Susan Kelly, Klaus Weber, Aleksandra Mir, Eva Berendes, Goshka Macuga and Lali Chetwynd, Veit Stratmann, Seamus Nolan, Declan Clarke and Paul McDevitt
The artists in this exhibition where asked to consider the word communism and to make a work in response to it. This process elicited a variety of results, including small-scale experiments in social practice, re-imagined historical events, public activities, modest but practical proposals and future prototypes.
Communism was presented in co-operation with the British Council, Dublin City Gallery The Hugh Lane and the Goethe-Institut Dublin.
In 1902 Lenin published a book entitled ‘What Is to Be Done?‘ inspired by Nikolai Chernyshevsky’s novel in which, amongst other things, a group of textile workers organise in response to their exploitation. A contemporary artwork of the same name poses this question for today, and its inclusion in the exhibition Communism, in part, frames this question in relation to the term communism itself. Communism is generally ringed around with caution, identified as a failed ideology and provided as proof positive that any system outside the current neo liberal hegemony is unthinkable. In opposition to this, certain strands of political theory, associated with the Italian Autonomia movement, perceive communism (or acts undertaken in the ‘common name’) to be present everywhere, only unrecognised, invisible or captured and oriented towards profit and it is from this second position that the exhibition departs.
Susan Kelly took Lenin’s original question ‘What Is to Be Done?‘ and represented it today by gathering audiences’ responses on slips of paper. This work has toured Russia, Finland and the US and has also appeared on the Internet, at Project, past suggestions and blank slips where displayed on furniture taken from Rodchenko’s design for the ‘Workers Reading Room’ of 1925. Klaus Weber produced a to-scale model of a future building, made from mirror and glass. Called ‘Psycho-Botanic-Mirror-House, Draft for Commune‘ it was mounted on a small table and contained a living plant with hallucinogenic properties. The sculpture was accompanied by a series of photographs of the artist’s friends emitting water from different orifices, to form a human fountain. Aleksandra Mir has designed the invitation, which doubled as a mail art work and includes an interview with Jim Fitzpatrick the original designer of the Che Guevara poster. Eva Berendes has produced a four meter high spray painted curtain, which will be suspended from a triangular track attached to the gallery ceiling, forming a screened off area at the centre of the exhibition. Using this space as a theatrical backdrop, Goshka Macuga and Lali Chetwynd staged a performance with two elements running simultaneously: one, a Lenin impersonator delivering a speech in German, the other a recreation of the Dadaist Cabaret Voltaire, with costumes and masks designed by the artists. Veit Stratmann’s sculpture ‘chairs‘ will be positioned in Project’s foyer. The work consists of wheeled office chairs joined back to back. They allow people to sit and move together around the building on the basis that they act collaboratively. Seamus Nolan set up an open workshop in one of Project’s storage spaces at the front of the building. Here abandoned and reclaimed bicycles where reconfigured into working machines. In collaboration with the Dublin City Gallery The Hugh Lane, artists Declan Clarke and Paul McDevitt installed a concrete table tennis table on O’ Connell Street as a monument to leisure on Dublin’s main thoroughfare. Table tennis bats where available free of charge from the Dublin Tourism Information Centre on O’ Connell Street.
Tim Stott review of Communism, published in Circa
Watch the review on RTE’s arts programme, The View, 25th January 2005
Hito Steyerl’s film ‘November‘ addresses the theme of revolutionary gesture in a supposedly post-revolutionary context. The film shows clips of a martial arts movie that Steyerl made with her friend Andrea Wolf, as well as material connected to Wolf’s working with Kurdish separatists, work which eventually lead to her being shot by security forces in East Anatolia. ‘November‘ was screened in Project’s Cube during the end of January.
Seminar in Collaboration with the Hugh Lane Gallery
On January 29th Project Arts Centre and the Hugh Lane Gallery hosted a short seminar on the topic of communism and the issue of immaterial labour and cultural work. Speakers will include Eric Alliez, Maurizio Lazzarato, Hito Steyerl and Alberto Toscano. If artists produce the ultimate model of precarious casual working conditions, free labour and flexible subjectivity, how can we conceive of cultural work as critical, or the artist’s existence as in any way autonomous under these new conditions? The seminar explored what is meant by the terms immaterial labour, affective labour, flexible collective intelligence, and free labour. It also addressed more generalised changes in work and working conditions and what currently constitutes artistic, creative and cultural work. Are the ways in which artists make a living today, and prevalent forms of relational art practices simply ideal models of Post-Fordist production? Finally, in a neo-liberal flexible economy like Ireland’s where the marketing of culture has played a large role in the ‘economic miracle’, how can we conceive of critical, political, or affirmative (collective) art practices? Following the seminar Hito Steyerl talked about her film ‘November,’ which was then screened in the Space Upstairs at Project. The seminar took place at Project.
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