»Scenes of the Crimes« bei Georg Kargl Fine Arts, Wien

Scenes of the Crimes, Ausstellungsansicht, courtesy Georg Kargl Fine Arts, Foto © Matthias Bildstein

Georg Kargl Fine Arts

Schleifmühlgasse 5, 1040 Wien

KünstlerIn: Terry Dennett, with Black Audio Film Collective, Max Brand, Bonnie Camplin, Caspar Heinemann, Jimmy Merris, Stuart Middleton, Marlie Mul, Matthew Richardson with Louis Backhouse and Anna Susanna Woof, David Graham Scott, Ryan Siegan Smith, Richard Sides and Gili Tal, Lena Tutunjian, Holly White

Titel: Scenes of the Crimes

Datum: 13. September – 12. Oktober 2019

Fotografie: Courtesy the artists and Georg Kargl Fine Arts | Foto © Matthias Bildstein

Notiz: Kuratiert von Paul Pieroni


I am an observer-participant living in these present
times with a social responsibility to communicate
my observations to others when possible. It falls to
me to leave a catalogue of today’s ‘scenes of the
crimes’ for future generations so lives and struggles
are not totally lost to history. This goes beyond the
usual documentation of demonstrations to
encompass the wider everyday which appears so
ordinary that most people do not bother to record


Terry Dennett, Künstlerstatement (2011)


Im Zentrum dieser Gruppenausstellung steht die urbane Sozialdokumentation des britischen Fotografen, Historikers, Aktivisten und Archivars Terry Dennett (1938 - 2018). Dennett, der in London Bilder von sozialer Ungleichheit und wirtschaftlicher Enteignung produzierte, war eine Stimme bei der kritischen Wiederherstellung der Fotodokumentation Ende der 1970er Jahre. Wie Allan Sekula und Martha Rosler in Amerika oder Jo Spence und Victor Burgin, der langjährige Mitarbeiter und Kollaborationspartner Dennetts in Großbritannien, plädierte Dennett für das politische Potenzial der Fotografie als Kunstform, die Verbindungen zwischen künstlerischen und sozialen Praktiken wiederherstellen kann. In einem Zeitraum von fünf Jahrzehnten hat Dennett Londons physische und soziale Verhältnisse erfasst und gleichzeitig die Spuren der Macht und Ideologie dokumentiert, die in der Stadt zu der Zeit am Werk waren. Dennett kombinierte Inhalte aus antagonistischen Kategorien, stellte Text und Bild ungeordnet und polemisch nebeneinander und richtete seine Kunst gegen die von ihm als bankrott empfundenen, von Medien, Unternehmen und Politikern produzierten Repräsentationen des sozialen Lebens. Dennett konzentrierte sich auf die vergessenen, missbilligten oder banalen Aspekte des städtischen Raums und entwickelte während einer Zeit des politisch-wirtschaftlichen, sozialen und kulturellen Übergangs in Großbritannien ein Gegenarchiv – ein Archiv „von unten aus“.

Fotografien, Collagen, Fotokopien und Arbeitspläne aus diesem Archiv werden zusammen mit experimentellen Dokumentarfilmen des kontroversen schottischen Filmemachers David Graham Scott und der Künstlergruppe Black Audio Film Collective präsentiert. Zu diesen dokumentarischen Arbeiten gesellen sich aktuelle Videos, Skulpturen, Gemälde, Fotografien und Papierarbeiten einer Generation jüngerer Künstler, die im Gegensatz dazu dokumentarische Ansätze zugunsten allegorischer oder poetischer Reaktionen auf den urbanen Alltag meiden. Während die Bewegung oder der Fluss zwischen diesen verschiedenen Repräsentationsstrategien das zentrale Thema der Zirkulation in dieser Ausstellung ist, können zwei weitere Kreislaufkontexte identifiziert werden. Einerseits könnte man sagen, dass die Arbeiten von Dennett, Black Audio Film Collective und David Graham Scott aus den 1980er und 2000er Jahren soziale Kontexte im Vereinigten Königreich abbilden, die für die Arbeiten der jüngeren Künstler prägend sind. Auf diese Weise wird der urbane Raum als Bühne oder Plattform präsentiert, auf der sich künstlerische Generationen, mit jeweils unterschiedlichen, historisch spezifischen Zugängen zu dem Projekt des urbanen Sozialen Realismus bewegen. Andererseits wird ein nützliches, wenn auch reduktives, zyklisches oder periodisierendes historisches Modell - ein Modell, das für Dennetts eigenen historischen Ausblick von zentraler Bedeutung ist - aufrechterhalten. Diese Ausstellung vereint fragmentarische künstlerische Reflexionen über die sozialen Bedingungen und Erfahrungen einer Zeit, die unter verschiedenen Decknamen bekannt ist: Spätkapitalismus, Postmoderne, Neoliberalismus, Globalisierung sowie über die verschiedenen, brüchigen Lebensformen, die in Großbritannien während dieser Zeit entstanden sind.



Terry Dennett

Terry Dennett was a photographer, social historian, activist, theorist, workshop organiser, publisher and archivist. During the 1970s he was central to establishing a number of collective projects, including Photography Workshop alongside his long–time collaborator Jo Spence, and Camerawork Journal. He continued to work collectively throughout his life. His photography ranged from radical social documentary, to agitprop, to workshop creations and exhibitions with children in community groups. Meanwhile, he was active as a researcher, with a particular commitment to the untold history of worker photography in the 1930s.

Out of this work, he established the broadside ‘The Worker Photographer’ (its name derived from early 1930s German Magazine ‘Der Arbeiter Fotograf’), which reported on contemporary social struggles, as well as promoting ways that activists could use photography to intervene against the destructive course of capitalist history. As well as being a social historian, he was deeply concerned with the technological history of photographic production and reproduction. Even in his work with children he introduced them to these processes, teaching them not only how to shoot, develop and print their images, but also how to make photo–paintings and photograms. He also took his deep technical knowledge to establish new ways for children to make their own cameras out of anything from cardboard boxes to wellington boots.

Much of his work centred on creating images of dilapidation, deprivation, and wretchedness in the urban environment. He would often use collage and the juxtaposition of image and text to draw historical parallels between moments of capitalist crisis. His photographic landscapes look almost coldly at how, in the phantasmagoria of urban decay, the capitalist city seems to ironically comment on its own excrescences. Often, too, his annotations of contemporary media would display a grimly playful backward–looking humour, to be set against the present.

His collaboration with Jo Spence continued through the documentation of her illness, and in establishing phototherapy during the 1980s in The Final Project' After her death in 1992 he became the archivist of her work, creating the Jo Spence Memorial Archive in his flat on Upper Street in Islington, and assisting a generation of scholars and researchers who wanted to explore and understand her oeuvre.

(text: Jacob Bard Rosenberg, May Day Rooms, London).

David Graham Scott’s Little Criminals (2001), Wireburners (2003), The Dirty Digger (2007)

Little Criminals is a feature biopic by Scott about the Glasgow junk scene. Shooting over much of 1999, Scott follows a disparate group of heroin-addicted shoplifters and creates a vivid insight into this strange and sordid subculture. The scams to finance their addictions and the sheer monotony of the injecting rituals are unflinchingly portrayed throughout the film. A father-and-son shoplifting team have to be evermore resourceful in their search for new pickings; an educated man struggles with his escalating habit and his work commitments; two brothers use heroin to stabilise their mental health problems; and the idiosyncratic DL, recently released from prison, dices with death with his first big hit in months. How will they all fare with the dawning of the new millennium and how does the experience affect the once-addicted film-maker?

Wireburners: Scott’s personal odyssey into the lesser-known aspects of Glasgow’s street culture takes us into the land of the wireburner. He follows various characters through the streets of the city as they reclaim discarded materials from skips and bins for small monetary gain. What motivates someone to live off scrap and rubbish? How lucrative is the job and what materials are most sought after? The guys who do this type of work are generally unemployed, homeless and have drug and alcohol problems. Many of their associates within this underclass beg and steal to feed their habits, but these people are making some effort to alleviate their condition by legal means. The main drive of this film is to uncover the positive qualities that exist within society’s underclass but without assuming a patronising attitude.

The Dirty Digger: In this film Scott joins a controversial Glasgow magazine, The Digger, as it's court photographer naming and shaming gangsters, petty criminals and paedophiles. The ethics of the paper and the role of vigilante journalism are questioned in this gritty documentary from the late-’00s.

Black Audio Film Collective’s Twilight City (1989)

Inaugurated in 1982 and dissolved in 1998, the seven-person Black Audio Film Collective (BAFC) is widely acknowledged as one of the most influential artist groups to emerge from Britain in recent years. John Akomfrah, Lina Gopaul, Avril Johnson, Reece Auguiste, Trevor Mathison, David Lawson and Edward George produced award winning film, photography, slide tape, video, installation, posters and interventions.

Their first film Handsworth Songs won seven international awards in 1987; their second film Testament premiered at the Semaine de la Critique at Cannes International Film Festival in 1988; these and subsequent works such as Twilight City (1989) and The Last Angel of History (1995) staked a claim for a new kind of moving image work that was resolutely experimental and confidently internationalist. Throughout their career, the BAFC worked within and between the media of art, film and television, participating in British survey exhibitions such as From Two Worlds (Whitechapel Gallery, 1986), The British Art Show (Hayward Gallery, 1990) as well as international exhibitions such as Documenta X (1997) and Documenta XI (2002). (text: Lux).

Twilight City (1989): by 1989, the Conservative government was three years into a programme of wealth creation and urban redevelopment unparalleled in 20th Century Britain. Black Audio Film Collective’s third film, Twilight City, can now be seen as the first essay-film to map the cartography of the new London through an excavation of the psychic and historical strata of the Docklands, Limehouse and the Isle of Dogs. A fictional letter from a daughter, Olivia, to her mother in Dominica is the narrative thread connecting interviews from (predominantly) black and Asian cultural critics, historians and journalists and interviews with respected commentators like Homi Bhabha, Paul Gilroy and George Shire offer fascinating personal stories that contrast with the polemics with which they are usually associated. (text: Smoking Dog Films).

Bonnie Camplin’s Heygate For Life (2011)

Around the time of making this film I was very into my dreams, had been attending a lucid dream workshop, and I was having a lot of apocalyptic nightmares and during the day, very deliberately, I was focussing on the possible and potential circumstances of my own death, but especially focussed on the fact and the moment of my death. And I realised...WHEN I FOCUS ON THE FACT OF MY OWN DEATH EVERYTHING VIBRATES WITH THE POSSIBILITY OF NOT EXISTING and this profoundly intensifies my sense of being in the present, intensifies my awareness of "now time". This concept of survivalist temporality re-appeared over and over in the dialogue I was sharing with my neighbour John. We both share a Deep-Topographical curiosity and went to investigate the ruins of the Heygate Council Estate in South-East London. The Heygate is a large 70's Brutalist estate which has been condemned now for more than 3 years, having been sold off by Southwark Council to property developers. What we found there was an amplified materiality. For some reason I remembered a film I had seen years ago about an autistic woman who became deeply aroused in the presence of concrete; which then made me think of the autistic activist Amanda Baggs and how she talks about her own cognitive, cosmic interaction with the matter. so I showed John her film "In My Language" and I would say that the "Heygate for Life" film owes a lot to this Amanda Baggs film. The Heygate became as a crucible that concentrates our mind in its materials. You will notice in this film a complete absence of "the figure", an absence of protagonist. Instead we summoned an intensely subjective presence between "us" and the Heygate. In observing the Heygate, in loving the Heygate we generated an energetic interaction which we recorded..In other words our combined perception of Heygate weaving in and out of consciousness is a game of " looking and not looking", stimulating and collapsing the wave function at will

The Heygate Estate could have been seen as, a place of material disintegration, ideological failure, or death, but "Heygate for Life" sees beauty, love, sex, energy, life, the soul, in its Now-ness- in its state of possibility, in a moment without past, or future, anarchic space, un-designated, un-defined. The meaning of it, now generated by the observer, who is the participant, who is the epistemological adventurer, who is the radicalised Cognitarian.. This idea of Franco Berardi's; that is the Cognitive Proletariat, or the knowledge workers, the Cognitariat. I wanted to extend to the anomalous, precarious artist-worker that I call the Epistemological Adventurer. Since cognition and subjectivity and desire are intimately bound up with the functioning of capitalism, daily life- immediacy is the field of political struggle. What is to be done? as the model is built in the present; from moment to moment? Subjective Emergence Where Theory is Manifest in Practice. The Epistemological Adventurer is produced out of precarity, anomaly, necessity in the midst of their epistemological crisis. In refusing the role of cultural servant they become the critics, cartographers and utopia makers, whose intellectual work is to show the present as it is, as a construct. It's interesting to witness the demise of the specialised, legitimised intellectual who previously would have come from the comfortable and privileged class and who always played a crucial role in the production of the class-war propaganda that says, the "other side" has no intellectual agency, no mind. No soul. And It's interesting to witness the demise of the prescribed concept of "social mobility" as an aspirant notion of, say the poor "escaping" from a council estate and working their way "up" to join the ranks of the middle classes into a new form of psychic slavery called "being middle class". We know that when it comes to ideas, social mobility works both ways, works all ways at once. In making our film we rejected the model that produced the "aspirant" notion of quality of life. "Heygate for Life" is all about the liberation of psychic space. If we understand the faculty of Memory as a perceived epistemic access to the past then, is it possible that, in the unconscious we have epistemic access to the Future? I think this is the meaning of Utopian agency. I think this is what they mean when they say "Take your Dreams as Reality".

Lena Tutunjian’s Days of the week (2019)

This video is based on a reformatted video loop taken from the artists TikTok account, a social media app for making and sharing short music and lip sync videos. The application allows users to choose popular music or soundtracks to create short looping videos of 3 to 60 seconds that are then shared online. The soundtrack that features in this video is called: Days Of The Week Male Man British English Week Monday Tuesday Wednesday Thursday Friday Saturday Sunday Speech Spoken Speaking Sound Effects and Spoken Phrases Male Voice- Serious About Sound Effects.