As you go… roads under your feet, towards the new future
International symposium / live stream
Special screening as part of the As you go..roads under your feet, towards the new future presenting works by artists, researchers and curators part of the project.
Jasphy Zheng, Stories from the Room
As a response to the state of isolation and the collective pause we shared globally due to the outbreak of the pandemic, I initiated Stories from the Room, my on-going art project since early 2020 to collect personal writings from across the world. While receiving writings in different languages, I am building a growing archive and housing it in various countries, thus outputting and storing memories in private or public places. By connecting on and offline worlds, I am imagining a new territory that redefines the notion of physicality, distance, and connection at this time. Are we, perhaps for the first time, experiencing something together as a globe, or is “universality” still a romantic illusion? Is it still possible to expand empathy even when the sentiments of ”we are in this together” fails?
Living between the US and China, Jasphy Zheng is an artist whose art practice explores the idea of imagined collectiveness and the inevitable failure of communication.
Salem Mekuria, Amba’s E(u)topia
About Awra Amba’s E(u)topia – About seventy years ago, Zumra Nuru was born into a traditional agrarian Muslim family in a remote village in Northern Ethiopia, near Awra Amba. He never went to school. As a child he started questioning why things were as unequal and unjust as he observed life in his village to be. He dreamt of a society where people could live in peace and full equality regardless of who they were. Fifty years ago, that dream materialized into what is now known as Awra Amba, a community based on true equality in all aspects of life and where religion is a private affair. This story introduces a revolutionary society thriving in the heart of a very conservative Ethiopia. With interviews and compelling scenes of the village and its people, Awra Amba’s (E)utopia will give us a glimpse into their unique lifestyle.
Salem Mekuria, Square Stories Trilogy
For the last twenty years, I have been exploring innovative ways to visually represent the lingering, yet unexamined, legacy of the tragic events of Ethiopia’s military regime. I started experimenting with multi-screen format as a tool for complicating the linearity of documentary style film, and for telling visual stories without the need for verbal narration. In utilising the triptych form, I reference traditional Ethiopian Orthodox religious art history and its ubiquity in the lives of my primary audience. By expanding on this cultural motif and emptying it of its traditional content, I juxtapose images, events, stories, and ideas to offer multiple ways of understanding Ethiopian history, and to engage audiences by inviting them to actively participate in the unfolding of these narratives.
The Square Stories Trilogy is the latest in such experimentation. In it, I examine visual memory and the process of its erasure – how the spaces in Maskal Square defy efforts to suppress or erase traces of the traumatic events presented in Deluge. I follow the Square’s physical evolution from its beginnings as a space for the annual celebration of Maskal (the Finding of the true Cross), to becoming the primary site for political protests as well as the display of spectacles of power by succeeding regimes. Ethiopia’s desire for modernity is also played out in the ongoing transformation of the square, which has watched Ethiopian history be made and remade time and again.
Salem Mekuria, an Ethiopian-American, is an award-winning writer, director, videographer and producer of independent films and video art installations.
Aigerim Kapar, Artcom Platform
The many secret scapes of Balkhash Lake: a travelogue of the crossboundary contexts, communities and ecosystems
The lake is one of the biggest endorheic water bodies in the world and has a millenia-long history of socio-cultural life, ecological traditions, and semi-nomadic management methods, responsive to the climatic features of the arid zone. Today modern industrialization and militarization during the colonial Soviet period continues to prevail in its cultural landscape and imagination. Scientific research of the lake and its region mainly carries out a capitalist design, and the socio-cultural studies are practically absent. An important and pressing task is to decolonize the concept/memory/knowledge of Balkhash. It is necessary to understand what it was like before the Soviet period, what role Balkhash played in the cultural landscape of the local people, and how current sources impact the attitudes and practice towards Balkhash ecosystem – how old/current/new sources can be reflected through decolonial optics and emerge as an important factor in its sustainable future.
The secrets of Lake Balkhash is a transdisciplinary collaborative mixed methods research effort including contributions from ethnography, cultural mapping, interviews, observations, expedition reports. The research is part of Artcom Platform’s Care for Balkhash initiative and is supported by the As you go…the roads under your feet into the new future long term research inquiry.
Aigerim Kapar is a curator and Founder of Artcom
Hu Yun, Untitled
audio and video diary letters from Bor, 2021
BOR – The early stage of my research in Bor is composed of an ongoing conversation with the city’s only Chinese restaurant owner, Chef Qiu. On 18th December 2018, Chinese Mining company, Zijin Mining Group, formally took over RTB Bor Group under the new name “Serbia Zijin Bor Copper”. During the past two years, Chinese engineers and workers have been relocated to Bor by Zijin Group and its supporting companies from China. Due to the pandemic, the relocation process has slowed down, though has not come to a stop. According to Zijin’s development planning, more workers will be needed in the coming years.
As a newcomer, just like all the Chinese workers working for Zijin Group, Chef Qiu arrived at Bor without any knowledge of the local context, and he only speaks Mandarin and Hokkien (Fujian Province, Southern China dialect).
The outcome of this first stage of research will be several short video essays based on a series of interviews done with Chef Qiu and video footage taken during a research trip in early 2020, together with footage from Chef Qiu taken throughout 2020 as his own visual memory of his first year in Bor.
Hu Yun is an artist based in Melbourne