The National Museum of Contemporary Art, Athens, on the 11th of May inagurated the new work A Clean Slate by xurban_collective in the framework of the series EMST Commissions 2010, new works commissioned by the museum for the Project Room realized with the kind support of Bombay Sapphire gin.
In a moment when the financial phenomenon of both market liberation on a global scale and the establishment of unified rules for the financial life, as well as the repercussions of the phenomenon called globalisation, is one of the most important issues of our time, the xurban_collective explicitly states, from the opening sentence of its manifesto, that “globalisation was a lie”. During the past decade, the xurban_collective, which consists of artists, designers and theorists, has produced a series of works, through which its members voice their doubts about the repercussions of globalisation and investigate the contemporary strategies of exclusion and containment, as well as the phenomenon of gentrification. Their artistic activities rest on collective practice, which aims at the production of thematic works with a socio-political character.
More recently, their research focused on the transformations of the areas around the ports of the urban centres. A Clean Slate is a follow-up of the research begun by the artists in 2009 with the projects The Cracked Sea of Marble, which focused on the Sea of Marmara, and La Ville Blanc, which focused on the Mediterranean seas and ports. Having travelled in the past few years in various city ports, and also having studied the socio-political conditions prevailing in these areas, the xurban_collective is producing a work in which the sea becomes the locus of the global market. By investigating the different conditions prevailing in ports across the Mediterranean, the artists are identifying an urban model involving the development of large commercial and housing areas which are under construction. As a result of these findings, the artists conceived La Ville Blanc, which was presented in the beginning of the year in Marseilles. During their visit to Athens and the port of Piraeus, made while preparing their new project for the Museum, the xurban_collective observed that the above condition does not fit well with the central port of the Greek capital.
In La Ville Blanc, the artists are interested not only in the neo-liberal practices and applications of globalisation that they saw in several of the ports they visited, but also in the sea as a transmitter of history and culture and as a source of biological richness. Thus, in their new project for Athens, the xurban_collective regards the sea as the place on which sail containers full of merchandise, and, at the same time, as the place on which sail refugee boats. In their new media installation presented at the Museum, the artists are dealing with the above topics through videos and photographs shot during their on-site research in the ports of Piraeus, Marseilles, Nice, New York and Istanbul. The installation consists of pedestals of variable dimensions, on which are placed about 4,000 photographs depicting various marine subjects, as well as details from containers and cargo ships. Two more videos with images from the commercial activities in ports and the flow of people in the urban globalised centres are also presented here. The third video of the installation presents the artists’ text that accompanies their research.
Curated by Daphne Vitali
Xurban_collective is an international art collective founded in 2000. xurban_collective has members located in Izmir, Istanbul, Linz and New York City. Core members of the group are Guven Incirlioglu and Hakan Topal, whose transatlantic collaborations take the form of media projects and installations. Its mission is to instigate the questioning, examination, and discussion of contemporary politics, theory, and ideology, utilizing documentary photography, video, and text. The collective focuses specifically on areas of regional conflicts, military spatial confinement, urban segregation and “neo-liberal” exclusion strategies.
With the kind support of