The Project - New York

37 West 57th St. 3rd Floor
NY-10019 New York

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press release

Opening reception Friday, June 23 from 6 to 8 pm

The Project is pleased to present “Manhattan,” an exhibition featuring videos by Chen Xiaoyun (Chinese), the team of caraballo-farman (Argentinian and Canadian-Iranian, based in New York), and Kaoru Katayama (Japanese, based in Spain).

The influential anthropologist Bronislaw Malinowski defined the task of the ethnographer as “the integration of all the details observed, the achievement of a sociological synthesis of all the various, relevant symptoms.” Malinowksi believed that the subjects – in this case us, Manhattan’s inhabitants – have no insight into the larger picture, explaining that “they have no knowledge of the total outline of any of their social structure. They know their own motives, know the purpose of individual actions and the rules which apply to them, but how, out of these, the whole collective institution shapes, this is beyond their mental range.” This underscores the importance of outsider observations, which might offer us a glimpse, or even just a reminder, of the structures that surround us yet are invisible to us in our daily life.

In a video titled after Malinowski’s writings, caraballo-farman’s An Enumeration of Various Details of Daily Life (2006) provides us with enigmatic glimpses of individuals in the midst of unself-conscious moments as seen through the windows of a hotel. The artists describe the unstaged views as recording “moments of our individual lives that don’t have social labels or clear purpose, that fall outside social roles and social time.” The multi-channel installation catches us, or people like us, in what makes up the unremarkable – and larger – part of our lives.

Echoing the idea of glimpses, Chen Xiaoyun’s Lash (2004) features an ambiguous narrative only perceptible in flashes of light, which are accompanied by the sound of a whip’s crack. The images that become visible present a nude man in what appears to be strenuous activity in a forest, intercut with rapid flashes of images of a white horse, a snake, and the outskirts of what might be a small town. We are led to read a linear sequence, despite being frustrated in our attempts to interpret what is happening.

Kaoru Katayama takes a lighter approach in Technocharro (2004), which presents traditional Salamanca dancers moving to a techno soundtrack while attempting to remain true to their traditional steps. The video projection captures the awkwardness of the participants attempting to bridge two cultures, an effect that repeats itself in millions of different ways every day in our city.

only in german


mit caraballo-farman , Chen Xiaoyun, Kaoru Katayama