press release

Noor Afshan Mirza and Brad Butler. The Scar
25.10.2018 - 13.01.2019

Opening: October 24, 7pm
Artist talk: October 25, 7pm
Seminar Room of the Edith-Russ-Haus

The Scar is a three-part, large-scale fiction mixed media installation by Noor Afshan Mirza and Brad Butler that is the central new piece of their first solo show in Germany.

The Scar weaves together gangster-films, film noir, corruption, fantasy and reality and is the culmination of a long-term research project loosely inspired by a major scandal of Turkish political history. In film one (The State of the State) four passengers are on a journey in a black Mercedes, unaware of their significance as state archetypes: the chief of police, a politician and a right-wing assassin. The fourth passenger is Yenge, the only female traveler, silenced by the genre conventions of her role in the film. In film two (The Mouth of the Shark) Yenge’s noir voiceover begins to interrupt the male characters’ forced bravado as they are haunted by the Resistant Dead—the residual movements created from stories of people refusing to be forgotten. The film’s final part (The Gossip) addresses tales of female emancipation and empowerment, where a group of female activists transcend time, geographical borders and linguistic barriers to gather in a neutral nether-realm of conversation and mutual support. In all three films, character names, scenes and locations have been fictionalized through the use of magical realism.

Next to the large scale installation of The Scar, the rest of the exhibition at the Edith-Russ-Haus brings together films, video installations, drawings, texts and collages from the last ten years, following the artist’s investigation towards the possibilities of a political art practice that explores themes of resistance, inequality, power and privilege, and (non) participation.

Differentiating between work made "in" struggle and work made about struggle several of their works take up an expanded notion of how to think politics with and through the body, like in their video projects The Exception and the Rule (2009), Deep State (2012) or Hold Your Ground (2012).

Their participatory installation piece You Are the Prime Minister (2014-2018) engages with the question of political responsibility and the critique of participation through the political instruments of liberal democracy, examining situations where parliament seems to fail to address the representational needs of the majority. The piece was adapted for this exhibition to address the political context of Germany, under the title Sie sind die Bundeskanzler*in (You are the chancellor).

Noor Afshan Mirza and Brad Butler live and work between Istanbul and London. They have been working together since 1998. They were the recipient of a Grant for Media Art from the Foundation of Lower Saxony at the Edith-Russ-Haus in 2017.