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© Melik Ohanian
Days, 2011
© Melik Ohanian
Days, 2011

Blind Spot

Haus Der Kulturen Der Welt Berlin  •  Germany [DE]

The blind spot of a photograph refers to something not visible or shown but nonetheless latent in the image. Dismissing the dominant pictorial regime, the images in “A Blind Spot” preserve an openness and indeterminacy that precludes reducing them to a description or illustration of a specific reality. This is the point of departure for questioning the documentary aspect in contemporary artistic and photographic practices.

Artists : Eric Baudelaire, Elisabetta Benassi, David Goldblatt, Hassan Khan, Joachim Koester, Vincent Meessen, Olaf Nicolai, Melik Ohanian, Efrat Shvily, Jeff Wall and Christopher Williams

DAYS, I See what I Saw and what I will See

Outdoor Screening
Thu. 31/05 at 10.30pm and Midnite
Fri. 01/06 at 10.30pm and Midnite
Sat. 02/06 at 10.30pm and Midnite
Sun. 03/06 at 10.30pm and Midnite

Projected on either side of a screen, “DAYS, I See what I Saw and what I will See” is a two-channel video installation of a labor camp in the United Arab Emirates. Over the course of eleven days in 2011, Melik Ohanian laid camera tracks through the camp, shooting 100 meters day and night. Once edited into a continuous track, the video shows the whole camp in 42 minutes. One side of the specially constructed screen shows night, the other day.


About Berlin Documentary Forum

Berlin Documentary Forum is a biennial festival dedicated to documentary practices across a variety of disciplines.

The project seeks to explore the documentary as an art form capable of constructing and reshaping realities and histories. Encompassing cultural studies, philosophy, and diverse artistic practices, the festival accentuates the critical potential of documentary work and distinguishes it from today’s excessive production and distribution of visual documents.

New documentary practices are cross-disciplinary, dialectical and above all performative, regarding documentary as the staging of particular relationships between documents, authors and spectators. The second Berlin Documentary Forum sets out to present these new understandings of documentary in a program specially devised by international artists, filmmakers, cultural historians and theoretists. A group exhibition of contemporary art entitled“A Blind Spot” and the launch of an experimental online project, “issue zero”, complement the four days of events at Haus der Kulturen der Welt.

Drawing from material gathered by the New York police videographer known as Johnny Esposito, cultural theorist Sylvère Lotringer looks at the different ways death is resurfacing in Western culture. Theatre director Rabih Mrouépresents a “non-academic lecture” about the role of mobile phones and social media in the Syrian revolts. Harun Farocki’s screening program looks at hybrid forms that obscure the boundaries between the contingency of documentary and the control of feature films.

Mexico-based film programmer Eduardo Thomas and Kyoto-based urban plannerGünter Nitschke present research in their respective fields on the Japanese concept of “ma”, a structuring absence which challenges such binary distinctions as space/time, inside/outside and emptiness/fullness. In a lecture entitled « Objectifiction », artist and theorist Hito Steyerlexamines how 3D technologies affect our notions of space and material reality.

In the exhibition « A Blind Spot », curator Catherine David questions the indexical character ingrained in photography, showing works which address the openness and indeterminacy of images. Anthropologist Christopher Pinneyanalyzes photography’s “optical unconscious” on the basis of topics such as the illicit opium trade with China, which were occluded from official photographic histories of the city of Calcutta.

Filmmaker and theorist Florian Schneider reflects on the notion of cinematic continuity in relation to the historical continuity of colonialism and fascism. Filmmaker Eyal Sivan talks with cultural theorist Ella Shohat about the language and possibilities of montage in documentary work through the prism of Jean-Luc Godard’s films.

Among the many new pieces produced for the festival, artist Christine Meisnerand composer William Tatge take the first Delta blues songs sung by black laborers to develop ideas of “abstract blues” in a video piece, here screened with a live concert by five musicians. Choreographer Eszter Salamon re-enacts interviews made with a woman from Southern Hungary who happens to share her name, revealing how personal hopes and desires transcend the stereotypes of class, age, geography and religion.

More contributions by: Basma Alsharif, Eric Baudelaire, Jacob Ciocci, Mary Helena Clark, Mati Diop, Marguerite Duras, Jean Eustache, Antje Ehmann/Harun Farocki, Miriam Fassbender, David Goldblatt, Thomas Heise, Ito Takashi, Kawase Naomi, Hassan Khan, Thierry Knauff, Joachim Koester, Laida Lertxundi, Sylvère Lotringer, Takashi Makino, Matsumoto Toshio, Vincent Meessen, Christine Meisner, Shana Moulton, Rabih Mroué, Peter Nestler, Olaf Nicolai, Günter Nitschke, Melik Ohanian, Volker Pantenburg, Christopher Pinney, Eva Marie Rødbro, Michael Robinson, Ben Russell, Eszter Salamon, Sylvia Schedelbauer, Florian Schneider, Efrat Shvily, Ella Shohat, Eyal Sivan, Philip Solomon, Hito Steyerl, Jean-Marie Straub/Danièle Huillet, Eduardo Thomas, Jeff Wall, Klaus Wildenhahn, Christopher Williams among others

Artistic director: Hila Peleg
Architecture Berlin Documentary Forum: Kooperative für Darstellungspolitik
Architecture “A Blind Spot”: Kuehn Malvezzi

Haus der Kulturen der Welt
John-Foster-Dulles-Allee 10
10557 Berlin
Fon +49 30 397 87-153
Fax +49 30 3948679

Blind Spot
Berlin Documentary Forum 2
Issue Zero