Artur Zmijewski (Poland)

80064, (2004), video, 11 minutes

I don’t create entertainment for the mass public. Seeing to the well-being and comfort of viewers isn’t my intention. I don’t care if someone gets a headache after watching this film. The world isn’t a safe place…’

Artur Zmijewski’s re-staging of the Stanford Prison Experiment Repetition was one of the three films presented in Part 1 of The Ethics of Encounter. The disturbing film 80064, the artist once again returns to the subject of power relations, this time coercing a 92 year –old Auschwitz survivor into having his identification tattoo refreshed, despite his clear protestations. The eleven-minute film adheres to a traditional documentary structure, taking the form of a two-part interview during which the detached artist calmly interrogates the subject, Jozef Tarnawa, about his experiences in the camp and his attitude towards his identification number. Anecdotes about the horrific abuses of Auschwitz and the inevitable submission of the prisoners are duly recounted before the artist insists on carrying out the ‘renovation’ of his tattoo. Tarnawa’s response conflates the artist’s position with that of the Auschwitz authorities: ‘I’d have never expected that something like this will happen to me again…that they would renew my number.’ Through this small-scale re-enactment, Zmijewski presents a ‘live’ interrogation of human responses to the exercise of authority that is reminiscent of the infamous social psychology experiments conducted by Stanley Milgrim in the 1960’s.

As with Zmijewski’s other video documentations, 80064 reveals his fascination with real bodies in a social space. By approaching politics through the body, violence (whether explicit or subcutaneous) regularly features is Zmijewski’s special brand of realism.

Courtesy of the Foksal Gallery Foundation

Artur Zmijewski's '80064' is currently showing at Stills Gallery, Edinburgh as part of Social Documents; The Ethics of Encounter, until March 6 2011.

Mikhailovich Rodchenko

As a precursor to our screening of 'Night Mail' on Wednesday 24th November - some themes that have come to light encapsulate; the regional over the national, the working proletariat and the train as a symbol for modernity.

The text below recounts Russian Bolshevik times and constructivist artist, Mikhailovich Rodchenko's response to the revolution.

' When the Bolsheviks came to power Alexander Rodchenko declared painting to be dead and turned instead to photography. Modern, objective, apparently free from the taint of bourgeois subjectivity, photography showed that it could play its part in the dictatorship of the proletariat.

Radical photographic style was combined with cutting edge graphics in a magazine called 'USSR in Construction'. Designed by Rodchenko, it was a showcase of political propaganda glorifying the achievements of the Soviet system. 'USSR in Construction' displays Rodchenko's mastery of photo-montage, a graphic technique that took its cue from cinema montage. Rodchenko's photo-montages treated photographs as raw footage, suppressing their individuality, collectivising their energies, cutting, pasting, re-touching and re-photographing them to conjure up dizzying visions of the future.

Rodchenko harnessed photography to greatest effect in an issue of 'USSR in Construction' devoted to the White Sea Canal, trumpeted at home and abroad as a triumph of Soviet engineering and enlightened Soviet penal policies. The canal would be built by criminals and other social undesirables who would be rehabilitated through labour. Rodchenko travelled to the canal to take the photographs that would provide the raw material for this masterpiece of political propaganda.

"We can see in the Rodchenko book how the original picture looked – rather grey and flat. Of course, the montage is altogether much more successful as a picture. He's able to put in the text, give more impact for the crowd of workers and of course the figure in the foreground gets more impact in the way he has heightened up the contrast between it and the backdrop. You can see all these different components have been put together to make the picture and although when you look at this you wouldn't think its particularly a montage, its only when you see the original, and you see how its changed in its intention and its meaning that you really understand how photo-montaged this is." (Martin Parr, photographer)

But Rodchenko's virtuoso post-production conceals a grim truth. These determined-looking workers were mostly political prisoners and the White Sea Canal, a 140 mile long gulag. And far from being rehabilitated through their labour, 200,000 of them would die as a result of it, a reality that can still be glimpsed in the unsmiling faces of the untouched original.

Extract from 'Documents for Artists', Genius of Photography (Wall to Wall)

The Man With the Movie Camera

The Man with the Movie Camera, is an experimental 1929 silent documentary film, with no story and no actors, by Russian director Dziga Vertov, edited by his wife Elizaveta Svilova.

Vertov's feature film, produced by the Ukrainian film studio VUFKU, presents urban life in Odessa and other Soviet cities. From dawn to dusk Soviet citizens are shown at work and at play, and interacting with the machinery of modern life. To the extent that it can be said to have "characters," they are the cameramen of the title and the modern Soviet Union he discovers and presents in the film.

This film is famous for the range of cinematic techniques Vertov invents, deploys or develops, such as double exposure, fast motion, slow motion, freeze frames, jump cuts, split screens, Dutch angles, extreme close-ups, tracking shots, footage played backwards, stop motion animations and a self-reflexive style (at one point it features a split screen tracking shot; the sides have opposite Dutch angles).

The film, originally released in 1929, was silent, and accompanied in theaters with live music. It has since been released a number of times with different soundtracks.

The Complete MAUS by Art Speigelman

'Maus memorializes Spiegelman's father's experience of the Holocaust - it follows his story, frame by fram, from youth and marriage in pre- war Poland to imprisonment in Auschwitz. The 'survivor's tale' that results is stark and unembellished. One of the cliches about the Holocaust is that you can't imagine it- like nuclear war, its horror outfaces the artistic imagination. Spiegelman disproves that theory'. Independent

'Spiegelman portrays the Nazis as cats, the Jews as mice, the Poles as pigs and the Americans as dogs. They are all terrifyingly human.' The Times

Sequence 1: Richard Glazar, Treblinka Villagers, Czeslaw Borow

The first sequence in an edited transcript of the second of two seminars on Shoah orgnaised by David Rodowick at Yale University in 1990. Lanzmann presents three key sequences in the film.

'Shoah' Will Have New Release in December

Holocaust Film ‘Shoah’ Will Have New Release in December

ShoahIFC FilmsA poster image for the Holocaust film “Shoah.”

Claude Lanzmann’s epic Holocaust documentary, “Shoah,” will receive a new release to mark its 25th anniversary, using two 35 mm prints of the film that will be shown at Lincoln Plaza Cinemas and the IFC Center in December, IFC Films said on Tuesday.

Mr. Lanzmann, a French Jewish filmmaker, spent 11 years making the nine-and-a-half-hour “Shoah,” which does not use historical footage and instead consists primarily of first-person interviews conducted in 14 countries with survivors, witnesses and accomplices: a barber who sheared the hair of women before they were killed in the gas chambers of Treblinka, a locomotive engineer who drove Jews to their deaths.

Mr. Lanzmann said in a statement: “Museums come to terms with death and institute forgetting as well as memory. On the contrary, ‘Shoah,’ because it is an incarnation, because nothing will ever replace Abraham Bomba’s tears, Filip Müller’s reverberating voice, or the minute-by-minute description of the executions in Treblinka by the Unterscharführer Franz Suchomel or Polish train conductor Henrik Gavkowski, ‘Shoah’ is an absolute barricade, the true wall against oblivion.”

IFC Films said it would present “Shoah” at Lincoln Plaza Cinemas starting on Dec. 10 and at the IFC Center beginning Dec. 24, followed by a national release in the new year.

Jan Svankmajer

Recently I have been watching surrealist films, in particular by Jan Svankmajer. His films are technically basic, a lot of stop motion animation. I find his films to be bizarre, funny and child-like, there are too many to choose from to put on the blog - so I have chosen a couple

tma/svetlo/tma (Darkness/Light/Darkness) 1989

Conspirators of Pleasure 1997

An interesting interview with Mark Aerial Waller

Gordon Matta Clark - Conical Intersect, 1975

Conical Intersect / Gordon Matta-Clark from issole on Vimeo.

I remember seeing this and being enthralled by it.

potential documentaries/ documentary style

Scared Straight

Scared Straight! is a 1978 documentary directed by Arnold Shapiro. Narrated by Peter Falk, the subject of the documentary is a group of cocky teenaged juvenile delinquents and the attempts to make them end their criminal ways by introducing them to actual convicts. Filmed at Rahway State Prison, a group of inmates known as the "lifers" berate, scream at, and terrify the young hoodlums and attempt to "scare them straight" (hence the film's title) by showing an ugly, harsh presentation of the realities of prison life.


is a memoir by convicted felon and fugitive Henri Charrière, first published in France in 1969 which became an instant bestseller at the time. It was translated into English from the original French by June P. Wilson and Walter B. Michaels for a 1970 edition, and also by author Patrick O'Brian. Soon afterward the book was adapted for a Hollywood film.

The Battle of Algiers (Italian: La battaglia di Algeri) is a 1966 war film based on occurrences during the Algerian War (1954–62) against French colonial rule in North Africa, the most prominent being the titular Battle of Algiers. It was directed by Gillo Pontecorvo. The film has been critically celebrated and often taken, by insurgent groups and states alike, as an important commentary on urban guerilla warfare.

Jean Rouch - La Pyramide humaine

Anthropologist Jean_Rouch directed this experimental film with a technique of "acting out," like in a classroom. He went to the Ivory Coast in Africa and visited a school that has a mix of white French students and black Africans then explained to them what they would be acting out and allowed them to improvise. Once his various scenarios are completed, the "actors" discuss their characters. Based on the knowledge they gain in performing the suggested pieces and in their analyses, the actor-students then are assigned a final sketch to improvise. Obviously this type of film is more for educational venues than theatrical showings.


An excerpt taken from the Book exhibit at East Side Projects. I think it sounds relevant to the idea of a C&E publication if it took the form of a book.

Ulises Carrión, 1979:

A book is a sequence of spaces.

Each of these spaces is perceived at a different moment—a book is also a sequence of moments.

A book is not a case of words, nor a bag of words, nor a bearer of words.

A writer, contrary to the popular opinion, does not write books.

A writer writes texts.

Carrión’s perspective on the form of the book de-emphasises any inherent union between the material form of the book and its printed contents, and implies that each body of material to be made into a book must somehow be addressed to the display conditions that the book offers.


AN review of Damir Ocko's recent exhibition, by Reuben Henry.

Damir Očko
Castle & Elephant, Coventry
28 May - 19 June

Reviewed by: Reuben Henry
The gallery’s two floors each contain a video work by Očko that muse on the history and attributes of sound, each apparently using the absence of one of the senses to present the viewer with an altered perspective on the works’ subject. One depicts a theatre in which three songs are ‘sung’ in sign language, while the other depicts a fictional utopian cult living in a frightening zombie-like ecstasy without the use of their eyes: two opposing premises where sound is either absent or ever-more present for its subjects.
The Age of Happiness (2009), in which its performers are all blindfolded, takes reference from an unrealised performance by Russian composer Alexander Scriabin, which was to take place in the Himalayas and transform its spectators into higher beings. The apparent sincere belief in the success of this madcap utopian scheme has functioned as inspiration for Očko, but when he quotes Scriabin’s line “there will be no spectators, only participants”, I think not of relational aesthetics, but of cults like the Jonestown settlement in Guyana, in which 909 inhabitants were duped into mass suicide. This ‘cultishness’ comes through in the video, with its ‘participants’ devoid of any marked individualism and remaining blindfolded by choice, and who are drawn into a visually magical scenario, which is matched by an eerie abstract soundscape. Očko claims that the Utopian vision of Scriabin is comparable to the shortcomings of today’s society, by which I can only guess he means
that today’s society lacks vision for what might be achieved, a suggestion that Očko is as Dystopian as Scriabin was Utopian.
The Age of Happiness opens with its blindfolded participants experiencing an awakening of sorts, wandering self-assuredly through snowy woodland while performing an act of active listening. Perhaps through being pre-informed of Očko’s interest in sound and the myriad references he uses in creating the soundscape, I find myself empathising with the character’s blindness and concentrating on the audio, as if the pleasant and at times nostalgic visuals of the film are intended to be blotted out by the viewer. Considering the pretext of an emphasis on sound I was surprised by the low level of the volume, the soundtrack resisting its dramatic potential, but forcing a sharpening of my listening. The reclaimed shop space of Castle & Elephant however is no museum black box, and my concentration was infused in the parallel world of the busy arcade outside. I expect any viewer is virtually forbidden from ignoring the intermingling of the two worlds of the gallery and what lives outside, and I cannot shake this factor away from my appreciation of the context of the exhibition; knowing that I was both seeing and hearing a whole world to which the cult followers on screen were oblivious, and highlighting the gap between two worlds separated by the gallery door.
Preceding entry to The Moon shall never take my Voice (2010), three song texts based on stories about people who have had a relationship to silence are presented, including John Cage and Neil Armstrong (in a fictitious interview about his visit to the moon). The video itself depicts a lady silently ‘singing’ these texts in sign language, with each of her movements filled in with sound effects that we presume she cannot hear. As the ‘singer’ touches her throat to the timely twang of a piano key, I am overwhelmed by the slapstick nature of the intervention, as if she is a martial arts actor having a terrible joke played on her by the post-production sound-effect makers. The synthesis of a historical appreciation of silence and the forced silence of deafness I find an intelligent intervention, yet the third step of reinterpreting the narrative and actions (of silence) that the ‘singer’ presents back into sound seems to contradict the otherwise tentativeness nature of both of the works in the show.
While the works are visually very different, they succinctly share a proposition that restraining one sense can force a new perspective. This is certainly achieved most delicately and abstractly in The Age of Happiness, and delivers a challenge that I as the viewer need to put a leash on my senses so that I might see the works in the way that they are cunningly intended.
Writer detail:
Springhill Institute is an artist-led space that opened in Birmingham in 2003 and is run by artists Reuben Henry and Karin Kihlberg. Being a combination of gallery, studio and living areas, it explores the idea of arts organisation in its wider sense and questions the possibilities of what an institution can be. It concentrates on the production of projects, events, critical discourse and showcases, rather than exhibitions.
Daft Punk - There's Something About Us

Early tag

The Juan de Onate Inscription, dated 1605. It is the oldest historical inscription at El Morro. (Shows vandalism to the inscription almost from the day it was inscribed). "paso por aq[u]i el adelantado don ju/an oñate del descubrimiento de la/ mar del sur a 16 de Abril del 1605". At left there is "Casados/1727" and "J[ose?]parelo". On right, "P. Joseph de la Candelaria."

Wild Style

Dying Language

Apparently a language dies every 14 days, and half those spoken today are expected to vanish by 2100. To read the above article got to http://gu.com/p/2j29y

Esperanto is the most widely spoken constructed international auxiliary language.

Shoah: Abraham Bomba

Etgar Keret's stories and films embody the funny and the Tragic;

'Both my parents were Holocaust survivors. My mother was in the Warsaw ghetto—they were kids during the war--and my father on the Russian-Polish border. They didn’t have any books, so my grandparents made up stories for them. So, for my parents the parental duty was to make up stories for us. For them, to read from books would have been like McDonald’s.'

'Most of my stories are not realistic because i am very much interested in the subjective experience of reality. I don't want to write stories that are factually true, but that are fundamentally true. I am more interested in portraying an emotional situation then in a correct ontology of the world'.

A fragment of an interview with Etgar Keret
By Daniela Hurezanu

SHOAH is a nine-hour film completed by Claude lanzmann in 1985 about the Holocaust. Shoah consists of many hours of interviews with witnesses of the Holocaust. Lanzmann's style of interviewing, and his selection of interview footage divides his witnesses into three distinct archetypes: survivor, bystander and perpetrator. Lanzmann makes an effort to represent each archetype quite differently. The account by hairdresser Abraham Bomba can be seen below.

Together Again

To read above article online go to: http://gu.com/p/2j27y

Israeli writer and filmmaker Etgar Keret sees himself as first Jewish and second Israeli. His short stories, Graphic novels and films underpin the Jewish identity. As a side to this 2010 marks the 100th anniversary of the founding in what is now Israel of the first kibbutz, called Degania (“Wheat of God”). From there, the kibbutz movement took off, and though kibbutzniks never comprised more than 4 percent of Israeli society, they went on to play an outsize role in the country’s politics, military, economy, and national identity
Press on Together Again to view part of Inventing Our Life: The Kibbutz Experiment

The Elephant (or lack of Elephant)

The Architects' Jounal Information Library, 25th May 1966

These images are of the original swimming baths, designed by Arthur Ling and Terence Gregory. Although its not the Elephant building, I thought they were pretty interesting.

The Elephant building was built later in 1976, designed by the Coventry City Council Architecture Department again (althought the chief designer seems to be lost information). At the time, Cllr Arthur Waugh Junior was Chairman of Leisure. As you mentioned Hannah, the building became known as "Arthur's Folly".

There is really not much documentation of the elephant extention.

It seems that the reception of the building was mixed, and to this day opinion is greatly divided. I think this is due to its design; it's whimsical representation doesn't sit well with the monolithic, modernist aesthetic. This juxtaposition has made it very hard to accept by the people of Coventry. Also, it may be that this is why there is so little record of the building's history, as people have found it hard to form static, singular opinions.

Human realationship with the city.

Ryan McGinley's friends and his utopias

I read this article the other day and thought of 'spectators and participants'. There is a different slant to the author's extrapolations, but I felt that the subjects have common concerns.

The Elephant & the architecture of 2001: A Space Odessey

I mentioned the other day that one of the rooms in the Elephant reminded me of the scene where the Nostromo spaceship explodes at the end of Alien (Ridley Scott, 1979).

This room is very large across both horizontal axis but only the height of a normal, smaller sized room. This has the effect of exaggerating perspective. The last time I was there, as I entered the room the lights were off. The windows at the other end were sending in a white light which was reflecting off the floor and the ceiling, the full length of the wide, flat space, towards the doorway I was standing in.

After thinking more about the passing comment, I remembered that the 'star gate' sequence (below) from 2001: A Space Odyssey (Stanley Kubrick, 1968) is the seminal version of the image I was reminded of.

Also, I think that an influence on me coming to this connection was that the external (and to some degree, the internal) architecture of the Elephant is reminiscent of the architecture of spaceships from that era of cinema.


Portable Zebra Crossing
The pedestrians best friend

The tyranny of the automobile makes life increasingly tough for eco-conscious pedestrians, and finding a safe place to cross can result in inconvenient diversions and wasted time. Now the pedestrian can fight back. When you've found the crossing point that best suits you, simply roll out the Portable Zebra Crossing in front of you and cross confidently and in safety at your own pace.
WARNING: On busy roads where there is no break in the oncoming traffic, attempting to roll out the Portable Zebra Crossing can be hazardous.

Portable Stoplight
Puts traffic control in the hands of those that need it most

Children do not always remember how to apply the traffic safety code, and this is an increasing source of anxiety for parents. But now they can relax again- provided they have equipped their children with the Portable Stoplight. The child in charge just switches it on and, regardless of whether he or she remembers to look both ways, a bright red light beams in both directions, halting the oncoming traffic. Despite its authentic design, the portable stoplight only shines red. The danger of carnage resulting from an accidental green light is thus cleverly avoided.

Portable Countryside
If you can't take the country out of the boy, let him carry a bit around town

Big cities mean intimidating, towering skyscrapers and a puzzling maze of subways. Worst of all is the lack of natural sights and smells. Armed with a personal Portable Countryside the simple farm boy or born again naturalist need never feel too urban when weaving their way through the concrete jungle. From now on, the walk to work or school will always be pleasantly scenic and familiar. We recommend using the backstreets whenever possible. Exposure to exhaust fumes will kill your plants.

Gift of the Gab Glasses
A social leg up for the strong silent type

Some people just aren't good at talking, and the problem is that, despite the technological revolution, speech is still the most popular form of communication. If you're shy or silent, don't put yourself at a disadvantage. Our Gift of the Gab Glasses enable even the most tongue-tied talker to give give his audience the impression he's said at least three times as much as he actually has. But that's not all. They also render the listener speechless, making the wearer's conversation seem all the more skilled. Walking around in these can be difficult, and glancing into a mirror downright scary. But it's good to talk.

Portable Armrests
With these in place, life's one big armchair

At the end of a hard day, luxury is a cushy recliner with padded armrests. Dining- chair uprights just done give the same relief. So if fifty percent of that easy feeling is down to laid back arms, give your biceps a break even when walking. With Portable Armrests walking has never felt so good. While your legs take the strain, and your shoulders complain, your arms will be in paradise.