Monday, 13 August 2012

Crappy films about politics

You have most likely heard the term "austerity measures" used in the media quite frequently, especially in regards to Greece. "Austerity measures" are strict measures that are undertaken by a government to help bring expenditures more in line with revenues. The term usually includes a combination of spending cuts and tax/fee increases. It can be voluntarily implemented, for example, in order to bring deficits down or involuntarily implemented, for instance, if a country defaults on its debt and is given loans by the IMF. The most common example of "austerity measures" occurs when a sovereign government's bond rating is downgraded. This makes borrowing more expensive, and usually forces the government to impose these new measures. Many European countries have either imposed "austerity measures" or are in the process of introducing them. How would the term relate to artists‘ moving image though? Perhaps a recent screening in Cell Projects Now Showing: Austerity Measures curated by Andrey Shental and João Laia could offer us an answer.

If one was to judge the quality of images appearing on the screen that night one could perhaps compare them with the pixelated logos of generous sponsors and donators appearing in the bottom right corner of the leaflet promoting the event. But it was this "poor image", "lumpen proletarian" and "Internet by-products" (as once described by Hito Steyerl) that offered a critique of the pristine visuality of mainstream culture. A tongue-in-cheek could one say. Or perhaps a tongue-in-tomatoe - a motive very well adapted by Jean-Gabriel Périot, a French artist with a quite North-East-of-France sense of humour, who was one of the artists selected for the programme. In his #67 one sees a bunch of naked bodies in the not-so-normal process of consumption of not-so-seasonal tomatoes. What at first seems like a humorous provocation with a middle-age instrumental music playing in the background (decorative residue of long-lost feudalism?), unfolds into a quick essay stripping tomatoe plantation and higlighting its cruel and exploitative politics or, as the artist describes himself - crappy film about politics.

If after watching tomatoes penetrating bodies one loses her appetite, Takeshi Murata's Infinite Doors will certainly light one's fire anew. Utilising clips from American The Price is Right, Murata montages a kinetic series of unveiled prizes. Almost infinite loop of key scenes of this prize-oriented show featuring more or less valuable prizes presented to us by charming hostesses with a Colgate smile makes the work comical if not unbearable. The superfluity of reward and overload of both visual and accoustic cues become absurd in their excess and begin to smother the very excitement there were meant to induce. 

If that was not enough to make one feel the super sweet taste of high-paced consumerism, Jean-Luc Godard's trailer #4 for Film Socialism, which closed this very well selected and balanced screening, will certainly provoke a sudden sickness. A day before the premiere of his latest film some time in Spring 2010, Godard decided to put the entire thing on YouTube and play it at the speed of light. French director has been making his trailers since À bout de soufflé and giving a preview for coming attractions in a sublime taste, but he has never been so radical. This tongue-in-cheek (no tomatoes this time) certainly becomes a clear manifest against the whole bourgeois capitalist concept of copyright and simultaneously pinpoints a new republic of cinema. Perhaps one should reinvent Godard's legendary dictum and say that "all you need to make a video is a YouTube clip and a simple editing software".

Image: video still, Infinite Doors, Takeshi Murata, USA, 2010, 2'

João Laia is a writer and curator based in London. He holds a BA in Cultural Communication, and MAs in Film Studies and Film Curating. He is a contributor of Artecapital contemporary art magazine and Público newspaper, and researcher for the Gulbenkian Modern Art Centre in Lisbon. Previous collaborations include IndieLisboa, Alcine and Alpha-ville Festivals, Nosadella.due residency in Bologna, MACBA museum of contemporary art of Barcelona and Moving Image Art Fair in London.

Andrey Shental holds a BA in Art Criticism at the Moscow State University and MA in Contemporary Art at the Sotheby’s Institute of Art. He works as an assistant curator and also develops independent curatorial projects. He is a regular contributor to several publications including Artchronika, Open Space and As an artist he has exhibited films and video-installations in several exhibitions in Moscow and London, including the Moscow Biennale for Young Art in 2008, 2010 and 2012.


corpolugar said...

Thiruppathy Raja said...

Thanks for sharing, I will bookmark and be back again.

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