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AWARD-WINNING VIDEO INSTALLATION TRAVELS 2,000 KILOMETRES UP THE DANUBE TO JOIN ARTISTS.

Küba sails against the current

ISTANBUL native Kutlung Ataman spent over two years getting to know the inhabitants of Küba, a sadly notorious Instanbul community that lives in a world of its own. The result was a compilation of stories by the political refugees and outsiders that live there into a video installation that won the prestigious Carnegie Prize in 2004. Now the film Küba, which plays in Turkish with English subtitles, is sailing aboard the Negrelli, a converted container barge, as it cruises against the currents of the Danube, navigating Europe's oldest trade route through Romania, Bulgaria, Serbia and Montenegro, Croatia, Hungary and Slovakia, with its final stop in Austria.

Art swam up to Bratislava on a converted container barge that leaves June 21
photo: Michal Strasser

ISTANBUL native Kutlung Ataman spent over two years getting to know the inhabitants of Küba, a sadly notorious Instanbul community that lives in a world of its own. The result was a compilation of stories by the political refugees and outsiders that live there into a video installation that won the prestigious Carnegie Prize in 2004.

Now the film Küba, which plays in Turkish with English subtitles, is sailing aboard the Negrelli, a converted container barge, as it cruises against the currents of the Danube, navigating Europe’s oldest trade route through Romania, Bulgaria, Serbia and Montenegro, Croatia, Hungary and Slovakia, with its final stop in Austria.

Forty old television sets have been installed on the boat to broadcast the film’s testimonies of terror, love, obsession and resistance to those ashore. When played together, the stories reveal a touching communal portrait of the hidden society.

Pyramid of Capitalist System.
Courtesy of Industrial Worker

At each stop in a new country, local artists will join the project, entitled Küba – Journey Against the Current, to offer their answers to the challenges posed by Europe’s social-political development. Their works, however, will not enter the boat.

“At the end of the project’s journey, when the barge comes to Vienna, all artworks will be shown together in an exhibition that opens on June 24 and closes September 9,” said Gabrielle Cram from the project’s curatorial team at Thyssen-Bornemisza Art Contemporary, in Vienna, which coordinated the work with Tranzit in Slovakia.

When the project arrived in Bratislava harbour, Anetta Mona Chisa and Lucia Tkáčová contributed After the Order, their commentary on society’s hierachal class structure.

The day the barge anchored (June 14), the two artists created a living sculpture at Námestie Slobody (Freedom Square), which, as Gottwald Square, used to hold celebrations during Communism. Inspired by images of Spartacist agitprop parades and the Pyramid of Capitalist System (a poster published by the Industrial Worker in 1911), Mona Chisa and Tkáčová translated their vision of class division into today’s Slovak society.

Forty TV sets aboard the ship screen Ataman’s Küba.
Michal Strasser

The work, captured in a series of videos, will be shown at Tranzit Workshop at Studená 12, near Bratislava’s Zlaté Piesky recreation area, until June 20. By that time, you can also go aboard the Negrelli, which will be anchored on the Petržalka shore, to see Küba.

The ship will leave Bratislava harbour the next day for its final stop, Vienna.

By Zuzana Habšudová

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