The multimedia installation is a take-it-or-leave-it genre. When done right, it can be insightful and moving. When gone awry, it amounts to clutter and noise. My two favorite pieces from this summer were excellent installations.
The Southern Russia Biennale space in Rostov-on-Don was dominated by the provocative “Training Ground” by Stepan Subbotin (Степан Субботин, Тренировочная Площадка) of the ZIP Collective in Krasnodar. Political, economical and cultural expansion of the European Union is seen as a technical matter of skilled outmaneuvering and acquisition by force; perfecting the European brand as a matter of physical and psychological breeding; colonialism as a form of martial arts. This one is a discussion starter for sure!
A piece by Marissa Lobo (Austria-Brazil) stood out at the Secession Wien “Where Do We Go From Here” exhibition. “Iron Mask, White Torture” consists of installation, video projection and performance. Drawing from historic records of Anastacia, the enslaved woman who was subjected to brutal silencing by her captors, Lobo’s work is a powerful testament to inhumanity of racism, injustice of systematic marginalization and relentless power of resistance by people of color in Brazil and throughout the world, which continues today.
If you have access to any exhibition space (particularly at colleges), I strongly encourage you to lobby for these installations to come on display.