Six videos, most with socio-political and personal issues, one exhibit. Galerie Rudolfinum sets the bar high with “Domestic Arenas,” which closes in a few days on March 18, 2018.

The videos vary, whether they contain vibrant music or none at all, a story line or no dialogue, yet they’re all powerful in a unique way.

“Stateless” (2017) is a video installation about migration by Shimon Attie featuring seven actual Syrian refugees playing a game of roulette, with gloomy music and no dialogue. You can feel the tension in the air as their expressions are unwavering and their eyes follow the game. As the video progresses, the refugees mysteriously disappear, one-by-one. “Stateless” emphasizes the important line drawn for these refugees between life and death, freedom and captivity. Their lives can feel like they are constantly on the line, just like a game of roulette.

Kalil Joseph’s film installation “m.A.A.d.” (2014) based on Kendrick Lamar’s album “good kid, m.A.A.d. city” paints a picture of what life is like growing up black in Compton, in south central Los Angeles. The narrative shows violence in the community from gangs and police. Lamar’s music in the video is distorted in a way to parallel the chaotic images on screen. Songs begin and fade like the constant stop-and-go in the lives of people living in urban poverty in America.

“Bom Bom’s Dream” (2016) by Jeremy Deller and Cecilia Bengolea follows the life of a Japanese dancer, who blends her traditional rituals with Jamaican dance hall. Her dance moves are somewhat vulgar and over-the-top, but the video as a whole brings a surprising sense of calmness. The use of special effects make the images and the story feel dream-like. Whereas Joseph and Attie’s videos portray people stuck in one situation or lifestyle, “Bom Bom’s Dream” shows that you are free to do whatever, be whoever and go wherever.

The other videos in the exhibit, including John Akomfrah’s “Tropikos” (2016), Omer Fast’s “Continuity” (2012), and Stan Douglas’ “Luanda-Kinshasa” (2013), show a cross-cultural perspective across time and overall all of the works in the exhibition emphasize the power of one’s identity and all that encompasses it.

Visitors can view the films in any order and for as long or as little as they like, since all of the videos in “Domestic Arenas” stand alone, yet somehow connect to the others.

Event Details

Photo courtesy of Martin Polák