In Cannibal Manifesto, Andrade theorises that Brazil could free itself of its European cultural legacy by ‘cannibalising’ it, while playing on the modernists’ primitivist interest in cannibalism as a tribal rite.
Only cannibalism unites us. Socially. Economically. Philosophically. Thus states the Brazilian poet Oswald de Andrade in his 1928 text Cannibal Manifesto. The exhibition takes inspiration from this proposition, encountered in a lecture by the artist Kader Attia. In Cannibal Manifesto, Andrade theorises that Brazil could free itself of its European cultural legacy by ‘cannibalising’ it, while playing on the modernists’ primitivist interest in cannibalism as a tribal rite.
Working mostly in video, the artists in this exhibition both use, and explore the use of, mimesis; imitation, mimicry, representation, simulation. They exhibit a variety of strategies; using their own bodies performatively, working collaboratively with marginalised groups, documenting existing rituals or creating fictional communities. Mimesis has long been a tool of resistance used to criticise the world we live in and it can de-stabilise cultural and racial boundaries in complex ways. In the UK, and much of the world, the disparity between rich and poor is rapidly expanding. Even the most critical of viewpoints, however, are appropriated by the dominant capitalist system. To combat the totality of the market, artists must develop tactics with the means at their disposal.
Using their own bodies in their videos, Pilvi Takala, Moussa Sarr and Bita Razavi employ subversive affirmation and over-identification as forms of critique and resistance; be it to corporate ownership or racist stereotypes. In a fictional documentary about the inhabitants of the Moscow ring road, Dimitri Venkov explores the view of some anthropologists that those living on the periphery of the world economy have a rare critical vantage point on capitalist culture. Meanwhile Tellervo Kalleinen & Oliver Kochta-Kalleinen present sci-fi films devised by isolated Nordic communities that explore their fears for the future. Karl Ingar Røys humanises the narrative of economic migration in a two-channel video work that highlights the plight of Mexican migrants trying to cross the US border.
At the centre of the gallery, Mohamed Bourouissa commemorates those on the margins of social exclusion in France in an installation derived from a long-term sculptural project to document the country’s army of the unemployed. These artists invite us to join their investigations into the spaces where rules and difference are policed; registry offices, job centres, thresholds to corporate space, city outskirts and national borders. Cannibal Manifesto: Mimesis as Resistance seeks to question what makes a community and how a person lives in society.