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“The Presence of Absence”

IZOLYATSIA
8 Naberezhno-Lugova
May 19, 2016–June 19, 2016

Ali Kazma, Prison, 2013, HD video, color, sound, 4 minutes 52 seconds.

Curator Cathryn Drake has brought together three artists, each of whom inhabits geographically marginal places in Europe, for an intriguing meditation on the roles played by identity, memory, and resistance in the writing of history and the constitution of the present. Petros Efstathiadis, who is originally from a village of some 400 inhabitants in the contested region of Greek Macedonia, returns to his home for a prolonged period each year in order to make videos and photographic projects in collaboration with his neighbors, effectively authoring his own theater of the absurd. In the video Shit, 2012, a series of bored young men bangs out a rhythm to Maurice Ravel’s Boléro by hammering nails and crushing rocks while sitting idly among old furniture and other junk.

Tirana, Albania–based artist Leonard Qylafi documents neoliberalism concretely manifesting itself outside his window in the video Estate, 2007, in which we see, in very slow motion, a high-rise development mounting on a plot of empty land. Contrastingly, Private Show, 2006, sees the artist performing a mourning song on flute in the ruins of a building prior to its bulldozing.

Finally, a selection of documentary videos by the Turkish artist Ali Kazma focuses on how the stuff of the world gets made. Human traces are apparent everywhere in works such as Jean Factory, 2008, and Prison, 2013, though the focus is on the spaces themselves and their functionality. The exhibition takes place in the new Kiev auspices of Izolyatsia—an institution formerly located in the recently annexed eastern Ukrainian city of Donetsk, where occupying pro-Russian forces have turned the old building into a detention center for political prisoners—further imbuing the show with a fragile gait.

Travis Jeppesen