DesertMed @ NGBK, October 26th, 2012

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Desertmed is an interdisciplinary research project. The “blind spots” on the European map serve as its subject matter: approximately 300 uninhabited islands in the Mediterranean Sea. A group of artists, architects, writers and theoreticians travelled to about 40 of the —often difficult to access— islands in search of clues, impartially cataloguing information that can be interpreted in multiple ways. The result is a pool of photographs, audio and video recordings,  presented along with further artistic contributions. They examine the myriad ways in which the individual islands are used and – accordingly – their significant political, economic, and historical interrelationships.

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Artists: Fabian Bechtle, Bik van der Pol, Leon Kahane, Deborah Ligorio, Stefanos Tsivopoulos, Luca Vitone and the Desertmed Collective: Giulia Di Lenarda, Giuseppe Ielasi, Armin Linke, Amedeo Martegani, Renato Rinaldi, Giovanna Silva with contributions by:Elina Axioti, Giulia Bruno, Daniele Ansidei, Aristide Antonas, Antonia Dika, Laura Fiorio, Stefano Graziani, Franck Leibovici, Donato Ricci
Project Group: Fabian Bechtle, Wilfried Kuehn, Armin Linke, Marina Sorbello, Antje Weitzel

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‘And Europe will be stunned’, Yael Bartana, 7th Berlin Biennale @ KW, April 26th, 2012

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The Jewish Renaissance Movement calls for the return of 3,300,000 Jews to Poland in order to re-establish the annihilated Jewish community. The movement was initiated by Israeli-born artist Yael Bartana in 2007 and has since spread internationally. It aims to create an atmosphere for a Jewish appearance in Europe. The Jews of today are not the same people who were expelled from Europe—the Europeans of today are not the ones responsible for the ethnic cleansing. This may be the appropriate time to unite again—and change Europe and Israel for the better.

The JRMiP is a response to these times of crisis, when faith has been exhausted and old utopias have failed. The aim of the First Congress of the JRMiP is to ultimately formulate the concrete platform of the movement and collectively imagine the future. The three-day long gathering departs from a letter of the late leader of the movement, Sławomir Sierakowski, found after his assassination, and considers the following questions:

  • What should be changed in the EU to welcome the Other?
  • What should be changed in Poland to become part of the revived EU?
  • What should be changed in Israel to become part of the Middle East?

For the first time since its foundation, JRMiP members assemble, joined by international speakers, to reflect upon particular demands. The movement needs all of you who sympathize with the issues of different Diasporas in general.

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‘Network map of artist and political inclinations’ & ‘Open Call’, 7th Berlin Biennale @ KW, April 26th, 2012

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In November 2010 Artur Żmijewski announced a call to artists from all over the world, asking them to send in artistic material as part of the research of the 7th Berlin Biennale. In addition to the standard information usually requested in such a call (documentation of art works and projects, CVs, etc.), it included the following addition, which generated attention in and of itself: as the research also focuses on the question of whether artists consider themselves to be political, please inform us about your political inclination (e.g. rightist, leftist, liberal, nationalist, anarchist, feminist, masculinist, or whatever you may identify yourself with) or whether you are interested in politics at all.

The call was published in various languages. The Berlin Biennale ultimately received over 5,000 submissions in reaction to the Open Call and all these artist were represented in a graphic which is shown in the Biennale under the name of  “Network map of artist and political inclinations” and you can see below. Also all the dossiers are standing in various shelves in the same room as the graphic.

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In response, we invited all those who sent materials to become artists of the digital venue of the Berlin Biennale. Together with Berlin-based media activist and writer Pit Schultz it was developed ArtWiki, a digital art library based on the model of Wikipedia, which is a sustainable project that will continue into the future. It aims to present artists as political and social entities, to lay open the artistic resources of our society and abandon the typical curatorial stance of a politics of selection and exclusivity. Furthermore, art representation on the Internet has been strongly dominated and positioned by market speculation and financial interests, and artists are often hesitant to upload their work for fear of it being misappropriated or even stolen. ArtWiki is the tool through which there is the desire to extend the Biennale exhibition and create an open, not-for-profit platform for information exchange for artists, their activities, and their political standpoints, to show today’s spectrum of artistic attitudes. ArtWiki is also a form of social contract, which is about free exchange of information and trust—something very unusual in times when the art system is based on fully controlled access to art works, images, and even ideas. Text by Joanna Warsza

ArtWiki went public on April 26, 2012 – the opening day of the 7th Berlin Biennale.

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‘Blood Ties’, Antanas Mockus, 7th Berlin Biennale @ KW, April 26th, 2012

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The 7th Berlin Biennale invited the former mayor of Bogotá, Antanas Mockus, to comment on one of the projects. Mockus, a political thinker and now, an artist, chose to refer to Teresa Margolles’s work on the current drug war in Mexico, where gangs and paramilitary groups kill each other, murdering many other unrelated civilians in the process. Gangs fight for incredible profits made on the black market for drugs in the United States and Europe. Mockus asks Biennale visitors to commit to not using drugs anymore or to reducing their consumption. You can sign a declaration, and if you want to go deeper, you can also contribute one drop of blood. A large number of such promises could in fact lead to a reduction in the number of murders in Mexico. Mockus’s installation aims at changing the Mexican reality and asks people to take responsibility for how much drug consumption in Europe relates to the number of deaths in the narco-trafficking wars in Central America.

Who is Antanas Mockus? A former mayor of Bogotá, who employed what he called “sub-art” in his political practice. In Colombia in the mid-1990s—a period of hostility, bloodshed, and narco-trafficking—he created a nonviolent, performative politics of images and gestures. Inspired by his mother Nijole Sivickas, a Lithuanian sculptor, he later employed subversiveness, irony, and unpredictability as tools for direct politics. His program of citizen culture (Cultura ciudadana), a form of civic self-education based on games and staged situations, led to a significant drop in the homicide rate during his two terms as mayor. With this approach he effectively suspended politics as usual, destabilizing rational discourse, disarming hate speech, and subverting bureaucratic rule. Mockus has promised that if the homicide rate in Mexico does not drop during the exhibition, he will declare himself a failed artist and art a pretentious concept. Text by Artur Żmijewski and Joanna Warsza

Antanas Mockus is a philosopher and politician whose approach to politics is based on artistic strategies. In the framework of the 7th Berlin Biennale he also presents a lecture-performance about political suicide based on his own experience in the last political campaign in Colombia.

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‘Navigating the Everyday’ from plan b (Sophia New & Daniel B. Rogers) @ Art Laboratory Berlin, January 27th 2012

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Since 2003 and 2007 respectively, Daniel and Sophia have been recording every journey they make every day using GPS devices. Additionally all areas of their digital communication (e.g. mobile phone text messages) are evaluated and processed artistically. Their work represents an artistic research by means of a digital archiving of their movements.

Over the years this practice has become part of everyday life, a form of private and personal ‘sousveillance’, in which the artists generate their own data, thereby reflecting the approach of those private and public agencies who collect all available data.

Since January 2011, the artists have also recorded their moods in writing three times a day. This mood diary enables them to compare their emotional life with the GPS traces of their movements and collected text messages. Presentation of the act of remembrance, in human and machine form, provides material for the two-channel video installation Narrating Our Lines, shown here in full for the first time. The video installation shows the artists viewing an animation of the GPS traces of their movements from 2007. With a temporal distance of three years, they then recall past events of their lives through these traces. On one screen, the viewer can see the artists, while on the other we see what the artists see – the GPS traces of their movement. A striking tension is achieved, while they (re)construct the common narrative of their lives.

In addition to this installation, additional objects are presented, which have resulted from their practice of collecting several information.


List of works (according to map provided):

1# All the text messages we sent each other in 2011, dot matrix print on continuous paper

2# All GPS traces outside our front door in 2011, 2 pen plotter drawings on paper

3# Mood reports 2011, inkjet prints cards

4# All GPS traces in Berlin 2011, laser engraving on acrylic

5# GPS satellite sonification, data & pyton soft on netbook + audio

6# Narrating our lines, 2 channel video