27 October – 22 December 2017


All images (+1)

With Fiona Amundsen, Tanya Busse and Emilija Škarnulytė, Seamus Harahan, Susan Schuppli, Chia Wei-Hsu.

Utilising observation, forensic, and analytical strategies, the work of six artists offer cinematic approaches to capturing community-based realities. Through their exhibition, and a series of reading groups and events, Ex-ante is interested in tying stories and storytelling from the Canadian North, Northern Europe, the Asia-Pacific region, and Aotearoa.

Publicly asking how these works negotiate conflicts of nature, law, politics, and materials, this exhibition suggests that inabilities to respond to and to produce 'truth' belong also to the domain of image-making.
New regimes of images find their way to our courtrooms, at first adding an unusual break into the perceived truth of law. The image's performative tactic can give form to the identity of stories from communities that might otherwise not surface into public knowledge. Stripped of its observational power, the image loses clear connection to a single reality.

These are some of the attitudes employed to signal a shifting need for the undermining of the historical event, its claim to truth, and the position from which it is told. How is the image and imagination involved in this? Can we speak before our turn? How to offer a reality before the event?

Ex-ante focuses on the role of images in our world, arguing that we need not speak the truth - either 'post' or 'pre' - not the image perform it. Instead, the exhibition advocates for the imaginative and speculative role of the image when it is set to work on the present. It tries to understand how we might be complicit in the production of our own realities, truths, or futures. How not to forecast, but to see, before the event?

Chia-Wei Hsu born in 1983 in Taichung, Taiwan, currently lives and works in Taipei, Taiwan. In 2016, he graduated from Le Fresnoy-Studio national des arts contemporains in Tourcoing, France. Within his practic Hsu stresses specifically on the actionability underneath image creation, while linking up the relationships of humans, materials, and places omitted in the narrative of the conventional history through establishing the incidents beyond camera. The artist has participated in exhibitions such as “Hic Sunt Leones” at Surplusspace in Wuhan, China(2019), “A Tale of Hidden Histories” at EYE Filmmuseum in Amsterdam, Netherlands(2019), “The 12th Shanghai Biennale: Progress” at Power Station of Art, Shanghai, China(2018), “Busan Biennale 2018: Divided We Stand” at MoCA Busan in Busan, Korea(2018), “Gwangju Biennale 2018: Imagined Borders” at Gwangju Biennale Hall in Gwangju, Korea(2018), “21st Biennale of Sydney-SUPERPOSITION” at Museum of Contemporary Art Australia in Sydney, Australia(2018) and many other exhibitions and art fairs.

Fiona Amundsen born 1973 in Auckland, New Zealand explores how documentary photographic and filmic images can enable a connected, active and caring relationship to the ramifications of painful historical experiences that live on in the present. She is interested in establishing relationships between specific historical events, the social responsibility of witnessing, and the ethics of documentary photographic and filmic practices. Her recent projects have focused on the the 82-day Battle of Okinawa (It Was a Cave Like This/Violent Wind of Steel, 2014-18) 1944 ‘Cowra Breakout’ in Australia, where just over 1,000 Japanese POWs attempted to escape, resulting in 235 deaths (A Body that Lives, 2017); the March 1945 American aerial fire-bombing of Tokyo (To Each Other/A Body that Lives, 2015-16); the plight of Ben Kuroki, the only American of Japanese descent permitted to fight in aerial combat in the Asia Pacific Theatre of WWII (Way of Life, 2016); the remnants of Syonan Jinja, a Japanese Shinto shrine built during WWII by Australian and British POWs in Singapore (Machine Wind, 2015).

Seamus Harahan born 1968 grew up in London and East Tyrone and lives and works in Belfast. Harahan is an ex-director of Catalyst Arts Belfast, was an artist in residence at Centre Culturel Irlandais, Paris (2015), received a Paul Hamlyn Foundation Award for Artists (2009) and represented Northern Ireland in the 51st Venice Biennale (2005). Screenings and exhibitions include: Fact or Fiction, Berwick Film & Media Arts Festival 2015; 52nd Ann Arbor Film Festival (Jury Award, 2014); Cold Open / Before Sunrise, Kerlin Gallery, Dublin (2014); Assembly, A survey of Recent Artists’ Films and Video in Britain 2008-13, Tate Britain, London (2013-2014); Nought to Sixty, ICA, London (2008). He was the winner of the Film London Jarman Award 2015.

Tanya Busse born in Moncton, but now based in Tromsø, Norway, Busse works primarily in video and installation. Busse explores questions of visibility in relation to deep-time, invisible architectures and larger systems of power. She holds an MA in Capitalism, Sustainability and Art from the Academy of Contemporary Art in Tromsø, and a BFA from the Nova Scotia College of Art and Design in Halifax. She has exhibited at the 31st Bienal de São Paulo (2014), Gallery 44: Centre for Contemporary Photography in Toronto (2013); Turku Biennial in Turku, Finland (2013); and is currently the co-director of Smalls Gallery (Tromsø) and Mondo Books, an independent book publishing platform that focuses mainly on works by artists from the arctic North.

Emilija Škarnulytė born in 1987 is a visual artist and filmmaker based in Tromso and Berlin. Her films look into the cross sections of invisible structures, deep time, geo-traumas, identity and geological ungrounding processes. Škarnulytė holds a BA from the Brera Academy of Fine Arts in Milan, Italy, and an MA from Tromsø Academy of Contemporary Art, Norway. Her films have been screened at the 15th International Venice Architecture Biennale (2016); SIART Bolivia International Art Biennial (2016); International Film Festival Rotterdam (Netherlands, 2015); Manifesta 10 (Russia, 2014), 31st Sao Paulo Biennial (2014); Pompidou Film Festival Hors Pistes (France, 2014) and International Short Film Festival Oberhausen (Germany, 2013) among others.

Susan Schuppli is an artist and researcher based in London, whose work examines material evidence from war and conflict to environmental disasters. Current work explores the ways in which toxic ecologies from nuclear accidents and oil spills to contaminates in Arctic ice are producing an extreme ‘image’ archive of material wrongs. Her projects have been exhibited throughout Europe, Asia, Canada, and the US. Recent exhibitions include Spill, Morris & Helen Belkin Art Gallery, Vancouver, Learning from Ice, Toronto Biennial of Art, Eavesdropping, Ian Potter Museum, Melbourne, Deadly Affairs, Extra City, Antwerp, Nature Represents Itself & Slick Images, SculptureCenter, New York, Trace Evidence, a video trilogy commissioned by Arts Catalyst UK & Bildmuseet, Sweden and Atmospheric Feedback Loops, a Vertical Cinema commission for Sonic Acts, Amsterdam. She has published widely within the context of media and politics and is author of the forthcoming book, Material Witness (MIT Press, 2020), which is also the subject of an experimental documentary.

Curated by Remco de Blaaij