Selections from The Greenroom 
The New School, New York
May 27 - May 28, 2008

still from Hito Steyerl November 2004, Video (color, sound), 25 min.

Two evenings of special screenings introduced The Greenroom, a large-scale exhibition exploring the “documentary turn” within recent contemporary art practice and its heritage in relation to the history of film, documentary photography, and television. Having opened in Fall 2008 at the The Hessel Museum of Art and Center for Curatorial Studies at Bard College, The Greenroom, curated by CCS Bard Graduate Program Director Maria Lind, featured works by more than forty artists and extended beyond the exhibition format to include a long-term research project and related publications.

These preview screenings, curated by Fionn Meade, included selected works from artists participating in The Greenroom exhibition. Presented by the Vera List Center and CCS Bard.

Nashashibi/Skaer, Ambassador, 2004 

Selections from The Greenroom, Program 1, May 27, 2008

Yael Bartana, Mary Koszmary (2007, 11 minutes)
Recently commissioned by the Foksal Foundation and Hermès, Mary Koszmary considers the complex legacies and realities of European anti-Semitism and xenophobia. A young man, played by Polish leftist author and politician Slawomir Sierakowski, enters an empty stadium and entreats the three million Jewish Poles who were either killed or exiled from Poland to return to their homeland while a troupe of Boy and Girl Scout-like youths stencil a message of hope for reconciliation across the stadium floor.

Nashashibi/Skaer, Ambassador  (2004, 5 minutes)
Playing with the rules of ethnographic framing, this monochrome study of the British Consul moving about his Hong Kong residence presents the enigma of a representative figure within an un-exoticized, quotidian context.

Matthew Buckingham, Situation Leading to a Story (1999, 21 minutes)
Buckingham uses the cinematic space of film and video to stage personalized narratives that question the relationships between the living presence of the viewer, the phantasms of history, and the politics of institutions, archives, and cultural memory. Situation Leading to a Story recounts and complicates the artist’s having found four amateur movies dating from the 1920s in an abandoned box on a New York street.

Chantal Akerman, D’Est: Au bord de la fiction (“From the East: Bordering on Fiction”) (1993, 110 minutes)
D’Est retraces a journey from the end of summer to deepest winter, from East Germany, across Poland and the Baltics, to Moscow. It is a voyage Akerman wanted to make shortly after the collapse of the Soviet bloc “before it was too late,” reconstructing her impressions in the manner of a documentary existing on the border of fiction. By filming “everything that touched me,” Akerman sifts through her encounters, fixing upon sounds and images as she follows the thread of a subjective crossing.

                                                                                  Anri Sala, Dammi I Colori, 2003

Selections from The Greenroom, Program 2, May 28, 2008

Anri Sala, Dammi I Colori (2003, 16 minutes)
Dammi I Colori accompanies artist and Mayor Edi Rama on a slow tour of Tirana, attentive to Rama’s ongoing narration as the camera visits various projects throughout the city that attempt to offer a new direction for its residents, including the geometrical painting in rich and primary colors of various housing complexes in the most impoverished areas.

Harun Farocki, Workers Leaving the Factory (1995, 36 minutes)
“Workers Leaving the Factory” was the title of the first cinema film ever shown in public. For 45 seconds, workers at the photographic products factory in Lyon, owned by the brothers Louis and Auguste Lumière, hurry out of the shadows of the factory gates and into the afternoon sun. But where are they rushing? In his documentary essay, Harun Farocki explores variations upon this scene throughout the history of film, exploring how the space before the factory gates has always been the scene of contested social conflicts and narratives.

Hito Steyerl, November (2004, 25 minutes)
A short film loosely based on the life of Steyerl’s close friend, Andrea Wolf, who, prior to her assassination as a suspected Kurdish terrorist in 1998, was accused of being a member of the Red Army faction in Germany. November is an elegy to a distant friend, an essay on the construction of mythic identities, and a commentary on defunct ideologies of revolution.

Julia Meltzer and David Thorne, We Will Live to See These Things or Five Pictures of What May Come to Pass (2007, 47 minutes)
Shot in 2005–06 in Damascus, Syria, We Will Live deals with competing visions of the future. Each section—the chronicle of a building in Damascus, a recitation anticipating the arrival of a perfect leader, an interview with a dissident intellectual, a portrait of a Qur’an school for young girls, and an imagining of the world made anew—offers a different perspective on what might happen in a place caught between the competing forces of a repressive regime, a growing conservative Islamic movement, and intense pressure from the United States.                               

                                                                                                   —Fionn Meade

Copryright Fionn Meade unless otherwise stated