Evoking Reality

Constituting actuality in photography and video art

November 25th 2018 — June 10th 2019
Daimler Contemporary Berlin

‘Evoking Reality’ presents objects of political photography and video art from the Daimler Art Collection (DAC) that formulate new concepts of approaching current images of reality. Starting in the early 1990s, the DAC expanded the focus of its collection to works of new media: photography, video, object art and installations. The new acquisitions were presented in the three-part exhibition series ‘Photography, Video, Mixed Media I-III’ between 2003 and 2007 at the Daimler Contemporary exhibition space in Berlin. This focus on photography and video has been pursued intensively ever since. Today, the collection consists of a constantly growing portfolio of significant works that visualize contemporary perspectives on global issues and political conflicts.

The exhibition ‘Evoking Reality’ is devoted to contemporary strategies that distance themselves from established principles of representation and popular narratives of photo journalism. These strategies create an open image of reality that aims for a critical sensitization in the observer. A critical consciousness is appealed to with regards to media’s methods of mediation and representation, which have shaped the modern eye with recurring images of suffering and scenes of violence for decades. Based on a re-reading of “Regarding the Pain of Others” (2003) by Susan Sontag, ‘Evoking Reality’ deals with current media and conceptual approaches to political, public and resulting private conflict situations. The interweaving of fiction, staging, construction and reality creates uncertainty in the observer, who experiences each strategy of alienation as unexpected and at the same time as an instance of reality creation. Openness and ambiguity encourage observers to work through the occurrences on their own, to reflect upon visual impulses and sometimes even to perform intellectual expurgation. Reality is experienced as a fragile construct that continuously changes its form from different perspectives. The works in this exhibition evoke a moment of reality that makes it possible to grasp the global reality of our lives through ambiguity, contradiction, interconnectivity and relativity.

The recently acquired twelve-part photo series Congo Democratic (2006) by Guy Tillim, who received the ‘Mercedes-Benz Award for South African Art and Culture’ in 2004, will be seen in Berlin for the first time. In addition, photographic works from artists including Jane Alexander, Clément Cogitore, Tacita Dean, Cao Fei, Pieter Hugo, Maya Zack and the video installations Snow White (2001) by Bernie Searle and Mermaids [Erasing the Border of Azkelon] (2011) by Sigalit Landau and The amorous Indies (2017) by Clément Cogitore are central elements of the exhibition.

›Evoking Reality‹ presents works by sixteen artists from ten different nations:
Mustafah Abdulaziz (USA), Jane Alexander (ZA), Clément Cogitore (F), Tacita Dean (GB), Alia Farid (KWT), Cao Fei (CHN), Abrie Fourie (ZA), Pieter Hugo (ZA), Sigalit Landau (IL), Richard Mosse (IRL), Viviane Sassen (NL), Oskar Schmidt (D), Berni Searle (ZA), Guy Tillim (ZA), Sharif Waked (IL/PS), Maya Zack (IL)

Curated by Renate Wiehager and Nadine Isabelle Henrich

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Artists

Events

  • -
    Daimler Contemporary
    Curator's tour-Evocative realisms
    Clément Cogitore, Richard Mosse, Berni Searle, Maya Zack
    The exhibition ›Evoking Reality‹ elaborates the evocative potential in artistic works that contrast explicit openness, ambiguity and dissonance with the neutrality topos of the documentary and thus allow an individual constitution of reality. Photography and video are examined for their limits and possibilities, their social functions and meanings, and in particular for conventions of representation and their instrumentalization in cultural, political and economic mechanisms and power dynamics. It is not only the fields of individual and collective conflict dimensions that unify the exhibition's works, but rather the complex, implicit relationship between form and content.
    The guided tour is in German language and free of charge. There is no registration necessary.
  • -
    Daimler Contemporary
    Thematic guided tour: History as a narrative construct
    Tacita Dean, Oskar Schmidt, Maya Zack
    In light of historical catastrophes, various works in the current exhibition reflect on traumatic memories as stratifications and summaries of personal and collective disasters. The tour is dedicated to complex artistic analyses of history and illuminates the relationship between individual fate and national history. Tacita Dean stages a sequence of quasi-cinematographic events with historical photographs. Oskar Schmidt brings to mind the pictorial compositions of iconic photographs by means of re-enactment. Maya Zack creates a traumatic experience through a digitally reconstructed memory space.

    The guided tour is in German language and free of charge. No registration necessary.

  • -
    Daimler Contemporary
    Fictive reality and real fictions – Filmscreening with Clément Cogitore
    Fictive reality and real fictions
    Film night with French artist Clément Cogitore

    Clément Cogitore was awarded the prestigious Prix Marcel Duchamp in 2018 for his video work "The Evil Eye" (2018). The media artist reacts to aspects of the trivialization and anonymization in the context of current image circulation. Cogitore’s work is characterized by a distinct visual intensity and a strong sense of storytelling that departs from reality and adjoins to imagination. The story of a women's voice travels through anonymous, stereotypical scenes of the stock trading global banks that provide the image material for advertising and political campaigns. This award-winning, recent work by the artist, shown at Centre Pompidou, can be seen now for the first time in Berlin.

    This first screening is followed by the film "Braguino" (48 min), awarded the Prix LE BAL. The film visualizes the everyday life of a family living in Siberia and their bitter conflict with their only neighbors in endless loneliness. Cogitore’s film tells a horrifying moment of civilization's failure and investigates the very moment of emergence of armed conflicts. Afterwards, Clément Cogitore will talk about his approach to the concepts of fiction and documentation and give an immediate insight into his artistic and filmic work.

    Talk moderated by curator Nadine Isabelle Henrich
    The event will be held in English. Admission is free of charge.
  • -
    Daimler Contemporary
    Thematic guided tour-Disposition shifts: Between journalism and art
    Mustafah Abdulaziz, Pieter Hugo, Richard Mosse, Guy Tillim
    Many exhibition photographs and films explore the boundaries between conventional photo-journalism and positions in contemporary art. They oscillate between pure documentation and technical alienation and also institutionally between photojournalistic contexts and museum exhibition spaces. The tour aims to illuminate this transfer with its different forms of reception and distribution. Even the recontextualization of the individual image within the many series shown in the exhibition seems to articulate skepticism-or even a relativity of one's own knowledge.
    The guided tour is in German language and free of charge. There is no registration necessary.
  • -
    Daimler Contemporary, 1. OG
    The Wakhan Front - Neither Heaven nor Earth
    The Wakhan Front - Neither Heaven nor Earth
    Film by the French director & media artist Clément Cogitore
    With an introduction from film scientist Friederike Horstmann

    In the context of our current exhibition ›Evoking Reality‹ we show the award-winning film The Wakhan Front - Neither Heaven nor Earth (2015) by French filmmaker and media artist Clément Cogitore. Afghanistan in 2014. The international troops gradually withdraw and Captain Antarés is to monitor with his men a valley that is tactically of great importance. Everything seems to be going according to plan until the soldiers are mysteriously beginning to disappear individually, inexorably. The omnipresence of military surveillance techniques allows the paranoid gaze of observing to emerge as a metaphor for war. The fearful eyes of the soldiers stare at the darkness, visibility is transformed and withdrawn, the enemy remains a phantom. Through scenes such as this Cogitore contrives a contemporary anti-war epic evoking the complex psychological dimensions of armed conflict.

    Introduction:
    Friederike Horstmann is a scientific employee at the film seminar of the Freie Universität Berlin. Her texts on cinema and art appear in Perlentaucher's cinema column and in the Cargo Film/Media/Culture magazine. For the Daimler Art Collection, she has worked as a freelance employee for several years.
    Admission is free. The introduction will take place in German. The film is shown in French original version with English subtitles.

    Registration requested: art.collection@daimler.com
  • -
    Daimler Contemporary
    Thematic guided tour-History as a narrative construct
    Tacita Dean, Oskar Schmidt, Maya Zack
    In light of historical catastrophes, various works in the current exhibition reflect on traumatic memories as stratifications and summaries of personal and collective disasters. The tour is dedicated to complex artistic analyses of history and illuminates the relationship between individual fate and national history. While Tacita Dean stages a new sequence of quasi-cinematographic events with historical photographs and Oskar Schmidt brings to mind the pictorial compositions of iconic photographs by means of re-enactment, Maya Zack creates a traumatic experience through a digitally reconstructed memory space.
    The guided tour is in German language and free of charge. There is no registration necessary.
  • -
    Thematic guided tour-Disposition shifts: Between journalism and art
    Mustafah Abdulaziz, Pieter Hugo, Richard Mosse, Guy Tillim
    Many exhibition photographs and films explore the boundaries between conventional photo-journalism and positions in contemporary art. They oscillate between pure documentation and technical alienation and also institutionally between photojournalistic contexts and museum exhibition spaces. The tour aims to illuminate this transfer with its different forms of reception and distribution. Even the recontextualization of the individual image within the many series shown in the exhibition seems to articulate skepticism--or even a relativity of one's own knowledge.
  • -
    Thematic guided tour - History as a narrative construct
    Tacita Dean, Oskar Schmidt, Maya Zack

    In light of historical catastrophes, various works in the current exhibition reflect on traumatic memories as stratifications and summaries of personal and collective disasters. The tour is dedicated to artistic analyses of history and illuminates the relationship between individual fate and national history. Tacita Dean stages a new sequence of quasi-cinematographic events with historical photographs, Oskar Schmidt brings to mind the pictorial compositions of iconic photographs by means of re-enactment. Maya Zack creates a traumatic experience through a digitally reconstructed memory space.
  • -
    Three days and three nights - Performance
    The German-Cuban theatre director and performance artist Viviana Medina Medina is staging a performance especially designed for the exhibition ›Evoking Reality‹, which - with reference to the Jonah-Myth (5th-3rd. Century BC) – evokes contemporary realities of migration. The real attempt at flight of the young Cuban woman, Sandra dos Santos, into the USA created the initial impulse of this performative work, which contrasts the global movements of goods and capital with the forced static of man. While contemporary art reflects the importance of human need for freedom and migration, by figures and themes such as immigrants, exile, tourists and urban hikers (Nicolas Bourriaud), the global reality is shaped by regulation and restriction. While often the attention is led towards the escape, Medina focusses on two other moments: the farewell and the arrival. This 30 - minute performance invites visitors to immerse themselves in this field of tension and reflect on the constitution of the black, female body in media, politics and society. After the performance, there is time for a conversation with artist and curator.

    Viviana Medina Medina is a theatre director and performance artist. She studied literature at the Freie Universität Berlin and theater at the Ernst Busch Academy. She initiated and realized various art and theatre projects, most recently she invited seven groups of artists to stage 15 - minute performances under the title "School of Moral" in the former women's prison in Berlin-Lichterfelde.

    Admission is free. The number of participants is limited to 35 persons.
    Registration requested under: maria.radke@daimler.com

    Voice: Ruby Commey
    Costume: Clarissa Fuhr & Florian Kiehl
    Direction, Performance & Text: Viviana Medina Medina

  • -
    Curator's tour - Evocative Realisms

    Clément Cogitore, Richard Mosse, Berni Searle, Maya Zack

    The exhibition ›Evoking Reality‹ elaborates the evocative potential in artistic works that contrast explicit openness, ambiguity and dissonance with the neutrality topos of the documentary and thus allow an individual constitution of reality. Photography and video are examined for their limits and possibilities, their social functions and meanings. Conventions of representation will be discussed regarding their instrumentalization in cultural, political and economic mechanisms and power dynamics. It is not only the fields of individual and collective conflict dimensions that unify the exhibition's works, but rather the complex, implicit relationship between form and content.

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