LATERNA MAGICA'S OPENING EVENT PHANTASMAGORIA
Official opening af Laterna Magica Museum for Visual Knowledge
with exhibition, performances, film screening and talk
PHANTASMAGORIA - stateless mind - performing for the lens
A multiple event exhibition about photographic strategy, the constitution of an image, and what it serves.
Part of the official program of The Culture Night (Kulturnatten)
The exhibition Phantasmagoria and the performance series Stateless Mind take us through a visual journey into the mental space of the imaginary. It negotiates and explores the territorial tension of images and their diverging interpretations at the crossroad of a tense contemporary geopolitical world.
The invited artists are involved in performative presentation, documentation, communication, and articulation. Their works reflect on distanced history and periodic visual memory to help us reconstruct the restless status of images, the imaginary, and the territoriality of difference and otherness.
In his 1990 book ‘Eye and Brain’ Richard Gregory wrote: “We are so familiar with seeing that it takes a leap of imagination to realize that there are problems to be solved.”
Throughout our history humans had to learn the process of walking, talking, how to write and read, but not how to see. Hence, unlike walking or reading, we are less aware of the many processes that contribute to what we see. Contemporary scholars in the field of visual communication remain determined to identify and describe these many processes. Among them are Walter Benjamin’s idea of the image and the imaginary.
From fiction to research to documentary, history is a construct of images attempting to define our perception of events. Images mediate between what is “real” and the construction of the narrative. Tactile or visual impressions intervene in the discourse that constantly shapes memory and transform space-time contexts in which the individual is inserted. From this perspective, images can be read differently depending on the context and audience, hence they become questionable and controversial.
In this regard, the ultimate quality of an image lies in its openness, its mutability, and eventually in its fragility. Images of important nature have the inherent quality to condense and transform cultural memory, to reflect the past into the present and inspire the future. Our visual memories are like images continuing to migrate through space and time. Sometimes they lead to their own destruction, while at others they bring about their own process of resurrection. For most surviving images known across time, however, their geniuses and roles will always be questioned.
Opening: 11 October at 18:00 - 24:00
Exhibition: 12 - 25 October at 13:00 - 17:00
Artists & Organizers
Behzad Khosravi Noori
Dalida Maria Benfield
Ib Melchior Compilation
Knud Vormstrup Madsen
Lilibeth Cuenca Rasmussen
Nanna Steen Jensen
Sall Lam Toro
THE LIFE OF AN ITINERANT THROUGH A PINHOLE
By conducting a historical analysis of archival images from a working-class immigrant community – taken by a local itinerant photographer, Gholamreza Amirbegi – this art project attempts to present the relationship between class identity and means of production in Tehran in the period roughly between 1956 and 1968. On one hand, the archive presents the identity of a social group in the context of the history of the city of Tehran after the Second World War, revealing the effects of the war and the subsequent economic devastation and bankruptcy of smaller cities, but on the other hand it also underlines the entanglements between the global and the local in relation to the effects of grand political events and of foreign film productions, especially Bollywood and Yugoslav partisan films, on an isolated working-class neighbourhood in the south-west of Tehran. By re-narrating the archival materials, signifying subaltern histories of the global south, the project tries to dig into social changes in contemporary history from below, uncovering the unconscious colonial memories that relate to the technological history of image production.
Behzad Khosravi-Noori (1976) is an artist and writer based in Stockholm and Tehran. He graduated from Tarbiat Modares University in Tehran with a Master’s in Motion Picture Studies and received a Master’s in Art in the Public Realm at Konstfack University College of Art and Design in Stockholm. Khosravi-Noori uses personal experience as a springboard to establish, through artistic research, a hypothetical relationship between personal memories and significant world events, between micro and macro histories. His works focus on films and historical materials in order to raise questions such as ‘What happens to narratives when they cross the border?’ and ‘What is the future of our collective past?’. Khosravi-Noori’s research-based practice includes films and installations as well as archival studies.
THE GIFT FROM Khrushchev
Photo Anthropologist Peter Christensen
"In february 1964, my father travelled to the Sovjet Union, where he as an official for the State Department participated in the official state visit together with Prime Minister Jens Otto Kragh.
In Moscow, many long meetings took place in different delegations with Foreign Minister Gromyko and secretary general for the communist party Khrushchev, often eight hours before lunch and eight hours after. When my father arrived at the meetings, he and Kragh's private secretary, Hjortdahl, would walk just behind Kragh and therefore Khrushchev believed them to be Kragh's bodyguards.
My father was appointed head of the Compensation Delegation that discussed the missing compensation to the Danish citizens, from whom the Russians confiscated property in the Baltic countries and Poland in 1940. During these discussions Khrushchev pointed out that those negotiations seemed unfit for a bodyguard to handle.
Kragh on his side noted that he did not bring any bodyguards, but Khrushchev did not believe that. At the end of the meeting gifts were exchanged and my father was very surprised to recieve a camera. But he thinks that the gift relates to Khrushchev believing he was a badyguard and hence would be excited to get a camera.
However my father was not particularly interested in photography so he handed it over to me. At the age of 13 I began photographing with a SLR camera - rare at the time - without a light meter but with an excellent 58 mm lens.
The Zenit camera was the Russian version of the German Leica. For me it was an epiphany to get such a camera and I have been a photo enthusiast ever since, both as an eager amateur and too a smaller degree as a professional. To me Khrushchevs camera was a game changer that shaped my life and a big part of my creative endeavors."
a bicycle ride to germany for a leica
Nanna Steen Jensen
"My grandfather's name was Holger Jensen. He was born i 1902. When he was just 10 years old, he had a box camera, and later on he got several other other cameras, always German. He was a german teacher in primary school and rode a bike around Germany, which he knew quite well as a result. During World War II, he became an eager part of the resistance, and he made a Voigtländer camera with a built in prism to make it possible to photograph around corners. He used this to shoot the German fortifications at Dueodde in all secrecy, where he was the official photographer of the German soldiers. Often, they were placed in a line with my grandfather in the middle who - with his golden locks - looked like the typical aryan boy. Holger produced and copied the secret photos of the fortifications by him self, and afterwards they were shipped to Sweden and from their to England.
Grandfather was always on the look out for a better camera and the Leica was the superior, but they were expensive and hard to come by after the war. Even with his German connections, he did not succeed because the Germans were poor after the war and had sold their Leicas a long time ago - if they ever owned one in the first place.
My father who was trained to be a pilot in the US came to his rescue. He came in contact with an american pilot who was stationed in Germany, and he had an american collegue who probably could be convinced to sell his German Leica. When the deal was made, my grandfather rode his bike all the way to the American base in Germany. At that time, it was the only secure way to transport the Leica back to Denmark.
For many years he shut amazing photos with that camera, until he had a hard time reading the small numbers and letters on the Leica, which at that time was handed over to my father. He also used it for several years before handing it over to me. Now the Leica from the late 1930s has been in use for three generations - and it still produces beautiful photos. It has a 50 mm objective with aperture 1:2 and a resolution of 1000 lines pr. mm, but it takes time to adjust it, so you need patience to photograph with it. In return, the resolution is not surpassed by any modern camera."
from a gun sight camera to the silver screen
Ib Melchior Compilation
From International Military Antiques: "G.S.A.P. (Gun Sight Aim Point) 16mm gun sight movie camera with 35mm 3.5 lens and yellow filter. This camera was the standard United States Army Air Force cine-gun camera during World War II. It was used mostly on fighter aircraft such as the P-51, P-47 and P-38 to record and confirm hits during air to air and air to ground gunnery. The camera operated only when the aircraft's gun trigger button was pressed. This type of camera was also fitted to the remote gun turret aiming controls of the Boeing B-29 heavy bomber.
Fighter pilots tended to make exaggerated claims of successful shoot downs of enemy aircraft, both due to misinterpretation of the actual action and due to overinflated egos.
To record the pilot’s actual success (or lack thereof) in shooting down a target, cameras were installed. These machine gun cameras were synchronized with the nose-mounted machine gun."
Provenance: From the estate of Ib Melchior, son of the renowned Danish opera star Lauritz Melchior. Ib served as an intelligence officer during World War II and was awarded a Silver Star for his capture of the infamous Nazi Werewolves. He later went on to become a noted author and science fiction screenwriter producing such films as Reptilicus and The Angry Red Planet.
a lifelong love for cameras
A love story told by the daughter of a collector
"My father, Knud Vormstrup Madsen, was born in September 1928 and grew up as the son of a merchant in the midst of Århus city. From a very early age, he was fascinated by the camera and its magical world, and he succeeded in landing an apprenticeship in the, at the time, very advanced field of photography under the photographer Hammerschmidt in Århus. Late, as a full-fledged advertising photographer, he spent 10 years working at the advertisement company Harland and Toksvig, which came to be known as ScanAd. From the mid 60ies he worked as a photography teacher at the Technical School in Randers - where he among other subjects taught repro photography - until a stroke in 1990 put a stop to his career.
After spending all his life working professionally with cameras combined with his life long love for the world of cameras at some point made him start collecting cameras, related equipment and literature. He succeeded in cataloguing, photographing and describing about 330 smaller cameras in his collection, which was very broad and in its way illustrated the development of the analogue camera from the early, simple box cameras made of cardboard, to the beautiful ones made in mahogany and brass, and finally the present day’s more streamlined models in plastic and other modern materials. Besides the catalogued, smaller analogue cameras, he also collected a lot of other equipment and a number of different accessories and photographica, all of which we have yet to unpack.
These were objects my father had looked forward to hold and admire with his glasses posed at the tip of his nose. These were objects my father had looked forward to hold and admire with his glasses posed at the tip of his nose.
In 1954, my father worked on a film for Danish Agriculture and Food Council titled På lige hammel, which shows everyday life at a Danish smallholding. During this period, he also made two short films in collaboration with his father in law, actor Karl Stegger, based on H.C. Andersen’s Flipperne and Hvad fatter gør. The latter two movies have since been donated to DFI - Danish Film Institute.
Naturally, the photography also played a part in his private life, which afforded many beautiful slideshows from holidays, great portraits of friends and family and pretty recordings of nature, but also a now historically interesting photo documentation of my grandparents’ living rooms and fine, empty interior photographs from the time of the war, and curious recordings of German soldiers from his bike rides around the occupied Århus - and finally, I must have been the most photographed child of my generation.
My father passed away peacefully surrounded by his family a week before his 87th birthday in 2015."
Lona Stegger Madsen, the daughter of Knud Vormstrup Madsen
A documentary from Studio Nabil
"I am going to tell you about my father, Salim ‘Azzam. My father was born in 1919 in Haifa and had to leave Haifa to Nazareth in 1948 (the Nakba-year). In Nazareth, he began his profession as a photographer, when people needed to obtain new IDs (Israeli IDs). My brother, Nabil, was born in the same month my father opened his studio. He considered his son’s birth as a blessing, and named the studio: "Photo Nabil". Salim (my father) learned photography by correspondence with London. He mastered English as a former employee in the Iraqi Petroleum company (IPC) branch in Haifa. And here is where his long journey with photography began and it remains until his death in 2007.
The first camera he used as an amateur lacked focus, which required measuring the distance between the lens of the camera and the object. My mother's first assignment was to measure the distance between the person's nose and the photographer's lens. Photography as an art form and a profession was complicated. One had to install the film in the camera, then soak the film in certain chemicals, then rinse the pictures with water and hang them to dry, then print them with a printing press.
The first and oldest printing press has been used all the way form the beginning, and it printed thousands of photos, small ones for IDs and passports and large ones for big events. The Rolleiflex-camera was very sophisticated at the time, but it took no more than 12 shots at one go. Then a gadget was added to the camera, which enabled it to take 24 or 36 photos at one go. Retouching was an important stage in photo production. My late mother, Nabil's mother, filled the blanks resulting from the shadows to make the images look smooth. Some clients wished to enlarge the size of an ID or a wedding photo, originally 9x12cm in size into 50x60cm or even 70x80cm, and hang it on the wall at home.
The third or fourth generation of cameras had “a blower” that could be moved forward or backward to achieve focus. The photographer had to put a black sheet of cloth on his head to see the photo clearly through the lens. The focus had to be achieved while the object was seen upside-down. The Polaroid-camera was used to produce instant photos of IDs and passports, where clients took them on the spot.
The late Salim ‘Azzam, owner of Photo Nabil's studio, filmed thousands and thousands of photos and left his impact on the era in which he worked and in the life of the grooms, whose weddings were considered very special moments to remember. Photos of the bride and groom were not taken at the day of the wedding, or the day before or after, but after almost a month, when they got to know each other better and relax from the hectic wedding celebrations.
I made a detailed study about the changes, which took place between 1950-1980 in bride’s images and attires, based on the photo archives of my late father. Change can be clearly seen at brides’ attire and appearance in accordance with fashion, due to social and economic developments, while men’s attire looks more stable and limited in choice (trousers and shirt). Dresses, models, fabric, bride’s veils and accessories change, among many other details.
Being the daughter of a photographer, and having access to his archives, I took the chance and made a detailed research published in a book under the title “Dressed in White”. The archives have an alphabetic index, which makes it easy to find any of the thousands of photos taken through this long span of time. We can easily find the negatives on demand, accordingly.
A story of an immigrant
Uprooted by occupation
Who took his camera for a shelter
And turned his photos into a dream
By which his return is realized
to his hometown
the beloved Haifa
And the story lives on …"
EYE IN HAND (2012)
Documentary film by Laterna Magica
The Turkish painter Eşref Armağan was born visually impaired and has never been able to see. He taught himself to draw and paint at the age of six after wondering if he could paint the things he was feeling with his hands in a way others would understand. His use of other senses to understand and convey the world as he experiences it has been examined by researchers, particularly Professor John Kennedy of Toronto University, for years. With his unique ability to make 3D drawing and color paintings despite his visual disablity, Eşref Armağan has changed our understanding of visuality and hence the world.
Laterna Magica Museum founders produced a documentary that follows Eşref Armağan as he is invited to take part in one of Europe’s most important visual culture events, the Manifesta in Spain 2010, in a meeting between art, culture and modern science. We thought pictures have to do with the eye, but now it seems it has to do with perception, which can either be experienced through the eye or through touch. To Eşref Armağan, his ‘eyes’ are his hands.
THE VISIBLE AND THE INVISIBLE (2014)
Film by Oliver Ressler
The film “The Visible and the Invisible,” whose title quotes a book of the same name by the French philosopher Maurice Merleau-Ponty, addresses a relationship of exploitation between the toxic industries and inhumane jobs in the global South and the gigantic profits from commodity trading in the hands of a few persons in the global North. The film presents a field of view, obscured by smoke, that also points to the toxic emissions associated with the production in southern places; these images are interwoven with
images of corporate headquarters located in Switzerland with unprepossessing name plates of Vitol, Trafigura, Mercuria, Gunvor, Litasco, Bunge and Dreyfus. The film thematizes, with reference of commodity trading, how the wealth in the North relates to poverty in the South; it undermines a dominant capitalist myth that northern “victimless” prosperity could not be causally related to southern poverty.
Read more about artist Oliver Ressler here: www.ressler.at
HOTEL / PANAMA (2010-2014)
Art video by Dalida Maria Benfield
Artist’s Statement: At the cut, from the wound
In hotel/panamá, the practice of a decolonial aesthetics is a process of unfolding time, space and story. The Panama Canal is the cinematic field for this engagement. “The Land Divided, the World United:” This is the phrase that adorns the seal of the Panama Canal. Whose land? Whose world? The narratives of the Canal are multivalent: It is a site of contestation, of coloniality and de-coloniality.
The land is continually divided, and the world united, across multiple bodies, territories, time-spaces.
My body is there, as is my mother’s. Our narratives collide and co-exist with other mothers and lost children. The hotel in the title refers to a single administration building, which became the School of the Americas, and is now a resort hotel. In this edifice, we find apparitions and shadows. Fragments are gathered and reordered to build other knowledges, a decolonial symbolic. There are many horizons and beings. We see and hear them together.
Read more about artist Dalida Maria Benfield here: www.centerartsdesign.org
NOVEAUX CLASSIQUES (2018)
Video perfomance by Sylvain Souklaye & Benjamin Paulin
The unspoken video performance Nouveaux Classiques reveals fragile fragments of friendship and decency between the artist Sylvain Souklaye and the singer Benjamin Paulin.
Nouveaux Classiques explores how premeditated words, sequenced dialogue and the certainty of knowledge can become an obstacle when one tries to establish a link between the inner-self and the outside world during an interview. The artist is supposed to provide a detailed interview and the singer has the opportunity to articulate the grey areas of his album L’Homme Moderne. In the end, neither rhetoric nor punchlines are left or needed to expose an unsettling intimacy for two.
They know each other… One knows the questions… The other knows the answers … but … But none of that matters when silence is the how, the when, and the where.
Nouveaux Classiques is performed by Sylvain Souklaye and Benjamin Paulin.
Filmed and edited by Frédéric Vermeersch.
BODY CORPOREAL (2018)
Video performance by Sall Lam Toro
“Self-love demands that we evoke our own gazes in a consumer-based culture producing patriarchal hetero-western-centric based gazes in mainstream global cultures. So, I ask you to reclaim your own gaze through a process of active consciousness.”
This piece is a visual evocation-manifesto that arose from a poem written about a willingness to decommodify the body and liberate it from the tensions between socially capitalized and visceral body; finding ways to conciliate several identities and forms doing and redoing the binary within queerness and produce new imaginations for blackness through nature, channeling our intuition and consciousness.
Secondly, it is a process-based piece speaking of forms of decapitalization juxtaposing a reclamation of self-love not as a substitute, but rather as a supplement. Through butoh-inspired movement, dance improvisation and poetic interactions with nature elements, the body reclaims its own authorship and authentic gaze.
Read more about artist Sall Lam Toro here: www.salllamtoro.com
Video performance by Lillibeth Cuenca Rasmussen
Dragedukke has an immediate and abstract expression, though full of symbols and references, as to Nicolai Frederik Severin Grundtvig (1783-1872), an important figure representing Danish ideologies and (national) identity. The Dragedukke-persona moves around incognito and ghost-like in the minimalistic, gothic architecture of Grundtvig Church in Copenhagen. Dragedukke is wearing a hybridized folk costume with several layers as well as references to cultures as Danish, Tagalog, American, Dutch etc.
The song and sounds are lyrics based on I-s in different languages: I-jeg-ako –yo-watashi-eu. The term Dragedukke origins from mid 1800, when the geographic border between Denmark and Germany changed drastically. It signifies a person, who feels torn between several national identities.
Read about artist Lilibeth Cuenca Rasmussen here: