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Indepth Arts News:

"At the same time somewhere else... Melik Ohanian, Pia Rönicke, SeanSnyder"
2005-12-17 until 2006-02-19
Fruitmarket Gallery
Edinburgh, , UK United Kingdom

The Fruitmarket Gallery’s Christmas exhibition brings together work by Melik Ohanian, Pia Rönicke, and Sean Snyder. The methodology used by these three artists has much in common, from their inclusion of elements of their working process in the presentation of the finished work, to their persistent questioning of the distinction between factual and fictional information in the telling of a story. Conceptual Art and the tradition of the documentary in TV, film and photography are twin starting points for each artist’s search for a new visual language.

Their work draws on 20th century cinematography, on journalism and the style of the documentary, and their practice combines research with a much more subjective and even poetic point of view.

Based across Europe and working internationally in a variety of media and about diverse topics, an interest in the structures that define and reflect our society runs through these artists’ practices. These structures include both the physical – the built environment with which we are surrounded – and the more internalised - the information that shapes our understanding of the world in which we live.

Melik Ohanianshows his new film Punishment Park, a poetic work with a violent undertone. The work takes its title from British filmmaker Peter Watkins’ film from 1971, a pseudodocumentary shot in the desert of southern California. Watkins’s film imagines a fictional ‘Punishment Park’, a desert camp whereconvicts arestripped of all humanity and legal rights in the name of ‘homeland security’. Ohanian projects this film onto the desert at night, and re-shoots it. But while the story of the film is closer to reality today than could havebeen imagined when it was made, in the artist’s hands it becomes almost abstract.

Pia Rönickealso presents new work. The Zone is a video shot in the outskirts of the Danish city Aarhus, in a so-called ‘development zone’. While the protagonists, a team of architects who have recently won a planning competition for a vast housing complex for the area, are essentially acting themselves, the film is staged and shot according to cinematographic conventions. Rönicke often mixes recorded film and sound with drawings, collages and animations, which visually confront ideas with the lived reality of human life, or different architectural and urbanist ideologies. The latter can be seen in another of her works Urban Fiction(2003), which consists of a series of posters made from drawings and a video.

Sean Snydershows a series of new works with connections to the war in Iraq. His source material includes various media releases and reports, some purchased directly from media agencies such as Associated Press, others recorded by amateurs. Snyder uses the material to examine the nature of the media, and his work documents more than the events and places witnessed. The Site, which consists of text and photographic prints, brings together overlapping media accounts and visual evidence from the site of Saddam Hussein’s capture. It conveys a rather abstract sense of the reality behind the reports.

Pia Rönicke
The Zone, 2005

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