Spatial essay film/ multi-screen installation and curated screening program.
Images [and Talking Back to Them]. Text
In working towards Images [and Talking Back to Them] Sara Eliassen has engaged diverse artists, activists, journalists and thinkers in Mexico over the question: As the brutal effects of global market deregulation rip societies apart, and violence spreads, the media play along by picturing atrocity as normality. How can this intimate tie of violence to images be addressed and countered?
Realised as a multiscreen installation, Images [and Talking Back to Them] now brings together films of dialogues recorded over several years, on the road to, or location of sites inscribed with the history of systemic violence, and its distorted representations: Guided by journalist Sergio Ocampo, Eliassen visits stations on the journey taken by 43 students from the Ayotzinapa Normal school before their fatal disappearance in 2014, an incident shrouded in government cover-up propaganda. She talks with women from Disidencias y Mujeres Organizadas FFyL at the UNAM university in Mexico City where feminist activists protest femicide, sexist abuse, and its normalisation in the media. Together with journalist Heriberto Paredes Eliassen travels to rural towns in Michoacán and speaks with locals who form armed groups to fight cartel domination, and land grabs by global mining corporations. Driving through Tijuana, she converses with philosopher Sayak Valencia on how the city by the US border wall, in Valencia's words "is the crystallisation of an episteme of violence that makes the latter into a fantasy shared by the entire country."
At the project's conclusion, Eliassen invited its contributors for a discussion at the Centro Cultural Universitario Tlatelolco. (The center faces the square where the Ayotzinapa students were headed to join a commemoration of students massacred by government forces in 1968.) Together with the practitioners named above she is here also joint by image makers, thinkers and activists Laura Furlan of Teatro Ojo, Colectivo Los Ingrávidos, Julio García Murillo, Beatriz Paz, Camila Pizaña and Lorena Wolffer. The film of this assembly is the keystone around which the individual interview-travelogues are displayed in Eliassen's multiscreen installation which, like an audiovisual essay unfolding in the exhibition space, offers many points of access to the shared project of undoing the fatal tie between systemic violence and image production.
The first presentation of the project is an exhibition for Kunstnernes Hus, curated by Silja Espolin Johnson who also hosts two film nights with conversations programmed by Eliassen. Night one of the program focuses on the Ayotzinapa case and interventions challenging official propaganda. Night two opens the focus around Eliassen's longstanding commitment to questioning national romanticism by showcasing films which analyse and attack how media — to cover up the real social destruction wreaked by global market forces today — propagate fake myths of earthy belonging and cultural supremacy.