SMBA kicks off the new year with the opening of the exhibition ‘Susanne Kriemann / Vincent Meessen’. Kriemann and Meessen exhibit new work which refers to specific, historic subjects that were paragons of the modernist theory of progress and the idea of the malleability of society.The exhibition comprises Susanne Kriemann's photo installation One Time One Million and Vincent Meessen's short video film Dear Adviser. These works were created independently of one another, but by inviting the two artists for one exhibition, both the significant differences between them and their sometimes strong correspondences are emphasised.
Modernist thought, in which technological progress (as embodied by the Hasselblad camera, the apparatus that recorded the first man on the moon) is intertwined with the idea of the malleable society, is central to One Time One Million. The work was realized during Kriemann's residence in Stockholm, where she conceived of the vast new 1970s urban extensions as an examplum of modernist principles. Kriemann takes the viewer on a sort of roller coaster ride through the 20th century. The viewer passes from perfectionist images of birds in flight and aerial photographs of rationally planned new urban neighbourhoods to images of dead birds in the storage rooms of a museum of natural history and residents of the concrete city enveloped in burkas.
In Vincent Meessen's Dear Adviser a rather different modernist icon is taken as the point of departure: the city of Chandigarh, which was designed by the Western architect Le Corbusier over a period of years and destined to become the new capital of the Indian state of Punjab. Unlike what books on the history of architecture would occasionally have us believe, Chandigarh was never an unambiguous project. The sometimes extensive empty spaces in this concrete city, catapulted into no-man's-land after 1947, as well as the at times strange signs and symbols revealed by its architecture, betray the hands of different architects and an eventful local political context full of ethnic and religious conflicts. Its supposed unequivocalness is deconstructed in an almost semantic manner in Meessen's film, which is 'dedicated' to , an architect who preferred the description of 'adviser' for his work in Chandigarh.
and Groys in Now is the Time
Location: Oude Lutherse Kerk, of the University of Amsterdam, Amsterdam
Thursday 15 January the sixth lecture in the series Now is the Time: Art and Theory in the 21st Century entitled BELIEF will answer to a 'religious turn' in contemporary society. The influential literary critic Terry Eagleton (UK) and art critic, philosopher and media theorist Boris Groys (DE) will look into the contemporary prominence of ethical and religious values. In reaction to censorship and iconoclasm many artists feel compelled to oppose the religious turn by defending freedom of speech. Notwithstanding this defensive position, the art world seems to be developing an increasing positive interest in religion. Eagleton and Groys will concentrate on this interaction between religion and art and the way in which these two diametrically opposite tendencies are related. In his lecture Eagleton will give a critical analysis of the relation between both epistemology and religion, and religion and reality. Furthermore he will explore the function and position of the contested terms truth, religion and belief in our post-secular society. Groys has co-curated the exhibitions 'Iconoclash' (2002) and 'Medium Religion' (2008/09), both at ZKM in Karlsruhe (DE). By using these exhibitions as case-studies he will introduce in his lecture a theoretical framework for the much discussed ‘return of religion’. Two of the aspects that will be discussed are the function of media, for example the use of television for religious propaganda, and the media reproduction and meaning of religion, especially in the geopolitical centres of the world.