Sunday, 26 June 2016

EURO | phonia



EURO|PHONIA is a curatorial partnership between myself, Maisie Linford & Giulia Colletti on the 2016 Referendum, when Britain decided to leave the European Union.

The aim was to establish a platform, to further understand the cultural shift in Britain's membership within the union, witnessed in Europe recent years in Europe. We collected official campaign materials and selected five artists, from Eastern and Southern European backgrounds — whose images struck us with their strength and ability to represent this subtle transition event — to offer a challenging and distinct perspective to the issue.

Working with Lőrinc Borsos, Dániel Halász, Núria Güell, Gabriella Csoszó, Therethere, and guest artists: Elisa D’Ippolito Wolfgang Tillmans we re-framed the campaign, taking it away from statistics and lies. We believe art should be a place to facilitate debate and provoke discussions. Artistic language has the power to shape society, so we used this means to empower, inform and engage voters. Our goal as curators is to promote a socially engaged project with the EU citizens at the centre. During the months leading to the UK Referendum, we tried to build up a double network: a virtual and a physical one. This was particularly relevant to the shift in campaigning approaches within the referendum that became as relevant on and offline, and a chance to discover a world where a constant stream of opinion becomes a necessity. With the object of a telephone later used to analyse the evolution of campaign strategies. 

EUROPHONIA was a social experiment conceived to always be held within a Central London phone box. This allowed us to be routed within an object of British Heritage and Visual Identity and also to engage an audience on an individual basis. As an alternative phone poll, we gathered the mood of a random selection of voters based on what they told in that instant. As an alternative vote, we invited them inside, whether they could vote in the real referendum or not. The voter could contribute to the project and respond to the artists’ work, by submitting postcards to the “ballot box”. They were given a greater freedom and space to share and spread thoughts, beyond the restrictive “X” or limited voting rights. In this way Europhonia became a project made by anyone who enthusiastically decided to be part of it, whether that be the artists contributing work or the passers-by that sent a postcard.


Sample of Artist Biographies & Interviews

BORSOS LORINC




Borsos Lorinc is the imaginary child of Janos BORSOS and Lilla LORINC, who exists outside of gender, age or sex and since forming has been awarded, amongst others Strabag Award 2008, Esterházy Painting Prize 2010. The pair came together to form hybrid artist Lorinc Borsos whilst studying MA Graphic Design and Painting at University of Fine Arts in Painting in 2008 and have continued to practise as this entity in Budapest since.

During the first five years of its artistic career, Borsos Lorinc focused on examining the possibilities of a self-reflective national identity. Following this period they reflected on the dark, unjust side of history through self-observation. Their trademark is the shiny black substance derived from black
enamel paid. Flags has been a series in continuous development since 2010, that marks a blurring of these two themes and approaches. The works of art are at the same time abstract images and pieces of lego with national symbols. Formulas of tolerance, in terms of the community suffering manoeuvres
of the political reigning systems and the symbolic compensation of the individual are apparent in the matching of the flags. In this, there is a display of identity forms, beyond national belonging.

The recently exhibited Language of Flowers, twisted expectations of political art and aesthetics. The exhibition displayed thirteen politicized flowers, the paintings beautiful and yet making no distinction
between the different documents connected to the paintings; real, authenticated historical documents featured in the exhibition as equally important and authentic as the fictional newspaper articles, blog posts or pseudo-scientific documents based on Wikipedia articles and botanical studies.
There was an approach to bury the exhibited flower paintings beneath all the complementary information, political interests, revolutions, historical associations and economic aspects linked to them.



We have invited them to place the EU in the Dark/Dark in EU Flags within the context of the European referendum. In doing this, amongst the official campaign materials, their is an opportunity to unearth some of the truths of the debate. In negotiating the national identity and sovereignty of Britain the national identity of a European Union superstate has become the enemy, one clouded in mystery and suspicion. The piece is in no way European Propaganda but suggests a position, if we are to regard Britain in relation to the EU as the iconic dark black square to argument of Yanis Varafakos “rather than escaping the EU, Brexit will keep you tied to a Europe that is nastier, sadder and increasingly dangerous to itself, to you indeed to the rest of the planet”.Visitor Responses.



Maisie Linford


Maisie Linford: How would you like voters in the UK to perceive your work in relation to the European Referendum?

Borsos Lorinc: To be honest, for us as artists maybe it would not change things that much. But that is not the point. We are struggling with our own isolation in a country where democracy is being demolished day by day. (We made a process-work on this topic called Immovable Land. Sometimes the last broken reed that we hold onto is that we are part of a bigger community, where democratic values matter, and hopefully things can still turn for the better, although our voting system has been also hacked by the government. They can do almost what they want, but the word almost is very important,
and I think that is there only because of the EU. We believe in long-term projects. The EU is a great, but not perfect experiment, which has improved our lives in so many ways we do not even recognize. We do not have a better option
yet, only worse, and you can not escape by going back. If the UK decided to leave, that would set a very dangerous example for those countries where the far right is getting stronger.

DANIEL HALASZ

 


Daniel Halasz (b.1981) is a Hungarian artist who graduated in 2011 with an MFA in Photography at Moholy-Nagy University of Art and Design, Budapest. He is currently based in New York, but has worked all over the world including the UK and Brussels. His early work examined, unearthed and re-evaluated the past, to place the present in a wider dimension of time and space, with a particular consideration of overlooked local, histories. In 2009 he was awarded First Prize for the Google/Saatchi Photography Prize for images of a secret prisoner of War camp in the Scottish Highlands and the European Commission’s Year of Creativity and Imagination Award, for his portfolio Imaginary Diary, that used the genre of the postcard as a reminder of the connection of the future world to that of the past. His work continues to confront global, local and personal boundaries and reimagines his subjects.

In 2015 he was awarded honourable mention for the International Photographer of the Year Award for a series of images, exploring national identity, placing himself within ethnic Udmurts family portraits, as Hungarians commonly pride themselves on the strength of their national ethnic identity as Finno-Ugric people, and in 2016 he was a Semi-finalist for the Museum of Sydney Head On Portrait Prize for ‘The Pearl of Africa’, portraits of children, taken during his time in Tanzania, Uganda and Rwanda, that are able to reveal a personal relationship and tell a story about the effects of global and local cultural, sociological and political interaction.

In 2010 his Homo Politicus series responded to the political ramifications of the Euro-crisis in the general election, which led to the collapse of the Hungarian Socialist Party and rise of the fascist and anti-Semitic discourse within mainstream politics. This marked a change in his approach to photography as a tool to examine and evaluate history in the making. The images of political posters erasing the political colours and campaign promises of the politicians removes their authority and validity, so that the viewer can perceive them and judge them as they might an ordinary person. 

We have invited him to revisit and reframe his Homo Politicus series alongside European Referendum campaign posters, in the form of posters and postcards. By exhibiting in this way, these images become performative, they offer a double take of reality to further challenge to the Brexit debate. Take one, is of the politicians that are foreign, unknown to many English citizens. Hungary is unfairly known to be one of the countries profiting most from the European Union, and so their is a fear of British pounds lining their pockets. Take two, Hungary is also the country most dissatisfied by the European Union, so these images are a warning against the rise of right wing nationalist parties, which in the wake of post-crash austerity are gaining momentum across Europe as well as across the world, and that discourse has not been lost in the EU Referendum debate.

Maisie Linford

Maisie Linford: With reference to Brexit debate, why do you think Britain would want to leave the EU and what input do you think artists could have on improving the electoral process? 

Daniel Halasz.: Artists potentially have the power to show social and political phenomena from a twisted perspective thus letting people realize that there is never a single truth about an issue. To put it in an idealistic way: artists can potentially open the eyes to new ways of seeing.

Further interviews and biographies are available on our issu 

Responses to the exhibition and postcards 
 








 more details on the exhibition and writing on the exhibition are on the tumblr 

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