video still from Sharif Waked, Gaza Zoo I (Bath Time)

This exhibition gathers recent artistic reactions to current media representations of geopolitical identity and violent conflict. Through widely varying practices and regional perspectives, these artists deconstruct the problematic ways in which the relationships of individuals to war—as subjects, protagonists, producers, and spectators—are popularly characterized.

In this age of seemingly permanent global warfare, the experience of territorial exclusion and violence is continually restaged in visual culture. Films, documentaries, mainstream journalism, and user-generated media serve as the ideological, consensus-building theater of conflict, in which ongoing global aggression is a given. Intimately rendered soldiers, agents, and politicians are reluctant heroes, and amateur footage is coded as “authentic” experience—even when consumed at a distance. Overwhelmingly, the identificatory power of the personal occludes the broader constructs of the political: the authority formerly attributed to the „eye“ of the eyewitness account is now intimately linked to the „I“ of the viewer’s own process of identification.

The fourteen artists in this exhibition—from the Middle East, Europe and the United States—focus not only on mass and distributed media, cinema, and spectacle culture. Rather, they also examine the ideological consequences of global media power structures. Accordingly, these artworks include drawing, sculpture, and installation, as well as lens-based practices. They range from the re-presentation of conflict as parody or irony, to proposing historical counter-narratives, to appropriating or recontextualizing images. All works contest the way geopolitical conflict is presented, camouflaged, blurred, imagined, experienced, and consumed.

An I for an Eye | 2013 | about