The Museum of Contemporary Art Zagreb


Artists' Cinema: Oliver Ressler and work on the media façade

Gorgona Hall, Friday, 10. 4. 2015 at 7 P.M.

Artist Cinema: Oliver Ressler and work on the media façade

Gorgona Hall, Friday, 10. 4. 2015 at 7 P.M.

The internationally renowned Austrian filmmaker Oliver Ressler will be showing three films within the Museum's program „Artists' Cinema“, on Friday, April 10th at 7 P.M., in the Museum of Contemporay Art Zagreb's multimedia hall Gorgona. These are recent short films „The Visible and the Invisibe“(20 min, 2014), "Leave It in the Ground" (18 min , 2013) and "The Right of Passage" (19 min, 2013 (with Zanny Begg). All films are in English. After the screening, a conversation with the artist will be held in which Selma Banic, performing artist and activist, Branka Benčić, curator and Goran Dević, filmmaker, will be participating. The conversation will be moderated by Leila Topić, author of the program.

Oliver Ressler is an artist and filmmaker who produces installations, projects in the public space, and films on issues such as economics, democracy, global warming, forms of resistance and social alternatives. Exhibitions wise, he was extremely active in 2014, and has presented several solo exhibitions such as the one in the Shedhalle in Zürich and Lentos museum in Linz, and has recently opened his solo exhibition in Berlin's NBK (Neuer Berliner Kunstverein).

From critiques of Ressler's work:

Gregory Sholette:“Like other artists who seek to engage directly with the political sphere, Ressler approaches aesthetics practically, as a set of tools for getting the job done. To that end, his work may one day consist of posters and videos, another day involve architecturally contingent visual elements, and another day make use of organizational and pedagogical situations to open up public discussion and debate. [...] Ressler's claim of moving back and forth between different spaces combining fiction and non-fiction underscores the danger artists can represent to the order of things,”

Marco Scotini: “Ressler is one of the new generation of artists operating in the 'gray area' that exists between art and politics, who develop projects on a variety of social themes using different media. But what particularly distinguishes Ressler's work compared to others and has led to his international renown is the role of policy activist he assumes through his documentary and social inquiries, through the production of slogans and publicizing campaigns that serve many and various types of political agitation and social conflict, and finally through conferences, publications, counter-information campaigns and exhibitions that gather together the results of his investigations.”

Media façade, 09. 04. - 17.04.2015

Oliver Ressler’s work on the media façade of MSU on the first gaze appears as not using the full possibilities of the three gigantic electronic screens that cover the façade of the building. While a media façade is generally used for technically more complex project, Ressler’s 3-channel site-specific work seems to negate the nature of the medium through presenting three static texts on the three subsegments of the façade.

Two of the texts are slogans that were coined in specific historical contexts, but on the facade by a general audience will more likely be read in relation to the current political and economic difficulties of the European Union’s newest member state.

The slogan “elections are a con” was coined in May 1968 in Paris. It seems to have regained a special importance during these times of permanent economic crisis, in which the system of representative democracy has become less and less responsive to the interests of the electorate, but instead primarily oriented to the interests of banks, corporations and the rich. Walden Bello notes that Western democracy is an ideal situation to ensure the continuance of the elites’ power, because it allows elites to contest with each other, while at the same time shutting out the dispossessed, the impoverished and workers, while paradoxically offering them the illusion of having a participation in the political process.* In this system, elections have mutated into a meaningless ritual, while self-appointed political and economic elites make the real decisions away from public debates.

The slogan “property is theft” comes from a book from the French anarchist Pierre-Joseph Proudhon in 1840. Proudhon opposed unused land being regarded as property, believing that land can only be rightfully possessed by use, while he considered the result of an individual's labor a legitimate form of property. Today’s “accumulation by dispossession”, a form of appropriation that involves not primarily the generation of wealth but rather taking possession of existing wealth, usually from the poor or the public sector, makes this slogan a perfect candidate for re-use in a context of global capitalism.

The third text “block or slow power” invites people to become active and to engage in social movements attempting to stop anti-democratic tendencies directed against people’s lives.

* Cf. David McNeill in the 8-channel video installation What Is Democracy? by Oliver Ressler, 2009

The project is realized in collaboration with Austrian Cultural Forum.

ARTISTS’ CINEMA is a program activity of the MSU that begun in 2012, aimed at introducing contemporary artists and their cinematic and video works, created at the meeting point of contemporary art and cinema, of film and visual arts. The program will present recent film/video works outside the context of social production of entertainment and spectacle. In addition, it will include conversations with the artists. It will complete the programmatic conception of the MSU and complement the presentation of this hybrid form. The Artists’ Cinema is aimed at intensifying the dialog and exchange on the cultural scene of the city, connecting artists, curators, and critics with the public; in this way we will contribute to an active internationalization of the art scene engaged in the media of moving pictures.

Project Manager: Tihomir Milovac

Curator: Leila Topić

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