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Fotohof brings together five artistic positions that examine political crises as long-term phenomena

Jelena Jureša, Song. Video installation, 28', loop 2018.

SALZBURG.- The history of photography is not least a history of the way political crises and global conflicts have been depicted. The photographic image was long regarded as a dependable document of reality and therefore more than suited to analysing historical processes. While we now lack the certainty we once had about the objectivity of photography, its images today play a different role when it comes to dealing with complex issues affecting society.

The exhibition entitled In the Still of the Night brings together five artistic positions that examine political crises and conflicts as long-term, multi-layered phenomena. The intrusion of political interests into our private lives and the relationship between power and the individual are the linking elements in an exploration of the complexity of the reality that surrounds us. The before and the after, crisis as a permanent phenomenon, are issues addressed beyond the representation of photographic highlights.

Control Order House (2011) by British artist Edmund Clark is the result of an exclusive look at an extreme form of state control. Indeed, between 2005 and 2012, the UK authorities were able to detain terror suspects for an indefinite period without concrete evidence in what were seemingly private residential dwellings. Redacted documents and diary entries made by the 'controlled' suspect paint a portrait of the location, its resident, and his criminalisation by state bodies, together with photographs taken inside one such private accommodation.

The intrusion of political power into our private lives is also addressed by Anne Heinlein and Göran Gnaudschun in Wüstungen (2017). The German collaborative artist duo used different materials to tell the story of towns and villages whose location along the inner-German border meant they had to be razed to the ground and their inhabitants relocated. The impact of political interests on individuals and their identity is addressed and discussed through a freely structured association of large-format photographs, documents, interviews with contemporary witnesses and the artists' own essays.

The video installation entitled Song (2018) by Novi Sad-born artist Jelena Jureša revolves around questions of national identity and the political aspects of remembering and forgetting. The story of a Bosnian song and its connection with historical events and national history and historiography provide an outlet for a multi-layered reflection on exile, uprooting, and the loss of one's homeland.

In Homesick (2014) Syrian-born artist Hrair Sarkissian uses a true-to-scale model of his parents' home in Damascus for a direct and personal exploration of the conditions of flight and exile. The gradual and ultimately complete destruction of his parents' apartment building becomes the expression of the constant fear for his family and the dangers they face. But it also shines a spotlight on the frustrating conditions of exile and the pain associated with one's own past.

In Ahlam Shibli's Occupation (2016/17), the city of al-Khalil/Hebron becomes the focal point of a critical analysis of a state of emergency that has now become permanent. The Palestinian artist depicts the most constricted of urban spaces, impacted by violent partition. Paradoxically, the symbols of repression and control, the watchtowers, walls, fences, cameras and road blocks appear to free up the view of the asymmetric relationships between antagonistically opposed ethnic groups.
At the same time as the exhibition, Ahlam Shibli is also holding a course entitled The Idea of Homeland at the Salzburg International Summer Academy of Fine Arts.

The exhibition project is staged as part of, and with support from, the anniversary year celebrating '200 Years of Silent Night, Holy Night'.

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Fotohof brings together five artistic positions that examine political crises as long-term phenomena

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