GUEST CURATED BY ASHA BUKOJEMSKY OF MARATHON SCREENINGS
WITH THE PARTICIPANT ARTISTS:
BASEL ABBAS Y RUANNE ABOU-RAHME,LAWRENCE ABU HAMDAN, SKY HOPINKA, DANA KAVELINA, GELARE KHOSHGOZARAN, OLEKSIY RADYNSKI, VANDY RATTANA, LIU SHIYUAN, HITO STEYERL
Assistance and translation: Carla Lamoyi
Production: Ollin Miranda, Laurie Abad
Documentation: Cristina Medellín
Memory War is a film screening exploring the power and threat of remembrance. Curated by Los Angeles-based Asha Bukojemsky of Marathon Screenings, the project presents thirteen works that investigate the mediums and mechanisms that form memory—from images to fascist rhetoric—and the powers that resist them. In light of Russia’s invasion in Ukraine, past genocides, and the recent proliferation of memory laws in the United States, Memory War prompts viewers to consider how they remember, and for whom.
Probing historical revisionism, myth-making and revolutionary ideals, the first half of Memory War traces the blurry boundary between expectation and exploitation. A protest in the Donbas region of Ukraine turns into revolt (Oleksiy Radynski, People Who Came to Power), while a German childhood friend becomes a Kurdish martyr (Hito Steyerl, November). Image appropriation and consumption further reveal modes of transference when a Hans Christian Anderson fairy tale becomes a propagandistic tool for the Chinese communist party (Liu Shiyuan, For the Photos I Didn’t Take, For the Stories I Didn’t Read), and an anonymous five-hour online documentary is recombined into a surreal anti-war film (Dana Kavelina, Letter to a Turtledove). Here, memory itself becomes the counter-insurgence.
Prompting viewers to consider their own role as memory-makers, Memory War also investigates methods of retrieval and embodiment. An artist invokes a group of men, from Edward Said, Roberto Bolaño to Khosrow Golesorkhi, that inhabited their life during the artist’s move from Tehran to Los Angeles (Gelare Khoshgozaran, MEN OF MY DREAMS), while another conjures an unknown sister, killed during the Khmer Rouge (Vandy Rattana, MONOLOGUE). A 50-year-old recording of a grandmother learning the indigenous Pechanga language (Sky Hopinka, Kicking the Clouds) overlaps with ruminations of forced forgetting, whereas an archive featuring artifacts of a past life is built entirely from the memory of a reincarnated PLA soldier (Lawrence Abu Hamdan, Once Removed). Rebels, novelists, rituals and myth emerge throughout, as sites of erasure become projections of a potential future (Basel Abbas and Ruanne Abou-Rahme, And Yet my Mask is Powerful Part 1, and The Incidental Insurgents Part 1 – through 3). Collapsing past and present, these narratives create a new kind of archive where stories of loss, belonging, and revolt inform a psychic resistance against the powers of erasure.
Together with the screening, the Vernacular Institute presents a multi-lingual reading room featuring materials contributed by the artists and curator that expand on concepts of memory, erasure, and forms of resistance. The reading room and screening are accompanied by an installation organized by Mexico City-based writer Su Wu, featuring bronze “Memoria” stools by design collective EWE Studio, cast from a collection of vernacular objects, and a rug of fallen jacaranda petals designed by Casa Ahorita for txt.ure, a design research project founded by Regina Pozo, former director of Archivo Diseño y Arquitectura.
ASHA BUKOJEMSKY (CURATOR OF MARATHON SCREENINGS)
Steirischer Herbst, Florian Malzacher. Truth Is Concrete: A Handbook for Artistic Strategies in Real Politics. Sternberg Press, 2014
JO YING PENG (CURATOR OF VERNACULAR INSTITUTE)
Dora García, All the Stories, Book Works, 2013
CARLA LAMOYI (ARTIST, EDITOR)
Pierre Nora, Les lieux de mémoire, Ediciones Trilce, 2008
Marc Augé, Las formas del olvido, Gedisa, 2009
Samuel Arriarán, Filosofía de la memoria y del olvido. Itaca, 2010
SU WU (WRITER AND INSTALLATION CURATOR)
Heriberto Yépez, The Empire of Neomemory, trans. Jen Hofer, Christian Nagler, and Brian Whitener. ChainLinks: 2013.
Maria Stepanova, In Memory of Memory, trans. Sasha Dugdale. New Directions: 2021
Hito Steyerl. Duty Free Art: Art in the Age of Planetary Civil War. Verso, 1st edition, 2017.
Federico García Lorca (Author), Christopher Maurer. The Collected Poems A Bilingual Edition (Revised). Farrar, Straus and Giroux, 2002.
Nazim Hikmet. Antología (Visor de Poesía). Visor Libros, S.L, 2005.
Pier Paolo Pasolini, edited by Stephen Sartarelli. The Selected Poetry of Pier Paolo Pasolini: A Bilingual Edition. University of Chicago Press, 2015
Oleksiy Radynski, The Case Against the Russian Federation, e-flux journal, issue #125, March 2022
Oleksiy Radynski, Is Data the New Gas?, e-flux journal, issue #107, March 2020.
Quentin Meillassoux, The Immanence of the World Beyond, available online.
Timothy Snyder. Black Earth: The Holocaust as History and Warning. Crown, 2016
Basel Abbas and Ruanne Abou-Rahme. And Yet My Mask is Powerful. Printed Matter, 2017.
Basel Abbas & Ruanne Abou-Rahme, Dina Danish, Clare Davies, Nav Haq, Rabeya Jalil. Syntax and Society. The Abraaj Group Art Prize 2016
Edward Said. After the Last Sky: Palestinian Lives. Columbia University Press, 1998.
Jasbir K. Puar. The Right to Maim: Debility, Capacity, Disability. Duke University Press Books, 2017.
Fred Moten. In The Break: The Aesthetics Of The Black Radical Tradition. University of Minnesota Press, 2003
Sigmund Freud. Civilization and its Discontents. (Multiple editions and languages)
Albert Camus. L’Etranger. (Multiple editions and languages)
Basel Abbas and Ruanne Abou-Rahme work together across a range of sound, image, text, installation and performance practices. Their practice is engaged in the intersections between performativity, political imaginaries, the body and virtuality. Largely their approach has been one of sampling materials both existing and self-authored in the form of sound, image, text, objects and recasting them into altogether new ‘scripts’. The result is a practice that investigates the political, visceral, material possibilities of sound, image, text and site, taking on the form of multi-media installations and live sound/image performances.
Lawrence Abu Hamdan is an independent investigator or Private Ear. His investigations focus on sound and linguistics and have been used as evidence at the UK Asylum and Immigration Tribunal and as advocacy for organisations such as Amnesty International and Defence for Children International together with fellow researchers from Forensic Architecture.
Abu Hamdan received his PhD in 2017 from Goldsmiths College University of London and in 2021 completed a professorship at the Johannes Gutenberg University Mainz where he developed airpressure.info. He has exhibited at the 22nd Biennale of Sydney, 58th Venice Biennale, 11th Gwanju Biennale, 13th and 14th Sharjah Biennial, Witte De With, Rotterdam, Tate Modern Tanks, Chisenhale Gallery, Hammer Museum, and Portikus Frankfurt. For the 2019 Turner Prize Abu Hamdan, together with nominated artists Helen Cammock, Oscar Murillo and Tai Shani, formed a temporary collective in order to be jointly granted the award.
Sky Hopinka (Ho-Chunk Nation/Pechanga Band of Luiseño Indians) was born and raised in Ferndale, Washington and spent a number of years in Palm Springs and Riverside, CA, Portland, OR, and Milwaukee, WI. In Portland, he studied and taught chinuk wawa, a language indigenous to the Lower Columbia River Basin. His video, photo, and text work centers around personal positions of Indigenous homeland and landscape–designs of language as containers of culture expressed through personal and non-fictional forms of media.
His work has been screened at Sundance, Toronto International Film Festival, Ann Arbor, Courtisane Festival, Punto de Vista, and the New York Film Festival. Solo exhibitions include the Center for Curatorial Studies, Bard College, 2020, and LUMA Arles, Arles, France, 2022, with group exhibitions at the 2017 Whitney Biennial, 2018 FRONT Triennial, and Prospect.5.
Dana Kavelina (born 1995 in Melitopol, Ukraine) works with animation, video and installation to investigate the distance between historical and individual trauma, memory and misrepresentation. Her works thematize military violence and war from a gender perspective, focusing on the position of a victim as a political subject.
Her work has been exhibited at MHKA Museum of Contemporary Art Antwerp, Museum Folkwang Essen, Neue Galerie Graz, Closer Art Center, Kyiv, and screened at MoMA, e-flux, Castello di Rivoli and Haus der Kulturen der Welt, among others. In 2018 Kavelina received the Special Jury Prize at the Odessa International Film Festival and the Grand Prix of the KROK festival for her film “Mark Tulip, who spoke with flowers''. She is a graduate of the Department of Graphics at the National Technical University of Ukraine. Prior to the war, Kavelina was based in Kyiv and Lviv, Ukraine.
Gelare Khoshgozaran is an undisciplinary artist and writer whose work engages with the legacies of imperial violence. She uses film and video to explore narratives of belonging outside of the geographies and temporalities that have both unsettled our sense of home, and make our places of affinity uninhabitable. Gelare’s work has been exhibited at the New Museum, Queens Museum, Hammer Museum, LAXART, Human Resources, Plug In ICA, Cell Project Space, LOOP Barcelona, Beursschouwburg, and Museo Ex Teresa Arte Actual, among others. Gelare was the recipient of a Creative Capital | Andy Warhol Foundation Arts Writers Grant (2015), an Art Matters Award (2017), the Louis Comfort Tiffany Foundation Award (2019) and a Graham Foundation Award (2020). Gelare is an editor at MARCH: a journal of art and strategy.
Oleksiy Radynski is a filmmaker and writer based in Kyiv. His films have been screened at International Film Festival Rotterdam, Kurzfilmtage Oberhausen, Docudays IFF, the Institute of Contemporary Arts (London), and S A V V Y Contemporary (Berlin), among others, and have received a number of festival awards. After graduating from Kyiv-Mohyla Academy, he studied at the Home Workspace Program (Ashkal Alwan, Beirut). In 2008, he co founded Visual Culture Research Center, an initiative for art, knowledge, and politics in Kyiv.
His texts have been published in Proxy Politics: Power and Subversion in a Networked Age (Archive Books, 2017), Art and Theory of Post-1989 Central and East Europe: A Critical Anthology (MoMA, 2018), Being Together Precedes Being (Archive Books, 2019), and e-flux journal.
Vandy Rattana was born in Cambodia in the aftermath of the Khmer Rouge and having grown up in Phnom Penh, Rattana portrays episodes of historical violence through understated and tranquil images. He began his photography practice in 2005. His serial work employed a range of analog cameras and formats, straddling the line between strict photojournalism and artistic practice. His recent works mark a shift in philosophy surrounding the relationship between historiography and image making. For Vandy Rattana, photographs are now fictional constructions, abstract and poetic surfaces, histories of their own.
Since the photographic work and documentary Bomb ponds (2009), in which his photos of bomb craters articulate the psychological wounds of Cambodians who survived American carpet bombing between 1964 and 1973, Vandy Rattana has been scanning the idyllic Cambodian countryside with his viewfinders and revealing its traumatic past.
Liu Shiyuan was born in 1985 in Beijing and is now based in both Beijing and Copenhagen. Growing up in China during unprecedented technological advances, global commercialization, and popular culture assimilation, and later traveling and living between China, the U.S. and Europe, Liu adapted and cultivated an innate sensibility unique to the contemporary Chinese diaspora. Liu’s mixed media practice explores a complex 'identity confusion'—a lack of any specific confinement, wherein one’s lived experience and self-understanding derive from fluctuating components of rationality and mystery, reality, and fiction.
Liu’s work has been featured in group exhibitions at institutions internationally; Ullens Center for Contemporary Art, Beijing; K11 Art Foundation, Hong Kong; Pino Pascali Foundation Museum, Polignano; Foundation Louis Vuitton, Paris; Kunsthalle Düsseldorf; Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum, New York; Long Museum, Aurora Museum and Qiao Space, Shanghai; and Vermillion Sands, Copenhagen, among others. She is currently included in an exhibition titled Mirror Image: A transformation of Identity at Asia Society, New York.
Hito Steyerl (born 1966 in Munich, Germany) is a filmmaker, visual artist, writer, and innovator of the essay documentary. Her prolific filmmaking and writing occupies a highly discursive position between the fields of art, philosophy and politics, constituting a deep exploration of late capitalism’s social, cultural and financial imaginaries. Her films and lectures have increasingly addressed the presentational context of art, while her writing has circulated widely through publication in both academic and art journals, often online.
She has had solo exhibitions at MMCA Seoul, Seoul (2022), Centre Pompidou, Paris (2021) K21, Düsseldorf (2020), Art Gallery of Ontario, Toronto, the Park Avenue Armory, New York, Serpentine Galleries, London (2019); Kunstmuseum, Basel, Castello di Rivoli, Turin (2018); The Institute of Contemporary Art, Boston (2017); the Museum of Contemporary Art, Los Angeles (2016); Museo Nacional Centro de Arte Reina Sofia, Madrid, Spain; Artists Space, New York; Institute of Modern Art, Brisbane, Australia (2015); Van Abbemuseum, Eidenhoven, The Netherlands; ICA, London, UK; Künstlerhaus Stuttgart, Germany (2014); Museum of Contemporary Art Chicago (2013); the Art Institute of Chicago; E-flux, New York (2012); Chisenhale Gallery, London, UK (2010); Neuer Berliner Kunstverein (2009); and Moderna Museet, Stockholm (2008).
Asha Bukojemsky is an independent curator and public programmer based in Los Angeles. Her projects foster public engagement and critical dialogue around the construction of identity, decolonization, and the politics of memory in a shifting geopolitical landscape. Since 2017 she has produced Marathon Screenings, a series of salon-style film & video presentations, as well as exhibitions and projects in collaboration with: JOAN; 18th Street Arts Center; Institute for Contemporary Art; Active Cultures; Richard Neutra VDL House (Los Angeles, CA); Oregon Contemporary; Chicken Coop Contemporary (Portland, OR); Syndicate (Vilnius, LT); Creative Migration (Bangkok, TH); among others. She has held positions at: Project X Foundation for Art & Criticism, Los Angeles; the Department of Cultural Affairs, Los Angeles; The Photographers’ Gallery, London; Cass Sculpture Foundation, West Sussex; DHC/Art Foundation for Contemporary Art (now PHI Foundation for Contemporary Art), Montreal; among others. Bukojemsky graduated with an MLITT from University of Glasgow and a BFA from Concordia University, Montreal.