Crop by Johanna Domke and Marouan Omara

Crop by Johanna Domke and Marouan Omara

Cairo Times

riesa efau. Kultur Forum Dresden in collaboration with Directors Lounge presents Cairo Times and Crop by Johanna Domke and Marouan Omara

March 30, 2016, 8 – 10 pm  at Motorenhalle Dresden, Wachsbleichstraße 4a, 01067 Dresden

Crop is an astounding video piece about a state-owned newspaper building in the centre of Cairo. Filmed in 2012 shortly after the revolution in Egypt, the video represents an interesting, historic moment in time, and it is at the same time a reflection on image-making and image representation in times of political changes regardless of local bounds or temporality.

Set at the press house of Al Ahram (the Pyramids), a conservative newspaper that has been the national official press organ since President Nasser, the viewer is guided to explore the rooms of the house from the top down, following its hierarchy of places, literally from the representative offices down to the cellars with printing machines and packaging of newspaper bundles. While the camera reveals step by step the complexities of a building, a photojournalist talks about the beginnings of photo reportage in Egypt. He tells us he missed the revolution staying at the hospital. He speaks about the restrictions photojournalism has had to face from its beginning both from a conservative Islamic society and a regime controlling every publication. At first, the journalist seem to be one person, but this is fictitious. His narration is actually a composition of 19 statements of various interviewed journalists, whose opinions differ in complex ways. The soundtrack of the film comprises two separate layers: the ambient sound that goes along with the passage of places that we follow inside the building, and on the other hand, the voice-over of the interviewed journalist. This voice-over creates a real contrapuntal montage in the sense of Eisenstein’s statement on sound film, whereas the ambient sound creates a poetic flow of images, a narrative of space.

The film, a collaboration between the video artist Johanna Domke and the film director Marouan Omara, was in several ways a lucky moment. Domke had planned her residency in Cairo at Townhouse Gallery before the beginning of the Arab Revolution, and the filming itself, including all the preparations and necessary permissions, was only possible in that short period of time of changes before the new regime took control again. The film thus represents a unique time in history while at the same time it gives a comprehensive glimpse of what it is like to work as a journalist under the restrictions of censorship. As Johanna told me, the team always asked where the censorship actually had taken place, and were always referred to a different department. There was no official censorship office or censorship management; it was just part of the system as a whole. In certain ways, the press house depicted in the film truly resembles Kafka’s castle, where the power never manifests. Watching the film on the other hand may also give the impression of utter familiarity with the building and its subdivisions, its poetry of space, the familiarity of bureaucratic space. In Poetics of Space, Gaston Bachelard talks about the philosophy of space, using a big family house as an example, something I always felt to be imperfect, at least in reference to modernity, and in certain ways, the film Crop completes the picture of a modern poetics of space.

Where are we going to? Videoart on the City phenomenon.

Video, discussion, reading, workshop, music and more on different forms and times of social presence and future in the City.

The project is a collaboration with Directors Lounge Berlin

Although the first part of the title that is borrowed by Gauguin and shimmers between pathos and esoteric for today’s eyes, ironically treats the idea to be able to give real answers to this question, but we believe that we can counterpoint it with Willy Brandt: The best way to predict the future is to shape it.

Especially in Dresden within the urban population trenches of incomprehension have been breaking open again about essential future issues. These preclude a bitter required lived and wider civically culture of discourse. Other areas of development, such as imagined future technical or scientific innovations, will not directly be subject of the project, but surely in their intended impacts on the life and work of urban society.

Because of the flexibility and relevance of the medium video works mainly of recent times on the current status and anticipated future developments of urban civil societies will be shown. Tensions will not only be addressed and discussed in the exhibition but in the whole programme. These result from a bondage by the past, from restrictions imposed by the capitalist system or from an individual or cross immobility on the one hand and the unalterable changes, the attempts to form them as a subject, the advent of new and unfamiliar on the other hand.

Distinguishing from purely political statements the project will deal with art, that means openness, indecipherable things, curiosity. The transitions between art and political commitment as well as social intervention by artists are fluent not only in today’s art scene. Of course, it always comes to the great and all. But since the civic dispute revolves not only around the principles of cooperation, but more often to everyday and small mosaic of coexistence, the big issues will also be treated in the artistic contributions that are often based on supposedly minor elements that make up the city and urban society: the kind of movements in the city, nightlife or graffiti, resistance, moral cowardice and intermediate stages, theatre, music, houses, brownfields or gardens. The city as a stage for its inhabitants, for those of the environment, for their guests. The city as a place of work, progress, science. It’s about living, the traffic, the exchange in the city. And about the always new exciting relationships between many in itself differently individual, milieu-, level- or class-related and across experiences, wishes, expectations within the limited geographical and social space of the city.

Although it is important to the curatorial team of the project, as indicated above, to include playfully many different aspects of the city in the discussion within the project. However, a red thread will always be the question of the development of forms of urban coexistence that do not constitute the battle of egos, but concentrate on community-oriented ideas. This includes both political and civic dispute and contention as well as a respect for the principles of mutual communication. But of course, also the knowledge that at these discussions very significantly also the way, the fact that they are lead at all, is the goal. In other words, in particular for the discursive part of the project, in the context with other projects and initiatives the goal is to make a contribution to the conversation in and about the City and its current and future constitution.

Artists included: Peter Aerschmann, CH | Roberto Andreoli, BR | Alan Aranha/ Bharat Mirle, IN | Anna Baranowski, DE | Piotr Blajerski, PL | Nisrine Boukhari, SY | Ulu Braun, DE | Marina Chernikova, NL | Aitor Marín Correcher, ES | Sirin Bahar Demirel, TR | Song Di, CN | Daniel Nicolae Djamo, RO | Johanna Domke, DK | Sonja Feldmeier, CH | Andreas Fogarasi, AT | Lucie Freynhagen, DE | Denise Ackermann, DE | Ingeborg Fülepp/ Heiko Daxl, AT | Ivan Garcia, ES | Romain Gavras, FR | Maria Gonchar, UA | Manaf Halbouni, DE | Lorenz Fidel Huchthausen, Robert Esteban-Schäuble, DE | Erdal Inci, TR | Ahmed Kamel, DE | Ada Kobusiewicz, PL | Milan Kohut, CZ | Zhenchen Liu, CN | Alex Markov, RU | Tomas Moravec, CZ | Joas Sebastian Nebe, DE | Peter Nestler/ Reinald Schnell, DE | Margarita Novikova, RU | Christoph Oertli, CH | Hein-Godehart Petschulat, DE | Sebastian Helms, DE | Gustavo Postiglione, AR | Jonathan Rescigno, FR | Kristoffer Rus, PL/ SE | Jani Ruscica, FI | Habib Sadaat, AF | Hans Schabus, AT | Juliane Schmidt, DE | Jonathan Seyer, US | Gertrud Schulte Westenberg/ Matthias Coers, DE | Elías León Siminiani, ES | Rhayne Vermette, US | Sylvia Winkler/ Stephan Köperl, DE | Yaroslav Yanovsky, UA Jacek Zachodny, PL | Florian Zeyfang, DE

Curators: Denise Ackermann (DE), Jolanta Bielanska (PL), Frank Eckhardt (DE), André Werner (DE) (with the collaboration of Julia Murakami and Klaus W. Eisenlohr)

Sponsors: Landeshauptstadt Dresden, Amt für Kultur und Denkmalschutz, Kulturstiftung des Freistaates Sachsen, Deutsch-Tschechischer Zukunftsfonds, Bundeszentrale für politische Bildung

Where are we going to? Videoart on the City phenomenon. 29 Oct – 19 Dec 2015

Motorenhalle. Projektzentrum für zeitgenössische Kunst
Wachsbleichstraße 4a, 01067 Dresden

Vernissage: 28 October 2015, 8 pm 
Opening hours: Tue –  Fri 4–8 pm, Sat and holiday 2–6 pm,
closed on Sun + Mon