with video works by William E. Jones, Zhenchen Liu and Clemens von Wedemeyer
Curated by Viktor Neumann
FEAR. POWER. SPACE. investigates procedures and strategies in the generation of fear through the economy of power, fueled in territorial, cultural or media spaces as the stage of in- or exclusion. This second part of the exhibition series, also presented at the Senatsreservespeicher, focuses on the relationship of social and physical spaces under the specific perspective of political and economic relations.
In the current debates there are heterogeneous images and concepts of space coexisting; the question of how space treated comes to the fore. The once clearly defined borders between interior and exterior, own and other, private and public are not dissolved, but they become ever more diffuse. It is this blur that provokes the exertion of efforts from the side of political and economic power holders in terms of proceeding to contain what they perceive as dangers in the contemporary complexity of differentiations. The methods of strategically repressive politics of power and technocratic models of space organization function towards normalizing undesirable behavior or excluding it, in order to establish new borders and limits.
FEAR. POWER. SPACE. Part 2 presents three video works which decidedly reflect on the relationship between the organization of space and power:
William E. Jones´ Tearoom (1962/2007) is based on found footage of police surveillance tapes in a men´s toilet in Mainsfield, Ohio, in 1962, in which men of various age, class and ethnic background engage in sexual activity. Years before the Stonewall Movement and legalization of homosexuality, this film material taken through a spy mirror served as evidence in court, during the trial of all 38 men identified. The minimum sentence established by law against sodomy demanded one year incarceration and psychiatric treatment including then-still-popular shock treatment or treatment through chemicals and hormones. The sexually explicit images, with their own esthetics of colored graininess from the 16mm recording, joined by their short and often repetitive apparently performative takes, lack eroticism of any manner: gesturing and body language are the witnesses of a fear that seems to prophesize the need and fate of their hiding. The minimalistic way Jones handles this material – he adds title and credits, and places the last sequence ´of police instructions in the beginning – preserves the artifact dimension of the original material. The reauthoring of the document narrates the oppressed hystory of men whose individuality was reduced to their sexuality with violence.
Zhenchen Liu´s Under Construction (2007) is the second part of a trilogy dealing with the explosive architectural and urban transformations in Shanghai. Through digital image stills and computer generated animations, a 3D camera excursion is set in motion in the ruins of houses destroyed in the modernization process of an old neighborhood of the city. The camera floats over the neighborhood debris unstopped by walls or windows, while ghostly apparitions surface often in the decaying landscape. The hyper real film language is broken by the documentary style encounter with two undisclosed inhabitants of the neighborhood and driven into a brutal reality: physically and psychologically abused, driven out to move or into homelessness, their speech is generated through the fear faced before their own fate, shared by around 100.000 thousand people in Shanghai every year. Separated territorially and driven out to the margins of the social fabric through multiplying exclusion, the individuals appear as no more than bodies, alone and exclusively busy with next-day survival. The former living space is reinvented as drawing-board to pacify economic and representational interests. The individual human fate succumbs to technocratic models of space organization.
Clemens von Wedemeyer´s Otjesd (Weggang/Leaving) (2005) tells the story of a group of people attempting to be granted permission to leave the country at the German consulate in Moscow. Filmed as a plan sequence in the woods outside Berlin and conceived as a loop, Otjesd follows a young woman seeking to channel her path in a heterotopic space, between administrative surveillance burocracy and group dynamics. Enclosed by fences, grids and control checks, she meets during her stay at the waiting area officials, street vendors, banal restrictions and a mass of other applicants, either laconically busy with themselves or perpetuating the disciplinations from above among their equals. The loop contains a central dimension: caught in a space which has been reduced by relations of power, the young woman has her entrance at the consulat repeatedly denied; she must abide a restricted limbo. Clemens von Wedemeyer ascertains that national borders or systems do not simply disappear because of sociopolitical upheavals, but resurface in other points in a maybe less clearly defined form. The promised and praised possibilities of border overstepping freedom, the change from given territorial space to chosen territorial space do not apply to everyone in the same measure. Otjesd is presented with The Making of Otjesd (2005) at the request of the artist.