utorak, 23. rujna 2014.

Stefanos Tsivopoulos - Amnesialand (2010)

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AMNESIALAND, 2010, Super 16mm transferred on Blu-ray DISC, single channel video installation. Duration 24 min.
Amnesialand is a documentary-science fiction that questions our ideas about images and history, about collective memory and forgetting.
Until the early 20th century La Union was a thriving mining community in the region of Murcia. It was a driving force behind the exhilarating accumulationof wealth and the establishment of the bourgeoisie in the port city of Cartagena. It also produced a history of human exploitation, the exhaustion of natural resources and an environmental catastrophe that lasts to this day. In our post-fordist times, La Union has turned into wasteland.
In Amnesialand, a meditative narration offers a future world where images do no longer exist. An event that by definition cannot be remembered erased digital and physical archives, challenging humans' need to illustrate and document reality. Visual history as we know it was deleted and oral history met a hiatus moving backwards into time, blurring boundaries between reality and fiction. Amnesialand not only presupposes a black hole where Past used to be, it simultaneously triggers different perceptions toward the passing of time and its physical and psychological leftovers that we call archives.
Read Eva Scharrer's essay about Amnesialand here.


Introduced by Teresa Gleadowe

Amnesialand imagines a future world where images no longer exist. An event erased digital and physical archives, challenging humans' need to illustrate and document reality. Visual history as we know it was deleted and oral history met a hiatus moving backwards into time, blurring boundaries between reality and fiction. Amnesialand presupposes a black hole where Past used to be and it triggers different perceptions of the passing of time and its physical and psychological leftovers that we call archives.

Teresa Gleadowe: Amnesialand was commissioned for Manifesta 8 and is based on research you undertook in the region of Cartagena in southern Spain. Can you talk about this research and how the idea of the film developed?
Stefanos Tsivopoulos: Cartagena existed as a mining region since the Roman times up until the early 1950s. Layers upon layers of extracted material mingled with layers of history. I walked in these surreal looking fields of toxic waste and the energy of such accumulated activity and destruction created an enigmatic experience of time. I was in wonder, asking myself: “Is this a journey to the past or am I witnessing the future past of our world?” I wanted to capture this palindrome experience of time into my film and create a meditation on time, nature, and memory.
TG: Amnesialand includes imagery from a number of different sources - glass negatives, archive film, literature, your own contemporary footage of the landscape - and a scripted voiceover interspersed with poetry from the region. How did you approach the task of weaving these elements together?
ST: Looking at this mined landscape you slowly realize that those mountains were dug by men and women. There is a sense of suffering that is not visible but present, and this present absence is overwhelming. I wanted my script - which is co-written with the sci-fi and art writer Marc von Schegell - to touch upon this absence. Also during my research I was extremely lucky to discover the work of a local poet, Maria Cegarra (1903-1993), whose poems express beautifully and graciously the life of the mineworkers, and so I chose to infuse her poetry in my film.
What’s left of all this exhaustion, exploitation of both nature and labor, and suffering are visual records: some 7,000 images captured on crystal plates, which also make part of my film. It is a lifetime work by a local photographer, José Casaú (1889-1973) who documented the life and times of the region. It is ironical that even he portrayed almost exclusively the life of the bourgeoisie, the rich houses with heavily decorated interiors, the family portraits, but there is no documentation of the mineworkers, who live in absentia.
TG: Like Chris Marker’s La Jetée (1962), Amnesialandis located in an unspecified future. We are confronted by a devastated world and gradually we come to learn that 'the event’ that is referred to in the film is the loss of all visual memory – caused by ’the auto ignition and destruction of all digital media and archival material’. How did you come to use the device of ’the event'?*
ST: The history of our culture is partly built upon the narrative of a cataclysmic Event. You find it everywhere: in religion, in folklore, in the movies, in the daily news, even economic projections are using it as a “narrative tool”. I see it more as an enigmatic allegory that in its core has well hidden facts and truths yet to be revealed. This friction between the factual and the fictive produces narrative power that is even bigger than the real Event itself. For example, it’s irrelevant whether Noah and the Ark really existed, as we “know” it, but the power of its narrative is immeasurable. The Event exists in my film also as homage to the 60s sci-fi movies. It’s a genre that used sci-fi narrative as a hypothesis that opens up infinite ways to think, imagine, and meditate on the future of society.
TG: How does Amnesialand connect with work you have made before or since?
ST: I have an inherent suspicion towards the experience of time. Therefore, time has become central to all of my works, both as a topic and a method, and has been instrumental in the way my works are thought, constructed and produced. That’s also one of the main reasons I love working with film, because it’s as close as it gets to touching or sculpting time, whether we talk about the cyclical nature of time, as in the film Remake (2007) or synchronicity, as in History Zero (2013). Archives are another element I end up using a lot in my work as they refer directly to the trace of time. The same goes for the use of history, which in my films is yet another way to narrate time.
TG: Do you think of Amnesialand as a warning, something that addresses the conditions of the world today?
ST: If you think about it in a less hypothetical way, all digital devices use minerals mined somewhere in the world, most probably creating a similar landscape to the one in Cartagena. The supplies for these minerals, called rare earth, are finite. Our global communication is built upon the technology of such minerals and their eventual extinction will mean something. I was somehow urged to speculate about the possible meaning for such loss of data to us and to our culture. Would we still be able to remember things, or would our memory, both personal and collective, be rendered void? This hypothesis made me realize how our experience of life is irreversibly dependent on this techno-cyber-capitalist environment we live in. - www.vdrome.org/tsivopoulos.html

ELEUSIS (Part 1), single channel video installation, Arri Alexa 4K transferred on Blu-ray disc, 16:9 color, stereo sound. Duration 38 min.
ELEUSIS (Part 2), synchronized triple channel video installation, Arri Alexa 4K transferred on Blu-ray disc, 16:9 color, stereo sound. Duration 13 min.
ELEUSIS (Part 3), single channel video installation, Arri Alexa 4K transferred on Blu-ray disc, 16:9 color, stereo sound. Duration 9 min.
Eleusis is a work of documentary-fiction filmed in the area of Elefsina. The film is divided into three parts installed in three different buildings, requiring the viewer to move through multiple spaces and surroundings in order to view the entire film. The relationship between film, viewer, and environment shifts according to each setting. As the viewer navigates through the spaces of the film, image and sound play off of one other, until at the end of the installation their connection becomes explicit.

History Zero
History Zero, 2013, Arri Alexa 2.35:1, Dolby surround 7.1. 2K transferred on media player.
Three episodes each episode 11 minutes.  Total duration 33 minutes.
Archive of Alternative currencies. An Archive and a Manifesto. Installation dimensions 6m x 6m, silkscreen on 32 pine wood panels, light tubes.
History Zero comprises a film of three episodes alongside an archive of text and images. The film questions the value of money and the role money plays in the formation of human relationships by depicting the experiences of three very different individuals; an elderly art collector suffering from dementia, an immigrant trawling the streets for scrap metal, and an artist taking snapshots of the city.
At the center of the installation will be an archive of examples and evidence from various models of alternative, non-monetary exchange systems. Rather than simply documenting these models, the archive stands as a political statement proposing a reformation towards autonomous communal patterns and forms of survival and resistance.
History Zero, specially commissioned for the Biennale, comes at a critical moment in contemporary Greek and European history. The artist views the culmination of the multi-layered crisis as an opportunity to interpret an alternative visualization of the future. History Zero implies not the end, but a point of departure, of recovery and growth: the beginning of something new. By approaching our relationship with money poetically, from a philosophical perspective, the artist proposes dynamic ways to reaffirm solidarity, cooperation and co-responsibility in response to the present crisis. The combination of the archive and films brings together the diverse culture surrounding economic exchange whilst challenging the social, political and performative aspect of alternative currency models.
You can read more about the project here

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