I am Here and You are There…
Opening: 22/04/04, 7 p.m.. Exhibition runs from
23/04/04 to 20/06/04
Museum of Contemporary Art Leipzig
Curator: Barbara Steiner
Zdenko Buzek (Croatia)
Sejla Kameric (Bosnia-Herzegovina)
Gintaras Makarevicius (Lithuania)
Matei Bejenaru (Romania)
Georg Herold (Germany)
On 22nd April 2004, the exhibition “I am here and you are there,” curated by Barbara Steiner, opens at the Foundation Museum of Contemporary Art Leipzig. Taking an old children’s rhyme as its title “I am here and you are there, one of us is in the wrong place,” the exhibition examines the power of language to create space, its (territorial) establishment and delimitation, as well as its potential for emancipation.
Zdenko Buzek reflects the (spatial) “power of naming”. By writing his name in place of those of political or economic powers (Tito, Nike, Nokia, etc.), he ‘occupies’ their position and thus also their claim to prestige. He also expresses territorial delimitations in his jokes: they deny space, define characteristics and fix clichés; they are social safety valve, a means of dealing with the “other” and they repossess space – at least symbolically.
“Description” and with it “prescription” is also the starting point for Sejla Kameric. In “Bosnian Girl”, she makes use of a discriminatory graffiti that was scrawled by a Dutch soldier on one of the army barracks in Potocari, Srebrenica, by ‘overwriting’ her own body with it. The message, which characterises “all” young Bosnian women as having “no teeth, a beard, and smelling of shit,” is sold throughout the world by Kameric in the form of posters and postcards and thus brought into the open. With this act, she repossesses an area of acceptance that had been taken away from these women through unfair discrimination. In “EU/Non-
EU citizens”, she creates different routes through urban space, some for citizens of the European Union and others for all the rest, who do not belong. It is left up to the pedestrians to decide whether to follow the markings that have been laid out for them, or
whether to cross them.
In films by Gintaras Makarevicius, language is, on one hand, endowed with the important function of making the loss of space and of meaning bearable. It serves the memory, but it also allows us to imagine a space in which we are free to act, one which for many people, after the collapse of socialism, no longer seems to exist. In “action movie”, on the other hand, (territorial) freedom of action is created playfully by making verbal claims, only to surrender these a short time later.
Matei Bejenaru deals with the way in which language confers identity. In one of his performances in Kischinau (Moldavia), he read a Rumanian dictionary out aloud from beginning to end, so as to highlight the arbitrariness of the linguistic border between Rumania
and Moldavia and the desperate attempts being made there to “distinguish themselves from one another (including linguistically).” In his new work for Leipzig, he confronts the loss of language and the consequent loss of identity and space in Eastern Germany.
In ‘Legasthenie’ (dyslexia), a seven-part photo series and sculpture created in 1985, Georg Herold turns his attention to the territorial ‘overwriting’ in the east and northeast: Karelia, Riga, Klaipeda, Brest, Kaliningrad, Tallinn and Moldavia have all been
politically occupied and reoccupied many times over.