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this is tomorrow

Alessandro Balteo-Yazbeck

Chronoscope, 1952 or 1953, 11pm. (I) (detail), 2012-2017

Cohen's films of a very contemporary situation whose full ramifications are yet to be seen is counterposed by Alessandro Balteo-Yazbeck & Media Farzin's film Chronoscope, 1951, 11pm (2009-11), which observes a less recent historical period with disturbing resonance today, namely the situation post-World War II concerning the Middle East. The historical footage shows a very early American television talk-show in which various British and American players (politicians, diplomats, academics, businessmen, etc.) discuss the situation regarding oil, particularly in Iran. The contemporary pertinence of their discussion is alarming given that it appears little has changed (we're still squabbling for oil), even if the imperialist motives are less explicit in the twenty-first century. Chronoscope also gives us a very early example of television, from a time before everyone had television, which comes to serve as a kind of omen brought forward to the present. This omen is not solely for what was to come geopolitically, but also what mass media was to mean for the way people receive and process political information and situations, how they relate to them and how they enact their own political existence. Balteo-Yazbeck and Farzin's film seems to beg the question: which is now the ideology, the content of the screen or the screen itself?

Everything Falls Apart is an incisive take on the complexities of political systems and ideologies and the various ways artists are considering recent and not-so-recent histories in light of the current situation. The message coming from Artspace at the moment is that they are certainly not pretending to provide a solution to our conundrum, but are definitely pushing hard to interrogate, inform and be somehow agonistic, to take a stance and say 'no' – in a moment where, at least in this Biennale environment, there is a bit too much head-nodding going on.

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