Building Memory | Exhibition
The Contemporary Art Centre (CAC), Vilnius is excited to launch the exhibition Building Memory that is responsible for commissioning new moving image works from four of Europe’s most renowned artists. Building Memory is based on four films about architecture, monuments, and community.
The artworks in Building Memory explore different aspects of 60 years of Europe’s most problematic and contested history from a focus on architecture, monuments, and community and geo-political perspectives in Poland, the former-DDR (East Germany), and with reference to the foundation of the state of Israel. Three of the works are haunted by the specter of the Holocaust and all of them are conceptually sited within post-communist space – so are especially relevant to current cultural debates in Lithuania. (And will be equally engaging and discursive when exhibited at the partner institutions in Germany, Poland, and Israel).
The artist + films are:
Mirosław Bałka (b. in 1958) is a graduate of the Warsaw Fine Arts Academy. He began his career as a sculptor, creating representational works, and then gradually turned to minimalist objects of elementary form, made of industrial materials such as cement and steel. Balka’s film is: Audi HBE F114
Balka explores how subjective traumas are translated into collective histories and vice versa. His materials are simple, everyday objects and things, but also powerfully resonant of ritual, hidden memories and the history of Nazi occupation in Poland. The footage in this digital photographic animation is reputedly taken from CCTV cameras installed at the most infamous of the Nazi death camps located in Poland – Auschwitz. The title of the work is taken from the number-plate of the car that drives through the territory of the camp, surrounded by security personnel, from which the passenger never emerges.
Yael Bartana lives and works in Amsterdam and Tel Aviv. Over the last several years she has become known for her complex visualizations in the forms of photography, film, video, and sound works and installations. Her film is Mary Koszmary (Nightmares), A Trilogy Part II: Mur i Wieża (Wall and Tower)
Wall and Tower plays Exodus in reverse: as a young man appearing to be a politician of some sort makes a public exhortation inviting three million Jews back to Poland [from Israel]: an invitation that is immediately answered. We then track the fortunes of a group of young Jewish settlers who build a stockade of the sort erected by the Jewish settlers – kibbutzniks – in the Palestinian desert during the colonization of that territory in the early-20th century. (Most people would associate the architectural form with US Cavalry forts erected during the migration West across the American prairie).
Deimantas Narkevičius is an artist and filmmaker born in 1964 in Utena, currently based in Vilnius. In 2009 he became a Lithuanian National Arts Laureate, and has represented his nation at the Venice Biennale (2001), and in 2008 was awarded the prestigious Vincent Award by the Stedelijk Museum, Amsterdam. His film Into the Unknown is a film edited from material sourced from the E-TV archive, specifically footage from films produced by DEFA in the former-DDR. The images depict the everyday life of East Berliners, documented over the course of 20 years (with a high proportion of footage from the 1970s and 1980s).
The quotidian scenes are of both the city and countryside, close-ups of people when they are relaxing, and hard at work, and of big crowds at an official outdoor gathering. The interior views are of private and public spaces. The images are suggestive of the ordering of the people’s lives. Individuals are squeezed into strict social systems. The images, originally made to promote the socialist way of living, show us how “well balanced” the socialist lifestyle was.
Marcel Odenbach, born 1953 in Cologne (D); 1974–79 studied architecture, art history and semiotics at the Technische Hochschule, Aachen (Dipl. Ing); late 1970s started video work with tapes and installations, performances and drawings; 1992–98 professor at the Staatliche Hochschule für Gestaltung, Karlsruhe (D); lives and works in Cologne (D). His film “Im Kreise drehen” (Turning Circles) combines a number of the aforementioned characteristics and embodies them in a video matching formal rigour and psychological tension with a sense of displacement (and alienation).
The work is principally a study of the Majdanek Mausoleum, one of two monuments designed by Polish sculptor Wiktor Tolkin, erected on the site of the Lublin Concentration Camp (known as the “Majdanek” camp). Built in 1969 to mark the 25th anniversary of the camp’s liberation the hulking concrete structure looks like the work of a Futurist architect from an earlier-age or one of the follies designed by the 18th century French visionary architect Etienne-Louis Boullée – a “flying saucer” is the easiest way to describe it. Famously, it stands on the pathway to the camp’s crematorium and it supposedly contains ashes of some of the victims (as strange reliquary).
The exhibition will travel to the partner institutions throughout 2010 and will be accompanied by a scholarly publication to be published in mid-2010.
More details about the artists, artworks, exhibition, special screening events, and tour dates can be found at the special project website: www.buildingmemory.net