[artinfo] Gita Hashemi curates "RealPlay"

[R][R][F] 2004 info at nmartproject.net
Tue Apr 6 11:01:27 CEST 2004

[R][R][F] 2004 --->XP  ~ E-Journal - Vol.2
 ~ E-Journal,
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R][R][F] 2004 --->XP
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~E-Journal  Vol.2 - Features
1. Gita Hashemi curates "RealPlay
2. [R][R][F] 2004 --->XP - News!!
1. Gita Hashemi curates "RealPlay"
is the title of  Gita Hashemi's
curatorial contribution to  [R][R][F] 2004 --->XP
or direct access also via
Participating artists:
1. Jaromil
2. Hard Pressed Collective
3. Mireille Astore
4. Project Threadbare Coalition
5. Haleh Niazmand
Essay by Gita Hashemi.
RealPlay has little to do with play, really. It is about playing for real.
Topically positioned in specific times and/or places, the works in RealPlay
contest, counter and/or subvert dominant geopolitical and/or cultural
notions with reference to the colonial constructs of the "Middle East" and
the "West." This selection works as a broad political commentary as well as
responses to certain trends in "new media" discourse that explicitly or
implicitly (sometimes inadvertently) postulate and promote fundamental
distinctions and discontinuities between the "virtual" and the "real." Such
distinctions inevitably idealize the illusionary (utopic or distopic) space
where code is entirely capable of masterminding experience, or where code
becomes experience. The projects in RealPlay reject such Western-oriented
techno-centric and techno-determinist tendencies by privileging urgent
socio-political issues over media formalism and by insisting on the priority
of social interaction over, as well as through, cyberspace interactivity.
Using diverse practices of documenting and archiving, these projects
capitalize on the function of the internet as a repository of retrievable
data and, more importantly, as a communication channel that can be
advantageously put to use towards inciting counter-hegemonic thought and

Subverting stereotypical representations of Palestinians as fanatic
terrorists or people solely occupied and pre-occupied by war, in <a href=
"http://farah.dyne.org/">Farah: In Search for Joy </a>, an account from a
trip to Palestine following the brutal Israeli re-occupation campaign of the
West Bank in 2002, software pioneer and artist Jaromil (Italy) gives an
account of the everlasting human search and capacity for joy in towns and
refugee camps under siege (again). Farah: In Search for Joy is a brief and
unpretentious traveler's search for and documentation of those aspects of
the Palestinian popular culture that continue to create, offer and celebrate
joy in spite of the prolonged conditions of colonial occupation and war. As
an archive (in progress), the website is incubated in and reflective of the
artist's interactions with his environment as it is a virtual space for our
encounter with a dimension of Palestinian reality categorically forgotten or
ignored in dominant representations in the West.

An initiative of Hard Pressed Collective (Canada), a group of media artists
with a penchant for politically-engaged art-making, <a href="
http://www.charlesstreetvideo.com/project.php?id=1">The Olive Project</a>
is, on the surface, a programmed compilation of short videos by diverse
international artists. Thematically grounded in the historically rich and
culturally diverse symbolism of the olive, the videos exhibit a range of
artist responses to the ruthless practice of uprooting olive trees in
Palestine by Israeli forces- a favourite occupation strategy aiming to force
Palestinians off their land by effectively undermining the economic survival
of the growers and their local production. Collectively, the videos
construct a time-based memorial to "peace and justice" made of 2-minute
blocks. Before, through and beyond the remediated compilation and its
dissemination in cyberspace, however, this project functions as a tool for
consciousness-raising, mobilizing and networking around an issue of real
world significance.

<a href="http://www.crixa.com/mireille/Migrant/Tampa.htm">Migrant</a> is the
web component of Mireille Astore's (Australia) larger sculpture and
performance project that takes as its starting point the infamous Tampa ship
incident in August 2001. The incident brought local and international public
attention to the plight of the "boat people"- refugees primarily from the
"Middle East"-who, upon arrival in Australian waters, were first refused
landing and then recast as prisoners by a xenophobic "Western" state. Astore
's obsessive photographic documentation (from the inside looking out) of her
18-day self-inflicted virtual imprisonment-in a scaled recreation of Tampa
on a public beach in Sydney-functions as a looking glass in which to observe
the uneasy and disturbing reactions to the arrival of new migrants by a
society that has repressed its own memory and burried its own racist and
colonial settler history under the grounds on which Woomera and Nauru
detention centres currently stand for real.

<a href="http://www.threadbare.tyo.ca/">Project Threadbare</a> is animated
by a coalition of activists in response to the detention in August 2003 of
21 South Asian (primarily Pakistani) students in Toronto, Canada under the
guise of anti-terrorist and national security operations. Since its
inception, Project Threadbare has been an immensely successful local
expository and legal campaign against racial targeting, detention and
deportation of immigrants and refugees by Canadian police, intelligence and
immigration forces, who are hotly in the race for the third place prize of
dishonour, after USA and Australia, for breaking their own nation's civil
liberties codes as well as international human rights conventions. This
website, an ongoing forum, newsboard and archive for Toronto activists, is
one wiki that doesn't pretend to be the virtual world's better-than-original
replica of "democracy." Although some of the active members of the coalition
are artists and their website is pretty slick, Project Threadbare was not
conceived as and does not make a claim to being new media art; rather, it is
a real world experiment in social and creative participation and
collaboration, with tangible impact in the lives of the original 21
detainees and now in the lives of many others in similar predicaments.

<a href="http://surveyofcommonsense.net/">Survey of Common Sense</a> is a
recreation of an earlier participatory painting installation project by the
same title by Haleh Niazmand (USA). A parody of the polling industry that
for the past 5 or 6 decades has been the engine of "democracy" in the United
States, Niazmand's image-text intervention, in the form of survey questions
with forced yes/no "choices," is not only an authorial comment on the
practices of polling as determinant of "democratic outcome," but a strong
challenge to notions of "pragmatism" and "common sense" preached from
political pulpits in the present-day United States. Beyond this, Survey of
Common Sense is an invitation, courtesy of an artist from the "Middle East"
and a citizen of the "West," to the participants/viewers to recongnize,
acknowledge and reflect upon the ways in which each and every one of us are
intricately and deeply implicated, really and virtually, in the bloody
absurdity of this political moment. As such and in the very impossibility of
responding with any degree of ease and resolution to Niazmand's questions,
this work is an incessant challenge issued so we will not slip into

The projects in this selection have taken shape independently of this
curatorial effort. My thanks to all the participants for allowing me to
include their work in RealPlay.
About the curator:
Gita Hashemi
engages in cultural practice as artist, writer, curator, organizer, worker
and educator. Her most recent curatorial projects include RealPlay (2004,
netart exhibit) Negotiations: From a Piece of Land to a Land of Peace (2003,
art-driven multidisciplinary event, http://negotiations2003.net), WILL
(2003, multidisciplinary transnational exhibition,
http://negotiations2003.net/will), Afghanistan, 2002: No Refuge and Locating
Afghanistan (2002-3, image-text exhibition and publication with photography
by Babak Salari), and Trans/Planting: Contemporary Art by Women from/in Iran
(2001, with Taraneh Hemami, http://strictlypersonal.net/transplanting).

Her recent titles include Post-Coitus (2003, http://post-coitus.net), Olive
Fair (2003, http://olivefair.net), Many Stones for Palestine (2002,
http://strictlypersonal.net/stones), The Word Room (2001, with Post-Exile
Collective, http://wordroom.net), A War Primer (2001, sound installation),
and Of Shifting Shadows (2000, CD-R). Hashemi's work has been exhibited,
reviewed and collected nationally and internationally. She is the founder of
Iranian Artists in Dialogue, a co-founder of Post-Exile Collective and a
founder of Creative Response. She resides in Toronto, Canada.

Hashemi's labour as an intellectual has crystallized in simultaneous
processes of de/re/construction; not in any specific class of objects or
within any particular representational genres, but in the envisioning of the
spaces and formulation of the critical practices that can be constitutive in
transformative social and political movements. Informed by her direct
engagement in liberatory political struggles before, during and after the
1979 Iranian Revolution as well as her experience of exile in North America,
Hashemi's work takes shape in a continuous process of countering masculinist
discourses of fundamentalism, fascism, colonialism, corporatism and
militarism. Notions of community, co-labouring, public space and active
participation are integral to her creative engagement. So is the
understanding that artistic practice, as a fundamentally social process, is
inherently political and must, therefore, be subject to conscious
(re-visionary) feminist re-articulation: The political is personal, the
personal is poetic, the poetic is political, the political must become

The selected artists:
Artist: Jaromil
---->The Farah project
About artist/work
Rami a.k.a. Jaromil (http://korova.dyne.org) is a free software programmer
and streaming media pioneer, media artist and activist, performer and
emigrant.  Jaromil co-founded (1994) the non-profit organization Metro
Olografix for the diffusion of information technology, and in 2000 founded
the free software lab dyne.org; sub-root for the autistici.org /
inventati.org community. Jaromil is active in the Italy Indymedia
Collective, and is currently the software analyst and developer for PUBLIC
VOICE Lab (Vienna).
The Farah project documents Jaromils three-week trip, in August, 2002,
through the occupied territories of Palestine. During this time he  crossed
East Jerusalem, Gaza, Bethlehem, Hebron and Ramallah. This was while
Bethlehem and Gaza were still under siege and Ramallah was experiencing
another full-time curfew after the assassination of Ahmad Saadat.  Farah is
an effort to document the life and culture of the Palestinian population in
zones of war, without actually mentioning the war itself. It is a net-art
project in the way that it tries to use the net as a privileged medium to
unveil a beauty usually made far by war.
Artists group: Hardpressed Collective
--->The Olive Tree Project
About the group/work
The Hard Pressed Collective is a group of video artists working in support
of a just peace in Israel/Palestine. This project was inspired by the
solidarity efforts around the olive harvest in the Occupied Palestinian
Territories. Members include: Riad Bahhur, Richard Fung, Rebecca Garrett,
John Greyson, Jayce Salloum, and b.h. Yael. The Olive Project coordinator at
Charles Street Video is Greg Woodbury.
The olive tree has been a long standing source of nourishment and livelihood
for many peoples around the Mediterranean Sea. Images of olive branches and
leaves have been used to symbolize peace for millennia. Olive oil is also a
potent food, a rich salve,a currency, an energy source, and a site of
Since the second Intifada in Palestine and Israel, the olive harvest in the
Occupied Palestinian Territories has been disrupted by violence, with
Israeli military forces and settlers preventing Palestinian farmers from
bringing in the crop. Since 1967, more than 200,000 olive trees have been
uprooted by Israeli forces from Palestinian land. This has prompted a
campaign by hundreds of international and Israeli volunteers to provide
protection for Palestinian olive farmers and help them harvest their crop
and prevent their theft and destruction by Israeli settlers. The Olive
Project is an artistic contribution to this solidarity effort.

Artist: Mireile Astore
---> Tampa Project
About artist/work
Mireille Astore was born in Beirut and came to Australia in 1975 following
the outbreak of civil war in Lebanon. Although at the time Astore was
classified as a migrant by the Australian Government, her status bears a
strong resemblance to that of past and current refugees in the world. She
has two children and lives in Sydney. A multi disciplinary artist, Astore
also has a solid background in the visual and literary Arts, the Sciences,
art administration as well as policy development.
"Tampa" was a site-specific performance, sculpture, photography and
web-based art about the plight of recent refugees in Australia. It took
place between 30 October 2003 and 16 November 2003 as part of the "Sculpture
by the Sea" exhibition in Sydney. The sculpture and performance acted as a
dichotomy between the sense of freedom and grandeur the individual
experiences at the seashore and the imprisonment refugees faced as a result
of their trust in the most basic form of human rights. The Tampa incident
was of particular interest because of the definite schism it created in
Australia's perception of itself. The terms asylum seekers and refugees
entered the everyday vocabulary and with them, the unease about nationhood
and a crisis about who the Other really is.
In Tampa, the fusion of two spatial and temporal processes created a
tension, which has at its core a conflict of identity. The relationship
initiated and executed as I photographed onlookers then boldly circulated
their images through the Internet stands in sharp contrast to the assumed
refugee status I employed. Consequently, photographing from within was an
attempt at illustrating that the watched and the caged are in indeed

Artists group: Threadbare Coalition
---> Project Threadbare
About group/work
Project Threadbare is a city-wide coalition in Toronto, Ontario, made up of
members of the Pakistani and south Asian communities, cultural
organisations, immigrant and refugee groups, anti-poverty organisations,
political groups, faith groups, trade unionists, students, and concerned
activists and individuals who came together in response to the arrest and
detention of twenty Pakistani men and one south Indian man in August 2003.
None of the men have committed a crime and none have been charged.
Project Threadbare alludes to the RCMP investigation called "Project Thread.
" Although the investigation produced no hard evidence of any wrongdoing by
any of the men who were arrested, it was the basis on which they were all
Our aim is to win exoneration for all the men by building a mass campaign in
communities across the country. We also seek to raise awareness about the
government's attacks on civil liberties in general and on immigrants,
refugees, and non-status persons in particular.

Artist: Haleh Niazmand
---> Survey of Common Sense
About artist/work
Haleh Niazmand's art has been exhibited widely in many galleries and museums
including the San Diego Museum of Art, the Cedar Rapids Museum of Art, The
Des Moines Art Center, the University of Arizona Museum of Art, The Worth
Rider Gallery at the University of California, Berkeley, the Macy Gallery at
Columbia University and A Space Gallery, Toronto. The internet-adapted
version of her participatory projects The Survey of Common Sense and the
Post Exile collective's Word Room are included in the Rhizome's Artbase
archive. In addition, Niazmand's art has been discussed in numerous
scholarly essays, journals, and professional magazines including the Middle
East Women Studies Review, Radical History Review, Mix Magazine and Artweek.
Polls and surveys are amongst the most commonly utilized methods of social
control. In addition to their use in scientific research, surveys aid the
media and interest groups in the creation of public opinion, which often
directly affects the democratic processes of policy-making. Consequently,
over time, the influence of surveys will manifest in many aspects of public
opinion including the evolution of common sense.
The Survey of Common Sense is an art project that uses the methodology of
polls to address an array of contemporary social issues. The structure of
this work involves the audience's participation as an integral part of the
art, making it not merely observational or interpretive, but it is during
this participation that its purpose is revealed. The work's general strategy
calls for a re-evaluation of our judgmental rights, focusing on the uneasy
and the paradoxical worldview.

The texts copyright © by Gita Hashemi and the participatings artists
2. News
7 April
[R][R][F] 2004 --->XP - is participating in
NowMusic Streaming Festival Berlin (Germany)
7 April - 24 hours between 0:00 and 0:00 CET (Central European Time/Berlin)
with BEK_dns curated by Eva Sjuve/BEK Bergen/Norway
During the coming weeks
[R][R][F] 2004 --->XP  will develop a program
of sound art in collaboration with numerous Internet radio stations around
the globe.
8-16 May 2004
[R][R][F] 2004 --->XP will participate in May in
Basic Festival Salzburg/Austria
[R][R][F] 2004 --->XP  will soon be part of
Rhizome Art Base - the exact URL will be announced soon.
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all volumes of ~E-Journal can be found on
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[R][R][F] 2004 --->XP
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by Agricola de Cologne,
media artist and New Media curator from Cologne/Germany
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As a  corporate part of [NewMediaArtProjectNetwork]:||Cologne,
the project will develop and operate until deep in the year 2005.
As an extension of the global networking project,
[R][R][F] 2004 --->XP  ~ E-Journal
will be edited periodically
in order to feature projects, curators, artists and other networking
on a textual information basis.
copyright © 2004 by Agricola de Cologne. All rights reserved.

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