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text from Hamburg show... discord

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discord. sabotage of realities

_discord.sabatoge of realities_ opened in Hamburg November 29, as part
of the Week of Visual Arts. On view until January 19, 1997, the
exhibition includes 34 projects (and 29 worthwhile concepts not
realized) juried from over 500 proposals, from 31 countries, gained
largely from Internet mailings and postings. The final selection
constitutes a collection of action art projects, that hope to …bring
together a wide variety of different artistic positions of the Nineties.
Divided into 6 zones, co-curators Inke Arns (Berlin) and Ute Voekeper
(Hamburg) organized their artistic concerns theoretically, and the
zone-issue formed an interesting starting point for discussion about the
grouping of works. In reality, it was difficult to understand where the
zones began and ended, and why they were necessary. The zones are:
control (security/insecurity); news services (disinformation); everyday
life (alienation); border politics (walking the tightrope); state
machineries (law, discipline, repression); and science fiction and
economy (the administration of the future).

The opening was an stimulating evening of performing environments taking
place among the installations, projections, works on the wall,
interactive sculptures, and numerous video monitors. The subversive
elements seemed to border more on the assumption that corporate
technique and design promised better results - resulting in numerous
give-aways and glossy brochures available in the galleries. The NSK
Passport Office (installed at the opening to the first gallery) had a
line-up of potential new passport holders, who waited patiently for
members of the Neue Slovenian Kunst collective to process their
application. In the style of East European pre-computerized austerity,
it triggered references to new beginnings in traditional places.

Heath Bunting, London's roving renegade Net artist, had mailed post
cards with magnetic strips guaranteed to disrupt security systems in
Hamburg, for his Mailart Projekt. At the opening, he distributed bar
coded crack-n-peel stickers for the same purpose. Lufthansa sponsored
in-flight meals were heated up in microwave ovens and served to a long
line of hungry museum visitors in the large gallery throughout the
opening by Cornelia Schmidt-Bleek (Berlin). Her multi-media work called
Space-Lab, reflects on gender issues in the home and technology.

The activity during the opening created a give-and-take feeling between
artist and viewer. Videotapes and interactive works, placed throughout,
like Stan Douglass Television Spots and Lynn Hershmans Americas Finest
were in large part intended as a sabotage to the market value of the Art
object. A reality-check for communication and connectivity between
artist and the public was the real-time Network piece by Muntadas. The
File Room installation, the only online piece was situated deep in the
dark recesses of the show.

As an online exhibition site, the URL for _discord_ was unattended
during the weeks just before the exhibition. In fact, the it was not
updated until just prior to the opening. At the website, each artist
and project is listed, and links to some personal sites by artists are
possible, like The Seborgo Nation of Cyberspace, which exists primarily
as a virtual work. Much more attention to the details of artists'
works, and some expanded commentary, could have dispelled criticism of
the zone system of organization, and brought a fuller curatorial
perspective into focus. Until the catalogue's mid-January publication
date, it is the only source of information, and is a recommended and
worthwhile visit.