October 31, 2018, 2 pm
Many thanks to the gallery owner Barbara Wien introducing our participants to the history, development and concept of the gallery, art bookshop and publishing house and guiding us through the exhibition “THE BALLAD OF SPECIAL OPS CODY AND OTHER STORIES” by Michael Rakowitz at BARBARA WIEN Gallery.
Exhibition Dates: September 8 – November 17, 2018
Location: BARBARA WIEN gallery & art bookshop
Opening Hours: Tuesday – Friday, 1 – 6 PM; Saturday, noon – 6 pm
Address: Schöneberger Ufer 65 (3rd floor), 10785 Berlin
“The title of the exhibition derives from Rakowitz’ 2017 film, which was shown for the first time as part of the artist’s solo show at the Museum of Contemporary Art Chicago during the same year. The Ballad of Special Ops Cody is a stop-motion video, in which an action figure, voiced by a veteran of the Iraq War, confronts Mesopotamian votive statues in vitrines at the Oriental Institute in Chicago. In 2005, an Iraqi insurgent group posted a photograph online of a captured US soldier named John Adam. They threatened to behead him in 72 hours if prisoners being held in US jails in Iraq were not freed. The US military took the claim seriously but couldn’t locate a John Adam within their ranks. John Adam, it turned out, was actually Special Ops Cody: a souvenir action figure rendered in both African American and Caucasian likenesses. The dolls were available for sale exclusively on US bases in Kuwait and Iraq, and were often sent home to soldiers’ children as a surrogate for a deployed parent. In the video, Cody offers the statues liberation, urging them to leave their open vitrines and go back to their homes, however the statues remain, petrified and afraid, unable to return in the current context.
Besides the new film, we are presenting four new works: papier maché sculptures which are reconstructions of large, stone reliefs belonging to the series The invisible enemy should not exist. This series unfolds as an intricate narrative about the artifacts stolen from the National Museum of Iraq, Baghdad, in the aftermath of the US invasion of April 2003, and the continued destruction of Mesopotamian cultural heritage by groups such as ISIS. The centerpiece of the project is an ongoing series of sculptures that represent an attempt to reconstruct the thousands of lost archeological artifacts. For this project, Rakowitz works together with a team of assistants to gather information on the missing objects from the Oriental Institute of the University of Chicago’s database and the Interpol website. All of the objects are then produced in Rakowitz’ studio in Chicago. The title of the project takes its name from the direct translation of Aj-ibur-shapu – the ancient Babylonian processional way that ran through the Ishtar Gate in Iraq, which was excavated in 1902-14 by German archaeologist.” (Text excerpt from the press release by courtesy of BARBARA WIEN Gallery)
More information on the BARBARA WIEN gallery & art bookshop Website.