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NEW-MEDIA-CURATING  November 2015

NEW-MEDIA-CURATING November 2015

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Subject:

Re: Ground Truth: 'The Migration Machine'

From:

Dawn Bothwell <[log in to unmask]>

Reply-To:

Dawn Bothwell <[log in to unmask]>

Date:

Sun, 29 Nov 2015 17:50:25 +0000

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Hi everyone
Sorry for the long pause - just been installing a project which opened on Saturday - also my first post to this list as a new researcher at CRUMB, Sunderland!
To introduce you to my work with CIRCA Projects, we take site as a central factor in every presentation of an exhibition or project. As a result our projects are varied - as they allow a'site' to shape each project. 
This could involve taking a close look at the boundaries and format of a singular artistic medium, such as single screen moving image (CIRCA Screen - http://circaprojects.org/term/screen/ )Asking artists to respond to a particular building from their own perspective, expanding upon their subjective outlook to co-curate a programme with us and expose a network around their work (showing the work of artists and other individuals they develop/discuss work and ideas with) alongside the presentation of their own work: and in doing so, looking at the importance of artists collectively engaging with a particular site and the subsequent emergence of artist communities therein (Space Release - http://circaprojects.org/term/space-release/). Or looking at the impact that landownership (holding a freehold) can have upon the sustainability of community spaces - old institutions like Social Clubs, the Scouts and even Wetherspoons pubs ( PUBLIC http://circaprojects.org/term/public/ ).It could be working with an institution - to reflect upon its publics, its particular modes of interfacing with audiences, its history and comparing its present identity with the organisation's original initiating environment and aims (BOOKSHOP - http://circaprojects.org/programme/bookshop/ ) - our current project.
However our recent project will be the point of focus for my contribution to this discussion!'Approximation in the digital age for a humanity condemned to disappear', by Mario PfeiferExhibition: http://circaprojects.org/programme/approximation-in-the-digital-age-to-a-humanity-condemned-to-disappear/Accompanying event: http://circaprojects.org/programme/in-conversation-with-amira-gad-the-anthropological-gaze/Accompanying event: http://circaprojects.org/programme/approximation-closing-party-with-dj-set-by-mariam-rezai/And our related project COOKING with SOUTH SHIELDShttp://circaprojects.org/programme/cooking-with-south-shields/
Perhaps you can read the summaries about 'Approximation...' and 'Cooking with South Shields' from the links above - more pleasant as you can look at images and accompanying texts, video clips from our website.
And I will highlight the main issues arising from these projects for you here. 
Perhaps it is best to delineate my area of focus using Dani and Cecilia's points in their introductory email:"Grounded by the need to defend the subjective and narrative-based", "a humanist relationship to data and information""consider effects of interventionist impulses and tactics, of documentary as a call to action"
Mario Pfeifer's exhibition 'Approximation...' was the starting point for 'Cooking with South Shields', so I'll begin there.
'Approximation...' is a body of work which is being exhibited globally, which Pfeifer developed on Navarino Island, Chile: a 4k, 3 channel video with soundtrack, a series of photographs, objects, a book, an lp. He was invited by the Museo del Santiago to make a project there, and travelling around the country he stopped in the area of Navarino Island drawn to this place due to its complexity. Pfeifer is informed by documentary practice, but he sees the domain of the artist film-maker as one where it is possible to be more radically ethical (toward the subject portrayed and in praxis) than in mainstream film; due to the financial models which often shape mainstream film-practice. 
In terms of it's contemporary situation the island had an indigenous population which is now near extinct - the Yaghan (1 native-speaker remains). The following locations on the island are included in Mario's film, captured in a phenomenological manner, rather than attempting to interpret or impose a narrative of the situation.The island has a (Santiago-based) King Crab factory (maybe surprising as it is so remote Navarino borders with the Antarctic!) where descendants of the Yaghan and others living in the area work in a 'Fordist-style' shift rotation system 24/7 for very little money. The factory prepares and packages King Crabs exclusively exported to China. The local produce isn't readily available in the area. The Yaghan used to dive for crustaceans as part of their diet. Unregulated fishing of the crabs is banned because (due to migration) the local waters were infected with an algae which makes the crabs poisonous from time to time, and the government have regulated that only the factory can fish them as they have the right procedures in place to deal with contamination.
There is a naval base (Navarino is a strategically placed island for the Chilean military), nightclubs (which play mostly Spanish dance music).
There is a museum, The Martin Gusinde Museum named after one of the first Anthropologists who documented the native Yaghan (from 1918-24), as a missionary. It holds only replicas of Yaghan artefacts there: the originals, Gusinde took with him back to Austria and they reside in the Anthropos Institute (the Institute moved to Switzerland during National Socialism, then to Sankt Augustin, Germany (where it is now located) co-opted in the re-building of a national German identity) which he co-founded.The Chilean government created the Martin Gusinde museum on Navarino Island in the 1970's because the Island and surrounding region of Tierra del Fuego was under ownership dispute between Chile and Argentina. To retain rights to ownership Chile had to be seen to simultaneously expand it's infrastructure to these remote parts (roads, etc) while preserving indigenous culture (probably a contradictory condition). So, they made the museum so as to be seen to be preserving indigenous culture but via a more globally accepted mediation of their own culture (through an German anthropologist).
Pfeifer travelled to the Anthropos Institute, Germany and came back to Navarino Island, showing the entire archive of Gusinde's images of the Yaghan on his iPad to descendants and local people who remembered some of the people pictured there. This material wasn't available to those living on the island. The iPad was also something that the locals had not seen before. Outside the means of most on the island, bar perhaps the higher earning officers on the Naval Base. He gave cdr-s of the image catalogue to those with computers, print-outs to those without. 
In terms of technology, I think the question in this situation is one around access - local people on this remote island have only  mediated access to their own, or the local history. Living and working conditions were introduced which enforce living within a capitalist condition yet provide only poorly paid jobs and poor public services like education and healthcare, denying social mobility. Low pay denies access to technology which could be used to access history and potentially adapt with it.This is something Pfeifer also points to with the soundtrack to his film, working with techno producer Kamran Sadeghi to sample original recordings from the Gusinde archive of Yaghan ceremonial chanting, within a contemporary electronic composition. The soundtrack is available on vinyl and this has made these audio recordings accessible for the first time.
I have not discussed the context which CIRCA presented this exhibition in, not yet our related Cooking with South Shields project - for another post!
Other points:Marialaura: it is so interesting to hear your accounts! I wonder about the relationship between online-offline web projects and the transfer from analogue to digital in the mammoth film industry in India(highest concentrated in Mumbai). How technological developments driven by the industry is affecting film-production as well as artistic practice across the country. Especially thinking about the local cinema as a community space, and how the switch to digital would effect these spaces not able to afford constantly changing digital equipment etc. Perhaps an antidote to closure - move to more diverse range of films available on 35 are shown as audiences tire of Bollywood re-runs http://travel.cnn.com/mumbai/play/edward-theatre-and-its-environs-132147. Or if closure is inevitable is this collective community space moving online and will this have the effect of increased visibility and accessibility? These might be, as you say 'Contexts, in a broader but much local sense and in terms of socio-cultural structures and infrastructures'.
Ricardo: reading about your project is fascinating. I can't help but add how can (or is) GPS technology aiding the safety of those making difficult and dangerous journeys to Europe now?


Thanks and sorry for the long intro\ Dawn   		 	   		   		 	   		  

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