arrkks and afterlives
single-channel video, colour, sound, 6 min, 2017
Part of Learning from documenta, an interdisciplinary research project and exhibition on documenta 14, Athens, Greece
A short subjective documentary essay based on the impressions from the last days of documenta14 in Athens and Kassel and a personal reflection on the critique of documenta14 and ethics of engagement with the other – be it other people, bodies, experiences, images or places – and the way they are objectified. It features the footage I made on the last day of documenta14 in Kassel during its closing hours, including a short conversation with one of its security guards that turned into mild sexual harassment; interviews and critical voices of some Athenian artists (participants in the ‘Learning from documenta’ workshop), and visual quotes from two pieces presented at the documenta14 (by Susan Hiller and Artur Żmijewski). Departing from this minor real life incident with the security guard, in the video I let these different threads and voices enter a polylogue about and offer a personal response from the position of ‘the other’ to what seems to be a common critique of documenta14 in Athens and of some of its artists – its partly objectifying, colonial and consumerist attitude towards the city and the lack of genuine engagement with its complex cultural and sociopolitical reality.
Mirroring the (arguably deeply colonial) practice of 'giving voice' by institutions, I use my own voice and an affective discourse to argue against institutional appropriation of solidarity and ways of living, and insists on the autonomy, dignity, vibrant agency and ethical unknowability of the other that exist beyond and resist institutional and academic practices, and individual expectations and desires alike.
While trying to capture the sobering and disillusioning atmosphere of ‘the morning after’ the documenta14 in Athens, filled with hanging questions about its aftermath and what comes after it, I attempt to re-imagine a possibility of a genuine encounter with the unknown and unfamiliar other beyond the preconceptions and hierarchies of established social relations of power, as one of its possible and independently lasting afterlives.