In conjunction with the exhibition Video Vintage, Beirut Art Center has invited Karen Mirza and Brad Butler to lead a workshop around political engagement in film. The participants in the workshop will collaborate in a multidisciplinary project combining practice and theory, the outcome of which will be presented to the public on Monday 27 May, 8 pm.
Can film be made 'collectively' when the medium itself is so embedded with hierarchy?
For a week we will work together to intertwine experimentation with theory and practice using drawing, political theatre, video, sound and public interventions to get inside the power dynamics of images and the film apparatus in order to understand and subvert how we as artists, activists and/or filmmakers can co-author work. Together, by exploring the city, exchanging ideas, skills and techniques and through a series of 'games for actors and non-actors' we will build a work to be premiered at Beirut Art Center that is not a passive experience for its audience. Rather those in attendance will be offered the opportunity to become agent and active, to 'act' as well as observe.
About Karen Mirza and Brad Butler
Karen Mirza and Brad Butler have worked together since 1998, and in 2004 formed no.w.here (www.no-w-here.org.uk), an artist-run space for the production, discussion and dissemination of practices engaged with the moving image, politics, technology and aesthetics. no.w.here’s role as a cooperative environment is directly related to the centering of Mirza and Butler’s own practice upon collaboration, dialogue and the social.
Since 2007 they have pursued a strain of practice entitled The Museum of Non Participation http://www.museumofnonparticipation.org
. This was born during a visit to the newly opened National Gallery of Art in Islamabad. As Mirza and Butler stood inside the controversial gallery of nude paintings, they witnessed the large scale protests of the Lawyers Movement through a window in the museum. In that stark collision of art and political praxis, the project germinated and has subsequently remained intent on interrogating the interrelationship of politics and art, implication, participation and potential for active agent withdrawal.
Out of that initial formation, Mirza and Butler produced The Exception and the Rule (2010) a non-documentary that seeks new directions for ethnographic film. The Museum of Non Participation was developed through an Artangel Interaction commission which included a month long public-programme behind a Bethnal Green barbers (2010) and a collaboration with the largest circulating Pakistani broadsheet, The Daily Jang. In 2011 new ‘acts’ within the collection of The Museum of Non Participation took place at ZKM Karlsruhe and at the Arnolfini Bristol, followed by a film work entitled Deep State (2012) a science fiction inflected protest "training film" made in collaboration with author China Miéville which takes as its starting points different moments of political struggle, informed particularly by current revolutionary processes taking place in Egypt and close collaboration with the Cairo media collective Mosireen (http://www.mosireen.org/). A sister film to Deep State, Hold Your Ground was conceived as a form of protest in Canary Wharf Tube Station in Spring 2012 against the ongoing political injunction initiated during the 2011 St Pauls Occupation by The Canary Wharf Group against any form of gathering or protest in the capital of the banking district.
Upcoming exhibitions include The Museum of non Participation: The New Deal at the Walker Art Centre April 2013 and Derin Devlet (Deep State) at Galeri NON in November 2013.