Every Day Words Disappear
3 February - 10 March
Johan Grimonprez’s critically acclaimed work dances on the borders of practice and theory, art and cinema, documentary and fiction, demanding a double take on the part of the viewer. Informed by an archeology of present-day media, his work seeks out the tension between the intimate and the bigger picture of globalisation. It questions our contemporary sublime, one framed by a fear industry that has infected political and social dialogue. By suggesting new narratives through which to tell a story, his work emphasises a multiplicity of realities.
The exhibition takes its title from the film ‘Every Day Words Disappear’ (2016). In 1515 Machiavelli stated that it would be better for the Prince to be feared, than loved. Some 500 years later, Michael Hardt, political philosopher and co-author of ‘Empire, Multitude and Commonwealth’, asks in this film what it would mean to base a political system on love, rather than on fear. In the dystopian city-state ‘Alphaville’, of Godard's eponymous film, all words and concepts relating to the idea of love and affection have been banned. When actress Anna Karina tries to express her feelings, she has to reinvent the words, for the concept of love is foreign to her. Like the protagonist in ‘Alphaville’, Hardt suggests that we need to redefine the tools to act politically together. Hardt embarks on a journey to identify the transformative powers of the ongoing struggle to re-invent democracy. Within this struggle he understands “the commons” as an antidote against a society run by fear; an inspiration for a paradigm that is based on dialogue and cooperation.
How can we transform a society that is increasingly defined by a permanent state of war and cultivated by an industry of fear? How can we realise the paradigm shift necessary to move away from a reality that depends on the exploitation of people and the cult of privatising public resources? Hardt looks for an answer in what he calls “the commons”, by which he refers not only to natural resources, but also to the languages we create and the relationships we conceive together.
The exhibition follows the trajectory of Grimponprez’s practice from his seminal work ‘dial H-I-S-T-O-R-Y’ (1997), which documented the history of plane hijacking from the late 1960s to the 1990s, set against the backdrop depicting a dialogue between a terrorist and a novelist, where the latter contends that the terrorist or bomb-maker has taken over the writer’s territory as he is able to play the media more succinctly. This piece was made prior to 9/11 that transformed geopolitics, to his most recent works, ‘Blue Orchids’ (2017) and ‘Raymond Tallis, On Tickling’ (2017); two new films. This will be the first presentation of these films – as well as ‘What I Will’ – in Northern Ireland and the UK.
In ‘Blue Orchids’, Grimonprez creates a portrait diptych of two experts on opposite sides of the same issue – the global arms trade. The stories of Chris Hedges, the former war correspondent of The New York Times, and Riccardo Privitera, a former arms & equipment dealer of Talisman Europe Ltd (now dissolved), provide an unusual and disturbing context for shocking revelations about the industry of war. The UK’s arms industry makes about 20% of arms exported globally. Many of the UK customers have questionable human rights records and there are concerns that exported weapons are used for repression, or against military targets, (such as presently sent to Saudi-Arabia to bomb Yemen). This film has a local resonance since one of the world’s leading arms manufacturers was once based in Derry. In 2010, anti-war activists occupied their offices, protesting their activities, which resulted in the company’s decision to close their offices; demonstrating the power of collective resistance.
‘Blue Orchids’ will be immediately followed by ‘Raymond Tallis, On Tickling’. In this short film philosopher/neurologist Raymond Tallis argues that consciousness is not an internal construct, but rather relational. Through the intriguing idea that humans are physically unable to tickle themselves (despite applying the exact same stimulus to the skin as another person would), Tallis explores the philosophical notion that we become ourselves only through dialogue with others.
‘What I Will’ (2013) is a poignant poem written and narrated by Palestinian-American Suheir Hammad. The flashing footage of military parades and anti-aircraft guns provide the backdrop to her powerful voice, in a time when we have seen unprecedented numbers of people protesting against war this is a valiant protest poem.
Grimonprez’s works provides us with the tools to deconstruct and be critical of the mass media, the State, and the narrative that is driven through different mediums. We are living in complex times; politics are entering the realm of the surreal, the media landscape is totally transformed and with the acceleration of information we need to question what becomes normalised through the landscape of images that we absorb.
- For further details about the artist please visit http://www.johangrimonprez.be/main/home.html
- ‘Expanded Documentary and Embodied Infrastructure in Artists’ Film’ talk by Maeve Connolly
Saturday 24 February at 2pm
Maeve Connolly co-directs the MA in Art & Research Collaboration (ARC) at Dun Laoghaire Institute of Art, Design & Technology, Dublin. She is the author of TV Museum: Contemporary Art and the Age of Television (Intellect, 2014), on television as cultural form, object of critique and site of artistic intervention, and The Place of Artists’ Cinema: Space, Site and Screen (Intellect, 2009), on the cinematic turn in contemporary art. Recent publications include contributions to anthologies such as Workshop of the Film Form, (Fundacja Arton and Sternberg Press, 2017), Extended Temporalities: Transient Visions in the Museum and in Art (Mimesis International, 2016) and Exhibiting the Moving Image: History Revisited (JRP Ringier, 2015). Her current research focuses on art practice and the matter of infrastructural change.
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- Book Launch – 'Ghost-Haunted Land: Contemporary art and post-Troubles Northern Ireland'
Declan Long in conversation with Willie Doherty
Friday 2 March, 6:30pm
Void is delighted to welcome Declan Long to launch his new book 'Ghost-Haunted Land: Contemporary art and post-Troubles Northern Ireland' at the gallery on Friday 2nd March from 6:30pm when he will be in conversation with Willie Doherty.
Since the signing of the Good Friday Agreement in 1998 – the formal end-point of the thirty-year modern 'Troubles' – contemporary visual artists have offered diverse responses to post-conflict circumstances in Northern Ireland. In Ghost-Haunted Land – the first book-length examination of post-Troubles contemporary art – Declan Long highlights artists who have reflected on the ongoing anxieties of aftermath.
This wide-ranging study addresses developments in video, photography, painting, sculpture, performance and more, offering detailed analyses of key works by artists based in Ireland and beyond – including 2014 Turner Prize winner Duncan Campbell and internationally acclaimed filmmaker and photographer Willie Doherty. 'Post-Troubles' contemporary art is discussed in the context of both local transformations and global operations – and many of the main points of reference in the book come from broader debates about the place and purpose of contemporary art in today's world.
The Irish Times
"Ghost-Haunted Land is a foundational work of art criticism that will stand alongside Colin Graham's study of photography and the North as a first point of reference for anyone interested in the Troubles and their cultural legacies."
— Nicholas Allen, The IrishTimes, December 2017
Declan Long Biography
Declan Long is Programme Director of the MA Art in the Contemporary World at the National College of Art & Design, Dublin. He is a regular contributor to Artforum and Frieze magazines. He is a board member of both the Douglas Hyde Gallery, Dublin and the EVA International biennial of contemporary art. In 2013 he served as a member of the Turner Prize judging panel.
Willie Doherty Biography
Willie Doherty is the Professor of Video Art at the University of Ulster.
Since the early 1990s, Willie Doherty has had numerous international solo exhibitions, including the Stadtische Galerie in Lenbachhaus und Kunstbau, Munich and Hamburger Kunstverein, Hamburg; Dallas Museum of Art, Dallas, Texas; The Speed Art Museum, Louisville, Kentucky; Fruitmarket Gallery, Edinburgh; Laboratorio Arte Alameda, Mexico City; The Irish Museum of Modern Art, Dublin; The Renaissance Society, Chicago, Illinois.
His work has also been presented in prestigious international group exhibitions, including dOCUMENTA 13, Kassel, Germany, 2012; Manifesta 8, Murcia, Spain, 2010; 51st Venice Biennale, Venice, Italy, 2005; 8th Istanbul Biennial, Istanbul, Turkey, 2003; 25th Sao Paulo Biennial, Sao Paulo, Brazil, 2002; and Carnegie International, Pittsburgh, PA,1999.
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