artist / participant
Jennifer Allora (b. 1974, USA) and Guillermo Calzadilla (b. 1971, Cuba) have been working together since 1995. They create a collaborative work that bears a distinctive hallmark. A bizarre humour, bordering on the absurd, runs through their work, yet there is strong social and political fundament underlying this. Allora & Calzadilla's complex artistic vocabulary utilizing photography, video, film, performance, and sculpture engages with history and contemporary geo-political realities, exposing their complicated dynamics, destabilizing and re-ordering them in ways that can be alternately poetic, humorous, and revelatory. The exhibition will present a selection of works made between 2000 and 2009.
Peace and Environmental Justice Campaign Allora & Calzadilla are particularly well known for their body of work involving the peace and environmental justice campaign on the Puerto Rican island of Vieques, where the USA operated a bomb-testing range and ammunition storage facility between 1941 and 2003. We will be exhibiting their photographic series, "Land Mark (Foot Prints)" (2000-2002), as well as the videos "Returning a Sound" (2004) and "Under Discussion" (2005) from this multi-year series of projects.
"Land Mark (Foot Prints)" (2000-2002) documents the artists' collaboration with various civil disobedient groups for which they designed custom-made soles that were added onto the shoes of people involved with the land reclamation campaign. Various people, seeking to reclaim the land, entered the bombing range and, as a result of walking in that landscape, marked their presence in the form of a stamp on the terrain. The images on the bottom of the shoes, chosen by each individual user, depicted territories (geographical, bodily, linguistic, etc.) that functioned as counter-representations of the site's function at that time as well as what it is still to become. The photographs document these ephemeral traces left in the sand.
"Returning a Sound" (2004) follows Homar, a civil-disobedient, traversing the newly-opened demilitarized lands on a moped with a trumpet welded to the muffler, producing a loud resounding call, which celebrates the island's victory and registers its precariousness, calling for an unheard-of vigilance, and "Under Discussion" (2005) consisting of an overturned conference table which has been retrofitted with an engine and rudder grafted from a small fishing boat. Diego, activist and son of a local fisherman, uses the motorized table to lead viewers around the still-restricted areas of the island, re-marking the antagonisms that haunt the picturesque coastal landscape and bearing witness to the memory of the Fisherman's Movement, which initiated the first acts of civil disobedience in response to the ecological fall-out of the bombing in the 1970s. Recent Film Works In addition to this selection of Vieques related projects, two recent film works will also be on view. Shot in quite disparate geographic, social, and political spaces, both works nevertheless share a common interest in questions of mark making, traces, and survival.
"A Man Screaming is Not a Dancing Bear" (2008) filmed in Post Katrina New Orleans focuses on two scenes: the interior of an abandoned house in the Ninth Ward and the wetlands of the lower Mississippi River Delta: out of which the city of New Orleans was carved. The film depicts a resident of the 9th Ward, Isaiah McCormick, "playing" a set of window blinds in the house. The percussive rhythms he creates on this homegrown instrument- a gesture that inevitably evokes the great musical experiments of the Mississippi- expose the home interior to the light outdoors, generating an inconstant flutter of light that reveals the sediments, marks and uneven traces that attest to the events of a recent history.
"How to Appear Invisible" (2009) filmed in Berlin on the site of the Schlossplatz at the close of 2008, documents the last days of the Palast der Republik demolition. Bearing witness to this event is a German Sheperd dog wearing a makeshift cone collar fashioned from the trademark container of one of the largest American fast food franchises: Kentucky Fried Chicken. The dog wanders around the barren no man's land of the palace ruins watching and smelling the grounds of this complicated site- an iconic and monumental place, haunted by memory and visibility, presence and absence.
"Sediments, Sentiments (Figures of Speech)" (2007) Questions of ruination, traces, and memory are further elaborated in "Sediments, Sentiments (Figures of Speech)" (2007). This work probes the genre of political speechmaking, focusing on the rhetorical impact of words as affect, asking where and how do words intersect with material reality. Performed through the musical language of opera, fragments of speeches by key actors in the global theatre of recent political history: from Martin Luther King and the Dalai Lama, to George Bush and Saddam Hussein, form the libretto of a frustrated opera which takes place within a large sculptural form conceived as 1:1 scale model of some future disaster.
Curator of the exhibition is Eva Klerck Gange
Allora & Calzadilla
Kurator: Eva Klerck Gange
The Museum of Contemporary Art