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Grants for Media Art 2021 of the Foundation of Lower Saxony at the Edith-Russ-Haus

The Jury, who came to their decision during an online-procedure, consisted of Cosmin Costinas, Emily Pethick, Edit Molnár and Marcel Schwierin.

 

This year’s applications Grants for Media Art of the Foundation of Lower Saxony at the Edith-Russ-Haus caused great difficulty for the jury. Not only did we receive the largest number of applications yet, but the high quality of the submissions made deciding on the final three recipients incredibly difficult. However, this task also brought the jury a lot of intellectual pleasure in thinking about the proposed projects.

Many of the proposals and ideas were forged under the pressures and conditions of the ongoing pandemic, but their interests and concerns went far beyond its limitations and presented ambitious attempts to speculate on rather broad issues. We detected several recurring topics, such as changing future scenarios under the climate catastrophe, the challenges of mass migration, the transformation of the art object in relation to the status of the museum in a postcolonial cultural landscape, mental fragility, and the possibilities for new forms of connectedness.

 

Rana Hamadeh

Production still of The Destiny Project, work-in-progress © Rana Hamadeh 2020ff

The ambitious application of Rana Hamadeh touched upon several of these dominant topics. She will develop her proposed work, Just Machines, a multichannel video installation, throughout 2021 as part of the umbrella project The Destiny Project. The artist writes: “The project is particularly invested in examining the production, consumption, circulation, and articulation of ‘desire’ within the contemporary global public discourse. It attunes itself to the economies, technologies, and destinies/destinations of ‘public desire’ as manifested in fields such as finance, AI, predictive analytics, and the emergent practices surrounding algorithmic justice.”

The jury was particularly interested in her attempt to rework historical materials to address contemporary questions and, while doing so, to experiment with visual languages to establish a new vocabulary connecting new technologies and mythologies. In this particular case, Hamadeh will translate the networked structures of the Sophoclean tragedy Oedipus Rex into a series of virtual spaces and scenes.

Her work embraces complexities—rather than distilling and breaking things down—in order to provide an experience of the myriad entanglements of life. Just Machines continues the artist’s ongoing scrutiny of the linguistic, legal, and performative infrastructures and technologies of justice, this time turning to the deeply relevant question of “desire” as a driving force of our societies.

 

Jim Jasper Lumbera

The First Sighting Of The Black Dog's Ghost © Jim Jasper Lumbera

The imaginative and creative oeuvre of Jim Jasper Lumbera thoroughly engages with archives and elements of Indigenous folklore in order to produce narratives and connections relevant to the current moment.

He moves comfortably through different mediums and artistic languages, sensitively engaging with spiritual practices and mythologies of peoples from the Philippines.

The latest installment of his project The Black Dog Which Causes Cholera engages with the colonial history of the Philippines, but it also bears weird resonances with the present pandemic. Lumbera has collected 7,000 images of movement and resistance—specifically, they trace a reclamation of territory by street dogs during the 2020 lockdown in the Philippines. His installation will combine the traditional format of 35 mm slides with contemporary high-resolution live-feed video images.

The artist states: “The work initiates the creation of a burial site for the ghosts of our colonial past, trapped in the border frames of the colonial gaze in photography that concealed the souls of our identity and history. The proposal includes construction of a memorial on the mass grave site of cholera victims during the 1900s war, in what happens to be my hometown, and where a volcano rests at the heart of the lake. The long spectacle of my town is the hauntings of our myths, and their continuous manifestation in our current social climate.

”The main ambition of Lumbera’s project is to break the colonial photographic framing of our contemporary biometric perspective, as well as identifying and lifting the curse of the colonial gaze in photography and global history.

The humorous undertone of Lumbera’s approach was also not lost on the jury, and we appreciated his sensitive storytelling through images.Lumbera will develop the proposed project in collaboration with filmmaker Joey Singh.

 

Hira Nabi

Production still of How To Love a Tree, work-in-progress © Hira Nabi 2021

“How can we coexist with nature in a ruined landscape?” asks Hira Nabi’s new project, which will be realized in the form of two moving-image works and an audio walk. To highlight the deeply collective nature of her art and her concerns regarding the reimagining of the postcolonial landscape in relation to the disappearing wild, Nabi is also planning to use part of her grant to organize a communal clean-up activity in the area of Murree in Pakistan, which was established as a garrison town and hill station for the colonial British military in the mid-nineteenth century.

Nabi writes: “What happened to these in-between spaces of English simulacrum in the colonial hinterlands? I am working on a short moving image work titled How to Love a Tree, which is set in the forest and surrounding town of Murree. … This work is my contemplation on a site of ecological ruin; it is my attempt to gather together narratives and testimonies for the ways in which extraction and exhaustion have been commanded, and how entire species of human and nonhuman beings have been subjugated, but not without leaving behind their own traces of resilience.

”With her new project, Nabi poses one of the central questions that many of today’s young artists are currently addressing: How can modern society establish a relationship with nature that is not based on the premises of domination, exploitation, and destruction? How to Love a Tree expands on this central question by researching cinematic relations and botanical migrations in South East Asia to try to envision new social forms and alliances.

 

 

Edith-Russ-Haus for Media Art, Katharinenstraße 23, D-26121 Oldenburg, Tel.: +49(0)441/235-3208, Fax.: +49(0)441/235-2161
Opening Hours: Tuesday - Friday 14:00 -18:00, Saturday - Sunday 11:00 - 18:00, Monday closed info@edith-russ-haus.de
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