Rodriguez Foundation
Marina Griznic
Oliver Ressler
Hito Steyerl
José Carlos Mariategui
Marcus Neustetter
november 5
19:00 >> Fundación Rodriguez
20:00 >> Marina Griznic
november 6
19:00 >> Oliver Ressler
20:00 >> Hito Steyerl
november 7
19:00 >> José Carlos Mariategui
20:00 >> Marcus Neustetter

A summary of the conference given by Marcus Neustetter on Reconnecting Cultural Systems at the Koldo Mitxelena Kulturunea on 7th November 2003 within the framework of the conferences on Artistic Proposals of today, here and there.

Influenced by his South African context and spurred on by his interest in the relationships between art and technology, Marcus Neustetter is conducting a series of research projects into the possible local relationship between art, business and technology. As an artist, his work has been directed at relating high and low tech of the media. As a cultural promoter, in 2002 he founded Sanman (South African New Media Art Network). He has also been an educational adviser to various institutions, artistic and digital publications, both local and international, as well as cultural platforms such as “LEA” and the UNESCO digital art virtual library.

At the conference, Marcus Neustetter commenced by giving a brief introduction to describe the geographical context in which he is living as well as to the formal and informal networks. According to Marcus Neustetter , South Africa is a country which is experiencing many important changes in a very short space of time. In the last few years, city areas have changed tremendously. A system that is characteristic to African cities has been applied on top of a grid system pertaining to early 20th century western cities.

In Marcus Neustetter’s opinion, this has meant that the black inhabitants have been induced to interact with the city. Apartheid has affected the development of the mass-media and the way in which they have tried to keep up with the international pace. Elements which originally pertained to the local system are now spares for the new city. “This has produced a kind of technological patchwork. We are trying to get the old means to work with new applications”, he declared. The inhabitants use the new technologies, make them their own and adapt them to suit their requirements. “The people are what makes the city work”, Marcus Neustetter declared. As an example of this phenomenon, Marcus Neustetter described how the inhabitants tap the fixed telephone lines to solve the problem of the lack of public telephones.

The Trinity Session

In the year 2000, the panorama in Johannesburg was bleak, there were no budgets and subsidies dedicated to artistic projects and, as a direct result, the art galleries closed their doors. The brain drain, particularly within the art world, was unstoppable. South Africa was a devastated land and the people repositioned by migrating. In this context, Stephen Hobbs, Kathryn Smith and Marcus Neustetter decided to start to work together in producing public art projects, critical texts, exhibition commissions… Trinity Session’s areas of interest are related to urban development and criticism of this development, technology and electronic art. One of the first projects to be made was an exhibition in which the Trinity Session members wrote down hundreds of names of people and entities on the gallery walls. There was an immediate response from the people and they started to work with people located both in South Africa and abroad, having migrated, by making use of networking.

Marcus Neustetter showed several projects that Trinity Session had developed. One of these was an exhibition made with the collaboration of artists living and working outside South Africa. They were asked to show their vision of the city of Johannesburg. All the production work was developed by networking.

Another of the works developed by Trinity Session was the attempt to transform the Johannesburg Faraday station, an informal area, into a formal space for cultural exchange. “Faraday is an important space within the city, it has a taxi stop, the national transport system, and we considered that it could be an adequate area for promoting an interaction between the city’s inhabitants and the artists”, Marcus Neustetter explained. For months they negotiated with nonmedical practitioners, artisans, and people of the Angoma ethnic group who inhabited this space in order to try and adapt it. “We all worked together to renovate and adapt the space. The experience was very positive for us since the degree of interaction between the habitual users of Faraday and the artists was really high. Moreover, a great deal of African iconography was found at Faraday and which the artists could incorporate into their work”, he declared.

Sanman, another of the Trinity Session projects, is now developing work at a local and international level in collaboration with groups and institutions that are involved or interested in the new media art. Sanman’s projects have many different forms ranging from exhibitions or workshops to collaboration work with artists and experts in the new media in order to create new work. “At this precise moment, we are working with mobile technology. We would like to make it available to people and see how they use it. We are working in workshops, and we aim to stimulate the people to create. We are also conducting research with multimedia experts in order for them to help us create new programs and interfaces. South Africa has only had access to these technologies over the past ten years and I am convinced that some new, highly interesting projects will come from this field”, he concluded.

[Arteleku] [Rodriguez Fundazioa] [Eusko Jaularitza] [American Foundation Center] [Casa Asia]