The Mistake Room presents Histories of a Vanishing Present

The Mistake Room presents Histories of a Vanishing Present

Histories of a Vanishing Present is a long-term initiative conceived as a flexible structure for the production of projects invested in generating original scholarship. Imagining the exhibition as a temporal form that is shaped over time and across a multiplicity of spatialities including but not limited to thematic shows, new commissions, events and situations, and publications, Histories of a Vanishing Present intends to transform the usually insular process of academic research into a forum of (for) public scholarship; into a site wherein critical inquiry happens in direct dialogue with audiences.

This curatorial endeavor is committed to a generation of artists rooted in the Global South who were born and came of age after 1980. Through the lens of postmemory, this project mines the Millennial Generation’s complex relationship to nationalism, cultural heritage, historical trauma, and identity politics. At the core of our investigation is an interest in understanding how formative historical moments have come to define an emerging generation of practitioners that did not experience them directly yet nevertheless has been deeply affected by memories inherited from those who did through images, stories, places, and actions. From independence movements in Africa, to military dictatorships in Latin America, to the transformation of the Middle East after WWII, to armed conflict and Western intervention in East Asia, to the formation of a post-Soviet Eastern Europe, Histories of a Vanishing Present navigates the consequences of violent pasts and their influence on the work and practices of those shaping the future of contemporary art.

A Prologue is the first exhibition of this multi-year project. Organized as four rotating chapters of varying lengths, A Prologue introduces a constellation of artists, voices, positions, and geographies that will anchor the questions and inquiries guiding this initiative over the next three years. Two central themes structure this introductory show—history as struggle and history as material for reinvention and recreation. These two distinct approaches to engage with the past are revealed through the practices of ten artists living and working around the globe. Mobilizing film and moving images these artists highlight the intricacies of trans-generational acts of transfer and the textured realities forging current sociopolitical, cultural, and economic climates in regions often positioned at the periphery of art history’s canon. Participating artists in each chapter of this show will be announced as the preceding chapter closes and in conjunction with accompanying public conversations that will contextualize the works presented; many of the works featured in this exhibition are being shown in Los Angeles for the very first time.

Histories of a Vanishing Present is an initiative of The Mistake Room conceived by TMR Director and Chief Curator Cesar Garcia in consultation with a developing international advisory team.

A Prologue is curated by Cesar Garcia with Kris Kuramitsu, TMR’s Deputy Director and Senior Curator.

Exhibition Schedule

Chapter 1: Jan. 9 – 23; Chapter 2: Jan. 27 – Feb. 20; Chapter 3: Feb. 24 – March 12; Chapter 4: March 16 – 26.


Basel Abbas & Ruanne Abou-Rahme: Collapse

Collapse brings together imaginary and actual moments of resistance and loss; an act of excavation that illuminates the deep disruptions that have shaped not only Palestinian lived experience and memory but shared histories of struggle. The sampled footage includes sequences from The Open Door (1963), The Battleship Potemkin (1925), and Edward Said as a young child in pre-1948 Jerusalem (In Search of Palestine).

A literal and poetic displacement resonates throughout the work, in part a meditation on a contemporary Palestinian landscape ruptured by a breakdown of community, memory, and narrative. Moments of recurrent potential and failure of resistance are repeated to critically reconstruct past fragments and uncover the suspension of the future in the present. This feeling of continual suspension and relapse, progress and deadly repetition is played out exploring the overlap between personal trajectories and multiple historical narratives. It is in the ambiguities between absence and presence, nostalgia and an altogether frustrating sense of deja-vu, that the installation explores an anxious and obsessive state of being, trapped in the transition between past, present, reality and fiction.

Collapse was produced with the support of the Delfina Foundation.

Jumana Manna & Sille Storihle: The Goodness Regime

The Goodness Regime is a film written and directed collaboratively by artists Jumana Manna and Sille Storihle. With the help of a cast of children, the film investigates the foundations of the ideology and self-image of modern Norway—from the Crusades, via the adventures of Fritjof Nansen and the trauma of wartime occupation, to the diplomatic theater of the Oslo Peace Accords. The Goodness Regime was shot in Norway and Palestine, and combines children’s performances with archive sound recordings (including US President Bill Clinton speaking at the signing of the Oslo Accords, and Prime Minister Kjell Magne Bondevik’s New Year address to the Norwegian people in 2000) and new documentary footage filmed on location. In the course of their research, Manna and Storihle interviewed Ron Pundak, one of the Israeli architects of the Oslo back-channel talks, and Hanan Ashrawi, the former Palestine Liberation Organization spokeswoman; the film premiere at the Kunsthall Oslo exactly twenty years after the conclusion and signing of the Oslo Agreement by Israel and the P.L.O. in August-September 1993.


Basel Abbas and Ruanne Abou-Rahme (b. 1983) work together across a range of sound, image, text, installation and performance practices. They probe a contemporary landscape marked by seemingly perpetual crisis and an endless ‘present’, one that is increasingly shaped by a politics of desire and disaster. They have been developing a body of work that questions this suspension of the present and searches for ways in which an altogether different imaginary can emerge. They have exhibited and performed internationally and founded the sound and image performance group Tashweesh. Solo exhibitions include The Incidental Insurgents, ICA (Philadelphia, 2015); Office for Contemporary Art (Oslo, 2015); and Akademie Der Kuenste Der Welt (Cologne, 2014); The Zone, New Art Exchange (Nottingham, 2011); and Collapse, Delfina Foundation (London, 2009). Recent group exhibitions include the 12th Sharjah Biennale (2015); Lest The Two Seas Meet, Warsaw Museum Of Modern Art (2015); the 31st São Paulo Biennial; 10th Gwangju Biennale; Insert 2014 (New Delhi, all 2014); Asian Art Biennale (Taiwan); 13th Istanbul Biennial; Points of Departure, ICA (London, all 2013); the 6th Jerusalem Show; (On) Accordance, Grand Union/, (Birmingham, both 2012); Future Movements – Jerusalem at the Liverpool Biennial, HomeWorks 5, Ashkal Alwan (Beirut, all 2010); Delfina Foundation (London), and Palestine c/o Venice at the 53rd Venice Biennale (both 2009).

Jumana Manna (b. 1987) lives and works in Berlin and Jerusalem. Selected exhibitions include Aftercinema, Beirut Art Center; Doubt of the Stage Prompter, Edit-Russ Haus für Medienkunst, Germany (both 2015); Menace of Origins, Sculpture Center, New York (2014); The Goodness Regime, Kunsthall Oslo; and Kunstlerhaus Bethanien, Berlin (both 2013). She participated in Meeting Points 7 (2013-4); the Sharjah Biennale; Performa 13, New York; Norwegian Short film Festival, Grimstad; the London Palestine Film Festival; and the International Film Festival, Rotterdam (all 2013). In 2012, Manna received the A.M. Qattan Foundation’s Young Palestinian Artist Award (first prize).

Sille Storihle (b. 1985) is an artist and researcher based in Berlin, working mainly with short films and publications. She holds a BA in Fine Art from Trondheim Academy of Fine Art and an MA in Aesthetics and Politics from California Institute of the Arts. Her central areas of interest include gender politics, nationalism, and history. With Liv Bugge, she runs the Oslo based platform FRANK, aiming at building community, showing contemporary art and generating discussions addressing hegemonic structures in society relating to gender and sexuality. Her artistic and curatorial projects have been shown at The Norwegian Museum of Contemporary Art (2014), ONE Archives (2014), MoMA PS1 (NYABF, 2014), Manifesta 10 (On Board, 2014), The Jerusalem Show VII (2014), Kunsthall Oslo (2013), Bergen Assembly (2013), Performa 13 (2013), 11th Sharjah Biennial (2013), Unge Kunstneres Samfund (2013) and Kunstnernes Hus (2012).

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