From 16 March through 19 May the new exhibition, A Tale of Hidden Histories, will run at Eye in Amsterdam.
Truth, facts, memories, reality: are they all constructions? Artists Broomberg & Chanarin, Omer Fast, Chia-Wei Hsu and Meiro Koizumi show how film, video, but also slide projection, photos and sound can be used to investigate the past and to ‘unmask’ it. Reporting, re-enactment, documentary and cinematic techniques are some of the strategies that these artists use to uncover the subjectivity of historical sources and the limitations of memory. In narratives that take place in different parts of the world, they investigate the construction of stories and how stories change when they are told and retold from different perspectives.
The works highlight illuminate history in conflict areas; those places in the world where truth and fiction are put into focus. And where the smaller histories of individuals often serve as examples for a greater socio-political reality. Broomberg & Chanarin, Omer Fast, Chia-Wei Hsu and Meiro Koizumi address the question of the representation of war. Can a war be retold? Is it possible to imagine a war? And what is the role of the artist in this? These questions are the catalyst for the various, often unknown or forgotten stories about events from the Second World War, the Cold War, but also from the more recent history in Iraq and Afghanistan.
What connects these artists is their investigative and reflective attitude towards history. They hold up historical stories against the light, not necessarily doing truth-finding. Their working method, therefore, differs fundamentally from that of, for example, a journalistic, a legal or scientific practice. They show that there are different perspectives and that imagination plays an important role in the construction of a shared and collective cultural memory. Their work raises questions rather than finding answers to urgent issues in history.
Meiro Koizumi (Japan, 1976) with his confrontational videos and performances brings out many deep-seated taboos and pain points in Japanese society. He is working on a consistent oeuvre around recurring topics, such as individual and collective memory, Japan’s attitude towards the past, Japanese media culture and the image of the ultimate Japanese heroes such as samurai and kamikaze. Defect in Vision (2011) and Portrait of a Young Samurai (2009) give a disturbing picture of these fighters. The traumas and memories of American veterans from the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan are the subjects of Koizumi’s recent work Battlelands (2018).
The Taiwanese artist Chia-Wei Hsu (1983) immerses himself in the cultural history and geopolitics of Asia. Through the telling of forgotten stories, he investigates Asian history, in which myths and legends from these areas play an important role. In Huai Mo Village (2012) a priest tells about the time he worked as a spy for the CIA and opposed the Chinese Communists. In Drones, Frosted Bats and the Testimony of the Deceased (2017), former factory workers reminisce about the Second World War, when shooting from an abandoned fuel factory in Taiwan, filmed from a drone.
Broomberg & Chanarin
The artists Adam Broomberg (1970) and Oliver Chanarin (1971), who grew up in South Africa and England, were trained as photographers, but now work with various media. In their work, they address issues from history, politics and religion in a stimulating way. Always pointing at the power and the many possibilities to interpret images and wrestling with the role of representation. The starting point for the work Dodo (2014) was the representation of a war. The combination of archival research, archaeological excavations and unused film fragments from the film Catch 22 led to an impressive work on the representation of war and the impact of the American Hollywood industry on the landscape in Mexico. The work The Day Nobody Died (2008) arose when both artists were embedded in the British army in Afghanistan.
Contemporary trauma and war are important ingredients in Omer Fast’s politically charged films. Fast (Israel, 1972) is interested in the tension between reality and fiction and investigates the construction of stories, in particular how stories change when they are told from different perspectives. In Continuity (2012) a couple is reunited with their son after his military broadcast to Afghanistan. The uncomfortable story quickly becomes more complicated. The reason for Her Face Was Covered (2011) is the testimony of a drone pilot who discusses a bombardment on a convoy with trucks, at an unspecified location.
The exhibition can be visited daily from 10.00 till 19.00. You can buy tickets at the box office and online. Regular tickets are € 11,00, if you are a student or a CJP cardholder, you will get a discount.
Source: Eye Amsterdam