Empire II is an artist-led satellite project devised and curated by London curator/artist Vanya Balogh for 57th La Biennale di Venezia. This intimate, immersive film hub space will feature three chambers; beginning with an extensive library, engaging in film history and theory, curated attentively by participating artists from their personal book collections and intended for browsing and perusing; leading further on to a single screen darkroom, a pulsating digital heart, showcasing a sequence of 115 imaginative short films programmed to play on a continuous loop; and on to the final imaginary space, the Virtual Reality port which will evolve over time in collaboration with various artists.
In recent years we have seen an intense and speedy cultural migration and merging of art, architecture and moving image. As empires are built on ruins, so has digital mass evolving from the fractured analogue spectrum of our not so distant past, submerged itself into the fluid fabric of our contemporary worldview.
Mashups, remakes, samplings, cut-ups; contemporary culture is profoundly fragmented and constantly recreated. What were once avant-garde strategies have now become everyday practices. The ubiquity and diversity of gadgets, cameras and screens is a particularly prominent aspect of this “softwarised” digital culture. Professional filmmakers are seen to use cheap digital cameras in order to create low-tech DIY aesthetics, as exemplified in the Dogme 95 movement initiated by Lars Von Trier and Thomas Vinterberg. Empire II is a spontaneous reflex point, immersive single screen experience with a library, a hot eye that reflects on the elusiveness and temporality of the digital image, interweaving various paths, trends and approaches to filmmaking. Ranging from animation to cold cut editing, 115 digital shorts are transported from London via Brussels to Venice, on a hard drive, to reach its final destination that is a hybrid digital canvas, a boundary between independent cinema and contemporary art.
Empire II screen will confront us with ideas on climate change, politics of attrition, immigration, narcissism, sex, loss, despair, loss of identity, addiction, violence, false economics, digital rape, cyber crime, space travel, pollution, death and consumerism, all coexisting amongst many concurrent themes. Focused on our present, The Age of Anxiety, whilst turning madness into metaphysics, artists respond and demonstrate their feelings, thoughts and objections to the post-truth world incumbent in lies and power struggles. This temporary digital archive and its narrative of collection and recollection, its ability to exhibit, move and travel at high speed to any corner of the planet, defines EMPIRE II as philosophical and social space of transient, ephemeral nature.
Akin to the story of Maxim Gorky, a Russian aeroplane designed in 1933/34 by Victor Tupolev at the time when future was socialist, it was the biggest aeroplane in the world with a wingspan about the same as a Boeing 747. A flying beast of Soviet propaganda, it had many fancy features, for example a rotary press that could turn out 10000 copies an hour, a darkroom lab for developing aerial photos, a working radio station but also and most importantly a Library and a fully functioning Cinema with a Screen that could unfold on the ground and was big enough for near 10000 people to see clearly. Films of the 21st Century show us brain-worlds, brain-cities and architectures of the mind.
We no longer look through characters eyes and we no longer need big cinema screens; we experience their minds. This new emerging visual aesthetic is our future present and our present future compressed in data factors and algorithms. Is it also the end of the cinema as we know it? Empire ll will equally host a number of intermediate events during Venice Biennale with and including participating artists, filmmakers and critical speakers in form of presentations, special evening screenings and outdoor projections across Venice, talks and group discussions related to film, technology, science and art.
Empire II Participating Artists
1 India Roper-Evans 2 Toni Gallagher 3 Spizz Energi 4 Michal Ohana Cole 5 Steve Smith 6 Ashley Scott Fitzgerald 7 Veronica Shimanovskaya 8 Liz Sheridan 9 Montague Armstrong 10 Glenn Fitzy Fitzpatrick 11 Sarah Pager 12 Roger Clarke 13 Birgitta Hosea 14 Lee Maelzer 15 Bob Lawson 16 Richard Ducker 17 Warren Thomas Garland 18 Susan Schulman 19 Danny Pockets 20 Joanna McCormick 21 Mark Woods 22 Rebecca Scott 23 John Plowman 24 Fiona Haines 25 Gzillion Artist 26 MC Llamas 27 Stacie McCormick 28 Julian Firth 29 Sarah Sparkes & Ian Thompson 30 Sooz Belnavis 31 Jane Grisewood & Carali McCall 32 Maria Teresa Gavazzi33 Monika Kita 34 Nerys Mathias 35 Paul Coombs 36 Alina Gavrielatos 37 Susana Sanroman 38 Eva Raboso 39 Ekin Onat 40 Maryclare Foa 41 Marisa Polin 42 Jessica Bailey 43 Gordon Faulds 44 Ray Gange 45 Mandee Gage 46 Kristina Kotov 47 Ella Amitay Sadovsky 48 Nouli Omer 49 Shosh Israeli 50 Eden Auerbach Ofrat 51 Adi Oz – Ari 52 Vardi Bobrow 53 Yael Atzmony 54 Witty Gordon Projects 55 Taline Temizan 56 Anita Bryan 57 Marie-Louise Jones 58 Roman Manfredi 59 Ann Grim 60 Tracey Moberly & Robbie Ryan 61 Ibby Doherty & Ed Linger 62 Mario Varas Sanchez 63 Dannielle Hodson 64 Maya Smira 65 Susan Supercharged 66 Kate Kotcheff 67 William Angus-Hughes 68 Iavor Lubomirov 69 Barbara Stanzl 70 Dion Kitson 71 Melissa Alley & Paul Tecklenberg 72 Martyn Pick 73 Susana Lopez Fernandez 74 Graham Tunnadine 75 Pascal Rousson 76 Bella Land 77 Crispin Lingford 78 Paul & Stanley Tucker 79 Joe Dye 80 Jim Roseveare 81 Stella Whalley & Tony Bricheno 82 Emily McMehen 83 Martin Sexton 84 Bobby Lloyd 85 Anna Mortimer 86 Michael Williams 87 Harrison Pearce, Marco Alessi & Benedict Morrison 88 Kerry Baldry 89 Vanja Karas 90 Laura Lilyanna Cogoni 91 Richard Sharples 92 Jeffrey Louis-Reed 93 Valentina Ferrandes 94 Jon Baker 95 Tisna Westerhof 96 Emily Cole 97 Theresa Caruana 98 Meriliis Rinne 99 Live Hazard Collective 100 Annika Reed 101 Julia Maddison 102 Andrea Morucchio 103 Miriam Mor Hiedemann 104 Leila Houston 105 Leito de Courson de la Villeneuve 106 Megan Broadmeadow 107 Will Kerr 108 Gavin Turk 109 Vanya Balogh 110 Laura Hynd 111 Negin Vaziri112 Philipp Keel 113 Lorenzo Belenguer 114 Tomaz Kramberger 115 Jessica Voorsanger
EMPIRE II @ 57th Venice Biennale Private View 12th May 2017, 2pm – 10pm
Exhibition Runs; 13th May – 26th November 2017 Open daily Tuesday – Saturday 10 am – 6 pm
LOCATION: Castello 1610/A Riva Dei Sette Martiri Venezia 30122
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Leila Houston (London, 1977) is a visual artist whose work investigates the social, political and historical aspects of a place.