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On Love, Departures and Countering Defeats in Choleric Times. Three Stagings

12 Nov '14 – 1 Nov '15
Office for Contemporary Art Norway
Nedre gate 7

‘On Love, Departures and Countering Defeats in Choleric Times. Three Stagings’, was a project that evolved through three individual, yet interconnected presentations involving lecture performances, talks, unfinished moments and exhibition fragments, all of which contribute to speculations around the choleric moment we are experiencing globally.

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'Love Letter to Mars' installation view. Photo: OCA / Herman Dreyer

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Opening of 'Love Letter to Mars'. Performance by Lara Khaldi and Yazan Khalili. Photo: OCA / Herman Dreyer

‘Of Love, Departures and Countering Defeats in Choleric Times. Three Stagings’ consists of concrete, yet interconnected, presentations developed between autumn 2014 and autumn 2015, by artists Lara Khaldi / Yazan Khalili in Staging One; Ayreen Anastas / Rene Gabri with Ben Morea in Staging Two; Basel Abbas / Ruanne Abou-Rahme in Staging Three, which reflect upon the choleric moment we are experiencing globally.

Contemporary historians are currently debating the degenerative roots and the consequences of the uncertain conditions within which we currently exist, affecting socio-political, religious, environmental and financial terrains. With this global context in mind the project’s three reflexive stagings consider how the unraveling of modernity relies on the ongoing sense of fracture and instability in our times. In ‘Of Love, Departures and Countering Defeats in Choleric Times. Three Stagings’ the artists together with guest philosophers, historians and anthropologists, invite us to imagine alternatives that might counter the sense of frozen inaction and despondency these vertiginous forces provoke in our society.

Within this context, the project speculates on the possibility to transform the degeneration of an open-ended state of worldly affairs into a moment of intellectual and social strength, through experimental, flux-based and un-concluded artistic projects that explore the intimacy of love, the fiction of history and the illusion of modernity, amongst other ideas, as empowering tools for contemporary reflection.

‘Of Love, Departures and Countering Defeats in Choleric Times. Three Stagings’ also explores the parameters of duration within the exhibition format and the force of incompletion within the constitution of the art work. Audiences are hence invited to return for three stagings during the space of twelve months, and engage with a variety of elements including a lecture performance whose individual components have an afterlife once the performance is over, talks that interlink the stagings, a film produced live in situ and spatially deconstructed, various unfinished moments within the art work and the use of the fragment – sonic and visual – as a way in which to question production.

Historically, as spaces of the public sphere exhibitions have been sites for aesthetic experimentation, dissemination of materials and confrontation with new technologies, they are often described as a spatial form. Yet exhbitions can also be understood as a time based practice with a particular aptitude for weaving together different registers of temporality which confronts the spectator with the technological and economic contradictions governing display cultures. Weaving in an interdisciplinary language into the vocabulary of exhibitions - such as mise en scene, scenario, choreography and dramaturgy - emphasises the subjective building frame of exhibitions, and denaturalises them.

The importance of time, instability, inconclusiveness and transformation highlights a factor in the way of working of an artist, of a curator, of a writer, who may be activating this time, or times, into an exhibition.

As intermittent thoughts between the three stagings the philosopher Sami Khatib gave a lecture titled ‘Divine Violence and the Ban of the Law’ to address the inherently instrumental role of violence in the formation of ethics and aesthetics in the modern concept of the nation state. Artists Rene Gabri and Ayreen Anastas, and anthropologists Caterina Pasqualino and Arnd Schneider engaged in the conversation ‘Ethnography of the Self: The Status of Everyday Life’ to analyse radical anthropological approaches and modes of observation that have built scenarios of spontaneity, scripting and speculation. With a lecture titled ‘Pirates, exiles, runaway youths, merchants and other migrants in ancient Italy and Plautus: the comedy and reality of a borderless world’ historian Elena Isayev presented an ancient world and a society with no national borders, nor citizenship, defined by territory. Professor of Anthropology and Gender Studies Elizabeth Povinelli took as point of departure the dispute that broke out in the 1960s between the two theorists Gilles Deleuze and Alain Badiou over the role of the philosopher and the procedures of truth, the nature of the event and the possibility of revolutionary politics, to address how pivotal to both was the status, affects, and militancies of love.

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'Love Letter to Mars' installation view. Photo: OCA / Herman Dreyer