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Artist’s talk and finissage with Judy Radul, mini-lecture “Teletextual” by Alice Honor Gavin (Fellow of the Berlin Institute for Cultural Inquiry)
For her first solo exhibition in Germany, Judy Radul has devised a site-specific installation in the daadgalerie, which addresses the increasingly obsolete medium of TV through a complex interplay of film, video, photography and sculptural elements.

This is Television—the assertive title of the exhibition suggests a clear statement while being deeply ambiguous at the same time. Initially there is no way of knowing to what extent a mirrored window front and a 16mm film projection, which in addition to a rising and setting moon shows a number of ceramic vessels in flickering blue light, might reference the medium. “Before the 1930s and the short-lived spread of television, what people across the earth watched together was the moon. Around the globe, every night, we see, more or less the same moon. In 1969 some 600 million people around the world apparently watched the first manned moon landing on television.” writes Judy Radul in her notes on the exhibition project. This immediately opens up chain of associations—moon, light, mirror, reflection—which, in her film This is Television, she has linked together with slightly altered quotes from Walter Benjamin’s Berlin Childhood around 1900.

A crude aggregate of three television images from the early nineties is presented as a large-format photo work mounted on a billboard-like construction. An image from the first Gulf War of news reporter Bob Simon talking on the phone from Saudi Arabia to his broadcaster CBS in January 1991 is superimposed with a still from the gameshow The $100,000 Pyramid, and an image of David Lynch on the Late Show with David Letterman. In this context, the words Things in the air, which describe a task for the game show participants, becomes a statement as poetic as it is political. Does it refer to the ghostly figures from the old television images, the military jets in the Gulf War, or all the things broadcast “on air”?

A wall-mounted flatscreen shows similarly hybrid images, produced by a live video feed from a television/video sculpture. This sculpture combines a “T.V. program” of artists’ videos, curated by Sven Lütticken, with German broadcast T.V. that can be zapped by remote control. On a meta level the artists reflect on the nature of television as a medium, satirize its formats, use it for their own activist objectives, or reveal its production conditions. The seven-hour video program, which includes films by Alexander Kluge, Hito Steyerl, Harun Farocki, General Idea, Gregg Bordowitz, Wim T. Schippers & Willem de Ridder, Sean Snyder, Eran Schaerf & Eva Meyer, Cordula Kablitz-Post & Christoph Schlingensief and Christian Jankowski, is on permanent view during the exhibition. Due to a custom computer program on the additional flatscreen one sees broadcast T.V. “controlled” by the artists’ video images which are analyzed according to their rate of change.

The exhibition This is Television certainly does not claim to explain television, but presents an individual artistic view, which however naturally feeds on collective experience. The TV world snippets that Radul uses thematize television as an ideological weapon and the tedium this brings, as well as the strong sense of identification and nostalgia that is connected with the disappearance of outdated technology.

“It’s clear that television started small and ended big. It moved across the sky bounced via satellites. In dominant forms it seemed to demonstrate the colonization of our “inner lives” by corporate interests, it developed such a close relationship with war that one cannot help but understand it as a weapon. On the other hand, it sat in the living room and we came home to its electronic presence. It was a window, a plane and a horizon. I’m not really sure what television was. Like many technologies it was a collection of parts, a way of viewing and a habit, as much as a being.”

With kind support from the Embassy of Canada


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