The Gift—Act I (2019)
Jasmina Cibic’s video installation is the first chapter of her new poetic study of the many “political gifts” found in European history of art and architecture, especially during times of rebuilding after political upheaval. There is a persistent and unsubstantiated rumor in Graz that the Künstlerhaus was also such a “gift” from the departing British occupation forces.
Cibic’s installation looks at how culture turns into a Trojan horse with such donations. Some of the most spectacular architectural examples of this become the backdrop for a poetic narrative guided by “Four Fundamental Freedoms”—allegorical characters based on a speech by Franklin D. Roosevelt in 1941. These protagonists devise a plan for a cultural battle between different worldviews, where three personifications of Art, Architecture, and Music face off to tender themselves as the perfect presents for an imaginary, divided nation. They are judged by the Freedoms, who offer increasingly aggressive populist criticisms of culture’s complicity to politics, and in the end, their verdict is damning.
Cibic’s film follows this contest, while a wrought metal sculpture represents the perfect gift with a quote drawn from the political debates around one of the film’s locations: “Everything that you desire and nothing that you fear.”
In English with German translation. Free admission with Festival Pass from 20.9.–13.10.
Cocommissioned by steirischer herbst ’19, Film London Artist’s Moving Image Network, and MAC Lyon
Coproduced by steirischer herbst ’19, FLAMIN Productions, MAC Lyon, and Waddington Studios London
In collaboration steirischer herbst ’19 and Künstlerhaus, Halle für Kunst & Medien
Supported by UGM Maribor, Copper Gallery (Duncan of Jordanstone College of Art & Design, University of Dundee), Northern Film School (Leeds Beckett University), Museum of Yugoslavia (Belgrade), United Nations Geneva, and Espace Niemeyer (Paris)
With the support of ERSTE Stiftung
Curatorial advisors: Matthieu Lelièvre, Alessandro Vincentelli
Line producer, France: Balthazar de Ganay
Production services, France: Lionfish Films
Production manager, France: Louise Krieger
Production manager, Switzerland: Bénédicte le Pimpec
Director: Jasmina Cibic
Script: Jasmina Cibic, Juliet Jacques
Research assistants: Manca Bajec, Jelica Jovanović, Ana Panić, and Mauro Tonini
Cinematographer: Mark Carey
Editor: Sue Giovanni
Composer: Chris Bemand
Violinist: Dejana Sekulić
Sound designer: Pip Norton
Dancers: Harry Alexander, Oxana Gilbert
Choreography: Josh Ben-Tovim
The Gifts: Brian Caspe (the Diplomat), Edmund Kingsley (the Artist), and Lachlan Niebor (the Engineer)
Four Freedoms: Nikki Leigh Scott (Freedom of Worship), Johanna Taylor (Freedom from Want), Louise Tyler (Freedom from Fear), and Jane Wisener (Freedom of Speech)
Jasmina Cibic (1979, Ljubljana) is an artist who works with a wide range of media including film, sculpture, performance, and installation. Her site- and context-specific works are often developed in collaboration with architects, scientists, and other specialists, and focus on the forms taken by soft power in tourism, architecture, and art. Cibic lives in London.
Cover picture: Jasmina Cibic, The Gift—Act I, 2019, production still, courtesy the artist and Espace Niemeyer. Photo: © Jasmina Cibic / Espace Niemeyer.
A pleasant apocalypse
The title of the core program of steirischer herbst ’19 is Grand Hotel Abyss—a striking metaphor used by philosopher Georg Lukács to describe the European intellectual and cultural scene as it faced the approach of fascism.
Read the full curatorial concept here.
The full Program Schedule is now online.