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Hammering the Void - Gazira Babeli, Second Life

BERLIN.-Reality and virtual world - the frontiers blur, the boundaries are fluid. Gazira Babeli is an avatar in Second Life since spring 2006 and an artist. She is like a tornado in Second Life - a disruptive element! She does performances in Second Life which deal with the 3D-enviroment in a critical and humorous way. Her performances are documented through films and prints. We show her new installation "Hammering the Void". Parallel to the preview at the gallery in Berlin the Hammering-Performance of Gazira is taking place in Second Life - in the virtual rooms of our gallery!

In Hammering the Void there is not only one Gazira, no, there are 14 and they all fight against an inner void. 14 clones of an artifical person, they all have imaginative names of Virtues and Sins: Greed Petrovic, Sloth Swansong, Temperance Navarita, Courage Sparta, Envy Sixpence etc. Equipped with a hammer in their hands they descend from the socle in the gallery, they swarm to openings of exhibtions and public events. They stroke the other unsuspecting avatars with blows from their hammer appearing to say: "Wake up! Defend yourself! Act!" They force them to react. You love them or you hate them, but you cannot remain indifferent against this agression which can be understand as an attempt for an intellectual waking-up or simply as a malice.

Domenico Quarant, curator for New Media, writes in his essay on Hammering the Void:
"In 1920, at the opening of a Dada exhibition in Kln, Max Ernst made an axe available for the audience. As far as I know, this gesture was never reenacted. That's a shame. An artwork should always come with an axe in attach. This would remind us that art must be loved, or hated. That it deserves more than an idiot gaze...Yet, even on a computer screen, people keep on loving the moonlight instead of killing it, and being charmed by everything is introduced to them as “art”. Thus Gazira created the fourteen sisters...This platoon in Wellington boots and suspender belt comes without any notice, and intervenes in social events – mostly exhibition openings – making a hell of a mess. Is this the usual, boring self-referential crap we are used to find in art? What Gazira likes is to intervene in the rituality of the real, and break up its continuity. The world she actually has does not meet her standards, and she hammers it. She works in this direction from the very beginning: just think to her earthquakes, her showers of pop bananas, her Campbell's Soup cans... If you need, Gazira's hammers are there for you. Use them, against her too. That's what she wants."

With her artworks she does not remain at the surface of the animation, but she interfers with the program code of the software from Second Life. By changing the coding she evokes during her performances reactions on other avatars which they cannot control anymore. For her the virtual world is a stage, a zone for experiments...

Second Life is a commercial 3D-environment on the Internet, founded by the company Linden Labs and is based on an old human dream: you can invent youself as a new person, a different sex or even take over changing personalities, create a virtual living space. The real person stays anonymous, free from expectations of a real surrounding. In average more than 60.000 residents at a time are online. For them Second Life is an area for retreat from life, more real than reality, but most of them fall back into the same patterns of behaviour than in their normal world...

So, Gazira, swing your hammer!

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