Sara Eliassen 

Mediating Uncertainties 

Kunsthøgskolen i Oslo, Kunstakademiet

Oslo National Academy of the Arts, Academy of Fine Art 

Viva voce:

6 October 2023




Assessment committee:

Apolonija Sustersic, Professor (Chair)

Daniel van der Velden, Professor, from collective Metahaven (First opponent)
Doreen Mende, Professor (second opponent)


Doktorgradsarbeidet er tilgjengelig i Kunsthøgskolens vitenarkiv KHIODA.

The artistic research project Mediating Uncertainties reflects upon the crucial role images, media narratives and propagated histories play in naturalizing processes of dominant ideologies— in order to ask what modes of aesthetic resistance could, in turn, be mobilised today. Following the insight of Mark Fisher writing in Capitalist Realism: Is There No Alternative? (2009): “An ideological position can never be really successful until it is naturalized… and it cannot be naturalized while it is still thought of as a value, rather than a fact.” Further reflecting upon strategic media productions of fear, often connected to a vision of an uncertain or violent future, how can we as producers of images respond: Mediating Uncertainties suggests we need to tackle these questions by developing connections and facilitate interpretative communities, “mediating” a multiplicity of alternate narratives and modes of resistance in order to reassess how memories and histories are being produced.

Two different investigations have been happening in parallel throughout the project, informing each-other and at times overlapping: materials from different times and places, and with different means of dissemination; constructed to shape public opinion in specific interests—naturalizing beliefs and political ideas. These investigations have revolved around historical and archival material from the early days of propaganda cinema and cultural production in Norway in the 1920s and 1930s, as well as contemporary media material from a Mexican context, related to the “historical truth” proclaimed by the Peña Nieto government in the aftermath of the forced disappearances of 43 students from Ayotzinapa in 2014. The character of the ideologies which the project addresses in Norway and Mexico is geopolitically specific, but what sets the trajectories of how the work addresses them in parallel, however, is that the methods of critique undergo a similar shift—from an archival to a relational mode—in both contexts, inspired by experiences of collaboration and conversation. The artistic research has materialised in a range of artistic and curatorial instalments, employing various approaches and seeking collaborations. By inserting reworked archival film material into screens on public sites, organizing site-specific events and screenings, creating assemblies and gatherings, interviewing people, and making essayistic film explorations and exhibitions — Mediating Uncertainties has aimed to create situations and interpretive communities talking back to mediations of histories and futures. What commenced with a focus on how to fight images with images and interrupt their circulation, on both trajectories, led to an intensified engagement with how people get organised over a shared stance against dominant media powers.