Curated by Florian Ebner | In partnership with the Goethe-Institut and ifa
31 March, 2017 to 8 May, 2017
Special Exhibitions Hall, Level -2

Opening reception: Thursday 30 March from 18:00 to 21:00.


About the exhibition

FABRIK (Factory) presents the work of five international artists reflecting on notions of “work,” “migration,” and “revolt.” This constellation transforms the exhibition space into a factory: a virtual factory of our new networked world; a defunct Egyptian factory; and a factory for political narratives and the analysis of our visual culture. At the heart of all the works, we meet figures of revolt, be they theatrical, photographic, filmic, virtual, and / or physical in nature.

Participating artists are Jasmina Metwaly and Philip Rizk, Olaf Nicolai, Hito Steyerl, and Tobias Zielony.

Jasmina Metwaly and Philip Rizk’s video installation is an experimental chamber play in filmic form. For Out on the Street, the artist duo invited Cairenes, both employed and unemployed, to an improvised studio on the rooftop of an apartment block where they were encouraged to tell their own stories of relational power, based on their experiences of laboring. Through the rehearsals, stories emerge of work-related injustices, police brutality, fabricated criminal charges, and countless tales of corruption. Out on the Street weaves together fictional performances, personal testimonies, and mobile phone footage, linking these personal narratives to broader social struggles.

Olaf Nicolai’s work retraces and brings together documents from his durational piece GIRO, which took place on the rooftop of the German pavilion at the 56th Venice Biennial. His work departs from visual research into the iconography of the rooftop, a space understood as one of freedom as well as risk. A comprehensive compilation of images, drawn from the spheres of contemporary media as well as cultural heritage, is framed by large projections of video footage, recorded by flying boomerangs during the rooftop performance of GIRO. Nicolai’s installation sums up the central motifs of this exhibition: the rooftop as a political sphere and the global circulation of images, people, and things.

Hito Steyerl’s large scale, immersive video installation Factory of the Sun shows a political world in turmoil and a world of images on the move. Set in an imaginary motion capture studio and playing on the form of video gaming, Factory of the Sun centers on the concept of sunlight, an ancient symbol of power and progress, to lead us to the very heart of debates on our digital present.

Everything in this game is based on the immateriality of light as a medium of information, physical bodies, and values.

Tobias Zielony’s documentary essay consists of photographs of African refugees in Berlin and Hamburg. On the one hand, these images form an autonomous photographic narrative; on the other, they present subjects of newspaper articles that African authors have published in the protagonists’ countries of origin – Sudan, Cameroon, and Nigeria. Zielony goes against the grain of classic event-oriented photojournalism, while showing how close the discursive spaces of (artistic) photography and journalism have once again come to each other.

FABRIK can be read as a parable for the metamorphosis of visual media, from pictures as classical recordings to the generating, processing, and projection of images. It can also be seen as a statement about the changing use of images, blurring the boundaries between document, testimony, and fiction.

An exhibition by the ifa (Institut für Auslandsbeziehungen), www.ifa.de

FABRIK is a touring presentation of the German Pavilion at the 56th Venice Biennial, 2015. The Sursock Museum is its point of departure.

Technical direction: Manuel Reinartz
Nina Bingel


Exhibition guide

Download the bilingual (English-Arabic) exhibition guide.

Curator's tours

On Saturday April 1, curator Florian Ebner will give two consecutive tours of the exhibition FABRIK, exploring the main themes and ideas behind the exhibition. The first will take place from 16:00 to 17:00, in French; the second will take place from 17:00 to 18:00, in English.