The Words that are missing: On (soft) Censorship

Organized by The Institute for Endotic Research, The Words That Are Missing is an inquiry into formations of language in the public sphere. The series focuses on the lack of certain words in the public arena: by way of censorship or because they are not yet there to describe new situations, or phenomena that were overlooked. One can think of the lack of words as a wys of describing precisely the new different formations of a 'we', the movements of people across countries, or the emergence of what was traditionally known as fascism, which now seems to take new and old shapes. At the same time, one can observe how mechanisms of censorship and euphemism make words disappear from discussions, producing an empty spot. In that sense, words are sensors that indicate emerging niches of tensions or alliances, establishing common arenas. At the same way, they can hide what cannot be said by censorship, euphemism or by one’s own self-repression. When looking at public conflicts, words are inevitably at the centre of the discussion.

Taking these points into account, practices related to narration, fiction and wording should be revisited, reappropriated and reimagined to propose new terms. The departure point of these series is embedded in the question: how to gain access to the words that are not there?

In the first gathering called On (Soft) Censorship we will introduce a series of different cases which had happened related to art projects in Spanish institutions in Berlin. In this session we will explore how cases of imposed censorship are bound to situations of precarity, which allow techniques of censorship beyond the mere rejection of artworks in a show.

The first case is the exhibition ‘Zwischen den Paradiesen’ in 2016, curated by Cristina Moreno after being awarded a prize by the Spanish Embassy. In this show the work of the Venezuelan artist Ana Alenso was partially removed because it used a Repsol oil barrel (Repsol is the biggest Spanish oil company that operates in Venezuela). Her work deals at large with oil exploitation in her country. The second case looks at Jesús Acevedo’s campaign for the celebration of the 5th centenary of the death of Cervantes. He was commissioned a project by the Cervantes Institute for which he selected a series quotes from the oeuvre of the author. His selection worked as political mottos that can be read nowadays. The former central direction of the Cervantes Institute in Madrid cancelled the project the last minute because it “didn’t fit with the aesthetics” of the organization, against the opinion of the team of Cervantes Institute in Berlin. To complete this presentation, we invited another censored author, again by the Spanish Embassy, Alby Alamo. He was asked to pixelate parts of his video work where genitals appeared in order to keep his work in the exhibition.

Ana Alenso is a Venezuelan artist based in Berlin, Germany. Working across sculpture, photography, installation, sound and video, her current work aims to expose the dire risks in the global oil industry and financial world. Through the use of industrial materials, her work identifies critical states—situations of precariousness and tension—in a poetic register. She holds an MFA in Art in Context from the Berlin University of Arts (2015), an MFA in Media Art & Design at the Bauhaus University Weimar (2012) and a Diplom from Armando Reveron Arts University in Venezuela (2004). Her works have been exhibited at Sixty Eighth Art Institut (DK), Museo de Porreres (ES), Kinderhood & Caracas (DE), Neues Museum Weimar (DE); Nietzsche-Gedächtnishalle Weimar (DE), Ex Teresa Arte Actual (MEX); Centro Cultural Matucana-100 (CH), Museo Alejandro Otero, Espacio Monitor, Gallery Oficina#1 and Gallery Abra (VE) and other diverse locations.

Jesús Acevedo develops his work since the mid 90’s, showing his work mainly in independent spaces. His work has a conceptual and humoristic approach produced with differnt media such as video, spatial interventions, performance, drawing or writing. He has been part of different collectives projects, among them ‘Circo Interior Bruto’, where he was one of the founding members. In 2009 he moved from Madrid to Berlin, where he lives.

Alby Álamo (Las Palmas, 1977) lives and works in Berlin and Canary Islands. He is graduated in Fine Arts and holds a Master´s degree in Art Theory at the Facultad de Bellas Artes de La Laguna Tenerife. His work has been exhibited at the CAAM museum (Las Palmas de Gran Canaria), Junefirst Gallery (Berlin), Centro de Arte La Regenta(Las Palmas), Guasch Coranty Painting Award (Barcelona), Gallery Dom Omladine (Beograd) or Kunstraum Dreieich (Frankfurt). As a curator he co-directs since 2015 Urlaub projects in Berlin. He has been one of the selected curators for "Area60" 2017 programm in the museum TEA Tenerife.