Social Documents / The Ethics of Encounter Part I

Enjoy Poverty image
6 Nov 2010 - 28 Nov 2010
Slide show: 
Renzo Martens, Episode III (2009) video still
Renzo Martens, Episode III (2009) video still
Renzo Martens, Episode III (2009) video still
Renzo Martens, Episode III (2009) video still
Artur Żmijewski: Repetition (2005)
Artur Żmijewski: Repetition (2005)
Artur Żmijewski: Repetition (2005)
Frederick Wiseman, Primate (1974)
Frederick Wiseman, Primate (1974)
Frederick Wiseman, Primate (1974)
The Ethics of Encounter Part1, Stills 2010
The Ethics of Encounter Part1, Stills 2010
The Ethics of Encounter Part1, Stills 2010
The Ethics of Encounter Part1, Stills 2010
The Ethics of Encounter Part1, Stills 2010
The Ethics of Encounter Part1, Stills 2010
The Ethics of Encounter Part1, Stills 2010
The Ethics of Encounter Part1, Stills 2010
The Ethics of Encounter Part1, Stills 2010
The Ethics of Encounter Part1, Stills 2010

 

Renzo Martens: Episode III- Enjoy Poverty (2009) Saturday 6 November - Friday 12 November
Artur Żmijewski: Repetition (2005) Saturday 13 November - Friday 19 November
Frederick Wiseman: Primate (1974) Saturday 20 November - Friday 26 November

When artists site their practice within the fabric of social relations, documentary modes often play a central role in mediating events and experiences. Though the resulting material often bears a close resemblance to ethnographic mapping, investigative journalism or even community work, in contrast to the strict ethical codes to which these disciplines adhere many of today's artists operate in somewhat murkier waters. Working outside - or even deliberately corrupting - accepted conventions and frameworks, the artists participating in this two-part exhibition find alternative means to engage with social realities in situations of war, sex and political urgency.

Download curator Kirsten Lloyd's essay 'The Ethics of Encounter' published in Artpulse magazine, Summer 2011, here.


A series of week-long presentations of three individual film works which interrogate the operations and effects of power launched The Ethics of Encounter programme.

 

Renzo Martens: Episode III – Enjoy Poverty (2009) 87 minutes, Saturday 6 November - Friday 12 November

The Dutch artist Renzo Martens spent two years filming in the Congo, a Central African country decimated by the effects of brutal colonialism, civil war and material exploitation. After a further year spent editing in his adopted city of Brussels, the portrait that emerges is not a conventional, objective description of the misery which besets the lives of so many in this region, but rather a satirically reflexive account which aims to reflect something of the broader political realities. Martens performs an array of characters over the course of the film, subtly moving from diplomat to ethnographer, from economist to celebrity, all the while resolutely maintaining what John Millar has called his ‘pathologically uncompromising position’. By observing, re-enacting and thereby callously re-enforcing the status quo, he critically investigates the contradictions of humanitarianism together with the politics of contemporary image production.

Artur Żmijewski: Repetition (2005) 75 minutes, Saturday 13 November - Friday 19 November

Artur Żmijewski's video works present apparently straightforward recordings of constructed social situations. Repetition documents his attempt to re-stage the notorious Stanford Prison Experiment (1971) through which the psychologist Philip Zimbardo attempted to answer the question ‘What happens when you put good people in an evil place?’ Recruiting a group of 24 male students to spend up to two weeks in a mock prison set up in the basement of Stanford University's Psychology Department, Zimbardo observed that participants randomly assigned the role of ‘guard’ became increasingly sadistic, humiliating their ‘prisoners’ who, in turn, submitted to their abusive treatment with many displaying signs of severe stress. He was forced to end the project after only six days on ethical grounds. Żmijewski's version took place in another specially-designed prison, this time in Warsaw, with 17 unemployed Polish men who were each paid a participation fee of forty dollars a day. The resulting documentary video follows their journey down an incendiary path towards a similarly abrupt ending.

Courtesy of the Foksal Gallery Foundation

Artur Żmijewski is also be presenting Democracies (2009 - ongoing) at Tramway in Glasgow from 29 October - 12 December 2010.

Frederick Wiseman: Primate (1974) 105 minutes, Saturday 20 November - Friday 26 November

Since the mid 1960s, the profilic filmmaker Frederick Wiseman has produced documentary films which scrutinise America's social institutions, from schools and hospitals to police departments and asylums for the criminally insane. In Primate, he turned his attention to the methodologies of scientific research, recording the everyday activities undertaken at the Yerkes Primate Research Center in Atlanta, Georgia. The resulting black and white footage graphically documents the techniques employed by scientists to analyse the physical and mental development of primates, including scientist's use of invasive behaviour manipulation technologies.

It is essentially about one set of primates who have power, using it against another who haven't... Wiseman found no Frankensteins during his apparently very amicable visit to the centre; just nice people adding to the sum of human knowledge by subtracting from the sum of humanity itself. Derek Malcolm

Courtesy of Zipporah Films

Exhibition Interpretation is available to view here  

 

Associated events

Friday 5 November   Preview Screening, Episode III, 6.30pm (87 mins)
Saturday 6 November 2010   Poverty and Aid, Lecture, 2pm - 3pm
Sunday 7 November 2010   Are you not entertained?, Discussion Circle, 2pm - 3pm
Saturday 13 November 2010   Prison & Power, Lecture, 2pm - 3pm
Thursday 18 November 2010    Code Name "Cyclist" (Radfahrer) 28 mins, Film Screening, 7pm
Saturday 20 November 2010   Animal Rights, Lecture, 2pm - 3pm
Sunday 21 November 2010   Sunday Discussion Circle, 2pm - 3pm

filmlounge logo

Monday 8 November - Sunday 23 January, open daily

Romatic Realism. The romantic impulse in historical ethnographic films is examined in this Film Lounge programme. What happens when the camera attempts to grasp the exotic and the unfamiliar?

 

The Ethics of Encounter is part of Stills’ Social Documents series, a three-year programme of exhibitions, screenings, workshops and courses which explores artists’ fascination with documentary modes and processes.

The Ethics of Encounter exhibition is presented with generous support from The University of Edinburgh's History of Art Department, The Goethe Institut, Glasgow and New Media Scotland.

 

UoE Logo           goethe-institut logo         New Media Scotland Logo

Image credit; Episode III - Enjoy Poverty, Renzo Martens (2009)

Social Documents home