Ronnie Close, More Out of Curiosity, 2014, HD digital film. Courtesy of the artist.
We Are Here is an online exhibition of work by Irish artist Ronnie Close at the International New Media Gallery (INMG) from the 4th February – 5th June 2015. The show will feature two of Close’s recent video essays, More Out of Curiosity (2014) and Serious Games (2014). The exhibition explores the politics of football, from grassroots support to global sporting events, in Cairo after the 2011 revolution and Rio de Janeiro during the 2014 World Cup.
More Out of Curiosity is the product of two years the artist spent engaging with Ultras fans in Egypt. The film examines the way the group have been represented across television networks, online, in the street and even through Close’s own work. Following the experiences of Ultras from the murder of 74 fans after a game in Port Said Stadium (2012) to a court ruling sentencing some of those responsible to death (2013), the film traces the development of the group into a collective force with a distinct visual culture and identity. In bold white capital letters, huge subtitles are pasted over the video – conscious, through the large-scale and attention to the media’s portrayal of the group as ‘hooligans’ – of Close’s own role in re-packing a narrative to an English-speaking audience.
Visually similar text is also employed in Serious Games to comparable effect, although in this case they have been taken from the account of a Brazilian protester – whose phrase, ‘we are here’, has been used for the exhibition title. His slippage between ‘I’ and ‘we’ touches on the role of the individual in collective demonstration, as well as placing an emphasis on the body: Close has described the speech as carrying the intensity of a final testimony. Uttered after the man was tear-gassed, tasered, beaten and confined in a Metro station, his words bear an extreme urgency. Serious Games foregrounds the efforts of activists to contest the neoliberal privatisation of the World Cup in Brazil.
Close is a filmmaker and Assistant Professor of Photography and Media at the American University in Cairo. His practice examines the politics of civil war, revolution and protest. Close’s work has been exhibited internationally, including at The Mosaic Rooms, London (2014), Brighton Photo Biennial (2012) and Kassel Documentary Film & Video Festival (2010). He received the 2012 Documentary Film Production Award from the Irish National Film Board.
The exhibition catalogue, free to download, features contributions from art historian Stephanie Schwartz and philosopher Graham Harman. We Are Here was curated by Edwin Coomasaru and Tom Snow, with support from Isabella Smith and Adriana Bielkova. The INMG, which launched in 2012, is an online exhibition platform that specialises in politically-engaged contemporary moving image and screen-based artwork.