Turn off your laptop, put away your mobile phone and enter the real virtual space: tonight (15.09.2022) Anna Ehrenstein is opening her first solo exhibition, “The Balkanization of the Cloud”, at Office Impact gallery in Moabit’s Arminiuskiez. Ehrenstein leads us into a decentralized digital world where utopian promises of a global cloud have given way to disillusionment with totalitarian technology. Nation states become social media influencers in their quest for (geo)political influence, as the three-part video work “The Nationstate as Instagram Influencer” shows. Ehrenstein’s work – colored by her Albanian upbringing – is juxtaposed with that of Brazilian artist Lux Venerea and Israeli video artist Jonathan Omer Mizrahi. Ehrenstein and her Albanian grandfather satirically invoke ideas of white supremacy as a way to prove that the country is “civilized” enough to join the EU.
Mizrahi, meanwhile, travels to the occupied West Bank as a vlogger. His handheld camera footage shows a state-sponsored organic vineyard and an artist residency marketed by the Israeli government to distract from the violence perpetrated against Palestinians. Venerea, on the other hand, turns Jair Bolsonaro’s online provocation on its head, contriving pro-worker and LGBT+ propaganda in an exaggerated manner. Nationalist psyop narratives aside, Ehrenstein’s criticism is on point, and shows how virtual networking can be emancipatory. We won’t reveal any more here: you’ll have to explore Ehrenstein’s immersive space yourself. “The Balkanization of the Cloud” is a politically explosive exhibition that remains accessible and includes comic relief. The artist skilfully links ideas around the fragmentation of the web, the inner-European position of the Balkans and the instrumentalization of social media. Worth it, therefore, to swap virtual reality for some “real virtuality” at Office Impact.
Text: Jil Gieleßen / Photos: Torben Hoeke, Katharina Kritzler & Maritsch
Jil Gieleßen loves memes, hiking, and uncanny valleys. When she’s not writing about art, Gieleßen works at the Boros Collection and as an artist herself in Berlin. In December, her first solo exhibition on social media will open at Gold+Beton in Cologne.