Acryl auf Leinwand; Jugendbildwerfer Pouva Magica (schwarzes Bakelit)
60 x 80 cm; 24 x 16 x 28 cm
In „walkout pm“ werden 24 Bilder eines Migranten auf die malerische Ansicht einer stillgelegten Fabrik projiziert, bis die Figur verschwindet. Hier deutet sich die historische Tatsache an, dass durch die BRD-Regierung seit den späten 40er Jahren „Gastarbeiter“ zum Wiederaufbau herbeigerufen wurden. Viele Migranten, deren sprachliche, kulturelle und Bildungsmäßige Barrieren ihnen vielfach den Zugang zu qualifizierter Arbeit verwehrten, nahmen rasch ungelernte Beschäftigung, wie Fabrikarbeit, an, wodurch sich die kapitalistische Arbeitsethik verfestigte, dass Immigranten nur solange willkommen sind, wie sie produktiv sind. Trotz gegensätzlicher Erwartungen blieben viele Migranten auch nach den Einbrüchen auf den Arbeitsmärkten im Westen und leben in einer Art Zwischenzustand zwischen Heimat und Fremde.
„walkout pm“ kommentiert auch die Geschichte des bewegten Bildes: Die Anzahl der projizierten Bilder nimmt Bezug darauf, dass im Film 24 Bilder/sec. dem Auge Bewegung vortäuschen. Gleichzeitig hat auch der Projektor, der in der DDR zwischen 1946-1980 gebaut wurde, einen Bezug zu physischer Arbeit, den der Bildstreifen muss manuell bewegt werden, um die Bilder zum „Laufen“ zu bringen.
Entekhabi rekurriert damit auf einen entscheidenden historischen Augenblick mit großem Nachhall auf seine aktuellen Belange und den gegenwärtigen Zustand seiner Gesellschaft.
Staging a Walkout
It can be said that in the not so distant future one will be able to learn more about 21st century global history through video games than history books, news streams or any other archived material/medium for that matter. Take for example, the plentiful range of video games available in today’s current market from Call of Duty, Full Spectrum Warrior to the Prince of Persia. These games although created by adults for recreational purposes and advertised primarily to an adolescent male consumer cohort, nonetheless, do provide an ironic and in some cases accurate interpretation on recent political, social and cultural history. Branded as being of purely entertainment value video games are supposedly based on a democratic system of play, whereby „fictional“ and simulated scenarios are simultaneously made for and by the players who control and participate in the games themselves. Interestingly, the strategy of manipulation is an active force employed both on and off video games reminiscent of the loves and labours of another type of „game“ – the reality game.
From the realm of video games to the video art of contemporary Berlin based artist Shahram Entekhabi whose highly performative sophisticated works suggest that he is also a key player in re-staging the practices of everyday life, albeit his motives are aligned with that of a cultural critic’s rather than an entertainer. As an artist Entekhabi mainly takes his inspiration from the daily experiences of male migrant Middle Eastern characters, who he then frames within a German (European) context to create exaggerated prototypes. Samples range from a comical, nomadic and wandering migrant figure to more aggressive fundamentalist, militant and deviant figures that are situated and videoed in various incongruous neighbourhoods in and around the city of Berlin. The characters Entekhabi creates are both witty and ironic and serve as real and problematic reflections of xenophobic rubrics that are rooted and dispelled within contemporary German society. Similar to the construction of video games, which are assembled and controlled by their players, Entekhabi creates his protagonists and their scenarios as the ultimate readymade pre-planned game, a game that is always already played by his audiences before it even proceeds, imitating the ideals of a culture that Entekhabi chooses to toy with and simultaneously critique.
A recurring character that continues to appear in Entekhabi’s work is that of a lone migrant figure, as mentioned above, who is attired in an ill-fitting black 1970s suit carrying two worn out suitcases. The character is highly simulated and puppet like and his actions often appear absurd and non-complete as his aim and destination are never disclosed or fully achieved. Nonetheless, since 2004 Entekhabi has repeatedly cast this figure in a variety of urban settings, in photographic and video performances, such as Road Movie (2) (2005), Alcazar 2450 (2) (2005), Caution (2001-05) and Walkout (2004) among others, creating epic sequel after sequel. Ironically, the success and repetitive demand of this character is largely based on the grounds that the image of a lost and wandering migrant is so heavily embedded within the fabric of society, where he exists as some sort of hybrid between a migrant champion and a complete outcast. Subsequently, Entekhabi’s frequent use of this particular figure can be understood as simply a reaction in a supply and demand situation, whereby he provides those hungry for ignorance with their necessary provisions, while those who are able to read between the lines perceive the migrant hero as a much awaited sign for cultural awakening.
A sense of social protest is perhaps best achieved by Entekhabi within walkout pm, a slide projection on a painting, which features the image of the lone migrant projected 24 times onto an acrylic painting of a disused factory, until he completely vanishes from within the frame of the canvas. Ironically, the piece depicts the paradox of the migrant against the backdrop of the external architecture of a factory, which is both the site of production and labour. The use of the factory also provides an analysis into the historical relationship between migrants and the German workforce as the factory functioned as an entry of employment for many immigrants in Germany, who were invited by the government in the late 1940s as „guest workers“ to help re-create a post war Germany. Many migrants whose linguistic, cultural and sometimes educational barriers denied them access to employment within the professional sector, fast took up unskilled professions, such as factory work, and reinforced the popular Western capitalist work ethic that implies that immigrants are only welcome in the West as long as they are productive. However, many Germans and migrants alike assumed that once they had served in the rebuilding of the country they would return to their country of origin, but many remained, and existed in as state of limbo between the host and homeland much like the lingering figure of Entekhabi’s migrant.
Coinciding with the social implications featured within walkout pm Entekhabi also comments on history of the moving image with the intentional projection of 24 images, which refers to the use of 24 images per second to create the impression of movement on the naked eye. Simultaneously, the projector that he used is an obsolete model built and used in the former German Democratic Republic (GDR) between the years 1946-1980. This type of projector was mainly used to project silent children’s fairy tales or for home entertainment and had to be operated manually. Incidentally, the physical processing involved within this installation further alludes towards blue-collar and labour intensive realities faced by many migrants in the Western world.
On the whole it can be said that Entekhabi has been successful in citing historical moments that are contemporary to his concerns and society. As an artist he has utilised his democratic position to refer to the freedoms and drawbacks of championing or eliminating characters and events in popular and historical discourse via the manipulation of the moving image(s) fusing both reality and fiction to create a sense of mythical hyper reality.
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