Actors & Extras, a cooperation of Argos
and Siemens Arts Program, is the most ambitious exhibition that Argos organised in almost twenty years of activities. The starting point for the exhibition is the contraposition between the actor and the extra in the film. The dividing line between them is that between assertiveness and unassertiveness, cognisance and ignorance. An actor stands for a process of embodiment and for the ability to give direction to an activity. An extra is a voiceless figure in the background: body without embodiment. If the extra, in contrast to the actor, embodies anything at all, it is a conflict of orientation. Extras are independent of a film. They do not participate, do not anticipate. Their equivalent in real historical terms is the people, the masses.
The prominence of the characterisation motif has been called to attention in recent years. At a time when the idea of community has become problematic, desubjectification and social questions about the place and status of the individual find a translation. Nothing is then more metaphorically appropriate than the (dead) symbolic body of the cinema that has always stood as a model for a space of shared references, as well as for the idea of the collective consciousness.
In the exhibition Actors & Extras surprising and alternative positions are addressed. Invariably the artists explore the span between characterisation as abstract, modular and manipulable human material on the one hand, and the consciously acting individual on the other. The exhibition consists of work from ten artists; with the exception of two photographic contributions and an installation, the majority of these are video installations.
Works in which the figure of the extra comprise the subject should often be read as social and/or political allegories. Several of them take the form of socio-psychological experiments. This involves photo shoots, auditions, castings and re-enactments. In particular, re-enactments of events that are etched into the collective memory directly appeal to the forming of consciousness. The re-enactor is in the event but views it simultaneously as a performer and an outsider, from a certain distance.
Irina Botea, Jeremy Deller & Mike Figgis, Omer Fast, Christian Jankowski, Mark Lewis, Aernout Mik, João Onofre, Julika Rudelius, Krassimir Terziev, Clemens von Wedemeyer