VIS Issue 2 is published 23 September 2019. The Issue features five expositions within the theme ”Estrangement”. Editor: Magnus Bärtås.
Testifying for the Invisible: Documentary Poetics of Estrangement
Susanna Helke, Alejandro Pedregal
This exposition is a semi-dialogical inquiry into the potential of the methods and poetics of estrangement in documentary and political cinema, where we focus on the representation of the “neoliberal condition” in present-day society. We reflect on and rethink ideas that stem from various theories and strategies of emancipatory practices in cinema and literature. Here we acknowledge the tensions between conventions in for example social documentary, political cinema, and different conceptions of realism versus the idea of estrangement as an artistic strategy. The struggle to emancipate spectatorship and readership from the passivity and uncritical temptations promoted by the spectacles of the hegemonic culture industries has been a central concern in theoretical debates and artistic praxis that involves estrangement as a technique. How do Jacques Rancière’s notions on emancipation and radical equality challenge Brechtian ideas and methods of estrangement? How could the lineages of Third Cinema and testimonial literature help to rethink these matters today? What are actually the relevant means of estrangement in contemporary documentary art and literature?
Animalium is a continuation of the artistic research project Neither Fish nor Fowl which investigates the significance of affect in performing arts for kindergarten kids and consists of theatre-making, film making and writing. Affect has been philosophical, emotional, and material inspiration in the creative process, and in relation to the young children audience. The theatre project developed by Teater Fot is Inspired by posthumanist philosophies, and the project investigates human as animal in musical and sympoietic interplay with young children. We investigate the strange and weird in-between, in transition, in the undefinable; neither fish nor fowl, but perhaps chickenlion, orangerobot, dragonurchin or birdfish? The exposition is a translation from theatre to text, pictures, sound and video, and explores how the translation twists, twirks and turns the theatre into virtuality. By this translation details come close-up and new shapes and colours emerge – the body and space of theatre are transformed and translated into the strange materiality of the screen, and the work will expand in time.
Spin, Puppet, Spin: Drawing Estrangement
The life studio is an eccentric place and this exposition is populated by eccentric characters. The drawings and photographs contained in this research have all been created by studio puppets. Each puppet's awkward methods of working — stabbing, pulling, twisting a clutching hand — magnify the work’s unorthodox strategy. Puppets will illuminate the idiosyncrasies, malfunctions and estrangements typically surfeited in the life studio’s private sphere. This research responds to the work of E.T.A. Hoffmann (‘Spin, puppet, spin’) and George Méliès; puppet/art hybrid exhibitions; the Puppet Master horror franchise; and the lay figure of Gustave Courbet. Puppets are not alien in the life studio. Although they were typically concealed in the artist's process and hidden from public view, they were common fixtures until the 20th century. This exposition estranges artists and models from the life drawing apparatus and invites puppets to make pictures.
Listening in/to Exile: Migration and Media Arts
This exposition responds to the current flux of migration and the resulting condition of estrangement. The projects – an augmented book project and a corresponding media artwork – respond to mass migration, hyper-mobility, placeless-ness and nomadism, which are blurring the boundaries between the local and the global, the corporeal and the digital, the private and the public. Through an exploration of the poetic and critical capacities embedded in everyday listening the two projects attempt to shed light on the aesthetics of addressing the notion of exile, alienation and estrangement. The exposition let the viewer/reader engage with the artistic matter; namely, the field recordings and on-site writings - artistic acts of poetic contemplation grounded in a personal experience of the urban alienation, with the aim of movement towards self-understanding and emancipation.
The Baby Bucha Project
Anna Ting Möller
In this exposition, I confront my feelings about having been transnationally adopted. I do not consider adoption a ‘win-win situation’, and I encourage people to think critically about the practice as well as the glorification of it. The colorblindness with which I was encountered as a PoC growing up with white parents was an existential complication for me. I was plagued by feelings I could not understand at the time and grew isolated. I want to visually express the feeling of being estranged and alienated from one’s own body and the fear of drowning in one’s own skin. I have often felt compelled to unzip my skin suit and leave it next to my trousers in a heap on the floor. In this project, I grow my own skin in a vat – or more specifically, I grow a kombucha culture in tea and sugar. During the fermentation process, the kombucha culture creates a cellulose material that resembles human flesh. The process is a slow one, and developing the material demands a great deal of love and nutrition. In return, I get a self-produced material that enables me to work independently.