Who Is It That Will Tell Me What I Am
Althea Thauberger’s practice has evolved from documentary photography, where her recognizably striking portraiture belies the tension of a connection with the subjects of her images and her immersion as photographer within the environmental context of the image. Her methodology of image-making has consistently transitioned to large-scale international theatrical and performance productions, in sites rife with historical and social complexity. Thauberger’s position as co-director and co-producer is dependent on the relationships forged with fellow actors and audiences, creating an opening for complex community narratives to be performed and witnessed.
The exhibition includes a new film produced in Saddar, a cosmopolitan neighbourhood within Karachi, known as the ‘City of Lights’ for its vivacious 1960s and 1970s nightlife. The area has been profoundly transformed by political and religious changes in the city and across Pakistan. Mad Mad Mad Mad Filmy World is an experimental film, and in essence a portrait of the Modernist-era screening house, the last in a line of historic cinemas along M.A. Jinnah Road in Karachi, burnt by a mob of protesters in 2012 to condemn a controversial Youtube video. The restored Capri Cinema is the setting for a community performance project, enacted by the cinema staff and patrons: layering the plot and denouement of the theatrical narrative alongside the personal and historical relationships to the site of the cinema, its social role in the city, and survival within its community.
Thauberger’s exhibition Who Is It That Will Tell Me What I Am parenthetically presents and references a selection of previous works, including Marat Sade Bohnice, a performance and experimental documentary set in the Bohnice Psychiatric Hospital, Prague that was co-produced for the 2012 Liverpool Biennial. Mad Mad Mad Mad Filmy World was co-commissioned by the Contemporary Art Gallery Vancouver, Art Gallery of Nova Scotia, and Musagetes with the support from Carlos Yep, Ann and Harry Malcolmson, the Jack Weinbaum Family Foundation, the Gerald Sheff and Shanitha Kachan Charitable Foundation, and produced for the inaugural Karachi Biennale 2017. An artist’s monograph will be published at the conclusion of the exhibition tour.
Through photography, film/video, and performance, Thauberger's art practice is primarily concerned with the collaborative possibilities of the social documentary form. Her recent projects involve an extended engagement with the sites of their production in order to trace broader social and ideological histories. These sites include The Bohnice Psychiatric Hospital in Prague, Czech Republic; the former Rikard Benčić Factory in Rijeka, Croatia; the image holdings of the former National Film Board Still Image Division, now at the National Gallery of Canada; and the Capri Cinema in Saddar, Karachi, Pakistan. Her screenings and exhibitions include the inaugural Karachi Biennale, Polygon Gallery, Vancouver; the 2012 Liverpool Biennale; the 17th Biennale of Sydney; La musée d'art contemporain de Montréal; the occupied Kino Zvezda, Belgrade; The Berkeley Art Museum; Manifesta 7; BAK, basis voor aktuele kunst, Utrecht; and The Power Plant, Toronto; among many others. Althea Thauberger is represented by Susan Hobbs Gallery, Toronto.
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