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Das Weisse haus (“the white house”) - the platform for the presentation and production of Art, Dialogue and Discourse and an experimental site for exhibitions of contemporary artists and curators - presents “TRAVEL APPARATUS”: a screening program to selected destinations - uncommon, disorienting, totally immersive, but more importantly surprising - which reflects upon the fascination towards the standardized touristic experience in times of the global health threats posed by COVID-19, military regimes, the unnatural warming of the sea, immigrations, forgotten homes, while re-defining the role of the visitor and the exhibition’s format.

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From June 18, until August 20, 2020, every Thursday 12-9 pm, in Hegelgasse 14, Vienna, the video globe "TRAVEL APPARATUS” offers visitors the opportunity to travel to 34 destinations without leaving the exhibition space. But these are not instagrammable postcards destinations, magnificent but sterile places, without history, reclaimed and converted to touristic use. Explore the nocturnal context of an American landscape, only inhabited by numerous pans of shopping malls, created by Ben Bigelow in Ellipsis (loop, silent, 2012). A seamless shot, nearly 2 hours long, Intended to be projected near life-size at floor level, that makes us reflect on how the panorama of the city and the suburbs has been wildly shaped by our consumption, by the desire to have everything at hand, always. Is this the lonely and apocalyptic future that awaits us? Find yourself inside the big brother's Finland house of Israeli artist Yael Bartana (True Finn – Tosi Suomalainen, 2014) where the sense, contradictions and reversals of “Finnishness" is discussed. Observe Sri Lanka through the lens of an old watch-maker (Carolina Boettner, The old watch-maker, 2019): a voyage that extends the idea of time - a desire we often have when it comes to travel - articulated in images, text and subtitles which does not coincide with the original sound footage. 


Ben Bigelow, Ellipsis, 2012, Video Installation, 1 hour 48 minutes, Loop, (no audio) © Ben Bigelow.


Yael Bartana, still from “True Finn”, 2014, 50 min. Courtesy of the artist.


There are lyrical and imaginative journeys, to Thailand, the Pacific Ocean and 60 kilometres from Berlin. Unlike the detained animals - which feel frustrated and confused, after finding themselves alone in the Thai zoos -, portrayed by Danaya Chulphuthiphong (b. Thailand, 1981) in Demos, we, human beings, are enraptured by the hypnotic imagination and soundscape - devoid of dialogue, characters, and plot - of this enchanting movie. The heavenly atoll of Funafuti, in the archipelago of Tuvalu, can turn into a risky place, perpetually poised on the brink of extinction, in the flux of drought and floods, as the video That which is to come is just a promise, 2019, by the Italian film/video/new media collective Flatform shows. In the interior of Germany, there is a getaway to illusionary and artificial heaven, the Tropical Islands Resort - Europe’s largest tropical holiday world. Diving in the Lagoon or just relaxing on a white towel of a pristine beach, exploring the indoor rainforest - safe by distance! -, the video Alles Meins (2019) by Austrian Lisa Großkopf & Lena Schwingshandl sift the desire to create a genuine experience while preserving it from authenticity, travel and discovery.


Danaya Chulphuthiphong, Demos, 13 min., HD, 16:9, color, 2016. © Cargo Collective and the artist.


Flatform, Quello che verrà è solo una promessa (That which is to come is just a promise), 2019, 20 min. Courtesy Lo Schermo dell’arte Film Festival


But there are also trips of political denunciation. Barbados islands, April 2006. A ghost ship with eleven bodies, sun-dried and dehydrated, aboard - migrants from Senegal, Guinea Bissau and the Gambia who paid 990 euros for their place on the boat - was spotted drifting. Ayesha Hameed & Hamedine Kane, In the shadow of ghosts (2018), tell the brutal materiality of the ocean that separates and chains the bodies to the horror of a painful and infinite journey, to a future of slavery. The Colombian Picòs belong to slave trade times, as we learn from the documentary PICO: Un parlante de Africa en America (2017) by Invernomuto (founded in Italy in 2003) & Jim C. Nedd. The technicolour outdoor sound system culture, developed in Barranquilla since the 1950s, champions the Afro-Colombian sound, playing vinyl records of Congolese music, highlife and Afrobeat. Travelling means, above all, learning the political, cultural and musical kaleidoscopic aspects; hopefully, it does not mean to lock yourself in a luxury resort, that amplifies the comforts of home, and put your feet in fake sand or bathe in chlorine water.


Invernomuto & Jim C. Nedd, PICO: Un parlante de Africa en America, 2017, 60 min. Courtesy of the artists.


Fermín Jiménez Landa, El Nadador (The swimmer), 2013, 8:54 min. © Fermín Jiménez Landa.


Even if someone thought of crossing an entire country swimming in a river of swimming pools. Fermín Jiménez Landa, in El Nadador (The swimmer), drew a perfectly straight line of private pools from Tarifa (south of Spain) until the swimming pool of his parents in Pamplona (north of Spain). A liquid trajectory which rises a sobering thought. We still have many places to visit (Qatar, Palestine, China, Bolivia) - both physically and with the imagination of a “TRAVEL APPARATUS”- in order to understand the world we live in. Waiting to be able to do it again safely and in a sustainable way, we enjoy this tremendous possibility of departure. 

Cover image: Travel Apparatus, still from Lisa Großkopf & Lena Schwingshandl, Alles meins, 2019, 6 min., © Das Weisse Haus.

Written by Petra Chiodi

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