01_Kunstverein, Hamburg, Germany

24th March – 6th May, 2007

The first stop of the Mobile Archive was the Kunstverein in Hamburg, Germany, where from the three curators Eva Birkenstock (Kunstverein in Hamburg), Eyal Danon and Galit Eilat (Israeli Center for Digital Art) the idea of a `Mobile Archive’ emerged.

The Kunstverein in Hamburg was established in 1816 as one of the oldest art associations in Germany. With its almost 2000 members it is a leading institution for contemporary art which is recognized on a national as well as an international level. The aim of art associations, which in the 19th century were established all over Germany, was to support and disseminate new and modern art and to intensify a critical discussion on the contemporary production. Until today there is an emphasis on exhibitions of emerging artists that later come to play a seminal role in the development of art – while in the beginning of the 19th century the Kunstverein exhibited works by Caspar David Friedrich, and later Emil Nolde or Max Beckmann when they were still unknown, today as well there is young generation of artists to be discovered which later might be very well known. Beside the development and production of new art works and a confrontation with the non-western artworld, the Kunstverein furthermore stresses the importance of lectures, artist talks, debates, workshops, conferences and guided tours in order to provoke an interdisciplinary exchange between different cultural fields in order to elucidate the importance of the role of the artist and to reflect the international and local praxis from several angles.

In the year 2007 the Kunstverein in Hamburg presented six different Inserts in addition to its regular shows of contemporary art, which operated as independent units parallel to the exhibition program. They were developed in a process of cooperation with varying formats all focussing on artistic as well as sociopolitical questions.

From the 24th of March to the 6th of May 2007 the Israeli Center for Digital Art was presented in Hamburg as the second insert of the series. The conception of the presentation was developed in close cooperation between Eva Birkenstock (Kunstverein in Hamburg), Galit Eilat and Eyal Danon (Israeli Center of Digital Art). A first room – beside the documentation of past projects through books, publications and posters – presented the video archive of the center as an open video library. The presentation in the Kunstverein was the first stop of the Mobile Archive, which afterwards travels on to other art institutions in various countries of the world. During its visits the works it encloses will be made accessible through screenings and individual viewing facilities, furthermore local artists will be motivated to contribute their works to expand the archive and join the tour. A second room showed the Forbidden Games, an exhibition with Videogames, which in variation was already presented in Holon at the beginning of the year 2007.


Screen shot of internet flash game from the exhibition, “Forbidden Games.”

Western gaming companies develop countless realistic war games with a clear-cut – not to say dichotomous – division between “good” and “evil.” The exhibition “Forbidden Games” however featured more than 22 video games written and distributed independent of the entertainment industry by activist media, academies and ideological groups and companies as a tool for addressing political and social issues. The games presented antithetical narratives and opposed views to those presented in the Western media today.

In Hamburg the Mobile Archive was amended by videoworks of local artists as well as international artists – most of them the Kunstverein has been working with in the past.


Mobile Archive exhibition space, Kunstverein, Hamburg

SCREENING PROGRAM

We are all Army | Screening with an Introduction by Galit Eilat | March 29th 2007

The Israeli army is called the people’s army and part of the myth around its glory is the idea of solidarity between the army and the citizens – “We are all army.” This very basic militarism is unprecedented in a state that defines itself as a western democracy. The fact is that there is very little separation in Israel between civil society, the state, and its army.

Even though the IDF is still lauded on past glories, especially on the victory of the 1967 War, it is today much more common to criticize it and question its capabilities. This doesn’t suggest a new direction of Israeli society, from a highly militarized society to a more balanced civil society. Israel is still a nationalistic-patriotic society with a military-minded collective identity. The role of the army in the construction of Jewish-Israeli identity and nationality is still highly important. It is manifested in belligerent ritualism, and the appropriation of nature and religion into national iconography, highlighting these symbols in the public domain and transforming them into elements that consolidate collective identity and culture.

This almost fascist presence of the military crosses between all levels of state government and acts as the most common symbol of Israeli identity and nationality. The enormous influence of Israeli militarism is the main focus of the works presented in this program. Artists are questioning the place and role of the army and the ways in which it is maintained and manifested in Israeli national identity.

Works presented:
“Details 1 & 2” – Avi Mugrabi
“Beyond Guilt 1” – Ruti Sela and Ma’ayan Amir
“Rape in the Airforce” – Yossi Atia and Itamar Rose
“Father” – Doron Solomons
“Shirutrom Take Away” – Yossi Atia and Itamar Rose
“A Declaration” – Yael Bartana
“Check Point in the Shopping Mall” – Yossi Atia and Itamar Rose

Art & Activism in Israel | Talk, Artist Presentation, Discussion with LIGNA, Simon Wachsmuth and Ronen Eidelmann | 12th of April 2007

In a country which has not yet been, and perhaps never will be, freed from the policies of emergency, military zones are fluid and can be created within minutes; whomever demonstrates or operates on the margins knows that military zones are created with the same swiftness in which emergency laws are constituted. The way in which the I.D.F. prevents demonstrations or civil disobedience is by declaring a civilian area a closed military zone. A closed military zone can be any place within Israeli occupied territory to which the army wants to deny access to civilians. Thus groups of activists are arrested on their way to demonstrations or dialogues with Palestinians. Demonstrations are diffused prematurely, nipped in the bud, due to the army or the boarder police’s use of anti-demonstration tactics.

A new generation of artists has ensued that fights for social justice and believes art is not simply a mirror for society but that it can elicit social change. Such artists or artist collectives operate beyond the field of representation, in a more radical space where law is suspended and where art can operate between the metaphorical (or allegorical) and the concrete and thus disrupt the state of emergency’s enforcement.

During his lecture in the Kunstverein Ronen Eidelmann (Artist and Activist) introduces his study ‚The separation wall in Palestine. Artists love to hate it’. By means of presenting different artistic projects in Israel, which deal with the separation wall in Palestine, various strategies as well as the limits of artistic resistance to the occupation will be discussed.

Afterwards the free radio group Ligna and Simon Wachsmuth (artist) will present art works which they realized for Liminal Spaces, an exhibition-project in Leipzig, Ramallah and Holon.

Subjective Narratives | Screening and Talk by Eyal Danon | May 3rd 2007

Israeli society has been going through a process of deconstruction of its political, ethnic and core, social structures, during the last 30 years. This process is mainly a result of changes caused by waves of immigration from the former Soviet Union states and the continuation of the strugle for freedom of the Palestinian people. Together with this process comes a new perception of Zionist history led by the “New Historians” that started their research of the 1948 war at the end of the 80′s. Their research exposed the ethnic cleansing done by the Israeli army to the Palestinian population during the war, and managed to question the moral foundations of the Zionist movement.

As an immigration state, based on the concentration of people from different nations as a new Jewish collective, Israeli society needed a unifying narrative to survive. This narrative maintained the image of the lone, fragile young nation of people coming back to their homeland. It also required an outside enemy in order to clearly define the borders of this new collective. So Zionist narrative became the most powerfull tool of control by the state. It is entwined through all stages of life of the Israeli citizen, from kindergarden till adulthood.

Because of the powerful role of narrative in the construction of Israeli identity and sense of collectiveness, and as part of the process of deconstruction of the last three decades, the field of narrative and history becomes central for artists wishing to create new cultural paradigms that are able to cope with the challenges of life in the Arab-Muslim Middle East not as a European enclave. The projects and videos that will be presented in this talk are all questioning the validity of the Zionist narrative and, through a process of subjectivisation, offer new alternative personal narratives.

Artists and projects:
“Autobiography of a City”- Ayam Foundation
“Over Memory” – Sala-Manca Group
“From the Streets of Jerusalem to the Palaces of London” – Haim Ben Shitrit, video, 18 min
“I.D. Card” – Nurit Sharett, video, 6 min
“Golem” – Shahar Carmel, Adi Kaplan, Noam Kaplan, Itai Onik, Yonatan Vinitzki, video, 17 min

Leave a Reply