Video art screening with the work of Maja Smrekar (SL), Laurence Favre (CH), Rhona Mühlebach (CH) curated by Tatiana Bogacheva
With support of the Swiss Embassy in Berlin
Rhona Mühlebach, "Excitement is not part of my feeling repertoire" (2021), 26’30’’
Maja Smrekar, "I Hunt Nature and Culture Hunts Me" (2014), 9’13’’
Laurence Favre, "Resistance" (2017), 11’
Long before climate collapse became an integral part of contemporary cultural discourse, animals were inspiring, challenging, and more recently began to co-create works of art. Animal turn in art and theory has challenged the position of animals and nature, who have become convenient metaphors of those who have no voice. The title gives tribute to the seminal work of Oleg Kulik, which articulated the pragmatic demand for interspecies justice and radical democracy without interspecies discrimination. Building on the previous project World of Now (2019-2020), ABA present three video works with the hope of evoking the astonishment and wonder that arise when art meets the non-human.
Rhona Mühlebach worked on her video "Excitement is not part of my feeling repertoire" during her residency at ABA in 2020-2021. Several human protagonists of the video appear troubled by their emotional dilemmas. Rhona mixes different genres – criminal TV-show, musical, scientific or historical documentary, and (crude) digital animation – in the same frame thus disorienting a viewer trying to trace a storyline. This uncertainty and confusion, articulated in the monologues of the protagonists and intentionally created by the fragmented narrative, is interrupted by a self-assured and borderline sociopathic commentary of a wild swine.
The video performance of Maja Smrekar "I Hunt Nature and Culture Hunts Me" (2014) is a part of her research project K-9_topology which investigates the parallel evolution of the human and the canine and the potential of alternative forms of co-evolution. In this particular performance, she brings up two references of artistic reflections on art-nature dichotomy: Joseph Beuys and Oleg Kulik, quoted by the narrator, both speak of the aspiration to access the animalistic as an integral part of artistic practice. Maja Smrekar acknowledges the impossibility of this aspiration and at the same time takes a radical step to manifest her readiness to transcend the barrier between the human and the animal.
"Resistance" (2017) by Laurence Favre is a tribute to nature as a force which withstands the destructive influence of the human embodied in a remote landscape. For all its imposing monumentality and dignified indifference, the glacier in the video is subjected to the same process of inevitable decay. The video evokes awe which one experiences when confronted with nature, but also reminds us of the inescapable human, all too human, existential fear.
Maja Smrekar's (SL) work combines practice based artistic research exploring the potentials of current technologically and scientifically rooted processes and materials, such as from ecology, ethology, artificial intelligence, robotics, biotechnology, molecular biology, etc. She has been using her artistic voice to speak on ecofeminism, inter-species relationships, technology and ideological structures in society. Her practice has allowed her to lead strong collaborations in developing productions that include cross-conceptual staging of hybrid art, performance, installations, site-specific art, performative photography, drawing and video as well as contributions to knowledge exchanged within lectures, talks and texts.
Laurence Favre (CH) works with still and moving images. Her work explores how to divert the dualities between the visible and the invisible, presence and absence, visibility and invisibility, memory and oblivion, as well as the real and the fictional, generating poetic spaces where movement can be triggered. In the last several years she has been focusing on colonial and environmental matters. Her films have been shown in Locarno film festival, Rotterdam IFFR, Hong Kong HKIFF, Guanajuato GIFF among others, as well as in art spaces and informal spaces. Laurence works and lives in Berlin and Geneva, is an active member of the artist-run filmlab LaborBerlin and part of the organizing team of SPECTRAL, a collaboration between 6 european artist-run filmlabs on Expanded Cinematic Arts.
Rhona Mühlebach (CH) lives in Glasgow and works primarily with video, audio and text. She graduated from the University of Art and Design Lausanne, BA Film, in 2014 and the Glasgow School of Art, MFA, in 2017. Recent activities include shows at the Kunstraum Kreuzlingen (solo), Swiss Art Awards, LUX Scotland &Ajabu Ajabu, ABA Berlin, Travelling Gallery Scotland, Intermedia Gallery CCA Glasgow (solo), Alchemy Film &Arts Hawick (solo), Sic! Raum für Kunst Luzern (solo), Joburg Fringe, Bloomberg New Contemporaries. Rhona’s videos have been screened at numerous international film festivals.