exhibitions

BIG IDEAS
Political Ideologies and their Aftermath

Sarri Elfaltouri, Soukaina Joual, Yoshinori Niwa, Kosta Tonev

06/12/2020 – 30/01/2021 

curated by Christine Bruckbauer and Elisabeth Piskernik

Venue: philomena+ project room, vitrine and garden, 

Heinestraße 40/7, 1020 Vienna

Kosta Tonev, Dolls, video still, © the artist

The exhibition project BIG IDEAS deals with political ideologies and concepts for a better world. Often it was revolutionaries with promising visions, who gained a large number of followers, seized power and finally made their ideas the political programme of their country. They mostly failed and left a society in ruins. BIG IDEAS brings together artists from several continents. Two of them are witnesses of failed regimes themselves. But all have been engaging in the subject for several years.

Sarri Elfaitouri, “Radical Libyanism”, series of 10 digital collages

The series “Radical Libyanism” by Sarri Elfaitouri showcases possible causes for the catastrophe, incoherence, and chaos in today’s Libya. The 24-year-old artist with an architectural and philosophical background reinterprets these attributes into new urban landscapes. Instead of fading them out, Sarri Elfaitouri incorporates them into his collages consisting of neatly arranged living environments with golden backgrounds. “Radical Libyanism” is not only a critique of the radical Gaddafi era, but also a radical representation of today’s Libyan ideology.

Kosta Tonev, “Dolls”, video installation

Kosta Tonev’s artistic practice is characterized by a research-based examination of political issues. While in recent years it was the entry of liberal capitalism into the former “Second World” that was his interest, the Bulgarian-born artist, who lives in Vienna, now looks beyond Europe for this exhibition and delivers a play in which Mao and Gaddafi resurrect as mass-produced toy figures. In a turbulent, humorous conversation, the chairman and colonel reflect on their past rule, American imperialism, revolutionary ideas, and the fact that they may find themselves on the wrong side of history. There is also a competition in terms of the relevance/uniqueness of their ideas.

Soukaina Joual, “The Arab World as Pieces of Meat”, wall painting, executed by Thaer Maarouf

Strongly inspired by the world of butchery and the matter of meat itself, the Moroccan artist Soukaina Joual uses strange, disturbing and seductive images from slaughterhouses to question socio-political connections and grievances. Her wall painting “The Arab World as Pieces of Meat” in the exhibition depicts the Arab world through the figure of an ox. The ox, a symbol of strength, but also of submission and passivity, ready to be cut into numerous pieces.
Soukaina Joual’s painting refers also the Berlin Conference in 1885, at which the European states divided the African continent among them like pieces of meat only to then brutally exploit the colonized states. The artist refers to the consequences that are still visible today and criticizes a system that turned a region into a battlefield of extremist ideologies through political machinations.

Yoshinori Niwa, “Releasing Euro Banknotes into the Danube River and Looking for them as Lost Items in the Countries Downstream, 2020“, bill board, philomena+ garden

Yoshinori Niwa’s works carry self-explanatory slogan-like titles and are mainly installed on the street and in public spaces. In recent years the artist has explored the history of communism and has been involved in projects that explore the nature of national history. Among his most famous works are, “Looking for Vladimir Lenin in Moscow Apartments”, 2012, and “Withdrawing Adolf Hitler from a Private Space”, created for the art festival steirischer herbst in 2018.

For BIG IDEAS, Yoshinori Niwa is starting a new billboard series in the public space of Vienna, with slogans inspired by Muammar al Gaddafi’s vision of a society without wage labour and the incident of 100.000 Euros found by Vienna police floating in the Danube.

artists

SARRI ELFAITOURI

Born in Benghazi in 1996 and again lives there, working as an architect, conceptual artist and curator. He studied Architecture and Urban Planning at Girne American University in Northern Cyprus. In 2019, he founded the Tajarrod Architecture and Art Foundation in Benghazi. The focus of his work ranges from socio-cultural issues to abstract experimentation, seen through a critical and philosophical lens. He switches between research, theoretical writing, theoretical architectural projects, art curation, collage art and performance art. He has published theoretical projects online and participated in several art exhibitions.

SOUKAINA JOUAL

Born in Fez in 1990 and lives in Rabat, where she works as a multi-disciplinary artist. She graduated from the National Institute of Fine Arts in Tetouan, Morocco, in 2011. Most of the artist’s projects reflect her commitment to various forms of presence, and how she shifts between visibility and invisibility, belonging and absence. Soukaina Joual has participated in various projects in institutions and spaces in Morocco, Germany, France, Austria, Japan, Egypt, Tunisia, Jordan, and South Korea.

YOSHINORI NIWA

Born in Aichi prefecture in Japan in 1982 and currently lives and works in Vienna. He studied at the Department of Moving Images and Performing Arts at Tama Art University, Tokyo. In early 2000, he began his career as a performance artist. Soon he also started to produce documentary-style videos. He has participated in numerous exhibitions around the globe, including: steirischer herbst (Graz), Kunstpalast (Düsseldorf), Mori Art Museum (Tokyo), The Moscow Museum of Modern Art (Moscow), Edel Assanti (London), Satoko Oe Contemporary (Tokyo), 1335MABINI (Manila), and Galerie Zimmermann Kratochwill (Graz).

KOSTA TONEV

Born in Plovdiv in 1980 and now lives and works in Vienna. He received a BA from the National Academy of Art in Sofia and a MA from the Academy of Fine Arts in Vienna. Recent projects include the web-based work “Late Night in Sorrento” hosted by Akademie Schloss Solitude in Stuttgart and ZKM | Center for Art and Media in Karlsruhe (2020). Other events he has participated in include: “Red Vienna” at the Wien Museum MUSA in Vienna (2019), “So Far, So Right” at Kuandu Museum of Fine Arts in Taipei (2018), “Black Quarry” at Corner College in Zurich (2017), “I and the Others” at Museum der Moderne Salzburg in Salzburg (2014), “Contemporary Icons” at the Webster University in St. Louis (2012) and “Why Duchamp?” at the Museum for Contemporary Art in Sofia (2012).

“Big Ideas”, exhibition view, photos by Bárbara Palomino Ruiz, Yoshinori Niwa and philomena+ 2020 © the artists
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