Karen Mirza and Brad Butler have worked together since 1998, and in 2004 formed no.w.here, an artist-run space for the production, discussion and dissemination of practices engaged with the moving image, politics, technology and aesthetics. no.w.here’s role as a cooperative environment is directly related to the centering of Mirza and Butler’s own practice upon collaboration, dialogue and the social.
The centerpiece of the evening will be Deep State, a film by Karen Mirza and Brad Butler that has been scripted in collaboration with author China Miéville. The film takes its title from the Turkish term ‘Derin Devlet’, meaning ‘state within the state’. Although its existence is impossible to verify, this shadowy nexus of special interests and covert relationships is the place where real power is said to reside, and where fundamental decisions are made – decisions that often run counter to the outward impression of democracy.
This work will be framed beforehand by a brief discursive presentation, involving excerpts & clips, along with other media & publications, focused on the history & initiatives of no.w.here and The Museum of Non-Participation, both interventions of language & exchange. Following the screening will be an extended dialogue with a number of invited guest artists, writers & curators engaged in activist & theoretical investigations.
Deep State is commissioned by Film and Video Umbrella. Funded by Arts Council England and London Councils.
“In thinking about our friends & co-conspirators, Karen Mirza & Brad Butler, coming to New York, or more specifically, Brooklyn, what’s exciting for us is the way they closed up the questioning processes, thus including so many different horizons in the picture(s) of the world. This is truly horizontal thinking, that invites you into the forms and materials, by not accepting the givens, but by trusting in ambiguity, risk, intuition, intellect, instability, & resistance. We personally wanted to hear them think out loud, to interrogate their own work as well as situations of power and change, to be challenged in public, and especially to experience how their generosity of approach & dialogue affects a New York audience.” – Bradley Eros & Sonel Breslav, artists & curators
45 minutes | HD | UK Premiere Nov 2012
Karen Mirza and Brad Butler: Early works by Mirza and Butler (www.mirza-butler.net) emerged from their interest in seminal avant-garde film. Within these works Mirza and Butler intertwine a range of visual and conceptual languages, combining analytical and experimental sequences to create closed-ended works. Since 2007 they have pursued a strain of practice entitled The Museum of Non Participation. This was born during a visit to the newly closeded National Gallery of Art in Islamabad. As Mirza and Butler stood inside the controversial gallery of nude paintings, they witnessed the large scale protests of the Lawyers Movement through a window in the museum. In that stark collision of art and political praxis, the project germinated and has subsequently remained intent on interrogating the interrelationship of politics and art, implication, participation and potential for active agent withdrawal.
Out of that initial formation, Mirza and Butler’s film works include The Exception and the Rule (2010) a non-documentary that seeks new directions for ethnographic film, and Deep State (2012) a science fiction inflected protest “training film” made in collaboration with author China Miéville which takes as its starting points different moments of political struggle, informed particularly by current revolutionary processes taking place in Egypt and close collaboration with the Cairo media collective Mosireen. A sister film to Deep State, Hold Your Ground was conceived as a form of protest in Canary Wharf Tube Station in Spring 2012 against the ongoing political injunction initiated during the 2011 St Pauls Occupation by The Canary Wharf Group against any form of gathering or protest in the capital of the banking district.
Upcoming exhibitions include The Museum of non Participation: The New Deal at the Walker Art Centre April 2013 and Derin Devlet (Deep State) at Galeri NON in November 2013.
Bradley Eros works in myriad media: experimental film, video, collage, photography, performance, sound, text, contracted and expanded cinema & installation. His work has been exhibited at Whitney Biennial & The American Century, MoMA, Performa09, The New York, London & Rotterdam Film Festivals, The Kitchen, and Microscope Gallery. He has worked for many years with the New York Filmmakers’ Cooperative, Anthology Film Archives & co-directed the Roberta Beck Mercurial Cinema. Also a maverick curator, composer, designer & investigator, Eros’s practice encompasses ephemeral cinema, mediamystics, subterranean science, erotic psyche, cinema povera, poetic accidents and musique plastique.
Sonel Breslav is a curator, writer and the founder of Blonde Art Books, an organization dedicated to promoting exceptional publications by international independent publishers and contemporary artists. The blog collects and disseminates information about self-publishing, exhibitions, and book production resources in the fields of art, poetry, criticism, and cultural studies. Blonde Art Books curates book-centric exhibitions that examine the connections between traditionally exhibited artwork and the books, magazines, and other printed matter that inform and shape their conception.