Act As Yourself 24/7

Cao_Fei-Whose_Utopia_2

Whose Utopia by Cao Fei, courtesy of Vitamin Creative Space

The screening on July 30 had a program inspired by discussions our study group, where we read 24/7 by Jonathan Crary and Nights Of Labor by Jaques Rancière.

We began the evening with the film One Year Performance 1980-1981 (Time Clock Piece) which documents a year long performance by Tehching Hsieh: once every hour, day and night, for the duration of one year, the artist stamps a time clock in his studio. Every hour a photograph is taken of Tehching Hsieh next to the time clock. When the photos are run as a filmstrip through a projector, they form a stop-motion animation in which we see the physical condition of the artist changing dramatically. A year is summed up in six minutes.

For those unfamiliar with the apparatus of control: A time clock was used in workplaces to keep track of the arrivals, departures, and breaks of employees, in order to follow and control workhours with precision.

More:  Tehching Hsieh

The idea of life and performance merging was developed further in a film by Swedish artist Saskia Holmkvist. In Interview with Saskia Holmkvist we see the artist Saskia Holmkvist being drilled in self-pesentation by an expert in media relations. Saskia Holmkvist tells us over and over what her art is about, and is adviced on how to present herself with honesty and natural authority. The artist is instructed in body language and posture, voice timbre and eye contact, all the while repeating phrases about how how her art deals with how we perceive something as honest and true. The interruptions, the visible microphones, and the self-awareness of the artist all point to how one of our stereotypically most honest figures, the artist, is involved in a constant ongoing performance of representing oneself.

More:  Saskia Holmkvist

We ended the evening with a film by Chinese artist Cao Fei. In one of the new industrial zones of China, the Pearl River Delta, lies the OSRAM lightbulb factory. The region sees the overflow of global capital with provincial workers’ migration, wherein young laborers from the inland are drawn to an ongoing reform of culture, capital and forms of working. the artist Cao Fei came to the OSRAM factory to produce an art project together with some of the young workers who dream of other utopias than the one which currently controls their lives. During six months, they attempt to express and give form to their dreams, through music, dance, and in a film which gets the title Whose Utopia. All around them, work goes on as usual at the conveyor belts.

More:  Cao Fei

A heartfelt thank you to the audience at the screening!

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