Until 21st May 2017
Reviewed by Samera Thalen
Image above: The Arabian Street Artists, Homeland is Not a Series, 2015. Graffiti in image reads ‘Homeland is Racist.’
In this group exhibition, curated by Annet Dekker and David Garcia at FACT in Liverpool, artists attempt to deconstruct pieces of our everyday reality in order to lay bare the power structures that are hidden beneath the surface. How Much of This Is Fiction focusses on the border between fiction and reality in our contemporary society. Do we know what the difference is between reality and fiction? The digital age that we are living in provides a platform for almost anyone with an opinion and internet access. Fake news, misinformation and tactical propaganda are an everyday reality.
The exhibition is divided into two areas: The Newsroom and The Guantanamo Bay Museum for Art and History. The Guantanamo Bay Museum contains a good example of the fusion between reality and fiction through an artwork by The Arabian Street Artists; Homeland is Not a Series, 2015. It contains a collection of photos taken from the set of the famous series Homeland. The artists managed to sneak subversive Arabic slogans on the walls of the set. The graffiti included ‘Homeland is Racist’ and ‘Homeland is a joke, and it didn’t make us laugh.’
Nobody seemed to notice until the series was aired worldwide and was watched by viewers who could read Arabic. The political prank became a media sensation called the ‘Homeland Hack.’ The Arabian Street Artists disagree with the message of Homeland because the show inaccurately portrays world events and they fear that this dangerous phantasm has become mainstream ‘knowledge.’
The artists that are represented in the exhibition How Much of This is Fiction are all artist-researchers and activists; their studied topics include; Guantanamo Bay, the workings of interrogations in prisons and the reality of state control through the use of drones.
In this exhibition they are called ‘Tricksters’ because the artists use tactical interventions with media technologies and show how they operate in a complex societal context. They are trying to re-imagine the space for progressive political interventions to invent new opportunities for progressive politics.
The works in this exhibition are hyper modern – there is no room for passive enjoyment of paintings. They show interactive works through video, archives and installations, where the viewer will take on the role of a researcher. The space is dark and is more akin to a cinema than a traditional white cube-space. There are a lot of sounds, it is chaotic but organised, and it is alive!
Some of the video works are up to an hour long, so take a full day (or multiple) to visit this excellent exhibition in FACT.
List of artists:
!Mediengruppe Bitnik, The Arabian Street Artists, Morehshin Allahyari, Paolo Cirio, Coco Fusco, Paul Garrin, Maia Gusberti, Julian Oliver and Danja Vasiliev, Ian Alan Paul, Superflux, UBERMORGEN, The Yes Men, HeHe, Ruben Pater, Robert Ochshorn & Wachter & Jud.
The website of the Guantanamo Bay Museum: www.guantanamobaymuseum.org