Monday, 31 August 2015

Silverlake by Alexandra Navratil at Colomboscope
Swiss artist Alexandra Navratil invited to participate at the Colomboscope Festival in August 2015.

For the third edition of the multidisciplinary arts festival COLOMBOSCOPE, the group exhibition Shadow Scenes curated by Natasha Ginwala and Menika Van der Poorten engages the post-war city Colombo through aspects of urbanization, displacement, gender, ethnicity and sexuality while undertaking a cinematic reading of modernity as a resonant field of violence.

When: 21 - 30 August 2015
Where: Colombo
Curated by Natasha Ginwala and Menika Van der Poorten
Artists: Bani Abidi, Sven Augustijnen, Pedro Gomez-Egana, Camille Henrot, Susanne Kriemann, Lucy Skaer, Agnieszka Polska, Mahbubur Rahman, Jimmy Robert, Anri Sala, Susanne Winterling, among others

Video HD, colour/sound, ca. 12 min, 2015 
3 pigment and silkscreen prints 
Alexandra Navratil 

Artist's statement
I am currently producing a new single channel video-piece titled Silverlake, that will premiere at the Colomboscope Festival. This new work is a continuation of an ongoing investigation and is derived from my previous research, which divulges the history of the chemical industry, the material properties of photographic emulsion and the violence inflicted on bodies and landscapes by industrial production. 

The video will be accompanied by a series of 3 pigment and silkscreen prints, which will consist of collages from different microscopic images of silver halides. 

Silverlake will depart from a series of events and their consequent media coverage that took place in Germany just before the reunification in 1988/89. The stories that went through the press became well-known under the name of Silbersee (Silverlake) and reported on the catastrophic consequences from years of highly contaminated waste-water irrigation by the Agfa-Orwo company on the Print date 5/30/2015 / Shadow Scenes, Colomboscope 2015 2 environment and the inhabitants of the area of Bitterfeld Wolfen. Silbersee was a highly polluted lake in Bitterfeld, which had originally been a coal mine and had helped to fuel the rapid industrial development of the area at the beginning of the 20th Century. Later it was gradually filled with chemical wastewaters from the surrounding factories. Scarceness in resources and fluctuating prices of raw materials during different historical periods, forced Agfa-Orwo to recycle old films by washing off the emulsion and reusing the film base. By 1988, the lake was the most contaminated place in the whole of Germany. The silver halides, one of the main components of photographic and filmic production, gave the lake its enigmatic name.

I would like to use this historical pretext to develop a fictionalised and speculative narrative, linking thoughts on deferred violence, contamination and embodied memory in a poetic way. This narrative will not recapitulate the story of Afga-Orwo or focus specifically on the German context, but wishes to contemplate these concepts in a more universal manner. In my narration, which forms the ground structure of the video piece, we follow tiny silver fragments of filmic memory as they are washed off the film base, are poured out into the surrounding landscape, seep into the groundwater and are absorbed by plants, animals and inhabitants, becoming embodied and turning the whole environment into a photosensitive plate. This fictionalised account will be interlaced with scientific, medical information and facts and the imagery used for the video will stem largely from the media images that circulated in 1988/89 in the German and International Press

Alexandra Navratil 

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