Tag Archives: performance

Reza Aramesh, Restaging the (Objective) Violence of Images


Reza Aramesh, Action 65 – Egyptian prisoners captured by Israeli troops during the Six Day War in the Middle East, 09 Jun 1967, 2009 and Action 140: 12:30 pm Tuesday 20 December 2011, West Bank city of Nablus, 2014

The work of Reza Aramesh, on the face of it, may seem to utilize relatively traditional forms of media; namely, sculpture and photography. However, it is important to note that his work has a performative element to it inasmuch as the images we see in both his photographs and the poses of his sculptures have often been restaged by individuals taking their cue – with the artist’s guidance – from newspaper photographs and other visual material.

Since 2008 Aramesh has used media images of conflict from around the globe as sources for his numbered ‘actions’, re-enactments of scenes extracted from such images and staged, somewhat anachronistically, in slick modern apartments, stately British mansions, and art-filled museums. Documented as black and white photographs, these surreal transpositions serve as cruel reminders that such accumulated wealth is usually the result of war, conflict and oppression elsewhere, both historically and in our contemporary moment.

Aramesh prefers using amateurs in these ‘actions’, which feature a changing all-male cast drawn from Britain’s immigrant communities, who appear dressed in their everyday street wear; additionally, no weapons or other instruments of violence or torture are included in the re-enactments. Lacking such specific references, the ‘actions’ distill episodes of violence and conflict into studied tableau, each a particular configuration of poses, gestures and expressions. Events unfold as compositions and experience is recounted through physical and spatial relationships between individual figures or discreet groups. And while each ‘action’ bears a long subtitle – often the news caption that accompanied the source photograph – this neutral, factual description reveals little, and leaves one unable to fully locate Aramesh’s image in a specific time and place.

These forms of re-staging and re-framing – referred to as ‘actions’ by the artist – are integral to Aramesh’s work and the source material is often drawn from conflict zones worldwide; the very same zones that often crop up in our daily glut of print and televisual media.

As viewers we are bombarded with these images until they lose their sense of context and meaning. How, then, do we reinvest these images with meaning and thereafter a degree of critical purchase? It is at precisely this point that Aramesh’s images come into their own. In the restaging of the original  image, with the help of volunteers, the artist transposes a group of Palestinian prisoners into the environment of Cliveden House, a one-time stately home in England and now a luxury hotel. Aramesh reinvests this image, in sum, with an uncanny immediacy. What was once familiar, if indeed over-exposed in our media-saturated eyes, becomes unfamiliar and thereafter unsettling.

There is also another critical element at work here. In Aramesh’s transposition of these scenes and their restaging in other environments, he often leaves out the source of threat and original violence that existed in the source photographs, be it in the form of prison guards or soldiers; all are largely ‘in absentia’ in the final photographs. Whereas in the source images, the victim and victimizer, prisoner and prison guard, the living and the dead, all appear to be replaying history’s lamentable refrain of the victor and the vanquished, in Aramesh’s finished images such binaries are absent and so too are the certainties we associate with them.

Inspired by an exhibition of religious sculpture from seventeenth-century Spain entitled The Sacred Made Real that Aramesh saw at London’s National Gallery, his sculptures seek to (and accomplish) the reverse, imbuing documentary images of men forced to submit and suffer with the dignified aura of the sacred. Transfiguring experiences of humiliation into exquisite embodiments of heroic self-sacrifice, they are modest monuments to the human capacity to endure.

As viewers of this work, we potentially step into the realm of being a perpetrator in this symmetry of violence and fear. What place, if any, do we have here as we approach these abject figures: are we potentially victims ourselves, potentially subject to the precariousness of what Giorgio Agamben refers to as ‘bare life’, a life beyond recourse to law and justice? Or are we victimizers in waiting, fearful that for all our empathy there is a fine line, in times of conflict and the suspension of law, between being subjected to violence and administering it?

Source: Artforum International.
Text: Murtaza Vali, http://www.ibraaz.org/essays/28 and Anthony Downey, http://www.ibraaz.org/interviews/5.
All images belongs to the respective artist and management.

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Dance: Xavier Le Roy, Nudity Has Been Around From Prehistoric Times

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Xavier Le Roy and Eszter Salamon, Gisxelle, 2001

For Le Roy, nakedness is not a shock tactic but a quest for the sculptural and the sublime. “Nudity has been around from prehistoric times,” says John Kaldor. From 35,000-year-old figurines of Venus to the pursuit of male bodily perfection in Greek and Roman marble statues, Temporary Title is following a long artistic tradition. “Everybody is the same but is different,” says Le Roy, “The skin is great at showing that.”

For two decades, Le Roy has been tearing contemporary dance away from its conventional home in the theatre and placing it firmly into the art museum (appearing everywhere from London’s Tate Modern to the Museum of Modern Art in New York). His work is an “exhibition”, a moving landscape if you will, a space where visitors can stroll in and out as they see fit, spending 10 minutes or six hours consuming the art.

Xavier Le Roy holds a doctorate in molecular biology from the University of Montpellier, France, and has worked as a dancer and choreographer since 1991. He has performed with diverse companies and choreographers and produces his work since 1994.

His most famous composition to date, Self Unfinished (1988), sees Le Roy use an elasticated black jumper and trousers to divulge, and then cover up, parts of his body, before peeling off his clothes altogether. In the process he becomes barely human. He is a robot, a raw plucked chicken carcass, a series of shapes and curves, his anatomy a ball of clay to mould.

When he performs Self Unfinished around the world, he is still struck by the “density of concentration” between himself and viewers, so thick it’s “like you can almost touch it”, he murmurs, rubbing his fingers together. Le Roy’s art is in his audience’s hands too (hence the open rehearsals and feedback sessions). He recalls one onlooker who was asked a question in a practice run of Temporary Title. Faced with the nakedness, he answered honestly, later telling the artist he could no longer “dress up” his answer.

But if being nude is being vulnerable, so, ironically, is putting back on clothes. Temporary Title’s performers work in shifts, dressing and undressing in front of the watchful eyes of the crowd. In the process they become “coloured in”, observes Christopher Quyen. Clothes act as identity: a conscious, carefully chosen image.

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Fitness for Artists, “We can finally meet in a virtual space and get fit for life together.”

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Helga Wretman, Fitness for Artists, 2015

Helga Wretman aims to fill the body and soul of participating artists with endorphins to improve their creativity and self consciousness, whilst providing a platform for international artists to connect with peers in other parts of the world. “We can finally meet in a virtual space and get fit for life together.”

12 artists have been invited to represent their country, themselves as artists and their will to communicate. This will be a performance where no participant is passive.

The class begins gently with an organic warm up of the joints and major muscle groups that prepares your body for more intensive stages. There after we move on to the activate the cardiac functions in your body. That will start with some fun sparring in couples and then we do some classic aerobic and end with an intensive Jump-style tutorial. At this stage we are warm and ready to move on to the muscle training and floor-work without weights, including yoga and various classic body toning and strengthening exercises. To end the class we make a stretching session focusing on both big and small muscle groups.

Helga Wretman (born 1985 in Stockholm) lives and works in Berlin. She completed her training at the Kungliga Svenska Balettskolan in Stockholm for Modern and Contemporary Dance. Helga has also studied dance in London, Berlin and Stockholm.

Wretman has performed in venues such as Peres Projects, Berlin; Darsa Comfort, Zurich, and Kunsthalle Athena, Athens. She has also performed for artists such as Aids- 3D,  Jeremy Shaw, Donna Huanca, Peaches, Reynold Reynolds as well as performing in numerous German films as a stuntwoman.

http://creative.arte.tv/de/series/fitness-artists-tv

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