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This programme investigates the notion of austerity as a creative tool for visual experimentation and social analysis. Incorporating what Hito Steyerl names as “lumpen proletarian” visual imaginary and internet byproducts, the films presented in this programme criticize the pristine visuality of mainstream culture in a tongue-in-cheek manner. It can be read as a parody of the recessional aesthetics of the new conservative measures as well as a critique of the previous liberal policies that stimulated a high-paced consumerism and that ultimately led to the present state of affairs.

Now Showing: Austerity Measures presents an inventory of poor materials and marginal techniques (e.g. low-res found footage, visual and sonic noise, compression, reformatting, repetition and web camera recordings) used internationally by contemporary artists. These works are examples of new filmic languages and textures that use and reflect contemporary visual imaginary and social contexts becoming an artistic response against the commercialisation and institutionalisation of digital arts and the internet. These images that Steyerl identifies as being in the process of losing its visual substance and that uncover hidden political subtexts may then be also related to the current period of recession and likewise their ubiquity could be linked to the pervasiveness of the international austerity.

Now Showing: Austerity Measures presents films whose aesthetics are ordinarily found on the internet and have been appearing in contemporary art frameworks but are still rare in screening presentations. In that sense it also questions the experience of the public in the auditorium by presenting films whose visual forms and narrative contents are usually experienced, or rejected, in private contexts or museum/gallery installations, where the viewer can more easily control their reproduction and reception. The loss of power arising from these new conditions of spectatorship underlines the specificities of both the white cube and the black box while stimulating a scrutiny of the image that according to Steyerl could circulate in the private context without ever being thought about.

Ideally this programme would have a reduced duration of approximately 50 minutes, pointing out and subverting the short attention span of the internet user and humorously quoting recession discourses related to budget cuts.


Andrey Shental, Joao Laia

"Something really baffled me at this screening, which was presented by the young curators Joao Laia and Andrey Shental: first, most of the programme consisted of downloaded clips and, second, I have rarely been to a more packed screening. Is the new generation of downloaders, post-Tarantino non-linear Final Cut Pro editors, 'poor image' producers/users replacing the old cinephiles who grew up with new realist cinema, montage theory and strips of celluloid? Are the new wavers surfing the internet rather than Nouvelle Vague?​"


Maxa Zoller for Art Monthly, No. 363, January 2013

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