Landscapes of Uncertainty
It has become our habit and our ambition to answer all questions immediately, to access comprehensive information on any conceivable subject within seconds, to find definitions, separate the true from the false and form opinions. We follow the news and marvel at what happens elsewhere. We plan appointments and trips. We coordinate and synchronise. We regularly pay insurance and invest our money prudently. For later. These everyday behaviours are often connected to anxieties – the fear of change, of the uncontrolled, uncertain. Although, of course, there is hardly anything as certain as change.
The point of departure for examining the topic of “Uncertainty” during this festival was our cooperation with focus artist, William Kentridge. The South African draughtsman, film maker, performer and director speaks of uncertainty and provisionality to describe his process-based working methods in the studio. This is not just expression of an artistic strategy, however, but also a particular way of looking at the world. Against the backdrop of South African history and present times, continual transformation runs through Kentridge’s oeuvre. Seeing uncertainty or doubtfulness less as a threat than a fact of life seems to be more common in other parts of the world than it is in Central Europe. At the same time, however, the question of how to deal with the uncertainty of social and political realities is becoming increasingly urgent.
We discussed this subject with many artists and colleagues, and so several projects presented at this festival will look at conditions and landscapes of uncertainty: For their documentary production “Zvizdal” , for example, the company BERLIN, repeatedly visited an elderly couple living an isolated life, surrounded by invisible radioactive radiation in a ghost village near Chernobyl. Dries Verhoeven’s video installation “Guilty Landscapes – episode II” examines the relationship between images broadcast by the media, of people in ravaged and precarious environments, and the looks cast by their viewers in the “first world”. These works, and several others, are part of the night exhibition “Uncertain Places”, which will guide our visitors through the depths of the nocturnal theatre building. The nocturnal and its relation with fear will play a central part both in “Sleepless Nights” featuring Jarvis Cocker and in Forced Entertainment’s “From The Dark”. By day and by night, the Nature Theater of Oklahoma and their accomplices will set out to shoot a science fiction film at various locations throughout the city, often finding themselves in impossible situations from the year 2071.
In addition to the artistic programme, we have invited artists and academics to join us for the symposium “Landscapes of Uncertainty” and to introduce perspectives and strategies for dealing with uncertainty and doubtful situations. Helga Nowotny will open the afternoon’s events with a lecture on the significance of uncertainty in science and art. This will be followed by artistic-discursive contributions by Armin Chodzinski, the Laboratory of Insurrectionary Imagination, Johannes Paul Raether a.k.a. Protektorama and Peter Galison, as well as a conversation between William Kentridge and Peter Galison.