Artists’ Film International 2020: Language

Friday, Dec 18, 2020 – Sunday, Jan 3, 2021

Online Program

Online-screening with works by Miguel Fernandez De Castro, Bojan Fajfric, Mohamed A. Gawad, Ailbhe Ní Bhriain, Dominika Olszowy, Francesco Pedraglio, Yao Qingmei, Raqs Media Collective, Lerato Shadi, Lisa Tan, Rhea Storr

From December 18, 2020 to January 3, 2021, the n.b.k. Video-Forum will present the 2020 program of Artists’ Film International (AFI) titled Language. Artists’ Film International is an initiative by the Whitechapel Gallery in London and presents artworks from the fields of film, video and animation. They are selected by international partner organizations and presented in the participating art institutions. These institutions include: Ballroom Marfa, Texas; Bonniers Konsthall, Stockholm; Contemporary Art Centre, Vilnius; Belgrade Cultural Center; Fundación Proa, Buenos Aires; GAMeC – Galleria d’Arte Moderna e Contemporanea di Bergamo; Hammer Museum, Los Angeles; Hanoi Doclab; MAAT – Museu de Arte, Arquitetura e Tecnologia, Lisbon; Istanbul Modern; Museum of Modern Art, Warsaw; Neuer Berliner Kunstverein (n.b.k.); Para Site, Hong Kong; Project 88, Mumbai; Tromsø Center for Contemporary Art; Whitechapel Gallery, London und Whitworth Art Gallery, Manchester.

The works accessible via the n.b.k. website represent a selection of the program that has been approved for a screening in the digital space. The eleven works are grouped in two sub-chapters: Grammar and commotion and Inscriptions.

GRAMMAR and COMMOTION (63:06 min)

Lerato Shadi

Mobogo Dinku, 2019

HD video, 6 min

Selected by Friends of Iziko South African National Gallery, Cape Town

In Mobogo Dinku, the artist’s hand makes enigmatic gestures and she sings a folk verse in Setswana, a South African language. But she provides no subtitles or guidance on what the words and gestures mean because she is narrating the un-narratable, the history of her people, marginalized during apartheid South Africa. The history she was taught at school is the history of the coloniser, which she rejects, so what history can she tell?

Miguel Fernandez De Castro

A Grammar of Gates / Una Gramática de las puertas, 2019

HD video, 20:31 min

Selected by Ballroom Marfa, Texas

Miguel Fernández de Castro’s video Grammar of Gates / Gramática de las puertas is a dynamic visual and aural collage that traces the overlapping territories, languages, and conflicts that mark the border between Mexico and the U.S. within the sovereign Tohono O’odham Nation. The artist weaves together excerpts from the 1970 movie Geronimo Jones with drone and surveillance-like imagery of the landscape and an affectless recitation of phrases out of A Practical Spanish Grammar for Border Patrol Officers.

Rhea Storr

Junkanoo Talk, 2017

HD video and converted Super 16mm, 12 min

Selected by Whitechapel Gallery, London

The imagery in Junkanoo Talk unfolds like a language without words. Junkanoo is a carnival of the Bahamas; vivid shots of festival fringed paper costumes are accompanied by sighs and clicks, sounds made on the body to the beats of Bahamian Rake ‘n’ Scrape. The work is part of British-Bahamian artist Rhea Storr’s investigations in how to represent cultures on film.

Raqs Media Collective

Passwords for Time Travel, 2017

HD video, 9 min

Selected by Project 88, Mumbai

Passwords for Time Travel consists of a suite of text and image videos that propose a set of terms that anticipate and rehearse conversations with the near and distant future. Combining the enigma of a spell with the precision of a dictionary entry, these unexpected lexical combinations are presented along with images that elaborate upon the multiple meanings of the texts.

Mohamed A. Gawad

betalpha (Balbalah), 2018

HD video 5:31 min

Selected by Mahera and Mohammad Abu Ghazaleh Foundation, Amman

Bal-balah, noun. 1- Befuddlement; Clutter; Discomposure. 2- A language / óÈáóÈáÉ deconstruction exercise, where sentences of different linguistic origins morph through different mother tongues/ ears. 3- A hypothetical situation of a post-historic moment of loss of language: “At a time before time, a Big Bang in Babel sat the uni-logos into a perpetual process of language breeding. At one point, that expansion expires. What follows is a recoil; where dialect-ic-s coalesce, and separates overlap.”

Francesco Pedraglio

Racconto antiorario (6 costellazioni), 2017

HD video, 10:04 min

Selected by GAMeC – Galleria d’Arte Moderna e Contemporanea, Bergamo

At the center of a dark space, the camera’s anticlockwise rotation around a column marks the rhythmic succession of a series of abstract images. Developed from a live performance, the film uses an abstract narrative that appears to be based on an unknown alphabet of shapes, colors and volumes. Six possible constellations are presented that take shape in the space between the narrator, the performers, the props and the darkness.


Lisa Tan

My Pictures of You, 2017–2019

HD video, 23 min

Selected by Bonniers Konsthall, Stockholm

In the film My Pictures of You, American-Swedish artist Lisa Tan looks at photographs taken on Mars by NASA expeditions. These pictures are interwoven with filmed sequences from Earth, and Tan muses over the bewildering similarity of the topography on the two different celestial bodies. At the same time, she talks with a researcher who is responsible for the operations of measuring water, soil, and atmosphere on the Mars expeditions, and she lays out for him some poetic speculations about the two planets. Tan thinks of Mars as Earth’s death mask, imagining that we can see our own future in the desolate, dusty red planet.

Bojan Fajfric

The Cause of Death, 2015

HD video, 13 min

Selected by Belgrade Cultural Centre, Belgrade

Bojan Fajfric’s The Cause of Death looks into the Black Wave cinema and the unfinished Cultural Revolution of 1968 as a way to understand our present times. The ‘Black Wave’ was a prolific phase in the Yugoslav cinema in the mid 1960s and early 1970s that introduced the failure of the protagonist as a means of critical examination of the society rejecting the norms and ideals of an optimistic official socialist culture. The artist is appropriating texts and actions from five major Black Wave characters from Yugoslav film history and inserting them into the settings and conditions of his personal life. The work unites a collective and personal experience, while playing with the limits of theirs recognition in different contexts and challenging the belief in language of art as an agency of change in the social reality.

Ailbhe Ní Bhriain

Inscriptions (One Here Now), 2018

HD-Video, 14:54 min

Ausgewählt von Crawford Art Gallery, Cork

Inscriptions (One Here Now) by Ailbhe Ní Bhriain draws us into the vertiginous depths of a quarry interior. The camera traces the deep-time of geological sequences, the scars left by machinery on the rock surfaces, and the sprayed industrial notations that codify the commodification and disappearance of landscape. In these disparate forms of inscription the film finds a metaphor for the Anthropocene – the current geological era in which human behaviour is the dominant force shaping environment and climate. A composition of filmic and computer-generated images, Ní Bhriain's work creates also encounters with animals that are now threatened with extinction, and that look back at the viewer.

Dominika Olszowy

Wanda Wanton, 2016

SD video, 9:14 min

Selected by Museum of Modern Art, Warsaw

Wanda Wanton is an aspiring artist from Wieliczka / Poland, working as a teacher of polish language. After work, Wanda devotes herself to a peculiar passion: she just loves to destroy things, and calls her acts of vandalism “acts of art” or simply “sculptures.” Vandalism becomes her life philosophy: destruction creates new order, therefore all creation has to be based on destruction. Wanda Wanton can be seen as an alter ego of Dominika Olszowy. By bringing her to life, the artist expresses her socially unacceptable desires. However, “Wanda Wanton,” first and foremost, casts a spotlight on the relationship between human and the surrounding matter, and asks a question: can vandalism be an act of emancipation, freeing an individual from the oppression of the enforced order?

Yao Qingmei

Sanzu Ding and its Patterns: Hypotheses on the Origin of the Hammer – Sickle Sign, 2013 –

HD Video, 20 min

Selected by Para Site, Hong Kong

In Yao Qingmei's Sanzu Ding and its Patterns: Hypotheses on the Origin of the Hammer – Sickle Sign, Professor Yao, a specialist in ancient Chinese ideograms, presents six hypotheses on the origin and development of a mysterious symbol based on her extensive research in the fields Archeology, semiology and psychoanalysis. The symbol was used on ancient ceramic vessels (“Sanzu Ding”) and has a surprising resemblance to the communist motif of hammer and sickle. The work and the fictional character “Professor Yao” evolved from a series of performances and lectures at universities and art centers in China, France, and Germany.