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Indepth Arts News:

"Geography and the Politics of Mobility"
2003-01-17 until 2003-04-27
Generali Foundation
Vienna, , AT

In 2003, the series of experimental, guest-curated exhibitions at the Generali Foundation will be continued by the Swiss artist and theoretician Ursula Biemann, who developed a concept based around the subject of geography and artistic practice. Geography and the Politics of Mobility takes five collective projects by international artists – most of which are being presented for the first time – and uses them to examine the idea of the geographic, which has been undergoing a radical change for several years now.

Increased mobility, global migratory movement, and new formations of work manifested in virtual, global activities have led to new definitions going beyond the realm of geo-science. The circulatory flow of people, data, and goods gives rise to new cultural, social, and virtual landscapes that materially inscribe themselves into the terrain. In this exhibition, geography is seen as a working hypothesis that allows a reflection on concepts of demarcation, connectivity and transgression in society.

In the pictographic installation World Monitoring Atlas, the artist duo forming the Bureau d'études from Paris (Léonore Bonaccini and Xavier Fourt) visualize the extensive network of data-gathering systems existing between individuals, transnational companies, governments, armed forces, international agencies and citizens' groups. In contrast to the geographical map, which, being based on a phenomenological concept of space, is read analogically, the Organigramm is a digital, structural representation. Such a representation seems to be more commensurate to the real, which can no longer be adequately grasped by photographic means. Bureau d’études often develops its installations in collaboration with the cultural theoretician and journalist Brian Homes.

They recently took part in the World-Information Exhibition in Amsterdam, where one of their installations was displayed. Frontera Sur RRVT (Europe's Southern Border in Real, Remote and Virtual Time – Ursula Biemann, Regula Burri, Rogelio López Cuenca, Valeriano López Dominguez, Helena Maleno Garzon, Alex Muñoz Riera, Angela Sanders) considers itself as an informal grouping of artists and activists collaborating for this exhibition. They focus on the area near the Spanish-Moroccan border, with its complex layers of meaning. A region in which issues of sex, ethnic filtering, migration and labor, public space, and technological control mechanisms interact within a concentrated space. Plantation workers, commuting domestic staff, secret boat crossings, and radar patrols – all of these various motivations for mobility lay bare a complex balance of power that reformulates the metaphorical and material constitution of borders.

Makrolab, founded by the Slovenian artist Marko Peljhan, is a nomadic, temporary research station that allows changing participants to monitor data flow from all over the world in remote locations and under isolated conditions. For this autonomous art/science laboratory, artists and scientists develop projects that bear a relationship to each respective environment. The installation shown in the exhibition documents previous locations in Germany (Documenta X), Australia, and the Scottish Highlands, as well as the future move to the Antarctic. In addition, a "communications console" fitted with real equipment makes tangible Makrolab's function as a work station. With Case 01 + 02 from its ongoing project Solid Sea, the collective multiplicity (Stefano Boeri, Maddalena Bregani, Francisca Insulza, Francesco Jodice, Giovanni La Varra, Armin Linke und John Palmesino), which operates from Milan, presents a new study of the changed conditions in the Mediterranean region. multiplicity imagines the sea as a solid mass, examining it from several angles and using various forms of representation – maps, photographs, and videos. It explores both the streams of movement that traverse it and the identity of the individuals that inhabit it. The first case study for Solid Sea was presented at this year's Documenta 11; the new work concerns the coastal city of Naples.

In its video and text installation A/S/L (Age/Sex/Location), Raqs Media Collective (Monica Narula, Jeebesh Bagchi und Shuddhabrata Sengupta) uses the example of Indian female tele-workers to look at sex-specific working conditions within the externalized online data industry. The working conditions of this new "digital proletariat" necessitate constantly switching between the online and offline world, between each cultural and economic situation. The reality of one space is carried by the inequality of another.

A publication in German and English will accompany the exhibition. It will contain a foreword by Dieter Karner, an editorial by Sabine Breitwieser, and texts by Ursula Biemann, Brian Holmes, Lisa Parks, Irit Rogoff, and the artists.

Raqs Media Collective,
A/S/L, 2002

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