The exhibition "Watergate" in the framework of the cooperation of OSTRALE with the European Capital of Culture Rijeka 2020 was originally planned to take place on site in Croatia from the 15th of August to the 10th of October this year.

However, the current worldwide Corona pandemic challenges many cultural institutions, including ours. Thanks to the great opportunities offered by the digital age, we are proud to present our international artists and their beautiful artworks here on our website in the form of an online exhibition instead.

"Watergate", from water to land, from land to water, always dependent on water, the gateway to humanity, the gateway to settlement and migration that has always been present, and the gateway to work and to world trade and its global challenges, including the feministic "WomanIsm"-movements in the fields of work and socialisation.

For the European Capital of Culture Rijeka 2020 we orient the concept of the digital exhibition to our main theme „isms" of the OSTRALE Biennale O19. We relate this main theme to the core topics of Rijeka 2020 – work, migration and water – under the title „Watergate". In this way, a profound relationship can be established between the topics of the OSTRALE and the identity of Rijeka.

Curators: Syowia Kyambi, Antka Hofmann, Toni Sant, Andrea Hilger

(video works can be seen below with descriptions)

Austin Camilleri (*1972 / MT)

Bandiera Bianca I Film/Installation I run time: 03:07 min (loop) I 2018

Drawing mainly on Western art history, popular culture and power image traditions, Austin Camilleri explores the tension between the material and the digital, the personal and public, by layering techniques and modalities. This work stems from a long-standing research into the manifestation of power, the limits and concessions that power exerts and the fallibility of its dogmatic notions. In a crucial time for the mediterranean and the diplomatic stresses it creates, „Bandiera Bianca" is a work that metaphorically captures both the wait and the loss. It juxtaposes found and newly produced footage to create tension, both visually and poetically, by merging opposed associations. The video work is in constant dialogue with the sculptural object, „Hope", a propeller gilt in 22 carat gold. The latter is a real propeller from a migrants' sunk boat.

Stef Fridael and Wim Vonk (*1957, *1950 / NL)

Babbelonië, a Metaphysical Installation (AIR) I Installation / 2018

In studying the theme of the Artist in Residence project of the OSTRALE during the summer of 2018, Fridael and Vonk asked themselves the following questions: „What has disappeared from our lives since the advent of (social) media? What are the things we have stopped doing and what will never happen again? What does our life look like after the recent developments in (social) media? What does our social life look like after the digital media revolution?" The answers to these questions arrive in the form of an installative artwork installation that can be best described as: „Registration of Seals from Analog to Digital". The idea to link two completely different artists, unknown to each other, to create an impressive artwork together, has come into its own here. Both artists have managed to find each other excellently in the intellectual, emotional and artistic fields.

Michael Heindl (*1988 / AT)

Budget Rebellion I Film I 2017

The starting point of Heindl's work is an examination of the characteristics and parameters that determine human action in our postmodern society. As a result, public space is an important working environment for him, physical urban space as well as media and virtual space. He is interested in these places as spaces for negotiation where all sections of a society meet. These are environments where people have to decide continuously on the nature of their coexistence. Prevailing laws and structures are intended to simplify individual decisions and make them more predictable.
The artist tries to create moments that result in an interruption of conventional processes. In this way, for the most part, he implements his ideas in the form of targeted actions and interventions.

Studio Kawakeb (Hussein Nakhal, David Habchy, Christin Skaf) (LB)

sorry i drowned I Film/Installation I run time: 06:35 min (loop) I 2017

The world has catastrophically failed the millions of people currently fleeing war, persecution and despair. The politics of calculation won out over the moral and legal obligations to offer protection and assistance to those in need. Like a contagious disease, walls, fences and restrictive border measures rampantly spread, causing countless thousands of people to die on land or at sea. This animated film, created by the Beirut-based Studio Kawakeb and Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF), is inspired by a letter allegedly found on the body of someone who drowned in the Mediterranean Sea, a victim of the prevailing cynical politics of our day. While we may not know of the truth behind the letter and who wrote it, we do know that what it depicts is a reality. This reality cannot continue. In 2016, more than 20,000 people were rescued by MSF.

Read the text of the poem here

Carolin Koss (*1986 / DE, FI)

Growth (ENVIRONMENTALISM) I Film, Installation I run time: 11:38 min I 2015

Koss' work is characterized by a subtle reinterpretation of references to art history and contemporary culture. With a penetrating gaze, Koss examines a highly complex form of subjectivity. She interrogates the mechanics of humanity and ecology, sociological questions pertaining to the human condition, as well as the dynamics of power in today's society. Koss' works generate a multi-layered, lyrical, euphoric and yet thought-provoking energy going far beyond conventional video and digital artistic working methods and they are often presented in the form of an installation. (Art Productions, New York)

Hanna Nitsch (*1974 / DE)

meaning of aspects #1 (AIR) I Film, Installation I 2018

In the project „meaning of aspects #1", Hanna Nitsch deals with role models, fragmented identities and physical perception in an increasingly digitized world. This is a very personal confrontation with the question of our justifications for existence and with the possibility of us being many different people at once and yet being none at the same time. Are we creating digital identities because we can never fulfill these identities in real life? Do we lose ourselves in the thousand variations of our own ego? During the intensive work process, the container has lost its anonymous functionalism and has become a projection screen for individual desires and needs. The result is a special form of „digital self-portrait", which questions artistic existence as well as the fragility of human life in general, incorporating the container as a kind of „third place".

Praxis für alternative Handlungen (Lucas Oertel & Heinz Schmöller) (*1983 / DE & *1975 DE)

Interventionen in der Peripherie I Installation I 2018

This video installation is the result of several trips to the countryside at the edge of town. Locations discovered in the process were staged using materials available on the site as objects or installations. The screens, positioned together, visibly connected with cables and equipped with media players, show several of the staged locations and interventions as moving and fixed pictures (video loops). The different situations of light and natural sounds intensify the connection to the different scenes. Looking at the screens, you can observe them as if through the windows of a technical control room.

Aleksandar Radan (*1988 / DE, RS)

this water gives back no images I Film, Installation I 2018

In Radan's works, one often encounters stereotypical, pre-programmed gestures of digital avatars that oscillate between the authenticity of life and the artificially unhinged. These are manipulated in game mods and supplemented by an improvisational moment: Radan's films are mostly played live in altered computer game environments that the artist has previously and deliberately altered or designed as his „stage set". By intervening in the game software's databases, game modding makes it possible, for example, to rewrite the visual surface textures or the sound of a game, thus transforming it into an artistically malleable material. In Radan's experimental short films, the programmed meets the improvised, the preset is confronted with the spontaneous action of the artist - who is also the player - in the virtual environment.

Ulrike Schüchler (*1962 / DE)

OM(G)_2.0 I Installation I 2018

ANAFORA is a Coptic monastic center in the northern desert area of Islamic-Arab Egypt, near Cairo. Terrorist attacks against the Coptic minority are frequent in the region. Despite these violent attacks, life in ANAFORA is led according to the concept of peaceful coexistence and tolerance. Every day at dawn in ANAFORA the songs of Coptic liturgy intertwine with the ancient call of the muezzin. This acoustic juxtaposition creates an impressive sound-space in which many visitors, villagers and employees participate. The video installation OM(G)_2.0 takes up the interweaving and merging of the most diverse religious rituals, and places them in the context of increasingly uncompromising and violent attitudes.

Adnan Softić (*1975 / BA, DE)

Bigger Than Life I Film I run time: 30:00 min I 2018

In Skopje, there is a government plan costing several hundred million euros to create a brand new, ancient city center. The project is called „Skopje 2014". So far, some thirty government buildings and museums, as well as countless monuments in the classical style, have been erected in the Macedonian capital, in an attempt to put Skopje on a par with Rome and Athens. A city looks for a future in history – Macedonia is inventing itself as a nation with historical status based on a model of a sense of antiquity that is largely fictional. Would that be something new? Will we buy that (hi)story?
In „Bigger Than Life", present-day Skopje becomes an archaeological dig. We can follow in real time how history is made, how antiquity is constructed, how historical singularities are manufactured via mimicry, and how the boundary between truth and falsification becomes blurred the minute something is recorded often enough on postcards.