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Silvia Martes: Mechanical Manifestations

02 February 2023, 14:00 - 26 March 2023, 18:00

Mechanical Manifestations is the first solo show in Germany of the Dutch artist Silvia Martes, who primarily works with film. She plays with her medium on multiple levels: experiments in nonlinear storytelling span genres, from thriller and sci-fi to documentary, melodrama, and comedy. She often investigates the shifts in power relations within filmic representations, comments on autobiographical storytelling, and explores the blurring of boundaries through pseudo-fiction.

Martes’s wide-ranging interest in the sciences, encompassing fields such as neurology, psychology, and physics, feeds into her adventurous, playful, and often humorous—yet not entirely prescribed—film scripts. Her narratives gradually develop through research and committed conversations with both her actors and the filming locations. This deliberately capricious way of working remains visible in the completed films. Since the stories intertwine with autobiographical details, Martes keeps control over as many aspects of production as possible, undertaking nearly every step of the filmmaking process herself: she builds the sets, runs the camera, acts, directs, and edits. Conflicting and deeply troubling ideological and political dilemmas are portrayed through the staging of conflicts and in her association-heavy, dreamlike storytelling style.

The insertion of photographs, voice-overs, and rapid cuts into the filmed footage acknowledges the fact that any given story always contains references to other stories—most of which remain unarticulated and untold. One such untold story prompted Martes’s newly commissioned multimedia installation, Heru Ku Heru pt. 1 (2023), which was inspired by travel routes taken by the artist’s family. The work revolves around the complex history of descendants of émigrés from the Caribbean island of Curaçao to the Netherlands and takes a twofold format: it comprises both a fictional story, which follows characters visiting a Curaçao diner, and nonfictional interviews with Dutch residents with Caribbean roots. Heru Ku Heru pt. 1 dives into their mythical memories and investigates the sensitive and complex legacy of colonialism from a contemporary perspective.

This solo presentation of Martes’s work at the Edith-Russ-Haus for Media Art revolves around a fascinating feature of her oeuvre: her elaborate yet homemade film sets and spatial designs, which weave a captivating atmosphere. This exhibition sets out to send these sceneographic installations on a renewed journey, giving them scope to take over the gallery space and break through filmic boundaries.

Silvia Martes’s exhibition, presented as part of her 2022 Grant for Media Art from the Foundation of Lower Saxony, offers generous insight into the artist’s exciting practice, which maintains a tone of hope, and sometimes humor, even as it deals with complex and heavy topics.

The exhibition is sponsored by the Ministry for Science and Culture of Lower Saxony, Stiftung Niedersachsen, Mondrian Fonds, Kingdom of the Netherlands.

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
Ein Ausstellungshaus der
Stadt Oldenburg