Libia Castro and Ólafur Ólafsson in TENT
From February till May 2013, TENT presents the first comprehensive solo exhibition in the Netherlands by the Rotterdam-Berlin based Spanish/Icelandic artists Libia Castro & Ólafur Ólafsson. Entitled “Asymmetry”, this survey exhibition in TENT gathers video-based, installation, sound and sculptural projects from the last decade that consider asymmetry as a dispositif that generates and influences an imbalanced political, social and economic landscape of our contemporary world and reality. The exhibition is curated by Adam Budak. A three-part symposium has been organised to accompany the exhibition (9 February, 13 March, 17 April) and is concluded with the publication and distribution of a newspaper.
A dictionary explains asymmetry using the mathematical term „incommensurability“, the relationship between things that have no common measure. Another definition refers to a defective, disproportionate correspondence between things or their parts. Asymmetry is the absence or violation of symmetry and it involves things that are not in accord, out of balance, not responding and not matching or facing one another. It is an indicator of unfitness: a matter of two unlike systems interacting, each within its capabilities.
Asymmetry haunts the conceptual edifice and thematic zones that constitute the interventionist and site-related, multimedia work of Libia Castro and Ólafur Ólafsson. The artists’ venture into the mechanics of asymmetry is an attempt to decipher the logic of power division which upsets a balance of justice and disturbs a constitution of equality. Asymmetrical power relationships lie at the foundation of a world of precarity and political confusion, influencing the manner in which social and political life is structured and policed and how legislative and juridical systems are established. Castro and Ólafsson’s emphasis on asymmetry is the expression of the artists’ post-Machiavellian, Michael Hardt and Antonio Negri-inspired, confrontational and agonistic perspective which articulates a difference, heterogeneity and ambiguities of today’s world of deregulated finance, social conflict and depolarized, intellectual debate.
Castro and Ólafsson’s exhibition „Asymmetry“ is centred around the artists’ most recent on- going and research-based project „ThE riGHt tO RighT“, launched during the 7th Liverpool Biennial, 2012 and executed in their signature format of a campaign. A monumental neon sign reads alternately ThE riGHt tO RighT and ThE riGHt tO WrOnG, thus questioning the essence of the (human) right itself, its habit and rhetoric as well as its ownership and belonging. „Right“ and „Wrong“ blur, as if producing yet another paradigm of political behavior, discipline and ethics. The project’s Liverpool iteration is accompanied by a free newspaper which features an essay by British writer and philosopher Nina Power, who, in a dialogue with the artists, deconstructs a „Universal Declaration of Human Rights“ and replaces it with a philosophy of wrong and its brand new manifesto – „The Partial Declaration of Human Wrongs“.
Castro and Ólafsson’s exhibition „Asymmetry“ acts as a laboratory where yet another stage of „ThE riGHt tO RighT“ is going to be elaborated. Its Rotterdam-related edition focuses on a symposium in three chapters as well as a new issue of a newspaper, which will highlight the ambiguities of power relations that condition the city’s image, its reality and postindustrial status.
Collaborating since 1997, Castro & Ólafsson are based in Rotterdam and Berlin. In 2008 they participated in Manifesta7 with the video work “Caregivers”. Their music video “Lobbyists” was awarded Basis Prize of the prestigious Dutch art prize the Prix de Rome in 2009. Castro & Ólafsson represented Iceland in the 54th Venice Biennial, 2011 with the exhibition “Under Deconstruction”.
Saturday February 7 2013, 20.00 hrs
With a live performance of “Lobbyists” by Caroline Dalton and Rass Motivated
For their music video Lobbyists (2009) Castro & Ólafsson worked with British actress Caroline Dalton to perform a commissioned text by British reporter Tamasin Cave as a new song and the soundtrack to their video. In TENT Caroline Dalton will for the first time give a live performance of the audio track of Lobbyist together with Dutch reggae artist Rass Motivated.
SYMPOSIUM in Three Chapters (9 February, 13 March and 17 April) Chapter One: ASYMMETRY BEYOND ABSTRACTION
Saturday February 9 2013, 15.00-17.00 hrs
With Nina Power, Adam Budak and the artists
The exhibition is accompanied by a three-part symposium with a film program related to the port of Rotterdam. The first part of the symposium starts with a lecture by philosopher Nina Power. In her lecture, Power addresses the contemporary discourse around human rights from a philosophical perspective. The lecture is followed by a roundtable discussion with curator Adam Budak and the artists, on asymmetry as a dispositif of contemporary socio-political reality.
British philosopher, Nina Power is currently a Senior Lecturer in Philosophy at Roehampton University and co-editor of Alain Badiou’s On Beckett (Clinamen). She regularly writes opinion pieces for The Guardian and wrote the books One-Dimensional Woman (2009) and Mary Wollstonecraft: A Vindication of the Rights of Women (2010).