Marwa Arsanios is a visual artist, filmmaker and researcher who reconsiders politics of the mid-twentieth century from a contemporary perspective with a particular focus on gender relations, urbanism and industrialisation. She approaches research collaboratively and seeks to work across disciplines.
Through the exhibited works, the artist addresses different ideology understandings and applications, the position of feminism in modern society and its relationship to ecology, the trade-union organising of precarious care workers, the media influence on the public visibility of women, especially women liberation-movement fighters, as well as other ways of historicizing and representing political fights. The artist also deals with the role of political engagement in modern art, with an emphasis on documentary approaches. Organizing information is an inherently political act. What one chooses to prioritize, reduce or exclude is not simply a way of making stories. It is a way of making a world. Being aware of these choices and the impact that such decision-making entails is a key facet of making documentary films. It endeavours to counter conventions of making documentary films and their concealed modes of persuasion. Marwa Arsanios’ films depict not only the paradoxes its documented subjects live but also the contradictions of trying to capture such complexities on camera.
Arsanios was the subject of solo exhibitions at the Beirut Art Center (2017); Hammer Museum, Los Angeles (2016); Witte de With Center for Contemporary Art, Rotterdam (2016); Kunsthalle Lissabon, Lisbon (2015) and Art in General, New York (2015). Her work was also shown in a number of group exhibitions, including From Ear to Ear to Eye, Nottingham Contemporary, UK (2017); Home Return, Maxxi Museum, Rome (2017); Let’s Talk about the Weather, Sursock Museum, Beirut (2016); HERE AND NOW, Ludwig Museum, Cologne (2016); Thessaloniki Biennial (2015); Home Works Forum, Ashkal Alwan, Beirut (2010, 2013, 2015); Here and Elsewhere, New Museum, New York (2014); 55th Venice Biennale (2013); Meeting Points 7 – Ten Thousand Wiles and a Hundred Thousand Tricks, M HKA, Antwerp (2013); In Other Words, nGbK, Berlin (2012) and 12th Istanbul Biennial (2011), among others. Screenings of her videos took place at the Centre Georges Pompidou, Paris (2011, 2017); Berlin International Film Festival (2010, 2015) and e-flux storefront, New York (2009). She was awarded the Special Prize of the Pinchuk Future Generation Art Prize (2012) and nominated for the Paulo Cunha e Silva Art Prize (2017) and for the Han Nefkens Foundation award in 2014. She was also a fellow at Akademie Schloss Solitude, Stuttgart, Germany (2014) and Tokyo Wonder Site, Tokyo Arts and Space (2010). She is the co-founder of 98 weeks Research Project. Arsanios received a Master of Fine Art degree from University of the Arts London (2007) and was a researcher at the Fine Art Department, Jan Van Eyck Academie, Maastricht, The Netherlands (2011–2012). She is currently a PhD candidate at the Akademie der bildenden Kunst in Vienna.
Curated by Teja Reba in collaboration with Marwa Arsanios
4 October, 3–5 PM /// Opening Panel/ Activation No. 1:
What does Freedom Stand For?, with Jelena Petrović, Marina Gržinić and Anja Zalta
“The impossibility to change neoliberal systems which shape and oppress everyday life on all social levels, as well as the simultaneous and paradoxical act of playing and resisting dominant social structures, make us rethink what the politics of liberation or its revolutionary practices of today are. The attribute ‘revolutionary,’ means that those practices are politically engaged and socially transformative in a very concrete context. The fact is that all social revolutions have emerged outside of dominant ideological, economic, and political structures in order to cope with the unbearable conditions of common life in certain times. Each of them generated a new social order grounded in the radical imagination of everyday life. In other words, social revolutions always fought for freedom, social justice and new liberating legality through ‘illegal’ means. But what happens when all those facts become romanticized versions of futures and when the freedom is used as a key concept of neoliberal society?” (Jelena Petrović)
The opening panel discussion will present the positions of Jelena Petrović, Marina Gržinić and Anja Zalta and will be followed by a guided tour of the exhibition with the artist Marwa Arsanios.
16 October, 5-7 PM /// Activation No. 2:
Care as Violence, with Darja Zaviršek, Irena Šumi, Marta Verginella
Global inequalities, environmental disasters, as well as current and future mass migrations influence the relationships between men and women. Instead of a fairer redistribution, the fundamentalist neoliberalism continues to create new inequalities which promote the ideology of a scapegoat that is becoming the symbolic culprit for the present situation. Influential politicians and opinion leaders promise to take care of women if they submit to retraditionalisation- and repatriarchalisation tendencies: if they do not wish to take the blame for the problems of today’s society, they should dedicate themselves to childbearing, quietly accepting their second-rate position and leaving the paid posts. While some warn against the over-emancipation, education and independence of women, these are promised affection and social care in exchange for their unpaid care work and the subordination to the general traditionalism designed to maintain the status quo in economically and socially uncertain neoliberal conditions. Although we are talking about global processes of care which are, in reality, turning into violence, we need to analyse how they manifest in Slovenia, who are the local promoters of neo-patriarchy, and what is the potential of the feminist and women’s movement in Slovenia to stop the neo-patriarchy, bearing in mind Agamben’s words that “one ends up identifying with an enemy whose structure one does not understand.”
27 October, 5-7 PM /// Activation No. 3:
Video Art Theory, with Slavko Kačunko and Barbara Borčič
Slavko Kačunko, a researcher, curator and writer on video- and media art will present the Video Art Theory (Theorien der Videokunst) anthologies that include texts by 40 key women video art theoreticians written between 1988 and 2018 as well as five current interviews with them. The two anthologies, published in German at Logos Verlag in Berlin, bring important writing by woman critics spanning several generations and represent a priceless source for interdisciplinary studies of video, media and contemporary art, as well as for theoretical research and writing. An introductory speech will be given by Barbara Borčić, head of DIVA Station. The presentation is a collaboration with the Center for Contemporary Arts SCCA-Ljubljana (the DIVA Station archive of video art). With Slavko Kačunko, they are preparing a programme with projections of video works by the video art pioneer Marcel Odenbach, on the same day at 20:00 in Slovenska Kinoteka.
Opening panel: 4th of October at 3 PM
Guided Tour with the Artist: 4th of October at 5 PM
The exhibition and the festival opening will be on the 4th of October at 8 PM
The exhibition is organized in the framework of the 24th International Festival of Contemporary Arts – City of Women.
A co-production of City of Women, Škuc Gallery, Kunstencentrum Vooruit.
Acknowledgements: Zavod Aksioma
Photos of the exhibition: Klemen Ilovar.