Camden Arts Centre presents four new films by renowned Dutch artist Aernout Mik which have unsettling links to recent global events. The shifting distribution of power and patterns of human behaviour are combined with Mikís unique sense of the absurd. For his first exhibition in the UK since 2000, Mik uses unseen footage from the conflict in former Yugoslavia and stages a fictional account of the aftermath of a disaster. Mikís interest in anthropology and the social dynamics of groups of people extends to the gallery space - the film installations themselves become environments audiences can walk through and be enveloped by.
A new commission, Training Ground (2006) is a simulation of a police training arena that slips between uncertain acting and brutal reality. The fact that the police are wearing civilian clothing is disturbing in its ambiguity Ė are they, as a group, merely law enforcement or do they become aggressors?
Three other films, seen for the first time in this country, include Vacuum Room (2005) with scenes from a political assembly which descends into chaos when disrupted by a group of protestors. Raw Footage (2006) is constructed from unused material from ITNís archives. Mikís first work to use found material, it shows the banality of war which the news media typically edits out.
Scapegoats (2006) is a staged event in an abandoned stadium, it recalls the aftermath of responses to such recent disasters as the New Orleans floods and follows the behaviour of people invested with powers they would not normally have. The characters hang around, argue, sleep or do nothing. As the film progresses the roles in the film change from prisoner to guard and vice versa.
As with all Mikís work, there is no classic cinematic narrative or sound; the assumptions we make come from observing the action played out before us.
Shifting Shifting is organised by Camden Arts Centre in collaboration with The Fruitmarket Gallery, Edinburgh (where it will show from 19 May to 15 July 2007); Bergen Kunsthall, Norway (September-October 2007) and Kunstverein Hannover (December 2007-February 2008).
An extensively illustrated book, featuring a specially commissioned essay by anthropologist Michael Taussig (Colombia University, New York) is published to accompany the exhibition.