Installation view Play by rules Kunstquartier Bethanien 2018, 5-channel video installation. © Timo Herbst & Marcus Nebe

Play by Rules

12 Aug 2022
16 Sep 2022
Laboratory of Art and Form
286 -13 Komeyacho Kamigyo-ku
602 - 8034 Kyoto

Timo Herbst (in collaboration with Marcus Nebe) situates the visitors of their exhibition in the middle of moments, in which people are wrestling over the representations that will ultimately shape a political event. The visually and emotionally moving images of participants interacting with one another, the waving of flags, the scenes of violence: such images determine the public narrative of who was where, why they did what they did, and against whom — and who might have won.

However, it is not these narratives that we see in the 5-channel video installation "Play by Rules", but rather the motors behind the production of such narratives: the image producers with their technical tools, who stand within such events and lead the fight over the creation of these images while refraining from shining the spotlight on themselves and their own bodies, gestures, and activities. TV channels, live reporters, bloggers, activists, agitators, provocateurs and critical documentarists struggle to assert their respective perspectives and seek the sovereignty of interpretation. Media corporations, public broadcasters, social media networks and numerous peer groups and influencers compete not only over the moment itself, but for a piece of history and the way this moment will be written in sound and image. This is the stage of the conflicts of our time, and with their video installation, Herbst and Nebe locate us within the tumultuous moment when the images of such situations are created, images from which public opinion will be produced.

In recent times the struggle for interpretative sovereignty has increasingly manifested during the pandemic as literal attacks of private individuals against journalists, disguised as claims of freedom of expression exercised on the streets as well as in private digital media spaces which function as a rebellion against public media, perceived by some as supposedly manipulative and propagandistic. Nearly as if an eye for an eye, a tooth for a tooth. The personal position within those media dynamics and narratives also become fought upon since the begin of the Russian war against Ukraine and all its following protests around the word.

In "Play by Rules" this contemporary experiences shines through and is provoking us to reflect upon our personal position within the process of representation that will ultimately shape the political events of our time. This theme in the exhibition is reinforced by drawings of Timo Herbst, which deal with the visual history of public dissent and its (self-)staging, either by working through specific, individual gestures like a protest gesture made with the hand, or through the ways that crowds of people in their tense groups dynamics were referenced in history. The drawing Ephemera refers to historical images intended for a single or short-term use, such as prints from daily newspapers, posters or advertising.

Together with the historian Duane Corpis, Herbst researched historical images of protests and states of emergency as source material to draw an interwoven chain of bodies, which visually explores the self-staging and memory of dissent of democracy searching manifestations in german speaking countries from the 15th century till today.

Text by Alexander Koch and Miki Shimokawa, curated by Miki Shimokawa.

The exhibition is supported by ifa exhibition funding.

Funded artist: Timo Herbst


Exhibition Funding

The Exhibition Funding programme supports contemporary artists in implementing art projects abroad.

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