"What's next?" asks Austrian artist Oliver Ressler at his solo exhibition at the Bunkier Sztuki Gallery. In his work, taking from the example of Armenia and Venezuela he shows different models of social changes.
Oliver Ressler's and Dario Azzellini's film "Comuna Under Construction", 2010, screenshot , photo: press materials
"What's next?" asks Austrian artist Oliver Ressler at his solo exhibition at the Bunkier Sztuki Gallery. In his work, taking from the example of Armenia and Venezuela he shows different models of social changes
Ressler's series of films takes up the issue of countries going through political transformations and the social acceptance of capitalism in critical situations.
The two-channel video installation entitled "Socialismfailed, capitalism is bankrupt. What's next?" (2010) shows the population of Armenia after the fall of the Soviet Union. It was filmed at the Yerevan's largest bazaar (meaningfully called Bangladesh) where the merchants speak about the drastic deterioration of living standards and extreme social stratification.
The society seems to evince a sense of resignation caused by degradation, unemployment and pervasive corruption, the artist intensifies this with mute images of abandoned factories which used to hold jobs for thousands of citizens. Under the veneer of democracy and a supposedly functioning free market there is a system of feudal social dependencies. With a particular force revives the Soviet resentment, while freedom and independence turn out to be unwanted goods.
Oliver Ressler's artistic method which already reveals itself in the first, provocative words of one of the film's characters, strives for objectivity and seeks the truth.
"You can film Mount Ararat and add that the people from the bottom of the mountain live very well, show the VIP houses and say 'See how Armenia progresses! See how much money this country has, people live in these kind of houses…' And nothing else. If you want to record lies, no problem".
It is typical for Ressler to build a space of expression for the character, where the artist's interventions are limited to a minimum. It seems that the relation between Ressler and the participants of the film results from the artists external position - on one hand it establishes a lukewarm view of the situation, on the other it gives the person hope that his protest will be noticed.
Oliver Ressler's and Dario Azzellini's film "Comuna Under Construction" (2010) describes the grassroots process of forming social decision-making groups in Venezuela, for the purpose of modernising poor urban areas of Caracas. In the motion picture the artist films an assemblage, during which determined are priority needs and the main problems of small communities, showing the structure of the emerging organisations and its strategies.
It reveals the mechanisms of the authorities and subordinates its own form to them: raw screenshots, long "uncut" scenes and the lack of a noticeable presence of the artist. This creates an atmosphere of deep involvement and a sense that suddenly artistic activity and activism become difficult to tell apart.
Oliver Ressler (b. 1970 in Knittelfeld, Austria) graduated from the University of Applied Arts in Vienna. He is involved in critical art analysing contemporary economic and democracy issues, forms of resistance and alternative social models. Ressler participated in over a hundred international exhibitions (numerous times in Poland) and collaborated with the Gdańsk Wyspa Institute, which published (in Polish and English) his book "Alternative Economics, Alternative Societies" (2007) - a collection of interviews with people working on concepts of alternative forms of social organisation and economic exchange.
Curator: Anna Smolak.
The exhibition runs from the 4th of August through the 28th August 2011.
Gallery of Contemporary Art Bunkier Sztuki
pl. Szczepański 3a
Source: press release