the european biennial of contemporary art
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Contributors: Jeremiah Day, Renzo Martens, Olaf Nicolai, Adam Pendleton, Falke Pisano/Will Holder, Ricardo Valentim Curator: Krist Gruijthuijsen

MATTER OF FACT 19/07 – 02/11/08 MANIFESTA 7 Location: Manifattura Tabacchi Rovereto, Italy


The program matter of fact explores educational aesthetics in performativity. Questioning the transmission of subject matter, knowledge and content, the performer implies pedagogical methods when speculating on the formality of artistic, fictitious and personal politics of history. A small “cast” of contributors are using the timeframe of the exhibition as a point of departure to reflect upon their own method of transcending knowledge. Their specificities range from the pure formality of the conscious, language as a visual spectacle, mediators of cultural production and epic emancipators of utopian (political) potentialities.
The base of the program is structured and controlled from the Manifattura Tabacchi venue and functions as part of the overall exhibition. This space takes on an active and fluxuating form of an office, information point and an “exhibition space” where rehearsals, performances, talks and screenings take place within a permanently designed structure. Each of the contributors will present/perform within this structure and revisit their previous presence by returning frequently during the course of the exhibition. In this way they will educate and reflect upon themselves in a performative way.
The presentations are a combination of scheduled, permanent and spontaneous events mentioned on daily updated schedule specifying its content. The schedule is displayed within the space.
Falke Pisano
The research and work of Falke Pisano analyzes the possibilities of structure embedded in the abstraction between language and objects. In her production, specific core elements are reappearing. These elements, such as using language as an object or as a possibility to construct one, the flexibility of concrete material in language or the relationship of the structure of an object towards performativity, seem for her still unresolved and are therefore taken into a highly personalized account in which she tries to avoid narrative structures, symbols, metaphors and interpretations without deconstructing and facing its problems.
She defines the construction of an (abstract) object by using a speculative language to replace its actual presence. Therefore, she introduces another state of existence by exploring the possibilities of remodelling the (objective) structure; from observing an object (concrete abstractions), manipulating the object (A sculpture turning into conversation) positioning its creator within the tautological object (affecting abstraction) to finally disintegrating the object (Object and disintegration: The Object of Three). This procedure is altered into performances, videos, objects and publications where often the perspective of the author enables the act to transform into a fragile performative observation.
Currently, she’s preparing a publication together with Will Holder, which emphasizes her process on the spectacle of the object (as mentioned earlier). For Manifesta 7, she will reflect upon this process be presenting a series of “performative” discussions/interviews together with Will Holder that forms the content of the publication, which will be presented by the end of the exhibition.
Falke Pisano was born in 1978 in Amsterdam, Netherlands. Recent solo exhibitions include BaliceHertling, Paris (2008), and Ellen de Bruijne Projects, Amsterdam (2007). Recent group exhibitions include Of this tale I cannot guarantee a single word, RCA Galleries, London (2008) ; When things cast no shadow, 5th Berlin biennial for contemporary art, Berlin (2008); Imagine Action, Lisson Gallery, London (2007).
Will Holder his preoccupation lies within scripting and documenting the
relationship between language production (in particular the three-
dimensionality of speech and conversation) and the production of
objects. Holder is the editor (with Dieter Roelstraete and Ann Demeester) of
FR DAVID, de Appel’s journal concerned with reading and writing in
the arts.
Ricardo Valentim
The artistic practice of Ricardo Valentim systematically aims at the creation of strategies by redefining the construction of established cultural forms. Using conventional models for these types of constructions, Valentim searches to recreate spaces where the approached content is presented in an inverted and displaced manner with regards to the audience. Film Festival comprises of a two-month series of screenings featuring seventy educational films produced for educational programs at the North American and British public schools and libraries between 1950s and 1980s. The films were originally commissioned from various agencies including advertisement firms, tourist boards, various universities, United Nations, US Department of Education and others. Film festival emphasizes on the ways in which education was developed within specific references and framed to a particular view of the world. It therefore questions the concept and image of the “other” and discloses the mechanisms of cultural production by reflecting upon the identity of the dominant group that, through different practices of representation, defines the general pattern of culture and establishes the regulation of social conduct. Valentim compiled an overarching program with several sub programs that, through the relationships between the films, deconstruct its original cultural context. It’s not meant to be seen as found footage or as representational exploitations of Folklore but rather as an intension to suggest connections and comparisons created by the program’s juxtaposition and to introduce new and more ethical approaches regarding the same content. Film Festival will screen daily at various hours and its complete program can be found in the specially designed brochure displayed within the space.
Next to Film Festival, Valentim designed a wall drawing throughout the Manifattura Tabacchi building entitled A form of display.
Ricardo Valentim (born 1978 in Loulé, lives in New York) studied anthropology at the Universidade Lusófona de Humanidades e Tecnologias, Lisbon and visual arts at the School of Visual Arts, New York. His exhibitions include “Film Festival” at e-flux at unitednationsplaza, New York (2006), “Contrabando” curated by Carolina Grau at Luísa Strina Gallery, São Paulo (2006) and Art Statements at ArtBasel38, Basel (2007). Valentim has recently started a new series of works comprised of lectures including “Growth and Culture” at Galeria Pedro Cera, Lisbon (2008).
Renzo Martens
Renzo Martens’ practice aims to investigate and provoke the indoctrinated imagery of travesties as presented by the western media. As a troubadour of sorts, Martens’ ventures through the chaotic landscapes that we, as consumers of tragedy, appear to be familiar with. It is, in fact, this familiarity that Martens is interested in. He metaphorically identifies himself as an example of western spoiled mentality by bluntly placing himself within the direct conditions as broadcasted on television. Episode 1, his debut film, is a journey through the landscape of a demolished and oppressed Chechnya. Wandering through refugee camps, Martens reverses the role of the interviewer, one that normally documents refugees and UN employees on their current state, into a pathetic love story of a young man; heartbroken and in desperate need for attention.
This way, it is Martens himself who becomes objectified rather than the all too familiar imagery surrounding him
These highly inappropriate interviews generate a strong feeling of discomfort and exasperation. Yet it is precisely this awkwardness that renders his egocentric and spoiled behaviour sincere. Martens symbolizes the economy of media consumption while simultaneously becoming an eclectic and therapeutical entity.
Continuing his journey of the world as a spectator’s paradise, Martens has been investigating Africa, and in particular Congo, on its potentially most lucrative export product: images of poverty. Episode 3 reveals in a direct, confrontational but at the same time naïve way Congo’s possibilities of exploiting their own poverty in addition to its usual exports such a rubber or cacao. The disturbing imagery of the local tragedy are typically utilized by the West as beneficial profits while locally nothing positively evolves.
Martens’ attempts to liberate the Congolese from this vicious circle by presenting himself as a “savoir” who educates the inhabitants to benefit from their own poverty. This utopian gesture leads to an epic expedition of true revelation in which Martens, as always, appears to be the core of its subject matter.
For Manifesta 7, Martens will present study material of Episode 3, which are to be seen as representational products addressing several issues within the project. These insert(s) are permanently on view within the space and will be accompanied by several lectures of Martens himself.
Renzo Martens was born in 1973, Sluiskil, The Netherlands. He lives and works in Brussels, Amsterdam and Kinshasa. Recent exhibitions include A Picture of War is not War, Wilkinson Gallery, London (2006), Soft Target, Basis Actuele Kunst, Utrecht (2005) Nothing Else Matters, De Hallen, Haarlem, The Netherlands (2007), To Burn oneself with oneself: the romantic damage show, De Appel, Amsterdam (2008). He will have a solo show at the Stedelijk Museum Bureau Amsterdam in the fall of 2008.
Jeremiah Day
In Jeremiah Day’s work personal histories intermix and sometimes coincidentally connect political events, forming an experimental and open-ended historiography In his performances he often uses slide projections, music and singing in which he “pedagogically” transmits subject matter by taking a personal stand on the format of lecturing. Recent topic he has been addressing in his work are the reconstructions of the Vietnam Veteran’s Memorial in Washington in the summer of 2004 (1,2,3,4), the complete evacuation of the people of the Blasket Islands off the Dingle Peninsula (Ireland) to the town of Springfield near Boston (USA) in the 1950s (News animations/ No words for you Springfield) and the historic developments of the New England Landscape and recent political struggles of it’s native population – the Mashpee Wampanoag Indians (The fall of the Twelve Acres Museum)
For his contribution to program Jeremiah Day will present a series of performances integrating slide shows, readings and improvisational movement. Drawing from existing works such as 2004’s Maquis, which delved into the concrete and poetic legacy of the French Resistance, as well as making new movement-speaking improvisations. Day will present some of his on-going research into Berlin as a site of intersection between local and world history, and touch upon the unique history of northern Italy’s Autonomia movement.
Jeremiah Day (1974, USA) lives and works between Amsterdam and Berlin. He is a graduate of the University of California at Los Angeles Fine Arts Department, and in 2003/2004 he was a participant at the Rijksakademie Amsterdam. Recent Exhibitions include We All Laughed At Christopher Columbus, Stedelijk Museum Bureau Amsterdam and Platform Garanti, Istanbul, The fall of the Twelve Acres Museum, Ellen de Bruijne Projects (solo) and News animations/ No words for you Springfield at Project, Dublin (solo). Day’s work can be seen this fall as part of the Van Abbe Museum’s “Heartland” project.
Adam Pendleton
Adam Pendleton is a painter, writer and performer who uses extreme freedom of reference and quotation, as well as a rejection of conventional hierarchies among sources, to create a re-historicized present, one that upsets and unbalances comfortably subjective interpretations of history and culture. Pendleton’s conceptual practice constructs formal templates into which he slots information. His silkscreens obey predetermined rules of composition depending on the series. Two-color text paintings, (the font a standardized Ariel bold), or three-color text and image paintings build from an archive of Xeroxed ephemera, or words and letters taken from culture using formally-prescribed-language-procedures. The displacement of authorship and underlying political-aesthetic vision of the work builds signification through a process of repetition and accumulation.
For Performa 07, Pendleton produced The Revival -a fusing together of the disjunctive genres of Southern-style religious revivals (including a 30-person Gospel choir) and avant-garde language practices. Pendleton’s ‘sermon’, dream of an uncommon language, invoked the power of experimental language to subvert everyday discourse. Composed of unattributed fragments taken from sources such as activist and playwright Larry Kramer and the progressive poets John Ashbery, Harryette Mullen and Paolo Javier, the work combined the manipulative force of a revival with radically secular language and rhetoric.
As his contribution to the biennial, Pendleton will deliver A Black Dada Manifesto. The manifesto(s) will be an assimilation of unattributed source material compiled from existing manifestos and other texts (including the artists own), which extend from the Dadaists to today. The manifesto(s) will change in response to texts, films and sound work the artist will make available on site
Adam Pendleton was born in Richmond, Virginia and is based in New York. He has exhibited extensively throughout the US, notably at the Museum of Contemporary Art, Chicago; the Indianapolis Museum of Contemporary Art; the Contemporary Arts Museum, Houston; the Studio Museum in Harlem ; and the Whitney Museum of American Art. This summer his work will be exhibited at the Stedelijk Museum in Amsterdam, the Deutsche Guggenheim in Berlin and the High Museum of Art, Atlanta. Recent New York performances include Performa 07 and Creative Time’s Hey Hey Glossolalia . Pendleton is co-editor of LAB MAG.
Olaf Nicolai’s Instructions how to produce a site specific work anywhere was initiated in 2001 and is ongoing ever since. For its realization, the curator casts a doppelganger of the artist and organizes his several-day sojourn at the location of the project. The selected person keeps a diary; this material is later constructed as the diary of the artist. The book will appear in the respective language accompanying the earlier produced volumes (Vienna, 2004, Varna, 2005 and Munich in 2005) therefore stressing the project’s continuity.
Olaf Nicolai studied at the School of Applied Arts, Schneeberg, and German Literature and Philology at the Universities of Leipzig, Budapest and Vienna. In 1992, he completed his PhD on The Vienna Group. He has been awarded several grants, including the Studienstiftung des Deutschen Volkes at the Studies Centre for Art and Science in Venice, 1993; Villa Massimo, Rome, 1996; the P.S.1 Museum Grant, New York, 1998; the IASPIS Grant, Stockholm, 2000, the Art Award Wolfsburg, 2002 and the Villa Aurora, Los Angeles, 2008. He has participated in numerous exhibitions, such as documenta X, 1997; Venice Biennale, 2001 and 2005; Sydney Biennial, 2002; Gwangju Biennial, 2002; Sharjah Biennial, 2005; Athens Biennial, 2007, and his work is shown in institutions worldwide (Migros Museum, Zurich; Museo Serralves, Porto; Museum of Modern Art, New York; Fondation Cartier, Paris; Lenbachhaus, Munich). He lives and works in Berlin.
Ricardo Valentim
Film Festival (from 2007 on): 3 screenings per day (content program displayed within the space) A form of display (2008), wall drawing throughout the Manifattura Tabacchi building.
Olaf Nicolai
Presentation: 09/09 15:00
Instructions how to produce a site specific work anywhere (from 2001 on)
Renzo Martens
04/10 – 05/10 (program to be announced)
(Fragment of) Episode 3 (2008) permanently on display
Adam Pendleton
Opening days Manifesta 7: 17/07 11:00
BLACK DADA: A History of Art 20/07 15:00
BLACK DADA: A History of Art 06/08 – 10/08
Jeremiah Day
10/10 – 12/10 (program to be announced)
Smoke Clears, Dust Settles
Falke Pisano/Will Holder
Opening days Manifesta 7: 19/07 15:00
17/09 – 21/09 (program to be announced)
Wo Ich die Erde am schönsten fand