Between southern archives and new narratives: Four new artistic projects have been selected for the web residencies by Solitude and ZKM on the topic »Ghosted 2018«. The artists Juan Covelli (Colombia/UK), Dananayi Muwanigwa (Zimbabwe), Sahej Rahal (India), and Léa Porré (UK) will work on their projects from April 9 until May 6, 2018. Their proposals include explorations of traditional African beauty/aesthetics with digital paintings, interactive games on Internet shamanism, mythology, and meme culture, 3D-print-archives where images can be downloaded and remixed by the user, and visual examinations of hyperreal oases in the no mans’-land of digital culture.
Read a statement by curator and juror Tegan Bristow on the selection process and find out how the artists responded to the topic:
The curatorial invitation was an exploration of the Ghosting of Indigenous Media Practices, starting with the notion that through colonialism and apartheid, many African cultures were denied participation in the progress of media technologies. All while scientific colonialism ensured – with access to natural resources as the fuel of modernism – the labeling of African cultures as stagnant and stuck in time.
The web residency call invited the exploration of similar influences in thinking about neocolonial (neoliberal) forms in the globalized digital landscape; where access to equitable use of technology and digital information is limited via a globalized cultural and social capital that prefers the North (or western world) over the South.
Excitingly the call yielded a fascinating response from across the globe, but unsurprisingly the applicants were predominantly from Europe and the UK. Whether this dominance is because the web residencies network is largely European or whether it is simply that Global South practitioners are not adequately or equitably connected – is something that needs to be better understood. But … despite the dominance of European applications, I was able to very quickly exclude from a short list any applicants that did not fully express an understanding – via their applications – of a motion toward decolonizing the globalized digital sphere. A short list of ten applicants was therefore easy to identify, but selecting four of these ten to take the residency was not as easy.
In my initial selection, I began to divide the ten into two strands of content:
One was of more established practitioners who came with strong southern archives, archives that presented nonwestern ways of doing and thinking into a worldwide digital archive, which is largely dominated by western ways of doing and thinking. Thereby not only adding new forms, but asking questions of the existing forms.
The other was a group of younger (dare we call them Post-Internet) artists who were proposing new narratives via interrogations as to how nonwestern content is negated in a world so dominated by western ways of doing and thinking.
Finally, I was able to choose a final list, based on offering a chance for new artists to explore and develop work for the world. The projects fell into the categories of both southern archive and new narratives.
This choice does not in any manner assume that the full length of ten short-listed applicants are not enormously important in understanding strategies toward how we decolonize the online world.
The following list of projects and artists offers a mix of exploratory questioning at the intersection of nonwestern cultures and online words. Each holds a level of questioning the role of mythology as an attempt to explore lost knowledges.
Sahej Rahal (India): »Dissonant Mythologies«
»This exciting exploration looks deep into the rift of neoliberalism and culture, via contemporary movements in online spaces. Not only a critique but an exploration of new methods and stories.«
Dananayi Muwanigwa (Zimbabwe): »Runako«
»Muwanigwa’s work as a young digital maker coming from Zimbabwe is an archive of an imagined future. Where will this go and how will it act to inspire young females forging their way through a contemporary digital sphere in Africa?«
Juan Covelli (Mexico / UK): »Speculating the Fragmented Copy«
»This work asks difficult questions about archive, ownership, and the bias of interpretation in the digital world – in a new and challenging manner. What happens as we increasingly digitize our physical life; how is culture and ownership present in this malaise?«
Léa Porré (UK): »Oasis or Mirage?«
»A work that asks where the no-mans’-land of digital culture is and the possibilities that may exist around a borderless and nonwestern location.«
The following present fascinating cases for archives within the digitalized world. Archives that speak not to the presence of lost knowledges, but to what is present and yet still unheard:
Özge Çelikaslan (Turkey / UK): Autonomous Archiving the Middle East – An intensive and excessive archive of life and being in the Middle East.
Luciana Ponte (Colombia): This is Elitism for the Masses – Here the notion of curated online content is put to task, unpacking the role of location, language, and intention that drives what and how we see media online in a Western-dominated world.
Robert B. Lisek (Serbia): FFG Experiment – This was one of the few technical experiments put forward, which acts to critique and challenge the very system on which our archives and content is presented or not presented.
Maja Das Gupta (India / UK): Banyan Tree – A fascinating potential exploration of one network, a family and their actions in a local and diasporic world.
Ian Clothier (New Zealand): Down Side Up – A large body of decolonizing formats has arisen from New Zealand. Shortlisting this project is a recognition of that history and the continued work of Southern communities in healing the world.
Laura Seal (South Africa): Glitching the City – A personal engagement that looks to layer the lived versus visual experience of living in Johannesburg, South Africa.
Text by Tegan Bristow
Find all shortlisted projects under this link.