04.03.2023 - 07.05.2023
Opening: 03.03.2023 (FRI) 7 pm
‘A tank on a pedestal. Fumes are rising from the engine. A Soviet battle tank—called IS-3 for Joseph Stalin—is being repurposed by a group of pro-Russian separatists in Konstantinovka, Eastern Ukraine. It is driven off a WWII memorial pedestal and promptly goes to war. According to a local militia, it “attacked a checkpoint in Ulyanovka, Krasnoarmeysk district, resulting in three dead and three wounded on the Ukrainian side, and no losses on our side.”
One might think that the active historical role of a tank would be over once it became part of a historical display. But this pedestal seems to have acted as temporary storage from which the tank could be redeployed directly into battle.
Apparently, the way into the museum—or even into history itself—is not a one-way street.’ – writes Hito Steyerl in her 2016 essay published in the e-flux journal1, which explores, among other issues, the role of museums and art institutions in an era defined by planetary civil war, growing inequalities and digital technology. According to Steyerl, ’in the example of the kidnapped tank, history invades the hypercontemporary.’
The video installation MISSION ACCOMPLISHED: BELANCIEGE presented at Trafó Gallery reveals similar ’invasions’ of history and emphasizes their cyclical nature by turning towards the processes of economic and political realignment that followed the fall of the Berlin Wall, and by featuring examples that target our hyper-contemporary world armed with trend analysis, data mining, political advertising and audience targeting.
The video installation is co-created by Giorgi Gago Gagoshidze, Hito Steyerl and Miloš Trakilović and is based on their lecture in 2019 at n.b.k. - Neuer Berliner Kunstverein. Almost 30 years to the day after the fall of the Berlin Wall, the lecture reflects on post-1989 transformations and political rearrangements in the former Soviet territories, sheds light on the interconnections between culture and populism, and examines in a broader context the mechanisms of oligarchic-capitalist culture that emerged during the 'privatisation' of the former Eastern bloc.
The luxury fashion brand Balenciaga acts as a starting point for the artists’ reflections on politics, culture and populism, and reveals connections between trends, social media and political processes, such as the success of alt-right movements, the manipulation of the US presidential elections that enabled Donald Trump's victory, or the rise of populist and neoliberal politics in the countries of the former Eastern bloc.
The exhibition is a collaboration between Trafó Gallery and Goethe-Institut Budapest.
Giorgi Gago Gagoshidze was born in 1983 in Kutaissi, Georgia. He studied fine arts at the State Academy of Arts in Tbilisi and the Royal Academy of Fine Arts in The Hague, as well as experimental film and video with Hito Steyerl at the University of the Arts in Berlin. In his works, Gagoshidze considers issues such as the moving image, the political background of its production and distribution, and its socio-political significance.
His artworks were presented at the following institutions (selection): Steirischer Herbst, Graz (2019); Kai 10 | Arthena Foundation, Düsseldorf (2018); Harun Farocki Institute, Berlin (2017); Artists Unlimited, Bielefeld (2016); Acud Macht Neu, Berlin (2015); Galerie für Zeitgenössische Kunst, Leipzig (2015); Museum of Photography, Berlin (2015); Folkwang Museum, Essen (2014); F/Stop – Festival for Photography, Leipzig (2012); Künstlerhaus Bethanien, Berlin (2012). He lives and works in Berlin.
Hito Steyerl was born in Munich in 1966. Her prolific filmmaking and writing occupies a highly discursive position between the fields of art, philosophy and politics, constituting a deep exploration of late capitalism’s social, cultural and financial imaginaries.
Steyerl studied documentary film and theory at the Academy of Visual Arts in Tokyo and at the Academy for Television and Film in Munich, and received her doctorate in philosophy from the Academy of Fine Arts in Vienna. From 2014 to 2017, Steyerl co-founded the Research Centre for Proxy Politics at the University of Arts Berlin, which set out to explore the nature of media networks and their actors (from humans to artificial intelligences, and the political and economic implications of digital networks).
She had solo exhibitions at (selection): National Museum of Modern and Contemporary Art, Seoul (2022); Stedelijk Museum, Amsterdam (2022); Kunstsammlung Nordrhein-Westfalen K21, Düsseldorf; Centre Pompidou, Paris (2020–21); n.b.k. – Neuer Berliner Kunstverein, Berlin (2019–20); Art Gallery of Ontario, Toronto (2019–20); Park Avenue Armory, New York (2019); Serpentine Galleries, London (2019); Akademie der Künste, Berlin (2019); Castello di Rivoli, Turin (2018); The Institute of Contemporary Art, Boston (2017); Museum of Contemporary Art, Los Angeles (2016); LUMA Foundation, Arles (2016); Museo Nacional Centro de Arte Reina Sofia, Madrid (2015); Tensta Konsthall, Spånga (2015); Institute of Modern Art, Brisbane (2016); Artists Space, New York (2015).
Her artworks were presented at the following institutions and biennales (selection): Tai Kwun Contemporary, Hong Kong (2022); Art Encounters Biennial, Timișoara (2021); Kunsten Museum of Modern Art, Aalborg (2021); Daejeon Biennale 2020, The Daejeon Museum of Art, Daejeon (2020); MoCA in collaboration with TheCube Project Space, Taipei (2020); Kunsthalle Wien, Vienna (2020); La Biennale di Venezia, Venice (2019); Resistance, CENTRALE for Contemporary Art, Brussels (2018); Kunstmuseum, Basel (2018); The Institute of Contemporary Art, Boston (2018); Skulptur Projekte 2017, Münster (2017); ARS17, Kiasma– The Museum of Contemporary Art Helsinki (2017); Fondazione Sandretto re Rebaudengo, Turin (2017); Gwangju Biennial (2016); Whitney Museum of American Art, New York (2016); São Paulo Biennial (2016); 9th Berlin Biennale (2016); 56th Venice Biennale, German Pavilion, Venice (2015). She lives and works in Berlin.
Miloš Trakilović was born in 1989 in Tuzla, Bosnia and Herzegovina. He studied fine arts at Willem de Kooning Academy in Rotterdam and experimental film and video at the University of the Arts in Berlin. His artistic practice revolves around the politics of perception, exploring questions of dissolution, fragmentation, memory and loss. His artworks were presented at the following institutions (selection): Munch Museet, Oslo (2022); Stedelijk Museum, Amsterdam (2022); Badischer Kunstverein, Karlsruhe (2021); Kunsthalle Wien, Vienna (2020); Harun Farocki Institute, Berlin (2017); Künstlerhaus Bethanien, Berlin (2017); Kunstverein Rosa Luxemburg Platz, Berlin (2016); Galerie für zeitgenössische Kunst Leipzig (2015); Museum for Photography, Berlin (2014); Folkwang Museum, Essen (2014). He lives and works in Berlin and Amsterdam.
Supported by: Goethe-Institut Budapest, rentIT, Káli Kövek
Opening hours: Wednesday-Saturday 4-7pm, performance days 4-10pm, Sunday 10am-2pm
Image credit: Giorgi Gago Gagoshidze, Hito Steyerl and Miloš Trakilović: MISSION ACCOMPLISHED: BELANCIEGE, 2019. 3 channel HD video (color, sound), environment. Duration: 47:23 min. Courtesy the artists, Andrew Kreps Gallery, New York, and Esther Schipper, Berlin/Paris/Seoul © VG Bild-Kunst, Bonn 2023 Still © the artists