Universes in Universe

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Seeing is believing

Works that serve to oppose media images by means of other images. Group exhibition at KW Berlin, curated by Susanne Pfeffer.
Sep 2011

Images of terrorist attacks can be seen live, and within seconds they are dispatched via media portals throughout the world. In the UN Security Council a tapestry with the Guernica motif is veiled, and soon after a satellite photo is presented as a central argument to justify the war. Images of an execution are broadcast live to the White House, though no photos are leaked to the public.

Images spread instantaneously and appear to be the only evidence required to render an event credible and immediate. Seeing is believing, and yet images still manage to overwhelm our imagination, our belief in reality. The realization that images are not merely the objects of a non-media reality but instead create their own realities has become an integral part of the ability to read contemporary images. The visual immediacy of political events, the politicization of images and their uncontrollable speed of circulation have led to intense reflection in contemporary art on the power and status of the image.

The group exhibition Seeing is believing features works that serve to oppose media images by means of other images. The exhibition at KW Institute for Contemporary Art in Berlin is an artistic reflection on the image itself, on the media and on the contexts in which images are produced, as well as on the treatment of images in politics and society. This dual representation is often the conceptual precondition of the works – a genesis of images that refer to images that already exist. The works reflect prevailing rules and tendencies of perception and representation as well as the symbolic or manipulative power embedded in an image. The works exhibited exaggerate these rules and tendencies and their power, completely negating them or rendering them absurd: a photo that was used to justify a war assumes three dimensions (Iñigo Manglano-Ovalle). A news station shows pictures of a former American president relaxed and joking immediately prior to his internationally broadcast declaration of war (Gianni Motti). The camera feels its way along the walls of a house, the pop star Madonna is heard in the background, while a war rages beyond this closed space (Nadim Asfar). The last film before the kidnapping and disappearance of an individual becomes an abstract space in the conception of war and life (Joana Hadjithomas and Khalil Joreige).

Participating artists:

Adel Abdessemed
* 1971 Constantine, Algeria. Lives in Paris, France, and New York, USA.

Abbas Akhavan
* 1977 Tehran, Iran. Lives in Toronto, Canada.

Kenneth Anger
* 1927 Santa Monica, USA.

Nadim Asfar
* 1976 Beirut, Lebanon.

Taysir Batniji
* 1966 Gaza, Palestine. Lives in Paris, France.

Adam Broomberg and Oliver Chanarin
Adam Broomberg: * 1970 South Africa.
Oliver Chanarin: * 1971 Great Britain.
They live in London, Great Britain.

Paul Chan
* 1973 Hong Kong, China. Lives in New York, USA.

Zeyad Dajani
* 1968 Dublin, Ireland; Palestinian origin.

Anita Di Bianco
* 1970 New York, USA. Lives there and in Berlin, Germany.

Joana Hadjithomas and Khalil Joreige
Both * 1969 Beirut, Lebanon. Live in Paris, France, and Beirut.

Khaled Hourani
* 1965 Hebron, Palestine. Lives in Ramallah, Palestine.

Iman Issa
* 1979 Cairo, Egypt. Lives in New York, USA.

Alfredo Jaar
* 1956 Santiago de Chile. Lives in New York, USA.

Nedim Kufi
* 1962 Baghdad, Iraq. Lives in Cairo, Egypt, and Amersfoort, Netherlands.

Iñigo Manglano-Ovalle
* 1961 Madrid, Spain. Lives in Chicago, USA.

Gianni Motti
* 1958 Sondrio, Italy. Lives in Geneva, Switzerland.

Adrian Paci

* 1969 Shkoder, Albania. Lives in Milan, Italy.

Walid Sadek
* 1966 Beirut, Lebanon; lives there.

Taryn Simon
* 1975 New York, USA; lives there.

Sean Snyder
* 1972 Virginia Beach, USA. Lives in Berlin, Germany.

Hito Steyerl
* 1966 Munich, Germany. Lives in Berlin, Germany.

Akram Zaatari

* 1966 Saida, Lebanon. Lives in Beirut, Lebanon.

© Texts: Press information
© Photos: Haupt & Binder

Nafas Art Magazine thanks the curator, Susanne Pfeffer, for the permission to publish extracts from the short guide on the image pages.

Seeing is believing

11 September -
13 November 2011

KW Institute for Contemporary Art

Auguststr. 69

Curated by:

Susanne Pfeffer

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