Atlas I
Apr 2005 – Nov 2005

written by Gilane Tawadros


Atlas is a season of exhibitions and events that maps ideas and experiences that remain largely uncharted territory from architect Cedric Price's private library to artist Clifford Charles abstract explorations of political and social spaces in transition; from Neeta Madahar's back balcony and its changing seasons to Omer Fast's bizarre and unsettling video installation Godville. Bombarded by images and information from all across the globe, it is easy to imagine that the world has been universally mapped and documented and that nothing remains to be surveyed. Despite the massive amount of media coverage, there exists a spectrum of ideas and experiences that never get reported nor enter the public domain, while material that is publicly available many not necessarily be accurate or true. The exhibitions and events that make up the Atlas season survey these unmapped ideas and experiences and at the same time challenge what are accepted as historical facts and unassailable truths.

Artists Clifford Charles and Omer Fast both review the past from the perspective of the present. Far from producing comforting and stable reconstructions, however, Charles and Fast evoke dissonant and disquieting histories that are far removed from the romantic depictions of the past, prevalent in contemporary film and television. The ink drawings of Clifford Charles (April/May) use abstraction to map new visual and physical spaces that reflect profoundly altered social and political reality of post-apartheid South Africa. Omer Fasts Godville (September/October) presents a series of interviews with eighteenth-century character-interpreters in Colonial Williamsburg, a living history museum in Virginia, USA. Slipping between their contemporary lives and fictional histories, Fasts character-actors personify the consistent slippage between past and present in contemporary America. A new X-Space commission by photographer and artist Franklyn Rodgers (October/November) uses the Internet to re-examine and challenge existing photographic practice and ideologies about cultural identity and its interpretation.

A host of new publications from inIVA this season propose a re-assessment of the traditional canon of art and architectural history. Cosmopolitan Modernisms (edited by Kobena Mercer) is the first in a new series of publications entitled Annotating Arts Histories that moves beyond identity-based discourse to explore modern art history from the 1890s to the 1980s as a shared narrative of art and culture told from many different points of view. Shades of Black: Assembling Black Arts in 1980s Britain (edited by David A. Bailey, Ian Baucom and Sonia Boyce) maps a key period in the history of contemporary British art, combining cultural theory with anecdote and experience that resist a singular reading of the past. While Annotations 7: CP Retriever (edited by Eleanor Bron and Samantha Hardingham) is an inventory of architect Cedric Prices private library, an intimate portrait of the visionary architects thought processes and ideas.

Coinciding with Architecture Week, Architecture, Memory and Erasure (June) continues our exploration of architecture in a wider political and social context. This Chat Room event examines the role that architecture plays in contesting or reinforcing cultural memory. Inside Out: Kader Attia and the French Algerian Experience (May) focuses on the work of Algerian-born artist Kader Attia in the context of the history of French-Algerian relations while The Seventh Man Then and Now explores the legacy of John Berger and Jean Mohrs The Seventh Man, a ground-breaking study of the guest-worker phenomenon in Europe. [489]

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