Camera Austria 116/2011

By 31/10/2012May 27th, 2016Magazines

Camera Austria international, no. 116 / 2011

Camera Austria
Camera Austria international, no. 116 / 2011
Yael Bartana
Heidrun Holzfeind
Sanja Iveković
Martin Beck
Sven Augustijnen
Michael Mrakitsch
Maryam Jafri

Editor-in-chief: Maren Lübbke-Tidow
Publisher: Reinhard Braun,
ISBN: 9783900508005

A preoccupation with questions of communality has both distinguished this year’s exhibition program at Camera Austria and left its mark on the magazine. Next to contributions by Yael Bartana, Heidrun Holzfeind, Sanja Iveković, and Martin Beck, we are publishing works by Sven Augustijnen, Michael Mrakitsch, and Maryam Jafri in the context of discourses on politics of identity and representation, thus questioning the role of photographic pictures in the fixation of “ images”. “Independence Day” (since 2009) by Maryam Jafri shows independence day ceremonies in former Asian and North African colonies. They are presented as transition in the phrasing of a new representation for nation and for “own” culture, one that draws on rituals of the former colonial powers to the same extent that they remain obligated to a globalising semiotic language of “democracy”.

Here, the question of the constitution of community is positioned, so to say, at the meta-level of the nation-state. The protagonist of the film “Spectres” (2011), Jacques Brassinne de La Buissière, reproduces—by restaging the political murder of Patrice Lumumba, which still today remains unsolved—hegemonic patterns through which history is both exposed and assessed. Our discomfort at witnessing solidarity with the wrong side—Brassinne was employed by the Belgian consulate in Katanga at the time of Lumumba’s execution—is in fact a constitutive element of Sven Augustijnen’s film and photographs. He confronts us with the tenacity of a normative historical construction before it self-destructs under the pressure of a plentitude of contradictory evidence.

Committed to what clearly represents similar discourse are this issue’s contributions by Axel John Wieder and Jochen Becker: the exhibition “the Urban Cultures of Global Prayers” opened in November 2011 with works by fourteen artists at the Neue Gesellschaft für Bildende Kunst, Berlin, and will be on show at Camera Austria starting in January 2012; “Global Prayers”, in turn, revolves around issues related to the changing of the urban through religion, but also to the heightened visibility of religious facets within public urban space. The project contours problematic areas within pictorialities that uphold (apparent) knowledge, highlight and perpetuate differences, and introduce an insurmountable chasm within the state of “being-with” that pervades our societies.

Michael Mrakitsch was surely one of the most important documentary film-makers of the past forty years in Germany. His films, which have led him to Djibouti and Lebanon among other places, are distinguished by critical reflection on the ambivalent complicity of this filmic documentarian in terms of expectations placed upon his own images. His films are permeated by dense linguistic commentary, not on that which is taking place but rather on the conditions which lend themselves to viewing and filming. “Foreign scenes are familiar to us, the successors of the colonizers. So familiar, we barely notice how shyness at our cultivated curiosity can make people unwilling subjects.” These words by Mrakitsch congenially introduce the adjoining contribution by Walid Sadek on the “The Present of Near-Blindness” with which we conclude our fourpart column “A Time to See”.

The incessant surveying of preconditions for image production forms a common discursive horizon within the issue at hand—fostering discourse on (photographic) imagery as a still-contested visual terrain, as “documentality” as Hito Steyerl has called it. A concept that also addresses photographs as a form of politics and technology.

The Forum with six artists from Los Angeles was curated for us by Sharon Lockhart, all of whom collaborated to stage a compelling exhibition in magazine format.