The documentary filmmaker duo of Lucien Castaing-Taylor and Verena Paravel specialize in films that have no apparent storyline, no beginning, ending and no script nor narration. Known as anthropological artists, their films of raw images and sounds from the chosen environments speak for themselves to the subject matter at hand.
But they are not traditional anthropologists who study cultures of ancient tribes in distant lands, nor are they standard documentarians since their films don’t have any interviews, scripts or storylines. They can however, be considered socially conscious artists who use images and sounds to highlight peculiar sectors of society and in so doing, question our own existential meaning.
The paintings of Albanian artist Edi Hila depict street scenes of his home country in transition as it changes from a closed economy to a market based one. With reserved, pastel colours, these paintings provoke viewers to the issues and absurdities surrounding an Albania in development through surreal concoctions of what would be otherwise a mundane daily sight.
Aristide Antonas is a Greek architect that creates ‘speculative’ architectural proposals that comment and critique on social issues surrounding Greece and our contemporary existential meaning. Another way of looking at it, is that he is actually an artist that uses architecture as a means to express his views on society and life, in particular the Greek society of late.
“But we could form landscape languages of remains and see how we can live next to them.” Aristide Antonas
Weak Monument Square (2013) was a design competition entry to create a ‘city square’ or an urban park in the middle of Athens by clearing out several blocks of buildings and surrounding it with scaffolding and fabric; an urban monument by demolition. Its idea was borne from economic collapse; with rows of empty shops on the streets in Athens, Antonas proposed to demolish it all and turn the land into an park.
Georgian artist Vajiko Chachkhiani takes physical pieces from his country and displays them as sculptures in the purified white box environment of art galleries of the west. Many times these involve performances in relation to these pieces, documenting the void left behind in the absence of the performer afterwards. While this can be applied by anyone to anything, it takes on an added relevance in Chachkhiani’s case as he has re-contextualized himself in the process.
By leaving his country to go to another one (Germany in his case), the emptiness and detachment he felt can be more easily translated and understood in these objects. On a metaphysical level, they raise questions about the permanence and ephemerality of supposedly solid, immovable structures.
“The body is fluid, it can move. It can go from place to place. It can travel. And this is what he is really excited about. It is being fluid, being like water in the landscape. ” Nikhil Chopra
Indian artist Nikhil Chopra’s live-drawing performances fuse acting, painting and living together, delving into and dissolving traditional boundaries or long held societal notions, resulting in a reflection on life and our existential modus operandi. Shifting between multiple personas, often within a single performance, he questions the mainstream position on issues such as race and gender identities, the mundane and the artistic, or national and personal cultural histories. In these silent but simultaneously outrageous and absurd part-autobiographical performances, we have a glimpse of his inner thoughts and in turn understand ourselves a bit better.
In Inside Out (2012), Nikhil Chopra goes to San Gimignano, Italy, a picturesque medieval town, to do a landscape painting performance for 99 hours, as various personas of Yog Raj Chitrakar; a character loosely based upon his grandfather Yog Raj Chopra, in a pilgrimage of life.