist theory, capitalism, neo-liberalism, post-colonialism, globalization, cultural theory, politics and philosophy. ‘The Marx Lounge’ is a direct response to the financial crisis and to the fundamental questioning of the capitalist system it has elicited. Read more…

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