EMAF 34 - P02: Special Focus 2021

EMAF 2021 Special Focus: “Possessed”

The deadline for submissions to the 34th European Media Art Festival closed on 31 December 2020. Our heartfelt thanks to all filmmakers, artists and distributors who submitted their works to us! At 2,600, the number was significantly higher than in previous years. "We are thrilled with the large number and diversity of forms of the works submitted to us for the 34th European Media Art Festival in Osnabrück. There is also a much broader geographical spread than in previous years", says Katrin Mundt, head of the EMAF film programme and a member of the festival management.

This year's EMAF theme "Possessed" focuses on questions of ownership and forms of possession. Films, installations, performances and lectures will be shown that explore how ownership determines our global present and future and how this is interwoven with our recent past. They show how objects, spaces or experiences can take possession of us, and in doing so facilitate alternative forms of being and acting together. And by experimenting with strategies of appropriation, distribution and withdrawal, the contributions propose new modes of presence and participation in the spaces and institutions of film and media art. While the exhibition, film programme and talks are each devoted to different aspects of the thematic focus, individual formats address their connections and interrelationships.

The exhibition curated by Inga Seidler takes ownership and colonialism, i.e. (racial) capitalism as its starting point. The selected works deal with inequalities that this system of ownership and property (rights) has produced: the expropriation and deprivation of land, subjectivity, histories, memories and rights. They shed light on the ways in which this continues in the digital realm and feeds back into the connection between technology and abstraction. The exhibition also presents works by artists and activists who imagine alternative forms of ownership, different models of communality without property, and changing social realities.

Curated by Anja Dornieden and Juan David González Monroy, the film programme entitled "The Unpossessable Possessor" considers the cinematographic apparatus as a living creature entangled in a complicated relationship with humans. Is its relationship with us parasitic or mutualistic? Are its intentions pure or corrupt? Are we its master or does it have reign over our selves? Is it human? Or something else? Does it love us? Clearly we have ceded a good part of our collective consciousness to the film machine. Perhaps it would be a good idea to find out who it is and what it wants.

Curated by Daphne Dragona, the talk programme explores what "possession" and "being possessed" mean in and for the contemporary world and how they are connected. Visual artists, filmmakers and theorists are invited to discuss property, control and sovereignty in the context of land ownership, identity and technology, and to explore how these are informed by old and new beliefs, rituals and habits. By focusing on historical and contemporary forms of colonialism and extractivism, the programme asks what it means to own, lose and reclaim one’s world/s, and explores forms of resistance, relationality and kinship.

Theme curators:

Inga Seidler
is a curator and cultural producer based in Berlin. Over the past years, she has developed, produced and curated large-scale exhibitions and performances as well as residency and publication projects. After several years as a producer and curator for exhibitions and performance projects at transmediale festival, she headed the digital program at Akademie Schloss Solitude. Questions of shared knowledges, cultural creation and organizing with the help of or in response to new technologies are also at the core of her current role at ACUD MACHT NEU programming the series COLLECTIVE PRACTICES.

Anja Dornieden & Juan David González Monroy
are filmmakers based in Berlin. They work together under the moniker OJOBOCA. Together they practice Orrorism, a simulated method of inner and outer transformation. They have presented their films and performances in a wide variety of venues and festivals worldwide, among them the Wexner Center for the Arts, Österreichische Filmmuseum, Anthology Film Archives, Haus der Kulturen der Welt, Kunstverein München, Berlinale, International Film Festival Rotterdam and New York Film Festival. They are both members of the artist-run film lab LaborBerlin.

Daphne Dragona
is a curator and writer based in Berlin. Through her work, she engages with artistic practices and methodologies that challenge contemporary forms of power. She has collaborated with institutions such as the Onassis Stegi, EMST (National Museum of Contemporary Art Athens), LABoral (Gijón), Aksioma (ljubljana), NeMe (Limassol), and the Akademie Schloss Solitude (Stuttgart) for the curating of exhibitions, conferences and workshops. Dragona was part of the core curatorial team of the transmediale festival from 2015 until 2019. She holds a PhD from the Faculty of Communication & Media Studies of the University of Athens.

If you would like portrait pictures of the curators, please get in touch. We are also available for further questions and interviews. In addition, we invite you to join up with us in the coming months. The Covid-19 pandemic will surely keep us busy and demand new forms for meeting.

With best wishes and warmest greetings from your EMAF 2021 team

Katharina Lohmeyer

Katrin Mundt, Hermann Nöring, Alfred Rotert