My curatorial reflections on CUB as a lens to analyse the intersection between art, life and politics

The new year just started and I took a chance to look back on my curatorial work, focusing on one of my central projects in the last years: Copenhagen Ultracontemporary Biennale (CUB). In the following text, I will share some reflections about what my curatorial approach to CUB has been, why I find it important and how I wish to proceed to develop the concept in the coming years.

unnamed

For almost three years I have been working as a curator for Copenhagen Ultracontemporary Biennale (CUB): partly a poetic art project developed with the artist Thierry Geoffroy, partly an actual proposition for a new biennale focusing on critical society-related art created in and about the now. CUB developed into both an ongoing and a biennial platform for exhibiting ultracontemporary artworks the same day as they are produced.

The preparation period and the streaming activities of CUB, have since 2015 been supported by the Danish Arts Council, City of Copenhagen as well as the Ministry of Culture and consisted i.a. of participation in relevant congresses and seminars, e.g. The World Biennial Forum No 2 in Sao Paulo, First General Assembly Of The International Biennial Association in Berlin, and documenta 1997 – 2017 in Kassel in connection with 60th anniversary of documenta, establishment of an educational agency THE ACADEMY OF EMERGENCY ART activated at Holbæk Kunsthøjskole and Borup Højskole, ultracontemporary exhibitions in Sao Paulo (Emma Thomas Gallery), Johannesburg (Museum of African Design) and Copenhagen (The Workers’ Museum) involving more than 50 international artists, different debate artformats activated in around 10 countries, public space ultracontemporary interventions in the streets of Copenhagen as well as in public venues such as the Danish Parliament and a one-year research for establishment of a new type of news-media platform for artists and journalists.

These and other CUB activities have in the last years been covered by more than 25 international TV stations, newspapers and magazines such as Kunstforum, The Art Newspaper and Artribune.

However, in relation to the established structures on the art scene, our ambitions for CUB to be a platform for presenting critical artworks about what is happening in the world at the given moment, provoked some challenging obstacles; both when it comes to what the artworks are presenting (topics related to emergencies of today) and how they are presented (instantly as an immediate artistic reactions).

In hindsight, it is interesting not only to look at why and how these obstacles happen but also how they activated my reflections on interconnection between art, life and politics.

Since the artists in CUB express about emergencies in the society, their artworks often carry controversial opinions on climate, refugees, wars, corruption etc. Their critical approach can be seen as a reaction to the prevailing social norms which lead us into a discussion about the role of art in the society and how art can stay a counterculture without being swallowed by culture industry connected to a global cultural tourism and city branding where critical art has become a high currency.

In the analysis of CUB interventions, it is thus necessary to deal with the gap between art and life. The same gap which situationists tried to reduce and which since then has grown stimulated by commercial interests in a society where art, unfortunately, becomes a commodity rather than a vision. The tension between art and life is strongest in the situations of emergency or crisis where the professional life of the artist melts with the personal one – When the artists’ personal career ambitions become insignificant, their aesthetic experimentations becomes a luxury and instead, they are confronted with a feeling of civic responsibility and a call for action. This brings us then to the field of humanism in art and to the schism between ethics and aesthetics.

When visually analysing the artworks produced during CUB, we reveal a new type of aesthetics shaped by the speed of production. (the process from the idea, concept, production and finally to the exhibiting, has namely been shrunk to one day in the ultracontemporary exhibitions) and the emotional state of outrage about alarming issues (the artistic motivation to express about dysfunctions takes a sentimental shape which shines through the aesthetic style, because the artistic gesture, in the ultracontemporary context, is initiated by the human judgment.) This aesthetics of emergency is conditioned by the notion of pertinence and the speed-time relationship which triggers the question about contemporaneity – how close can art be to the now?

Exhibiting artworks which are produced the same day is an unusual curatorial method based on unpredictability – a condition which became CUBs, perhaps, biggest obstacle in the established art world system, which is normally structured around exhibition programs pre-defined several years in advance. Instead of following their own tempo based on a necessity to react on the surrounding world and its changes, the artists are depending on institutional plannings. Apart from being an organizational and planning tool, the curatorial pre-selection process seems to be a way of controlling and maintaining the existing power structure, where the organizers of the exhibitions are superior to the artists. Furthermore, the planning process also gives the curator a chance to filtrate and file down the critical artistic expression often making it more harmless. The same depreciation of critic happens when curators and institutions, in their planning, decide to exhibit artworks about what is happening in the world today, but in delay, months or even years later, when the situation has passed and has already been communicated and interpreted by established opinion makers. With a discourse of institutional critique, it is interesting to make a closer analysis on how CUB is challenging these advanced indirect ways of censorship, by insisting on the unpredictable curating of artworks produced the same day as they are shown to the public.

Based on the above-mentioned examples, it should be clear why challenging the flexibility of established structures was initially embedded in the concept of CUB, and how my curating within a ultracontemporary framework naturally became a series of critical observations concerning the mechanisms behind the contemporary art scene.

I’m looking forward to continuing my curatorial investigation through CUB by critically analyzing the established structures in the contemporary art scene. I am, in particular, interested in the intersection between art and politics which the biennales have operated within, especially since the 90s and Catherine David’s documenta x. This includes the canonization of the new biennial model, which ties together philosophical, political and contemporary art practice with criticality (Irit Rogoff). The expansion of the aesthetic field of art to include knowledge production (Tom Holert, Simon Sheikh) and social engagement (Claire Bishop, Artificial Hells) has been the fundamental change, leading to the problematic situation we see today, where biennales navigate along with political and economic agendas which are not necessarily in the service of art (Panos Kompatsiaris, The politics of contemporary art biennales, Oliver Marchart, Hegemonie im Kunstfeld. Die documenta-Ausstellungen dX, D11, d12 und die Politik der Biennalisierung). It is becoming more and more clear that an instrumentalisation of the art and the biennales is taking place; a setup which becomes particularly difficult to decipher when biennales are profiled as platforms for critical thinking with humanistic motivations and ambitions concerning social change, while resting on structures based on the opposite: commercial and political interests (Mikkel Bolt). As a curator, I wish to explore this inconsistency between what biennales say they do, and what they actually do.

In the coming year, I plan to organize the existing material about CUB and carry out new studies focusing partly on the newest developments within biennale culture and partly on historic references from the archives. With relevant comparative studies, I will try to highlight the socio-political tendencies underpinning the transformation of the biennales while my thoughts will be theoretically supported by philosophical interpretations on humanism. (Hannah Arendt, The Human Condition). This theoric research will be gathered in a book on CUB  planned to be published in 2018.

By further developing the ultracontemporary curatorial system, parallel to the theoric investigation, I also aim to find pragmatic solutions to the transitional problems of curatorial work at the intersection between art and politics, as well as between the ethical and aesthetic parameters. In 2019, during the Venice Biennale, together with Thierry Geoffroy, I plan to develop an exhibition framework where new curatorial methods for establishing a biennale within the biennale, will be activated.

In this sketched-out working process, I’m looking forward to enriching collaborations with supportive colleagues who recognise the authenticity and complexity of my curatorial work.

All the best in The New Year

Tijana

Standard

Initial reflections about the new book of images created by the artist Thierry Geoffroy / COLONEL

The new book by Thierry Geoffroy/ COLONEL contains images of his artworks. There is no contextualizing text nor captions within the pages. Yet, the book “says” a lot, not only about the artworks that are presented within but also about the way Thierry Geoffroy/ COLONEL works and thinks about his art. Within this relatively small A5 image book, containing around 200 images, we actually get a sense of the artist’s “l’oeuvre”. In this format, his “L’oeuvre” is not intended to be understood as a monumental body of work, but rather as a synthesis of many different artworks (d’oeuvrettes).

unnamed

From the Emergency Room DICTIONARY by Thierry Geoffroy/ COLONEL

The artworks reproduce themselves and for an artist to continue to create new works is to choose invention before convention. When observed in isolation, one after the other, the artworks in the book might seem like disconnected fragments with different references and from different contexts but, when going a mere one layer deeper in our “reading”, we discover an unusual sedateness connecting all the fragments, in a poetic manner which goes beyond the individual messages of each artwork. What connects the images is not one chronological narrative, but many possible narratives based on either aesthetic elements, themes, or concepts.

unnamed

LA CONSÉQUENCE DE L’OEUVRE C’EST ENCORE L’OEUVRE, 1999; traffic sign; by Thierry Geoffroy/ COLONEL

The book opens up in a fan-like manner, encouraging numerous inattentions that may seem like conscious dissociation. Yet, at the same time, the book functions as a framework, which manages to turn the relationship of quantity into one of intensity. As a reader, we then become an active part of creating the synthesizing intensity. The book awakens in us a desire to grasp the relationships contained within so that the “reading” of this image book becomes an expression of our own desire to create. Thus, this continues the mutation of meanings presented to us on each page and in each artwork as we are scrolling through the book. We find ourselves overcoming fragments and differences through a lateral interpretation movement whose path crosses every contradiction and every sense of the commonplace. In order to find the real artwork, “l’oeuvre”, we find ourselves looking for a logos of continuous shifts in meaning in the unending chain that follows the journey of the image through great and small adventures. Artworks are being reproduced creating a chainlike engine that powers a vehicle of meaning. We are on a highway and we look through the book horizontally without gradients.

unnamed-2

L’OEUVRE C’EST LA CAPACITE DE SYNTHESE; 7/2 2016; Red spray paint on tent; 2,2kg, 2m x 1,40m; by Thierry Geoffroy/ COLONEL

Next, there is the form and aesthetic expression of each artwork. Interestingly enough, in this book, we get a feeling of the abstract and figurative being equalized so the form and the text become one synthesized expression. The precision of the messages communicated via textual statements merges with the painter-like usage of colors (such as the blue helmet, the orange silhouette, etc.) and also with the carton-like aesthetics. These factors combine quite effectively to express the impatient speed of the production as well as the lack of possibility and will to invest in a fully-elaborated and polished finish. We discover that perhaps the artist has attenuated the form and material of the artworks, concisely and intentionally, all the while extolling the artworks’ openness. Thus the artist has enabled the capacity to create synthesis within the artworks in order to create the body of work or “l’oeuvre”.

Throughout the book, we sense the personal mood of the artist. We hear the artist’s own voice in the background; like an echo or a personal voiceover accompanying the story in the front that is told through the artworks. The flow of artwork expressions in the book is colored by these vibrations related to the artist’s individual sensibility and personal state of mind and it becomes clear that the artist’s “l’oeuvre” is inseparably connected with his view on life and the society that surrounds him. It is connected with his motivation for living and generating energy to continue on the road of life. The resulting conclusion is that “L’oeuvre” is obviously as much an artistic as an existential phenomenon.
unnamed-3

The book is A5 Landscape format
and consists of 200 color picture pages.
The price is 15 € + shipping. 
To order a copy, please send an email 

unnamed-2unnamed-3unnamed-4unnamed-5unnamed-6unnamed-7

Standard

ALL AT ONCE – an exhibition about the perception of time

unnamed-19

Exhibition views from ALL AT ONCE at Galerie Bridget Stern im Künstlerhaus FAKTOR with artworks by Anna Lena Grau (DE), Julia Frankenberg (DE), Simon Hehemann (DE), Nina Wengel (DK) and guest artists Sophie Dupont (DK) and Thierry Geoffroy (FR/DK) 
Photo: Daniel Fortmann

The exhibition is curated by Tijana Miskovic with artists from Germany and Denmark: Anna Lena Grau (DE), Julia Frankenberg (DE), Simon Hehemann (DE), Nina Wengel (DK) and guest artists Sophie Dupont (DK) and Thierry Geoffroy (FR/DK)

_________________________________________

Galerie Bridget Stern im Künstlerhaus FAKTOR

Max-Brauer-Allee 229, 22769 Hamburg

www.bridget-stern.com

www.faktor.hamburg

Opening hours for the exhibition from Nov. 18th - 25th:
Tuesday to Friday 5:00 - 7:00 pm
Saturday and Sunday 3:00 – 7:00 pm (Sa, 25th. from 5:00 pm)

unnamed-18

Exhibition views from ALL AT ONCE at Galerie Bridget Stern im Künstlerhaus FAKTOR with artworks by Anna Lena Grau (DE), Julia Frankenberg (DE), Simon Hehemann (DE), Nina Wengel (DK) and guest artists Sophie Dupont (DK) and Thierry Geoffroy (FR/DK) 
Photo: Daniel Fortmann

The point of the departure for the exhibition All at once is the schism between the open and absolute perception of time on one side, and the structured linear one on the other. The exhibition functions thus as a platform where the invited artists can question the perception of time with their artworks.

Even though our society is built upon a logically understanding of the time as linear, often, as individuals, we have an intuitive feeling that the time can be understood differently in a more open way.

The scientific understanding of light and its speed, also influences our understanding of time by making it a relative phenomenon.

The exhibition is curated as a total installation built up as a site-specific scenography with three different spaces, simulating respectively the past, the present and the future. The theater-like art installation is created on location by the Danish artist Nina Wengel with artworks with strong references to furniture and interior design objects. Simon Hehemann participates with a cable car installation, which moves across and connects the three time-divisions in the staging of the exhibition space. Anna Lena Grau and Julia Frankenberg bring to the exhibition a sculpture focusing on the notion of process, performance and metamorphosis. The guest artists Sophie Dupont and Thierry Geoffroy each contribute with an artwork displayed as a part of Nina Wengel’s installation.

38466157212_aa615f41c1_b

Exhibition views from ALL AT ONCE at Galerie Bridget Stern im Künstlerhaus FAKTOR with artworks by Anna Lena Grau (DE), Julia Frankenberg (DE), Simon Hehemann (DE), Nina Wengel (DK) and guest artists Sophie Dupont (DK) and Thierry Geoffroy (FR/DK) 
Photo: Daniel FortmannEnter a caption

Press images

For more information about the exhibition and the artworks, please send an email to tijana.miskovic@gmail.com

Standard

Heading for a land of eternal sunshine

An exhibition by

Nina Wengel (DK) and Annika Unterburg (DE)

at xpon-art Hamburg

from March 16th to 30th 2017

(opening March 16th at 8pm)

 

Heading for a land of eternal sunshine is an exhibition with Nina Wengel (DK) and Annika Unterburg (DE) at Xpon-art in Hamburg curated by Tijana Miskovic (Ex YU / DK).

The exhibition is a visual dialog between the artists and focuses on the notion of time and language, through the use of repetitions.

When used artistically repetitions stop being a practical method and become an eternal process; they become rituals. With the time these rituals do not only become an embedded part of the artistic praxis but also a grammar for the artistic language.

Nina Wengel shows a series of paintings with a repetitive sunset motif. Almost like a pattern the motif is painted in different sizes and on different materials such as wood, plastic, and cardboard. The many sunsets clearly show that her artistic production is driven by a certain kind of necessity that we cannot see an end to.

On a symbolic level the sunsets have a beautiful and romantic connotation, but looking at the almost manic quantity the sunsets get darker connotations like trauma or death. The sunset can be a symbol of a day or a life ending..

Annika Unterburg shows a series of “bildobjekte” and a sculpture. Most of the works have fishing baits mounted on a painted color surface. A fishing bait is both an attractive and deadly object. In her works, Annika Unterburg examines the relationship between the beautiful, understood as the good, and the evil. Something threatening is at stake in her works, which we can sense for instance in the color black used in her paintings. There is something menacing in the tension that develops while waiting for the fish to bite. One is waiting for the moment that will mark the fish’s transition from life to death. There are two different time perceptions at stake in this waiting: the more meditative circular sense of time, like in meditation and the more linear that belongs to the strategic thinking.

The philosopher and linguist Per Aage Brandt explains in one of his theories that the human language related to imagination was developed by fishing women

“To fish (without sailing) is especially a matter of standing in the water and waiting, and then, when conscious actions reflect themselves mimetically and readably, the focus will necessarily be intentionally on the absent object – the fish-  as the subject for the waiting.” In other words, our ability to create images of something that does not exist, rather, to relate to abstractions as a communication method, is associated with the act of waiting. In Annika Unterburg’s works, the waiting is connected to the fish while it in Nina Wengel’s relates to the sun or the new day and not least, the hope; the belief that there is a reason to go on.

During the installation of artworks, the two artists have been collaborating in order to create a single, space-related, exhibition connected to the characteristics of the exhibition venue. The raw aesthetics of the xpon-art space and the partially ghostly atmosphere, support the concept of the exhibition: Something that is absent but still communicative, something that seems threatening as much because of its beauty as its dark side; Something that builds bridges between different perceptions of time.

 

31917319804_6083079798_z

Oh, what a beautiful eternity By Nina Wengel Paintings in various sizes on various materials, GONE, Nicolai kunst og design, Kolding, Denmark, 2016

31917322404_d4073b219e_z

Oh, what a beautiful eternity By Nina Wengel Mural painting, Crepúsculo con Queso// Twilight with Cheese, Cristo Salvador, Havana, Cuba, 2016

31917323634_b5ef22e50a_h

Oh, what a beautiful eternity By Nina Wengel Paintings in various sizes on various materials, Following Eternity, Ikast Kunstpakhus, Denmark, 2014

31917321294_0d6fddc82d_k

Illusionist By Annika Unterburg Canvas on wood, hooks, binder, 30x24x4cm, 2015, Foto: Annika Unterburg

31917319144_47397985cc_h

But I am the Tiger (Jorge Luis Borges) By Annika Unterburg Hook, ceramic, 30x24x4cm, 2015


Practical information:

Exhibition venue: xpon-art, Respoldstraße 45, 20097 Hamburg

Opening hours: Saturday and Sunday 12-18.00, Monday-Tuesday 18-21.00

For more information about the exhibition please contact the exhibition curator Tijana Miskovic by email: tijana.miskovic@gmail.com or xpone-art curator and manager Anne Simone Krüger anne_simone_krueger@yahoo.de.

Related links:
www.ninawengel.com
www.unterburg.com
www.tijanamiskovic.com
http://www.xpon-art.de

Press images (in both low and high resolution) can be downloaded on following link:
https://flic.kr/s/aHskTTyGE9


The exhibition is realized with support from Danish Arts Council

Standard

The necessity for questioning the structure

A TEXT ABOUT THE GLOBAL ART EVENTS SUCH AS BIENNALES AND DOCUMENTA

by Tijana Mišković

06a08cc0-5c14-4298-b2ec-ae4023bb96e8

Ideally, the artists should have an important position in our society as free and independent minds that can produce vital reflections about sociopolitical conditions of the time we live in. Unfortunately many times artists’ critical and important reflections are being used or misused for other purposes such as promotion of products, gentrification, and cultural colonialism. In that case, the unique role of the artist, as the one independently and critically reflecting our society, becomes a simplified and bounded function with a purpose and task dictated by others. The only way the artist can avoid that his/ her role becomes a function is by constantly questioning the structures his or her art is being presented within. Biennales and big-scale exhibitions like Documenta should, as the most influential contemporary art structures, be a natural object for investigation.

Documenta is considered to be a Vatican of contemporary art today, carried by a belief in the critical potential of art. Documenta promotes itself as the optimal art platform for critical thinking and political postures, which is why decision makers and intelligentsia of the art world, pilgrimage to Documenta in search of latest tendencies. Documenta and other big art events such as Venice Biennale have thus an enormous international impact and a great power to influence the public opinion. This influence should be evaluated by participating artists as well as the audience, who should not only absorb the messages communicated to them through the curatorial strategies, without being skeptical about their motivation. They should not fall asleep but be critical and constantly question the structure.

A show labeled as “critic show” can give the public a feeling of being critical, but it can, at the same time, be drawing the public attention away from big and serious issues that authorities don’t want to create critic around. There could be a diversion taking place in the curatorial choose.

A delay in contemporary art could also be seen as a diversion strategy. Even though we believe that the contemporary artists should react on the important issues and emergencies of today’s world, we are not giving the artists appropriate platforms for immediate expression and impact in time. The artists cannot show art connected with the pulsing and unpredictable present, since all the exhibited artworks have to be defined, produced, and explained in advance. Either because of the practical and curatorial planning or because of a wish to control and have a possibility to censure, most of the contemporary exhibitions are from the beginning in delay.

A “critic show” can thus be a setting for fake criticism that gives us an illusion of being critique and having the freedom of thinking when we, in reality, are directed in a certain direction controlled by external forces and often interests of economic or political nature.

This fake criticism within the contemporary art today could be the source of apathy in our society. If the lack of real concern or interest in making a change infiltrates the art community, and what we consider to be the avant-garde force in our society falls asleep, we might risk that our world takes a direction of narrow-minded and almost totalitarian thinking.

842286cd-614c-405e-9988-7f7ff6ebb4f5

Since 1988, Thierry Geoffroy/ COLONEL has been questioning big staged art events like biennales, art fairs, and Documenta, with critical art formats such as BIENNALIST – an art format that responds to and questions, through artworks the motivations of biennials and other global art events. He looks into the art events and their motivations asking questions such as: Could 860,000 visitors have been intoxicated by an apathetic gaze that keeps them away from reacting? Are global art events designed to make people cry about something in order not to make them see something else? Is there a strategy for being delayed in order to create a distraction from the present and avoid debating important topics of today? If the most important contemporary exhibitions in the world like Documenta focus solely on past- or few present related issues contextualized by curators or art historians, how can we then expect art to be avant-garde?

For decades artists have questioned the canvas, the pigment, and since the1960-70s conceptual artists like Marcel Broodthaers have questioned the structure of the museum which led to Institutional Critique in art with artists such as Daniel Buren, Andrea Fraser, and Hans Haacke. With his art format BIENNALIST, Thierry Geoffroy/ COLONEL questions the global art events. He takes the theme of each biennial seriously and studied in order to contribute to the debate the biennales want to generate. The artist is with this format often on-location testing the pertinence of the biennales.

In 2002 Thierry Geoffroy/ COLONEL did a project called “The Next Documenta should be curated by a car” and “The protest school”. In 2012 The BIENNALIST project was respectively supported by the ZKM Museum Museum of Contemporary Art for conducting operations at the Athens Biennale curated by Nicolas Bourriaud and by the Sprengel Museum for operation done at the Venice Biennale.

In dOCUMENTA 13 he realized the project “The Emergency will replace the contemporary” which got a strong attention in the media and among art critiques. With a UN blue helmet as an artistic metaphor for innocence, Thierry Geoffroy/ COLONEL appointed himself to be “a peace-war researcher” and discovered the enormous presence of an active weapon industry in documentaßtat Kassel. The message was communicated as text on a tent placed under the Joseph Beuys tree on the lawn in front of the Fredericianum just after the press conference June 6th, 2012.

The tent with a statement “THE EMERGENCY WILL REPLACE THE CONTEMPORARY” was removed and confiscated by the dOCUMENTA organizers. Ironically enough this kick started, the same days, a growing occupy movement dOCCUPY, that made a tent encampment in the same area and which was welcomed by dOCUMENTA 13 curator.

Now Thierry Geoffroy/ COLONEL is preparing the exhibition #documentasceptic, on a specially designed online platform and in the gallery SABSAY from March 30th to June 24th, 2017, which will look closer into the next Documenta 14 and Venice Biennale 2017.

20fe2e91-a459-40cd-afaf-c9c1058de259

Learning from Athens, 28/2 2017

f196377b-ebb0-4d80-a745-4873fe5e8826

Detail: Pretend to learn to better impose, 28/2 2017

 

For more info please visit the BIENNALIST website or send an email either to the writer of the text Tijana Miskovic or the artist Thierry Geoffroy/ COLONEL

Standard

Twelfth day in Johannesburg

Skærmbillede 2016-06-19 kl. 07.49.21“We meet each other yesterday at the debate in the museum” said Clint O Ferreira, a South African artist.
“I was just dropping by the museum as a visitor and after seeing Amalie’s artwork about safety in Johannesburg and hearing the debate out it, I connected to that topic so much that I decided to ask if I could take part in the exhibition and do an artwork together with her for the next day”.
I was very happy to see such a natural collaboration happening. Today Amalie Huiid Barthold and Clint O Ferreira they have been driving around the city in Clint’s car to interview different people in the streets. They made and edited the video basically while they were driving back to the museum. The energy between them was very good and it made totally sense for me. To combine an outside look from a visiting artist with the inside knowledge from the local one, is probably the best way to create meaningful new in-depth reflection about emergencies taking place around us.

 

 

 

Standard

Eleventh day in Johannesburg

Since we got here everybody was telling us about June 16th. It is date that marks the youth movement and the killing of Hector Peterson a young boy killed in the student protest in Soweto 1976.

The communication about this date is built around the photo of the killed boy being carried by a young man and the boy’s sister running next to him.

Iconization and Reenactment

It is interesting how a photo can become a symbol. The photo is circulating in various forms. From big size formats like at the Hector Peterson monument to small formats designed for t-shirts and souvenirs. The iconization of the image is a way to simplify the complexity of an event. It also makes it easier to relate to. Which is not necessary a good thing because we end up circulating the image without engagement and further reflection. It creates distance, and we can easily be blind to all the different shades of the problem. Iconization can also make us stay in the past and not contextualizing the iconic event in our present society.
On the other to simplify can make it easier and faster to circulate the message. The recruiting that takes place in the communication of an important message or statement is also very important if we want to make a massive change.

Today there are also marches taking place down the same road where Hector Peterson was killed. The reenactment aspect of recreation of a historic event is not only a way of honoring and making a ritual to mark and show respect; it is also a way to teach through an experience. So the importance of the event can be passed on to the new generations. Re-experiencing something will naturally be connected to re-thinking. Reflecting. In this case, it will be making a status on today’s conditions in university as well as the racial, cultural and linguistic segregation.

Both the power of the photography and the reenactment are actually connected to the aesthetics and are often used as a tool for expression in art. It is thus quite interesting to look at how artists are looking at this event from their professional point of view.

Artists expressing about issues related to June 16th

Yesterday we visited the Apartheid museum, and some of the historic aspects of this and other events related to the struggle against racial segregation in South Africa became more clear to me. But in our exhibition too we had some artworks dealing with the topics such as the importance of language and rights to be thought in one’s mother tong, iconization of historic events and segregation today.

We talked about language. In the very beginning of the exhibition, we had a peace by Tlou Ramatlhodi on Khoisan language not being recognized as one of the 11 official languages.

1 ACTUAL VIDEO

Tlou Ramatlhodi Adam June 10, 2016 Digital Painting N/A

Later we had an artwork by Lorenzo Nassimbeni about a translation of the South African hymn, whose lyrics employ the five different languages.

 

7

Lorenzo Naggimbeni From the blue sky of our Heaven Date June 14, 2016 Coki marker on Trading Paper 30 x 45 cm

We also had a piece by Alishia Strydom. It was a paperwork with the iconic image used as a logo for June 16th, but where she cut out the Silhouette of the young man carrying the dead body of Hector Peterson. She did that to communicate that there is a concrete mystery about the man because we don’t know where he is today, but also to symbolize that we in the society of today might be lacking what the missing man in the picture was representing: mainly the insistence on fairness, willingness to make a change and fearless confrontation.

Skærmbillede 2016-06-18 kl. 09.17.17

Alishia Strydom Missing Hero June 15, 2016 Photograph print 62 x 97 cm

Thierry Geoffroy did some artworks too. He took a pre-designed souvenir like t-shirt and made two significant changes in the text. One of the changes is regarding place and the other regarding time. His message was to make us perspectives the June 16th to other places in also reflect about it in the context of today. This artwork led us to talked about recent student protest movements, like #FeesMustFall that happened last year as a reaction to increasing in fees at South African universities.

 

Skærmbillede 2016-06-18 kl. 09.24.38

Thierry Geoffroy/ COLONEL Global uprising June 16, 2016 T-shirt

We also had an artwork by Keneilwe Mokoena who talked about her personal psychological brokenness in relation to the brokenness in the society and politics in South Africa. She spoke about her mother’s experiences being a teacher in a “broken” education system, where the level of qualification is low. With her artwork, she activated an interesting debate about unfinished or broken systems in South Africa and the fact that many people, ironically enough, think that the life, in some aspects, was better before apartheid then now.

Screen Shot 2016-06-18 at 09.50.29

Keneilwe Mokoena, Broke, June 16, 2016, cardboard on floor, 1 m x 1 m

But how much can art do to create a protest and move things in order to create a real change? Can we talk about aesthetics of a protest? Can art be used as a protest? One of the Thierry’s artworks was activating these question in a very elegant and direct way. There was a simple but strong expression in this artwork which made it very clear. He used a white painting canvas  and put a stone on top of it. The stone was found the same day in Soweto. It is a stone used in a violent protest to break the window of a bank to demonstrate outrage because of lack of electricity in peoples houses.

Skærmbillede 2016-06-18 kl. 09.30.31

Thierry Geoffroy/ COLONEL Soweto Violent Protest June 15, 2016 Canvas and stone 10 x 19 cm

 

Standard