Histories of a Vanishing Present is a long-term initiative conceived as a flexible structure for the production of projects invested in generating original scholarship. Imagining the exhibition as a temporal form that is shaped over time and across a multiplicity of spatialities including but not limited to thematic shows, new commissions, events and situations, and publications, Histories of a Vanishing Present intends to transform the usually insular process of academic research into a forum of (for) public scholarship; into a site wherein critical inquiry happens in direct dialogue with audiences.
Histories of a Vanishing Present: A Prologue is curated by Cesar Garcia with Kris Kuramitsu, TMR's Deputy Director and Senior Curator.
Larry Achiampong & David Blandy, Aleksandra Domanovic, Maria Taniguchi & Kemang Wa Lehulere
Larry Achiampong & David Blandy, Finding Fanon Part Two, 2015
Finding Fanon Two, part of The Finding Fanon trilogy by UK based artists Larry Achiampong and David Blandy, is inspired by the lost plays of Frantz Fanon (1925-1961), a politically radical humanist whose practice dealt with the psychopathology of colonization and the social and cultural consequences of decolonization. Throughout the series, Achiampong and Blandy negotiate Fanon’s ideas, examining the politics of race, racism and decolonization, and how these societal issues affect our relationship amidst an age of new technology, popular culture, and globalization. For Finding Fanon Part Two, Achiampong and Blandy collide art-house cinema with digital culture’s Machinima, resulting in a work that explores the post-colonial condition from inside a simulated environment – the Grand Theft Auto 5 in-game video editor. The video work combines several stories, including how the artists’ familial histories relate to colonial history, an examination of how their relationship is formed through the virtual space, and thoughts on the implications of the post-human condition.
Finding Fanon Part Two was originally commissioned by Brighton Digital Festival and produced by Artsadmin.
Aleksandra Domanovic: Turbo Sculpture
Turbo Sculpture investigates how image culture and information flows have contributed to the postwar cultural environment of the former Yugoslavia. Consisting of a digital slide show and audio narration, Turbo Sculpture traces the emergence of a new kind of public art in the ex-Yugoslavia republics wherein local authorities in a bid to provide new points of identification for their communities chose to erect bronze monuments of western pop cultural heroes—such as Johnny Depp and Sylvester Stalone’s ‘Rocky Balboa’—rather than immortalize their own political leaders following a tumultuous period of war and violence in the region. In this work Domanovic powerfully reveals the ways in which these statues memorializing popular commodities reflect the region’s own emergence within capitalist markets and how this rejection of the themes and figures typically associated with public monuments constitutes a denial of history through radical transformations of iconographic traditions. By looking at the efforts of a region that does not want to bear witness to its past, Turbo Sculpture’s anti-monuments highlight how history itself can become material for re-invention.
Maria Taniguchi: Untitled (Celestial Motors)
Celestial Motors is a visual meditation on an icon of modern urban Philippine life - the jeepney. This ubiquitous form of public transportation, originally built from U.S. military jeeps left on the islands after World War II, is normally exuberantly painted and personalized. Taniguchi's formal video portrait instead focuses on a gleaming stainless steel example, fresh from the Celestial Motors factory. Nearly static, abstracted details of the jeepney are intercut with deliberate pans across its body; it is silent and slow—two words one would never use to describe a jeepney in use—allowing this postcolonial object to resonate fully.
Kemang Wa Lehulere: A Homeless Song (Sleep is for the Gifted)
A Homeless Song (Sleep is for the Gifted) is an imaginative re-staging of historic South African play “The Island” by John Kani, Winston Ntshona and Athol Fugard. Choreographed in collaboration with Khayelihle Dominique Gumede, the film records the staging of a somber dance mapping a fractured history onto moving bodies. Two pairs of dancers navigate the space as units, bearing each other’s weight in various ways to emerge as new, shared forms. In acts of repetition that situate the archive in the realm of the corporeal, the dancers carry large bones from one pile to another, moving back and forth in a cyclical pattern that suggests the continual unearthing of history and the passing of bodies through land and time. Simultaneously, exchanging bones from pile to pile proposes death as both systematic and unknown, connecting to Wa Lehulere’s larger interest in working through the troubling ruins of the apartheid era and the many graves, both real and imaginary, that have yet to be discovered.
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