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Georgiou & Tolley – Twin Stranger: Entangled State. 4 October – 23 November 2019. Coventry Biennial of Contemporary Art 2019

Georgiou & Tolley: Twin Stranger: Entangled State.

Georgiou & Tolley: Twin Stranger: Entangled State. Premiered at Coventry Biennial of Contemporary Art 2019

Each society demands of its members a certain amount of acting, the ability to present, represent and act what one actually is. When society disintegrates into cliques such demands are no longer made of the individual but of members of cliques. Behaviour then is controlled by silent demands and not by individual capacities, exactly as an actors performance must fit into the ensemble of all other roles in the play.” Hannah Arendt: The Origins of Totalitarianism, 1951

Artists and film-makers, Georgiou & Tolley (Darryl Georgiou & Rebekah Tolley-Georgiou) are concerned with the recurring theme of art as resistance, in a time of high anxiety and uncertainty. They propose art that questions the morality of a world increasingly reverting to governance by multi-national individuals, stateless corporations, and lawful evasion of jurisprudence and economic accountability. They construct art that examines the practice of a global Neoliberalism, preoccupied with a political outlook of conflict, division, borders, oppositions; and the presentation of social media information that echoes the power-broking world of perceived enemies and false friends. Their multi-media installation Twin Stranger: Entangled State suggests that we have moved from the age of the ‘nation state’ to the age of the ‘entangled state’ that ultimately asks the question:

Whos watching who?

Twin Stranger: Entangled State ©Georgiou&Tolley2019

Georgiou & Tolley: Twin Stranger: Entangled State. Premiered at Coventry Biennial of Contemporary Art 2019

A premise of Twin Stranger: Entangled State is that: There is no such thing as an innocent photograph. The concept of a photographic image is of a ray of light captured on a chemical treated surface, presenting a finite and specific moment truthfulness – a replication of an exact event. An 18th century proto-science fiction novel, Giphantie, *1 is cited as the first imaginative description of a photographic image. Informed by scientific experiments of the time, and predicting the first permanent camera photograph by Henry Fox-Talbot in 1835, the novel describes a scene of a great globe of the Earth with two futuristic devices. Firstly a pointer, which transmits conversations when touched anywhere on the planet. Secondly, a chemical reaction that records visual images and anticipates the photographic image relative to the mirror and the painted picture, in which no art can imitate its truthfulness”.

Henry Fox-Talbot, Latticed_window_at_lacock Abbey_1835

Henry Fox-Talbot,. Latticed window at Lacock Abbey, August 1835. A positive from what may be the oldest existing camera negative

You know, that rays of light reflected from different bodies form pictures, paint the image reflected on all polished surfaces, for example, on the retina of the eye, on water, and on glass. The spirits have sought to fix these fleeting images; they have made a subtle matter by means of which a picture is formed in the twinkling of an eye. They coat a piece of canvas with this matter, and place it in front of the object to be taken. The first effect of this cloth is similar to that of a mirror, but by means of its viscous nature the prepared canvas, as is not the case with the mirror, retains a facsimile of the image.The mirror represents images faithfully, but retains none; our canvas reflects them no less faithfully, but retains them all. This impression of the image is instantaneous. The canvas is then removed and deposited in a dark place. An hour later the impression is dry, and you have a picture the more precious in that no art can imitate its truthfulness.*1. Tiphaigne de la Roche (1722-1774). Giphantie, or A View of What Has Passed, What is Now Passing, and, During the Present Century, What Will Pass, in the World 1760-1761.

Giphantie 1761

In the hopeful context of the scientific imagination in the age of Enlightenment, Giphantie proposes the concept of the absolute truthfulness in the captured image that is beyond the capacity of the human interpretation of the external world. The contemporary viewer is, however, aware of the subversive elements and tools of inquisition and control inherently possible in the innocent image. The proto-science fiction scenario of the pure photographic image, is subject to context, interpretation and appropriation, as propaganda and fiction in the darkroom and dark digital web. The essential characteristic of the history of the institutions of political privilege, is that of control of the distribution of ideas, practices and beliefs, through suppression of texts and the inhibition of images through Iconoclasm. The word, propaganda, derives from the Latin verb propagare – to propagate, to disseminate, to spread – and it’s meaning as a partisan method of communication first appears in 1622, in the establishment of a Catholic organisation to prepare priests to evangelise non-believers – sacra congregatio de propaganda fide (the Sacred College for Propagating the Faith).

Georgiou & Tolley: Twin Stranger: Entangled State

Georgiou & Tolley: Twin Stranger: Entangled State. Premiered at Coventry Biennial of Contemporary Art 2019

Whos watching who 1? 

The ideal subject of totalitarian rule is not the convinced Nazi or the convinced Communist, but people for whom the distinction between fact and fiction (i.e. the reality of experience) and the distinction between true and false (i.e. the standards of thought) no longer exist.” Hannah Arendt: The Origins of Totalitarianism, 1951

  • In the 20th century public opinion is knowingly manipulated by governments, with concepts of ‘group mind’ and ‘engineering consent’ used effectively by psychologists hired by an agency of the United States Government, the Commission on Public Information to create anti-German feeling and support the entry of the U.S. to World War I. Disinformation and indoctrination create a constant ethical disequilibrium.
  • The Ethical Journalism Network noted:In 2008 the American government launched a three-year US $300 Million mass propaganda programme to produce undercover news stories, entertainment programmes and public service advertisements for Iraqi media in an effort to engage and inspirethe local population to support United States policy.” which was considered necessary to balance the sophisticated media presentations of Al-Qaeda.
  • On 8 October 2019, an ABC News bulletin announced: “DOJ, DOD, DHS, DNI, FBI, NSA, and CISA release joint statement on 2020 election security, warning, Russia, China, Iran, and other foreign malicious actors all will seek to interfere in the voting process or influence voter perceptions.https://abcn.ws/2PSAiin
  • The concept of Zersetzung, translated as “decomposition – decay – corrosion”, is an abusive covert psychological warfare technique used in East Germany during the 1970s and 1980s by the Stasi, (the East German Ministry for State Security (Ministerium für Staatssicherheit, MfS) or State Security Service (Staatssicherheitsdienst, SSD) of the (GDR) German Democratic Republic),, to repress political opponents, to control the public and civic structure, and to destabilise personal lives using manipulative psychological tactics. It is estimated that c.10,000 people were targeted as potential enemies of the state. The goal of Zersetzung is the fragmentation, paralysis, subversion, disorganization, restriction and isolation of individuals or organisations whose views were perceived as undesirable and hostile to the establishment. Religious, political and cultural activities that were potentially critical of the political and ideological policies of the government were targeted including artists; youth subculture; human rights and peace movements.
  • https://www.theguardian.com/world/2019/nov/06/ive-been-shafted-twice-stasi-victims-and-their-quest-for-compensation?CMP=Share_iOSApp_Other
Georgiou & Tolley: Twin Stranger: Entangled State

Georgiou & Tolley: Twin Stranger: Entangled State. Premiered at Coventry Biennial of Contemporary Art 2019

Whos watching who 2? 

 In a system of ubiquitous spying, where everybody may be a police agent and each individual feels himself under constant surveillance; under circumstances, moreover, where careers are extremely insecure and where the most spectacular ascents and falls have become everyday occurrences, every word becomes equivocal and subject to retrospective interpretation.’ ” Hannah Arendt: The Origins of Totalitarianism, 1951

In August 1961, a fresh Stasi recruit named Hagen Koch walked the streets of Berlin with a tin of paint and a brush, and painted the line where the Wall would go. He was twenty-one years old, and he was Secretary General Honeckers personal cartographer.” Anna Funder. Chapter 16, Socialist Man. Stasiland, 2003

Berlin Wall, August 13,1961

Berlin Wall, August 13,1961 @Stiftung Berliner Mauer/M.R.Ernst

The first construction of the Berlin Wall of concrete and barbed wire, commenced on 13 August 1961 and fell, ideologically on November 9 1989, and physically in November 1991. The Stasi archives in Berlin contain 111 kilometres of files. One person in seven was being watched. Husbands and wives spied on each other and children spied on their parents. West and East Germany spied on each other and the territory around the Iron Curtain established a culture of fiction and counter-fiction. In the Federal Republic of Germany, the ‘West’ German television programme Die Rote Optik (The Red Viewpoint) broadcast between 1958-1960 with a critique of ‘East’ German television. In the German Democratic Republic of East Germany, the television channel, Deutscher Rundfunk (DDR) broadcast political propaganda from 21 March 1960 to 30 October 1989 through the weekly programme Der schwarze Kanal (The Black Channel). The Black Channel re-edited West German television programmes with the addition of a spin commentary by Karl-Edouard von Schnitzler. The first transmission is described by Anna Funder in her historical search into the GDR regime in Stasiland, Stories from Behind the Berlin Wall, 2003:

der schwarze kanal,

der schwarze kanal, Deutscher Rundfunk (DDR), East Germany

 “The titles come on: a mean-looking cartoon eagle, the West German emblem, wearing the red-white-and-black of fascism alights onto a television antenna. The words come up: THE BLACK CHANNEL. Suddenly a man in a suit with boxy black glasses fills the screen. He addresses me directly, as if he were sitting here in the room:

The Black Channel, my dear ladies and gentlemen, carries filth and sewage. But instead of carrying it to a sewage farm as it ought, it pours, day after day, into hundreds of thousands of West German and West Berlin homes. This channel is the channel broadcasting West German television programmes: The Black Channel. And every Monday at this time, we are going to devote ourselves to, as you might imagine, a hygiene operation.Anna Funder. Chapter 16, Socialist Man. Stasiland, 2003

While West German radio and television signals could be received in most of East Germany, the areas where there was no reception, or a black screen, were referred to as the Tal der Ahnungsglosen (the valley of the clueless). Reality is more disturbing than counter-fiction.

Georgiou & Tolley: Twin Stranger: Entangled State

Georgiou & Tolley: Twin Stranger: Entangled State. Premiered at Coventry Biennial of Contemporary Art 2019

Whos watching who 3? 

Intellectual, spiritual, and artistic initiative is as dangerous to totalitarianism as the gangster initiative of the mob, and both are more dangerous than mere political opposition. The consistent persecution of every higher form of intellectual activity by the new mass leaders springs from more than their natural resentment against everything they cannot understand. Total domination does not allow for free initiative in any field of life, for any activity that is not entirely predictable. Totalitarianism in power invariably replaces all first-rate talents, regardless of their sympathies, with those crackpots and fools whose lack of intelligence and creativity is still the best guarantee of their loyalty.” Hannah Arendt: The Origins of Totalitarianism, 1951

Georgiou & Tolley: Twin Stranger: Entangled State

Georgiou & Tolley: Twin Stranger: Entangled State. Interview Room. Premiered at Coventry Biennial of Contemporary Art 2019

Propaganda is the art of subversion and distortion in the age of political revolution: defined as information, especially of a biased or misleading nature, used to promote a political cause or point of view

The archetype of the artist developed various roles, via the academy and atelier, from genius – visionary – courtier and academic to magician – bohemian – outsider – madman and charlatan. Historically, the artist, at court, monastery or academy followed the line of power and diplomacy, with some allowances in lieu of temperament and genius. The contemporary position of the artist is more than ever concerned with the political and aesthetic notion of truthfulness. The artist has emerged as an independent observer and, potentially as a critical adversary of political and intellectual control, able to engage, confront and subvert the realities of institutional power and censorship.There is no such thing as an innocent photograph

The Rabelasian (after François Rabelais 1483-1553) attributes of satire, humour and caricature have roots in Western Europe dating at least in the High Middle Ages (1000-1350) and the mendicant clergy and the petit meisters – cathedral masons and craftworkers, and troubadors and trobairitz indulged in alternative thinking. A group of Flemish and Netherland artists who resided in Rome from c.1620-1729, the Bentvueghels (band of birds) or Bamboccianti, undermined the dominance of religious and history painting, as well as the authority of the controlling hierarchy of the artists equivalent of the Spanish Inquisition, the Accademia di San Luca, through their popular images of everyday life, and immoral behaviour. From the 18th century onwards the ideas of Enlightenment and revolutions simmered. In 1800 Les Barbus (The Bearded Ones), dressed in outlandish oriental and classical garb, made Romantic paintings as a reaction to the prevailing state Classicism and the idea of the Bohemian artist, emerged in Paris. In the early 20th century a painting by a donkey, working under the pseudonym of  J.R.Boronali – an anagram of Aliboron, an ass from a  La Fontaine fable – made a painting by the independent application of paint and paintbrush to the donkey’s tale. On 1 April 1 (poisson d’avril / April fool’s Day) the satirical journal Fantasio published the manifesto of Excessivism, a new school of art created by the donkey, as a parody and distortion of the manifestos of  progressive artists. Source: http://ecclesiastes911.net/boronali/

J.R. Boronali. March 1910

Roland Dorgelès hired a donkey from the owner of Montmartre cabaret Lapin Agile. The donkey painted a canvas with a brush tied to his tail. The name Boronali was an anagram of Aliboron, an ass from La Fontaine’s fable.

In 1917, Agitprop, derived from the Soviet Communist Party Department for Agitation and Propaganda, disseminated political messages in the promotion of Bolshevik ideology. Agitprop produced posters and pamphlets into cinema and theatre and diversified into direct creative action to ridicule and attack political and economic corruption. Significantly, the purpose of the artist changed from individual authorship to anonymous collectivism involving the creation of a Gesamstkunstwerk of images, signs, symbols, exhibitions, events and performance embedded within a political or cultural struggle as part of a legitimate moral resistance to social orthodoxy.

10maya10_465_559_int

Vladimir Mayakovsky. Strengthen trade unions, 1921 Agitprop Poster

The aesthetic and philosophical term, Gesamstkunstwerk – most often translated as a ‘Total Work of Art’ includes notions of collaborative and collective in a work of art that involved the creator and the audience. The viewer or listener was not passive but their sensual, physical and intellectual presence was mediated – considered and manipulated, influenced and controlled as part of the architecture of a performance. The term also contains the concept of a composite nature of representation – particularly apposite to film and multi-media installations open to plural narrative interpretations.

Artist groups such as Dada and Der Brucke emerged throughout Europe, with an aesthetic agenda of free thinking, individualism, radicalism and social dissent which roused confrontation with the forces of power. In the 1920s right-wing nationalists discredited artists and modernist movements in Weimar Germany, and the terms Kulturbolschewismus or Cultural Bolshevism were used to describe art activity in opposition to the interests of the stateIn the 1930s the Nazis effectively controlled and suppressed modern art and culture, in favour of art with national and racial themes. Music, literature, cinema and theatre were censored and art was removed from state owned museums and artists banned from teaching, exhibiting or selling or making their art. Propaganda events – the public burning of 20,000 books in 1933 – the exhibition of 650 works of Entartete Kunst, modern, abstract, non-representational ‘Degenerate Art’ in 1937 – intensified public opinion against the corrupt intellectual values of modernism.

The term ‘cultural Marxism’, proposed by the philosophers of the Frankfurt School of Critical Theory in 1923, considered the role of the artist in high art and popular culture, as a representative of traditional ruling class patronage and a quasi-philanthropic capitalist economic system. This view of the artist as a producer of objects, was essentially a passive for a system of elitist wealth.

In the 1960s, cultural Marxism remerged as Herbert Marcuse (1898-1979) argued for the artists’ role to engage with mass culture, as active and subversive observers and agents of change in the social and political status quo –  an aesthetic critique that produced physical manifestations on the streets of  Paris in May 1968. The Atelier Populaire, run by artists and art students, occupied the École des Beaux-Arts in Paris and dedicated its efforts to producing thousands of silk-screened posters printed on news-sheet using bold, iconic imagery and slogans.

Atelier Populaire May 68

Atelier Populaire , Paris, May 68

art functions as the conscience of society. Marcuse argues that art is the only form of expression that can take up where religion and philosophy fail and contends that aesthetic offers the last refuge for two-dimensional criticism in a one-dimensional society. Herbert Marcuse. The Aesthetic Dimension. Toward a Critique of Marxist Aesthetics. Beacon Press, Boston. Translation Erica Sherova, 1978. Originally published as: Die Permanenz de Kunst: Wider eine bestimmte Marxistische Aesthetik (Carl Hanser Verlag, Munich 1977)

Georgiou & Tolley: Twin Stranger: Entangled State

Georgiou & Tolley: Twin Stranger: Entangled State. Interview Room. Premiered at Coventry Biennial of Contemporary Art 2019

Whos watching who 4?

Art is committed to the perception of the world which alienates individuals from their functional existence and performance in society it is committed to an emancipation of sensibility, imagination, and reason in all spheres of subjectivity and objectivity. The aesthetic transformation becomes a vehicle of recognition and indictment. But this achievement presupposes a degree of autonomy which withdraws art from the mystifying power of the given and frees it for the expression of its own truth. Inasmuch as man and nature are constituted by an unfree society their repressed and distorted potentialities can be represented only in an estranging form. The world of art is that of another Reality Principle, of estrangement and only as estrangement does art fulfil a cognitive function: it communicates truths not communicable in any other language; it contradicts” Herbert Marcuse. The Aesthetic Dimension.

Twin Stranger: Entangled State ©Georgiou&Tolley2019

Georgiou & Tolley: Twin Stranger: Entangled State. Chair (Detail). Premiered at Coventry Biennial of Contemporary Art 2019

The Donkeys Tail and the Golden Thread spectacle, exhibition, installation and tableaux-vivant.

As the cultural empires and emporiums of art expand and demand the slam-dunk of instant gratification, the state and corporate philanthropists need a hierarchical pyramidal cultural structure, to justify personal and corporate ego and justify financial revenues. Orthodox art – the objects of moral instruction produced by the academy –  salon – exhibition – gallery – museum become a form of bourgeois entertainment and consumption offered as a capitalist high-altar wunderkammer. The concept of art is tied to the Golden Thread” – the market for collecting high value items, of iconic status from the rusty nails of the true cross and shards of Saints’ bones to faux Leonardo paintings to Jeff Koons’ glossy drossy balloons. An alternative form of art has long co-existed in forms of Gesamstkunstwerk – the presentation of tableaux vivants – part pose plastique’ and static costumed theatre, part liturgical and devotional set-piece, part artist installation: a representation of a personage, character, scene, incident, etc., or of a well-known painting or statue, by one person or a group of persons in suitable costumes and attitudes, silent and motionless.” A tableaux vivant of a painting by Greuze The Village Betrothal in Les Noces dArlequinwas performed at the the Royal Palace in Versailles in 1760. The three-dimensional reproduction of paintings was a popular activity in palaces and the drawing rooms of the bourgeoisie. Johann Wolfgang von Goethe’s novel Elective Affinities, 1809, describes the representation of three paintings as a new kind of exhibition. Organised by an architect, the playful staging took months of planning, with elaborate detail of costume and lighting, and careful casting of actors. Tableaux vivant were a revel and entertainment, but also a moral performance, equivalent to the popular spectacle of the Belem, or nativity scene, maintained in the Catholic church. While the tableaux vivant was appropriated and created by the leisured and professional classes, its audience included the awed peasantry who shuffled by to admire the trompe loeil effects”

I see here,he said, a number of persons with fine figures, who would surely be able to imitate pictorial emotions and postures. Suppose they were to try, if the thing is new to them, to represent some real and well-known picture. An imitation of this kind, if it requires some labour in arrangement, has an inconceivably charming effect.” J.W. von Goethe, Elective Affinities, 1809 (Die Wahlverwandtschaften) Volume II. Chapter  XXIII

tableau vivant

Tableau vivant

In the United states in the 19th century, tableaux-vivants were a popular parlour room activity bordering on a craze, involving families and communities in re-creating pictures.  Mark Twain describes them being a mania. They featured in the Louisa M Allcott’s novel Behind a Mask: or A Womans Power, 1866. In Nathaniel Hawthorne’s novel The Blithedale Romance, 1852, the character of Zenobia muses on the nature of reality and imagination or fantasy: I am getting weary of this,said she, after a moments thought. Our own features, and our own figures and airs, show a little too intrusively through all the characters we assume. We have so much familiarity with one anothers realities, that we cannot remove ourselves, at pleasure, into an imaginary sphere. Let us have no more pictures, to-night; but, to make you what poor amends I can, how would you like to have me trump up a wild, spectral legend, on the spur of the moment?” Nathaniel Hawthorne, 1804-1864, The Blithedale Romance,1852, Chapter XIII. Zenobia’s Legend

The Catholic tradition of the recreation of the Belem, or Nativity scene, where villages recreate the whole nativity and crucifixion, with the local community, enables the public to wander amongst Roman soldiers, shepherds and the Holy Family. In a popular promenade format, trompe loeil paintings are recreated as human tableaux in the ‘Pageant of the Masters’ in Laguna Beach, California. In the novels of Henry James and Stendhal it was considered normal for characters to spend a day or longer looking at a single room or picture, in the Uffizi galleries in Florence. Compare this contemplation of time with the average of 1.6 seconds spent in looking at a picture in the National Gallery in London. Contrast the contemporary nature and speed of art tourism with the time taken in the study and enactment of a picture – involving months of liaison, organisation and management of casting, costumes, lighting, and publicity. The tableaux-vivant slows time down to recreate a painting to include meditative ideas, reflection and observation – the process of thinking – as opposed to the process of consumption. The tableaux vivant acts as an imitation and allegory; the act of copying a copy involves and connects the public in the ideas of art.

Danielle Paz, writing about the Tableau vivant for The Chicago School of Media Theory, speculates on the power of the tableau vivant evolving into more of a modality enabling varying ends. Could the tableau vivant not only be an act of duplication, but of appropriation, as well? The Oxford English Dictionary defines appropriation as to take to or for oneself; take possession of.  “Tableaux vivants are, as it were, a corporeal appropriation of art history, which keeps traditional images alive through a permanent process of transformation.” Tableaux Vivants Living Pictures and Attitudes in Photography, Film, and Video 24.5. – 25.8.2002.  

Twin Stranger: Entangled State ©Georgiou&Tolley2019

Georgiou & Tolley: Twin Stranger: Entangled State. Premiered at Coventry Biennial of Contemporary Art 2019

Whos watching who 5?

A mixture of gullibility and cynicism had been an outstanding characteristic of mob mentality before it became an everyday phenomenon of masses. In an ever-changing, incomprehensible world the masses had reached the point where they would, at the same time, believe everything and nothing, think that everything was possible and that nothing was true. Mass propaganda discovered that its audience was ready at all times to believe the worst, no matter how absurd, and did not particularly object to being deceived because it held every statement to be a lie anyhow. The totalitarian mass leaders based their propaganda on the correct psychological assumption that, under such conditions, one could make people believe the most fantastic statements one day, and trust that if the next day they were given irrefutable proof of their falsehood, they would take refuge in cynicism; instead of deserting the leaders who had lied to them, they would protest that they had known all along that the statement was a lie and would admire the leaders for their superior tactical cleverness.” Hannah Arendt: The Origins of Totalitarianism, 1951

The public spectacle, tableaux-vivant, installation are alternative methods of artistic viewing and questioning of the nature of subversion and distortion. The viewer/spectator/audience speculates on the work where the artist appropriates an idea, acts a mediator and interprets the work to define their own interests. The act of appropriation and duplication is an assimilation, that both cites the original work and the history of the artist – to create and reflect on the idea of a doppelgänger.

The Shikinen Sengu divine palace within the Ise-Jingu Shinto shrine in Japan, has been ritually rebuilt sixty-two times over 2000 years. Every twenty years it is demolished and reconstructed to the same dimensions, taking eight years, and replicating interior fixtures, furnishings and sacred artefacts, on an alternate site within the precinct.

Georgiou & Tolley: Twin Stranger: Entangled State

Georgiou & Tolley: Twin Stranger: Entangled State. Premiered at Coventry Biennial of Contemporary Art 2019

Twin Stranger – or false original – is a forensic and artistic questioning of the nature of subversion and distortion – applied to an image of the Hotel Berolina, in Berlin – a building demolished and replicated, that symbolizes the unstable and impermanent nature of truth, identity and factual information.

This is the story of an image. The word ‘portrait’ derives from the Latin ‘portrahere’ – to drag out, reveal, expose. Based on the premise being that there is no such thing as an innocent photograph”.Georgiou & Tolley ask the question: “Who takes, uses and owns your images, or image, today?” In the age of mass communication and social media, people record themselves and broadcast their lives voluntarily; surrendering their images and information freely, albeit often unwittingly.

During the Cold War, the Stasi spied on its citizens en masse. Described as one of the most effective and repressive intelligence and secret police agencies ever to have existed, its tactics included photographing people’s everyday movements and recording private conversations, as a means of gathering ‘evidence’, or to psychologically paralyse people.

As their departure point, Georgiou & Tolley interrogate and meditate on an image originally captured in August 1965 at the Hotel Berolina located in the former German Democratic Republic (GDR) on Karl Marx Allee – the Champs-Élysées of East Berlin. Its modernist architecture and interior heralded a brand newness, designed to echo state power, with its guests frequent targets of Stasi observation and coercion. In the hotel foyer there is a mural, a panoramic vista of an architectural artwork portraying a concrete metropolis as socialist ideal.

Juxtaposing fragments of voice and sound, the work includes field recordings taken on location by Georgiou & Tolley at Rathaus Mitte (district hall), a state authorised architectural replica of the original Berolina (demolished in 1996). The new building representing a ‘twin stranger’ (or false original), built in 1998 for government ‘administration’ purposes. The artists’ travelled to the site to conduct a field survey of the architectural space, recording both images, including Kodachrome slides, and sounds.

The resulting material, research and related archive documents, have been assembled into a new time based artwork; an allegorical and introspective artwork that represents gaps in memory and recollection. A psychological novella in which, suspicious persons in a hotel lobby are cryptically intertwined. Thirty years after the fall of the Berlin Wall, and drawing on both real and fictional events, the subplot alludes to two historical moments, set three decades apart.

Twin Stranger: Entangled State recalls a ‘person of interest’, marked by an image from a past life. Twin Stranger, alludes to the anxieties and paranoia surrounding mass surveillance, data gathering, doppelgängers and contemporary Cold War ideologies.

The anxieties of Stasi observation and bleak Cold War surveillance in an alternative Twin Berlin are merely a sub theme. Challenging the viewer to reflect on parallel narratives, or people, places, time lines, twin strangers and doppelgängers, Georgiou & Tolley create a sensory audio visual of split worlds and entangled states.

These moments are examined through strangely familiar or uncanny references, slowly unfolding as meandering recollections, traumatic incidents and interview-monologues spoken by male and female counterparts. Source material for Twin Stranger includes family heirlooms; composing a series of photographs, ephemera, records and official documents upon which, the project research and the context for the resulting work is based. Exploring the space in-between still and moving images to ‘perform documents’, the work re-constructs and re-animates an archive image in an attempt to question the possibility of re-actualizing the photographic past.

Twin Stranger employs filmic distortions to create a disruptive perceptual vision of space and time. Metaphor, symmetry and multi framing techniques are used to reference the concept of‘The Frequency Illusion, or the Baader-Meinhof Phenomenon, in which something recently learned suddenly appears ‘everywhere’ or in unexpected places. The Baader-Meinhof Phenomenon in itself has no direct correlation with the Baader-Meinhof Group (also known as the Red Army Faction).

Georgiou & Tolley: Twin Stranger: Entangled State

Georgiou & Tolley: Twin Stranger: Entangled State. Entangled State. Premiered at Coventry Biennial of Contemporary Art 2019

Georgiou & Tolley’s wider work often explores the tension between truth and fiction, history and memory; interlinked and entangled projects, which often question the way that we map and classify the world in order to understand it. Utilising a range of practical approaches, including documentary research, socially engaged practice, field surveys and mapping the psychogeography of ‘how places feel’ that often involve Spaces of Trauma evoking disturbance, turmoil or perceived injustice their admixture of themes range from politics, religion, military, Cold War2, surveillance, art, commerce, leisure, consumerism, culture, social and media distortion to the uncanny.

Their process of hybrid research and cultural investigation, re-negotiates the archive, by mining still and moving image and sound to construct new contemporary artworks. Through Radio-Film, Pseudo-Installation and Photo-Documentary, they create soundscapes and use field recordings, to create an audio visual installation and attempt to reveal the disparity involved in ‘re-presenting’ the past – to ask the question: How does this re-presentation shape the image of the present, with a bearing on the here and now? Georgiou & Tolley’s point being that – There is no such thing as an innocent photograph.

Aesthetic form, autonomy, and truth are inter­related. Each is a socio-historical phenomenon, and each transcends the socio-historical arena. While the latter limits the autonomy of art it does so without invalidating the transhistorical truths expressed in the work. The truth of art lies in its power to break the monopoly of established reality (i.e., of those who established it) to define what is real. In this rupture, which is the achievement of the aesthetic form, the fictitious world of art appears as true reality.Herbert Marcuse. The Aesthetic Dimension

Jeremy Hunt, 9 November 2019

#TwinStrangerEntangledState #NoSuchThingAsAnInnocentPhotograph #WhoIsWatchingWho #TheTwin #TheRow #UKCityOfCulture2021 #Photography #StillImage #MovingImage #FieldRecording #ExperimentalSound

https://www.artslabinternational.com/twin-stranger-entangled-state

About jeh

Jeremy Hunt is Director of the AAJ Press (Art & Architecture Journal / Press) – a writer and consultant on art and public space

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