Spelling Dystopia

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© Courtesy of Cobra Museum
Spelling Dystopia

Sandbergplein 1
1181 ZX Amsterdam
January 30th, 2010 - April 25th, 2010

Other (outside main areas)
+31 (0) 20 54 75050
Tues-Sat 11-5


Several places that were once hallmarks, centers of political culture, avant-garde art, and social developments, have become blind spots in contemporary society. Nina Fischer and Maroan el Sani want to bring them back to today’s consciousness in their altered, mystified phases: not utopian, not obsolete, but rather not yet redefined.

The film ‘Spelling Dystopia’ focuses on the public perception of the uninhabited island Hashima near Nagasaki, which has a vivid history. Hashima has been an important location for Japanese coal-mining until 1974. It is a man-made artificial island, based on the use of concrete. During the World War II it was a work camp for war prisoners from Korea and China. In the 60s it became the most dense place on earth. With a size of only 160 x 450 m the island was inhabited by over 5000 people in its best times, working in the Mitsubishi-owned coalmine. The density of the population was higher than in Tokyo’s most crowded parts today. From 1974 the island was abandoned. In the year 2000 it became the film location of a science fiction blockbuster ‘Battle Royale’. The younger generation started to know the place mostly from movies, mangas and video games

Fisher and El Sani focus on the transfer of collective memories. In ‘Spelling dystopia’ they combine the memories of a former inhabitant of the island with the narration of two high school students who recall fragments of the movie ‘Battle Royale’. Thereby, the island appears almost as their fantasy, an imaginary playground for their games, where various images and layers of reality and fiction already got in a state of mingling.

Nina Fischer (1965, Emden) and Maroan el Sani (1966, Duisberg) work together since 1993. They live and work in Berlijn and Sapporo (Japan).