Your Country Doesn't Exist

04 Your Country Doesn't Exist

Wednesday December 7, 2011
At the GYM in the main building of the Rietveld Academie
2-4 PM


'We were in a better position than you': Art and the Active Present by Ernst van den Hemel
Each week a spoken column offers a personal reflection on the topic of the previous edition. Borut Vogelnik's (Irwin, Neue Slovenische Kunst) contribution to We Are The Time 03, in which he sketched the history of Irwin throughout the post-Yugoslavian era, concluded with a seemingly discouraging phrase: "We were in a better position than you". It was somehow easier to make relevant art in the post-Yugoslavian turmoil. Yet, far from being discouraging, Vogelnik's statement and his presentation on Irwin's history of migration to Moscow and the US, also reminds us that past artistic projects can be valuable sources for artists and continually inform their present work. By discussing the 'retroprinciple' as presented by Vogelnik, and a number of artistic examples (including Laibach, techno music, Malevich) this idea of art as an active present is explored.

Ernst van den Hemel (1981) completed a PhD on history, religion and politics. He currently teaches at Amsterdam University College, and is working on a book on Alain Badiou and (political) art. As an activist van den Hemel has been active for the squatters / artists collective Schijnheilig, the autonomous festival Damoclash and Occupy Amsterdam.

Your Country Doesn't Exist
by Libia Castro & Ólafur Ólafsson

Can the citizens of nation states have any real political influence on the global economic system ? And what about those ethnic groups, undocumented migrants and refugees that have no (longer) a nation to refer to? Your Country Doesn't Exist is an ongoing campaign, begun in 2003, for which the Spanish-Icelandic duo Libia & Ólafur have traveled the world spreading the message, "Your country doesn't exist" in different languages and through various visual modes, including billboards, TV advertisements and wall-drawings. Last summer Libia and Ólafur, whose collaborations explore the political, socio-economic, and personal forces that affect life in the present day, were invited to represent Iceland at the 54th Venice Biennial. At their show Under Deconstruction along with the works Constitution of the Republic of Iceland and Exorcising Ancient Ghosts, Castro and Ólafsson presented three new iterations of Your Country Doesn't Exist by means of sculpture, musical performance and a video, neon-sign, and a "do-it-your-self" painting painted by the Icelandic ambassador to Germany. For this fourth edition of We Are The Time, Libia and Ólafur will introduce and discus the project and screen the full video Tuo Paese Non Esiste (Your Country Doesn't Exist) which documents the performance of the music piece, bearing the same title, as it is performed on a gondola through the canals of Venice.

The artists Libia Castro and Ólafur Ólafsson met during their postgraduate studies in the Netherlands in 1997 and have been collaborating since. Apart from the 54th Venice Biennial they have furthermore shown in international exhibitions at major museums, contemporary art centers, galleries, biennials, artist's initiatives, streets, TV and film festivals. In 2008 they participated in Manifesta 7 and in 2009, were awarded third place in the prestigious Dutch art prize, Prix de Rome, for their video work Lobbyists.

Outwardly from Earth's Center by Rosa Barba

Outwardly from Earth's Center (2007) is a fictitious narrative about the inhabitants of an island, an unstable piece of land that is in danger of disappearance. The situation requires the population's collective initiative in order to secure individual survival and to allow this society to remain. The reports from experts strengthen the surrealistic atmosphere that creepily offsets the experience of what first can be considered a beautiful documentary, and second a more abstract, absurd picture of a people's struggle and vulnerability.

Rosa Barba (1972) an italian born artist, lives and works in Berlin and is best known for her 16- and 35 mm films and installations.

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