// s u b j e c t i l e


Posted on | October 26, 2009 by imam | No Comments

The following text is produced for the last installation of “The Containment Contained” presented at Muzeum Sztuki. With this instance we finalized the project.


The object is irrelevant, the gesture is immaterial, the political is not politics, a situation is contingent, an intervention cannot be retrieved, harm is done, the bodies are under the earth and Anatolia is covered with dust…

Where does one go from here?

New border control and security measures show that the corporate/state apparatus is deploying more tools for control and restriction both in the USA and EU. Relatively open societies have been altered with a new form of penal complex, one by one—like a gigantic open-air prison—the possibility of a democratic society is being replaced by the neo-conservative instruction set which takes ‘hybridization’ as the main problem . In these controlled territories, people who do not have proper rights (immigrant workers and tourists, including cultural tourists/workers) are carefully background checked, finger printed, photographed, electronically searched and tagged prior to their approach to these ‘civilized lands’. This is the time of low intensity war justified by a phony concept of a “clash of civilizations”: software is being updated, cameras are being installed, men and women are being trained for asymmetrical engagement and intelligent bombs are genuinely waiting for their time to speak up. Neo-conservatism claims an “Israelization” of US and EU territories. However, this confinement is different than what we see on the ground in Israel and Turkey, where control and containment are exercised through military checkpoints with extreme military force. In this case, the private sector (airlines, ports, etc…) politely demand voluntary enrollment from its customers. Subjects are subjected to low intensity humiliation at embassies. Infused with nationalist prejudices and bourgeois morality, visa interviews are often exercised as interrogations, and if not, entrance is delayed without any excuses, they make sure the humiliated subject gets the message.

Although xurban_collective easily shipped the containers and ‘fedexed’ the posters from Istanbul to Berlin for the Political Minimal exhibition at KW Institute for Contemporary Art, we were intentionally delayed to enter the EU by the EU embassies. This is not news for us! We are aware of the fact that all along the globalized systems of transfer, goods of high value (i.e. oil, gold or art) have an overwhelmingly higher priority, whereas people (artists, workers) are restrained from international mobility as the subjects of ‘containment’.

The Final Countdown…

xurban_collective do not produce self-contained art objects to be circulated from one place to another. In certain ways, our projects need to be considered each time we show in a new venue. This is not site-specificity. Every time, the intent has to be checked again, something has to be added, the interval has to be incised on the work, the new status has to be assailed. For us, the utterance is hesitant, the gesture is not timeless, and the object is further humbled by more extreme circumstances. Thus the ‘object’ as the work itself becomes a sad parody of our initial gesture, the original idea melts away by our helplessness in front of the war machine. Things get worse, or so we think when we look back.

When we were informed that Political/Minimal was travelling to Muzeum Sztuki, we were also asked to make a new proposition for the show because the objects/containers which was shipped to Berlin to be presented at the KW Institute for Contemporary Art show was discarded after the show was over. In certain aspects, this happened within our will, not as a destructive gesture but for possibly more practical reasons, and perhaps for more meaningful ones. The voyage of the containers started in Mardin-Kızıltepe in Southeast Anatolia as we found, photographed and arranged them in order to be to be shipped to Istanbul for an exhibition. Afterwards, they stayed for a long time in a depot next to Istanbul Modern, not in an art storage but together with the other debris from the Port Authority. We somehow liked the idea of indifferent objects, strong and rugged enough to fit in a junkyard, collecting dust and producing rust. From there, they made their way to Berlin, in a trailer truck, once more going through customs, not as privileged objects of art, but discretely, together with other heavy load, in the same manner that they once traveled between Turkey and Iraq. After the KW Institute for Contemporary Art exhibition, we assumed that they would be discarded, fittingly given away as junk metal as we muse ourselves with this idea of the voyage and dissolution. We are not obsessed by metals recycled to be shaped into something else, just as we do not fetishize objects of art. All that is solid melts into air…

In fact, a packaged show is like a container. Since the objects of this containment is discarded we gave the following options to the curators of this show:

A- Projection of 3d model of the container, a Raki (liquorish alcoholic beverage) bottle (originally shipped from Istanbul to New York, contains Istanbul air, called ‘Air D’Istanbul’) and a sponge (with which we rubbed the container in 2004 and contains rust from the container itself), installation photos from previous shows, site photographs and text. We thought this would work the best for a touring show.

B- An installation shot from the KW Institute for Contemporary Art, Berlin exhibition, a very general photo in which you can see other art pieces as well, to be enlarged to 1.2 x 1.2 meters and white on white vinyl wall text.

C- Leave its place in the show empty and we would include a statement about the circulation of objects/money/valuables but containing of bodies, restraining them from moving, not by force but nicely. All text needs to be translated into Polish.

D- None of the above, the tanks have been discarded, so, as you suggested, the project may not be included in the show.


xurban_collective, 2003-2009


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