Travelling Communiqué from Month to Month
From 10AM: Face-to-face tutorials with Anjalika Sagar, Kodwo Eshun and Doreen Mende (Doreen only from 12AM)
Readings and further readings are the following essays and books:
Vijay Prashad, These Darker Nations: A People History of the Third World
Ruth First, The Barrel of a Gun: Political Power in Africa and the Coup d'Etat, 1970
Achille Mbembe, On the Postcolony, 2001
Frantz Fanon, Towards the African Revolution: Political Essays, 1969
Susan Sontag, Posters: Advertisement, Art, Political Artefact, Commodity in Dugald Sterner, The Art of Revolution: 96 Posters from Cuba, 1970
Bettina Steinbrugge, Silent Witnesses: Independence Day 1936-197 in Camera Austria, 2011
Bernhardt Siegert, Relays: Literature as an Epoch of the Postal System, 1999
Okwui Enwezor, ed. The Short Century, 2003
You will find most of the material online.
The April DAI-Session will begin with an intervention by Anjalika Sagar and Kodwo Eshun. They will talk about their practice by touching upon their ideas for Otolith Group’s contribution to the ‘public moment’ of Travelling Communiqué in Belgrade in June 2014, in relation to previous parts of their projects, e.g., “For In the Year of the Quiet Sun we worked with Transition – which was a literary and political journal from Kampala in Uganda. We worked with the first 50 issues from 1961-1968. Transition was a very controversial journal – which turned out to be funded by the CIA – although the editors didn't realise it. Then for the Tagore's Post Office exhibition, we worked with Vishva Barata Quarterly, which was journal set up by Tagore's circle of scholars – a literary and cultural journal – we worked with 15 issues from the 1930s – 1940s.” Otolith Group has been involved in Travelling Communiqué from the very beginning through several work meetings in London, Berlin and Belgrade over more than a year.
During the afternoon, we will have a skype-contact with Milica Lopičić in Belgrade. Milica is the architect for the exhibition design of Travelling Communiqué at the Museum for Yugoslav History in Belgrade. Her practice approaches exhibition architecture from artistic concerns, which means, that exhibition design will not re-narrate the exposed work or create any sort of scenographic stage. Her practice insists to resist any theatrical spectacle through exhibition design, and wishes to put the surrounding architecture itself on display – to some extent – as another element in space and in absolute support of the exposed work. Milica will introduce her ideas for the spatial setting, and we will sketch out to her what the group is working on. Questions will be: what does it mean to exhibit as a group of a one-year long educational process, in which each of the participants have their own practice / voice / and interest? How can we think a spatial setting that basically operates from that which already exists in space?
After dinner we will have a public event with Anjalika Sagar and Kodwo Eshun. After watching their most recent cinematic work Sovereign Sisters, we will discuss In the Year of the Quiet Sun (the essay-film that we saw in Addis together) through a slideprojection. The different mode of presentation – a cinema by other means – will puts an emphasize also on the concern how to put an archival image into movement, and how to expose it on display.
SCREENING OF SOVEREIGN SISTERS (3min 47sec, 2014) and SLIDE-PROJECTION IN THE YEAR OF THE QUIET SUN (2013) BY THE OTOLITH GROUP
Sovereign Sisters (2014)
Rene de Saint-Marceaux’s 1907 granite and bronze statue, which still stands in Kleine Schanze Park in Bern, exalts the imperial ambition of the Union Postale Universelle, the organisation founded in 1874 to standardise the postal communication of Empire, which continues to plan the planet’s postal networks from its home within the United Nations. Conceived and conceptualised by The Otolith Group and 3D scanned and animated by ScanLab, Sovereign Sisters does not document the contemporary condition of the monument but instead derealises Saint-Marceaux’s seemingly anachronistic aesthetic. In spectralising its deification of global communication into a greyscale pointcloud, Sovereign Sisters conjures the forces of infrastructure and automatism that lie dormant and sublimated by the patriarchitecture of monument as maiden.
The Screening will be followed by a commented slide projection with images from Otolith Group’s recent essay-film In the Year of the Quiet Sun (2013). It takes its name from the decrease in solar surface temperature that occurs every eleven years. From November 1964 to November 1965, the nation states of the world issued postage stamps to commemorate the first scientific expedition to study the sun. As the stamps turned their face towards the sky, they overlooked the unstable land of Africa’s newly independent states.
From 10AM: Individual face-to-face meetings only with Jelena Vesić.
10AM – 5PM
The February DAI-Session will begin with a presentation by Jelena Vesić:
Non-Aligned (Art) Histories and Exhibition Practice:
Discussion of the case of Political Practices of (post-) Yugoslav Art - Retrospective 01
"This workshop will focus on several questions intertwined with the ongoing research of Traveling Communique project - how to intervene within the dominant (art) historical and cultural-political narratives by exhibition practice; how to open up alternative perspectives of narration, by working with the documentary exhibition form and archival materials; how to think collective research and how to think research collectively? All these questions were part of the independent collective exhibition-research project Political Practices of (post-) Yugoslav Art - Retrospective 01, which dealt with the progressive artistic heritage of the Socialist Yugoslavia between 1940-1980 and which was presented in the Museum of History of Yugoslavia in 2009."
We will look at short excerpts from the range of following films:
Lutz Becker, Cinema Notes, 1975 (to discuss the topic of self-management, also self-management in film practice)
Hito Steyerl, Journal No1 (to discuss the lost modernity and its ideology of universality replaced by neoconservative nation state and traditional culture)
David Maljkovic, Scene For New Heritage I (to discuss partisan struggle and possible obsoleteness of monumentalization of memory)
Chto Delat, Partisan Songspiel (to discuss the (im)possibility of universal politics of emancipation)
During the afternoon, the session is dedicated to the Ethiopian horizon that will consist in concrete information about the journey to Addis from February 22 to March 8, 2014 along the collaboration with the Art School as well as Netsa Art Village, in conjunction also with points and objectives for the 'public moment' at the Museum of Yugoslav History in Belgrade (new opening date is JUNE 14, 2014!)
The session also wants to look at another round of our Archival Exercise with the Photo Section of the Presidential Press Service of Josip Broz Tito that today can be found at the Museum of Yugoslav History and Museum of 25th of May in Belgrade.
10AM - Jelena Vesić: Non-Aligned (Art) Histories and Exhibition Practice: Discussion of the case of Political Practices of (post-) Yugoslav Art - Retrospective 01.
1PM - Lunch
2PM - Archival Exercise – how can we link a reading of the image archive with concerns of Jelena's talk?
3PM - Ethiopian Horizon: Educational event with artists and students from the Art School Addis Ababa, and the Netsa Art Village from February 22 to March 8, 2014
Jelena Vesić & Dušan Grlja, "Political Practices of (post-)Yugoslav Art: Retrospective 01," in: Prelom kolektiv (eds.) Political
Practices of (post-)Yugoslav Art: Retrospective 01, exhibition publication, 2009, pp. 8–31
Hito Steyerl, Politics of the archive. Translations in film, 2008, online: http://eipcp.net/transversal/0608/steyerl/en.
Also see Vesić' reflections on Hito Steyrl's Archive of Lost Objects, 2007, online:
Interview with Jelena Vesić http://www.artmargins.com/index.php/5-interviews/687-interview-with-jelena-vesi-about-her-show-political-practices-of-post-yugoslav-art-retrospective-01
10AM till the end Individual face-to-face meetings with this week's guest Samia Henni and with Doreen Mende.
9.30 AM – 4PM
Before noon, we will continue with the archive exercise: please prepare the short presentations of your selection of photographs from the archive of the Photo Section of the Presidential Press Service of Tito; particularly those photographs that were taken during the five days of the first conference of NAM in Belgrade – September 1st to 6th in 1961.
We want to discuss under which criteria each of you decided on the selection. I also remember from the face-to-face meetings very concrete concepts and questions, with regard to your own practice, that can be wonderfully translated and juxtaposed in this archive exercise. All needed material should be accessible on dropbox. After this, Aziza Harmel agreed to deliver a short presentation on film-making in correspondence with an Ethiopian horizon. The purpose of this presentation is to insist in the Ethiopian horizon throughout the year-long project as a preparation for the journey to Addis. There is also a methodological aspect in this strand of presentation, i.e., which methods are needed in order to engage with a rather unfamiliar topic within short time and, possibly, with cultural as well as geographic distance.
Till Lunch time, Doreen Mende will introduce the possibility to contribute to the large-scale exhibition Travelling Commuiqué at the Museum of Yugoslav History in Belgrade. The opening is planned for May 24, 2014.
The idea is that the students constitute an ʻeducational voiceʼ as one crucial element of the entire exhibition, i.e., the contribution is considered to be developed from the project/group – everyone will appear with his/her name but within the frame of the DAI-project. The architect Milica Lopicic will develop the overall spatial setting. During the afternoon, after lunch, Samia Henni will conduct the session. Samiaʼs contribution will consists of her research presentation plus a round table discussion with us, and a close-reading of passages from Frantz Fanonʼs seminal book The Wretched of the Earth (chapter ʻOn Violence). If there is time, we also will watch the short-film Jʼai huit ans, 1961, 9 min, directed by Olga Baïdar-Poliakoff, Yann Le Masson and René Vautier. I couldnʼt find English subtitles, but German subtitles As I remember from the trip to Berlin, quite a few of you can read German, therefore, I also put it into the section Resonating Text.
Please, try to watch this film on your own before
Samia Henni: ON THE ARCHITECTURE OF THE MODERN WARFARE
The reflections put forward in this lecture are concerned with how to think about the architecture that was produced during the process of decolonization of Algeria from France (1954-62). It is an attempt to address a particular dilemma; how can colonial socio-economic primacies and military regimes and spatial organizations be brought into the same investigation. I will address the Algerian War of Independence as the paradigm of asymmetric, irregular, revolutionary, psychological warfare known as the Modern Warfare. This form of warfare was theorised in 1961 by Colonel Roger Trinquier, a French army officer who served in the First Indochina War and in the Algerian War. I will not discuss the revolutionary strategies and tactics, but rather the counterrevolutionary operations, discourses and procedures in relation to particular spatial organizations. Both architecture and urbanism played active roles in the French "war of pacification" in Algeria. What did it mean to design and build while a bloody war is taking place? What kind of spaces were to be designed and realized in order to disrupt the revolution? Based on French military archives and interviews with French army officers, this lecture will examine the radical redefinition of the Algerian territory during the war and expose certain spatial manifestations of the counterrevolutionary directives applied to the Algerian countryside. These were expressed with the creation of the "forbidden zones" followed by the forced displacement of hundreds of thousands of civilians in the so- called "centres de regroupement" (regrouping centres) in 1955 and subsequently in "nouveaux villages" (new villages) in 1959. In short, I will attempt to address the aforementioned dilemma by undoing the very question "how to control the population?"
Schedule: 9.30AM Exercise: Archive of the Museum of Yugoslav History, Belgrade, and the NAMʼs first conference in 1961
11.00AM Ethiopian Horizon: Aziza Harmelʼs presentation (max. 30 min) and discussion
Noon Introduction into early thoughts for the exhibition Travelling Commuiqué at Museum of Yugoslav History in Belgrade.
1PM Lunch 2PM Samia Henniʼs presentation with discussion including an open discussion plus reading Fanon
Resonating Text: Homi Bhabha: "Foreword: Framing Fanon," in: The Wretched of the Earth, trans. by R. Philcox, 2004, pp. vii–xli.
Olga Baïdar-Poliakoff, Yann Le Masson, René Vautier: Jʼai huit ans, 1961, 9 min, film script trans. from French by Brigitta Kuster.
Olivier Hadouchi: ʻ"African culture will be revolutionary or will not be": William Klein's Film of the First Pan‐African Festival of Algiers (1969)ʼ, in: Third Text, 25:1, London 2011, pp. 117-128.
Frantz Fanon: "On Violence," in: The Wretched of the Earth, trans. by R. Philcox, 2004, pp. 1–62. (first published in French in 1961) (All texts are on dropbox)
10AM till the end individual face-to-face meetings with this week's guest Theo Eshetu and Doreen Mende
10AM – 4PM
We will begin with short presentations of your selection of images taken during the five days of the first conference of NAM in Belgrade – September 1st to 6th in 1961 – and discuss under which criteria each of you decided on the selection. Please, try to define your frame of selection as precise as possible. It is an exercise to begin to work with an archive as we have at disposal here, which is a presidential archive, i.e., the Photo Section of the Presidential Press Service of the Yugoslav leader Tito as one possible expression how the NAM presented itself in public during the conference days. Again, the first conference is the first exposure of the NAM (its politics, rituals, ceremonies, spaces, infrastructures) on international and public display. It could be that we wont manage to go through all presentations, time-wise, because it is more important to remain focussed in precision for each. In other words, we might continue this exercise during the session in January 2014. You got the contact sheets also on dropbox, plus print-out at DAI.
After this, Aarti Sunder agreed to deliver a short presentation on what contemporary art could mean in correspondence with an Ethiopian horizon. Thank you, Aarti, for taking this on, also with regard to the short-termed frame. Helen Zeru, our guest via skype last time, already introduced us into a few artistic practices from Addis, including the Netsa Art Village. The purpose of this presentation is to insist in the Ethiopina horizon throughout the yearlong project as a preparation for the journey to Addis. There is also a methodological aspect in this strand of presentation, i.e., which methods are needed in order to engage with a rather unfamiliar topic within short time and, possibly, with cultural as well as geographic distance. IMPORTANT: we need to agree on the further presentations over the year, therefore, please, reflect a bit what you would like to prepare and when. During the afternoon, after lunch, Theo will conduct the session. "Theo Eshetu will provide an overview of Ethiopian culture by commenting (and screening) his film project Blood Is Not Fresh Water. His talk and presentation during the group session, in particular, will detail specific historical aspects. This will help in understanding the context which led Ethiopia to be part of the Non-Aligned Movement, and also points out the importance for a degree of complexity that informs each countries involvement with it. If there is time, Theo will also introduce his video installation The Return of the Axum Obelisk as a way of showing how different art forms can be imagined using historical events as their subject matter; and show extracts from Meditation Light to discuss the use of self accumulated Archive."
"Blood Is Not Fresh Water (Ethiopia/Italy/UK 58 minutes 1997) is the document of a passionate journey to Ethiopia, land of origin of the director Theo Eshetu. Through a portrait of his grandfather, Ato Tekle Tsadik Mekuria, who is Ethiopia's most renowned historian, the story tells the story of the film makers discovery of his origins, highlighting the rich cultural heritage of Ethiopia. The story structure goes continuously back in time from the present day to Ethiopia's colonial past and from its Origin Myth to the place where paleo-anthropologists discovered Lucy, the first human being. The film is both a travelogue and an essay on the theme of origins and identity, blending History and personal memory to create a visual collage that places the more serious problems of present-day Ethiopia within the context of its rich cultural heritage."
Schedule: 10AM Exercise: Archive of the Museum of Yugoslav History, Belgrade, and the NAMʼs first conference in 1961
12AM Ethiopian Horizon: Aarti Sunderʼs presentation (max. 30 min) and discussion
2PM Theo Eshetuʼs presentation with discussion Resonating text: Dipesh Chakrabarty, „Epilogue," in: Provincializing Europe: Postcolonial Thought and Historical Difference, 2000 (first published), pp. 237–255. This is one of the most important texts in postcolonial theory complicating the notion of ʻhistoryʼ and deconstructing the linear concept of time; I highly recommend you to read it. Kwame Nkrumah, Speech at the first Conference of NAM in Belgrade, on September 2nd in 1961. Both texts on dropbox (great texts for the train return to Arnhem on Sunday, any other traveling route or simply at home )
October Guest - via skype: Helen Zeru Araya, artist and member of Netsa Art Village, Addis Ababa
The first session of the one-year educational research project Travelling Communiqué at the DAI shall be used for introducing the group, the project itself, and the partners. We will discuss research material, the relation between individual projects and the group research, questions of methodolgoies, structuring the research, and so on. The first session will indicate the general line of the course, which is basically twofold:
First, everything in relation to architectures, archives, ambivalences of the early moment of the Non-Aligned Movement; departing (for the moment) from the fist Conference of the NAM in Belgrade, from September 1st to 5th in 1961. Therefore, after an introduction round of the participants of the group, the core tutor Doreen Mende will present the current stages of the group project 'Travelling Communiqué,' which is in the middle of taking shape through a larger group process as well as institutional partners. This part also will include a Screening for Discussion: Jean-Luc Godard De l'origine du XXIe siècle, short film, color, Switzerland / France, 2000: http://vimeo.com/19332340 (We are going to watch it during the session; and I only have the short film in original, i.e., in French, please find the subtitles English attached to this message.)
Second, the planned journey to Ethiopia, early 2014, needs careful preparation on various levels including questions such as why to go there / what is the specificity about Ethiopia / how to deal with issues of unfamiliarity / difference / distance? We will discuss, therefore, a few topics ranging from architecture, film, video, music, Addis Ababa 1963, archive for the presentations on/about/through the Ethiopian horizon throughout the year. This strand will not only prepare us for the journey to Addis Ababa, it also will introduce research methodologies in the framework of an art project. During the afternoon, we will invite Helen Zeru Araya to join us via skype for a short presentation of Netsa Art Village in Addis Ababa.
At the end of the first session of 'Travelling Communiqué, we will do a first exercise with the archival photographs, documents, and secret service cables that were produced during the five days of the First Summit Conference of the Non-Aligned Movement in Belgrade: from September 1st to 5th in 1961.
10AM Introduction of the group. What are the expectations? Why to choose such a course?
11AM Intro of Travelling Communiqué in its current stages; plus the working materials
12AM Screening for Discussion: Jean-Luc Godard: De l'origine du XXIe Siècle, short film, color, Switzerland / France, 2000, 15.44 min.
2PM Ethiopian Horizon: what are the topics / questions / themes, etc.
Workshop/Possibility from November 20 to 22, 2013 at Institute für Raumexperimente in Berlin with artists, theorists, architects from Addis Ababa.
3PM Helen joins us via skype.
4PM First concrete exercise with the archive of the Museum of Yugoslav History, Belgrade, around the First Conference of NAM in Belgrade, 1961. What needs to be done / next steps?
In her role as a member of Netsa Art Village, as well as being an artist and researcher, Helen will be partnering with the project 'Travelling Communiqué' through coordination, research and communication with the DAI in preparation of the journey to Addis in early 2014. http://www.contemporaryand.com/blog/institue/netsa-arts-village/
Mbembe, A. "The Power of the Archive and its Limits," in: Hamilton, C., Harris, V., Reid, G. et al. (eds.) Reconfiguring the Archive, Cape Town, 2002, pp. 18–26.
Individual Face-to-face Meetings with Doreen Mende (schedule to be settled on October 15, 2013)