CIFO PRESENTS THE PRISONER'S DILEMMA
How Artists Respond to the Exercise of Power
in Contemporary Life
Exhibition drawn from the Ella Fontanals-Cisneros Collection
to coincide with Art Basel Miami Beach 2008 in December
Curated by Leanne Mella
In our age, visual artists have seized considerable territory from Hollywood and feature film in depicting contemporary social issues. Through works in photography, installation, performance, the moving image and new media, often deployed in combination, artists address contemporary social issues with a resonance and power that a corporatized film industry seems unable to achieve. The works in this exhibition comment upon confront and challenge strategies of totalizing power and social control. Issues of powerlessness, exclusion and marginalization, subversion, escapism, transcendence, warfare, protest and resistance are all inventively addressed in this selection of works from the Ella Fontanals-Cisneros Collection.
Artists such as Rafael Lozano-Hemmer, Francis Alÿs and Alexandre Arrechea, interrogate the ever expanding landscape of the society under surveillance. In Tension Superficial (Surface Tension) (1992), Lozano-Hemmer's all-seeing eye, animated by complex computer technology, follows our every move. Here, there is no unobtrusive camera hidden high up in corner; but a sizable screen through which we are instead invited to watch ourselves being watched, even as we marvel at the technological innovations that make it possible. Longing and fear of connection is explored by artists Cao Fei, Jenny Holzer, and Judith Barry. Cao Fei's i.Mirror by China Tracy (AKA: Cao Fei) (2007) documents Cao's avatar on an odyssey through Second Life-a virtual world described by its founders as a place to have fun, buy real estate and run a business. The flat and stilted animation that is a hallmark of Second Life and the musical score that accompanies her wanderings combine to produce an overwhelming sense of dislocation and loneliness that interestingly mirrors reality. The belief in a steadily progressive modernity dead-ends in Julian Rosefeldt's The Perfectionist (Trilogy of Failure, Part III). In a three-screen film installation, Rosefeldt gives us a protagonist as a metaphor for failed promises and broken dreams. A tragic-comic hero, he wants to fly but his every effort to do so is thwarted by a series of seemingly arbitrary events.
The conceptual focus of this exhibition as well as the artworks selected highlights one of the most important roles of the artist today: to construct and maintain a space of mental, political and aesthetic freedom from today's systems of control. "It has been our aim to invite guest curators to organize some of our shows, because we consider presenting different readings and perspectives of the collection of chief importance," said CIFO's founder Ella Fontanals-Cisneros. "The exhibition The Prisoner's Dilemma is one more proof of the richness and expansiveness of contemporary art, in that it offers us ever-changing, powerful, broad platforms for inspiration, for thinking, for debating ideas and for enjoyment."
Artists featured in exhibition
Francis Alÿs Barbara Kruger
Alexander Apóstol Rafael Lozano-Hemmer
Alexandre Arrechea Iñigo Manglano-Ovalle
Alessandro Balteo Yazbeck Daniel Joseph Martinez
Judith Barry Priscilla Monge
Tania Brugera Carlos Motta
Paolo Canevari Antoni Muntadas
Stan Douglas Shirin Neshat
Jimmie Durham Julian Rosefeldt
Cao Fei Laurie Simmons
Regina José Galindo Eve Sussman
Carlos Garaicoa Frank Thiel
Mathilde ter Heijne Susan Turcot
Thomas Hirschhorn Monika Weiss