Sven Augustijnen (°1970) lives and works in Brussels. His films, publications and installations on political, historical and social themes constantly challenge the genre of the documentary, reflecting a wider interest in historiography and a predilection for the nature of storytelling: ‘Historiography is by no means a natural phenomenon. The way we use stories, images and fiction to construct reality and history fascinates me.’ He had solo-shows at Wiels, Centre for Contemporary Art, Brussels; de Appel, arts centre, Amsterdam; Malmö Konsthall; Vox, Centre pour l’Image contemporaine, Montréal; CCS Bard, Annandale-on-Hudson. Recent group-shows include The Unfinshed Conversation, The Power Plant, Toronto, Gestures and archives of the present, genealogies of the future, Biennale Tapei and Living Together, Kunsthal Vienna, Congoville, Middelheim Museum, Antwerp. Sven Augustijnen is represented by Jan Mot, Brussels and is a founding member of Auguste Orts, Brussels.
The proposed aim of my Ph.D. research Archival Procedures, Unresolved Processes: An Anthropophagy of History, is to work on and work through one large and multi-facetted art project that is currently in progress.
In different ways, this project has to do with little-explored fissures within the larger fractures of a modern history that runs from the Second World War and the new political world order that emerged from it, to the birth of Israel and the Palestinian conflict, the Cold War, decolonization and neo-colonization processes, movements of revolution and counterrevolution. While originating in the past, the project resonates in the contemporary global context: Fierté Nationale focuses on the complex material, symbolic and ideological meaning and history of the FAL rifle; how the rifle has been used on both side of the ideological spectrum during the Cold War and through the connections between the Belgian weapon industry based in Wallonia and those in South-Africa and Israel, among other things.
Excavating lost or discarded documents, I develop strategies of presentation that involve practices of unfolding and exposing, montage and juxtaposition, derivation and diversion within my work. The result brings to view ‘the shadow archive’ of established historical representations.
This working with archival documents, which forms the basis of my work, particularly on colonial and post-colonial spaces, is always combined, or more exactly interwoven, with a practice of working with living individuals. These are men and women with whom I engage in a process of exchange and dialogue. Through speech and traveling to particular sites in which they are placed in specific situations, these individuals are driven to re-enact situations and complex stories. These processes, which are documented and staged in my films, posit these live, breathing bodies as ciphers, more than just receptacles of historical events, traumatic or not. One could say that history is written within those bodies. And in working with these individuals, we/they enact something of an anthropophagy of history. That is to say that, as I have observed it, survivors, relatives and witnesses of the revolutions and contra-revolutions that I investigate, viscerally need to interiorise and embody memories, to digest and spit them out again. In this process they work through these memories and transform them in what I like to call, bodily and verbal prayers of and for the living and the death.
UKÄ subject classification
- Visual Arts
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