My World in Your World

It is difficult to imagine what the world would be like today without the invention of the camera and photography. Photography was not a sudden success of an inventor. It emerged on the background of complex processes of ideas, circumstances, intellectual conditions, technical competence, and numerous individual contributions. 

Until the middle of the 20th century, the camera was referred to as “the record of the real”, or “the witness of the real”. Today, the camera lies massively, and the resulting images depend on the kind and amount of information we deposit in them. These contradicting readings of the camera leads to a number of questions: Are we affected by the camera's visual representation, can the images change us, and, if so, in what sense?  

Photography is a medium of incredible power that can produce even stronger, more persuasive, and more intuitive effects on people than words. Photography has a profound impact on every aspect of our lives and it plays a major role in our personal lives as well as in public history.
The photographic image has affected us significantly, from the way we remember our past, choose our leaders, and catch criminals, to what we wear, what we buy, how we get the news, and our perceptions of war, peace, medicine and science. Photography also has many roles in society. It records public events, performs as a family historian, meditates as a medium of artistic expression, could be used to influence public opinion, and so forth.

Three artists, Charlotte Haslund-Christensen, Khaled D. Ramadan and Morsi, selected themes and motives that in different ways negotiate the title, My World in Your World.

Arranged by Brændstof 2007

Beirut Kalam

The first part of this video-screening project included the works of 12 Middle Eastern artists, which were shown and debated at several exhibition spaces and institutions in Denmark 2004:

Kirkhoff (www.kirkhoff.dk/art)
Institute for Contemporary Art
YNKB (www.ynkb.dk)
Free University
RACA (www.raca.dk)

The second part of the project was shown in Sweden the same year.
The project continued in 2005 with a new selection of artists and video artworks.

Nordic Object

Ten visual artists reflect their visions of what can be perceived as a nordic object.

Arranged by Nordic Institute for Contemporary Art, NIFCA (www.nifca.org), and Nordic House (www.nordice.is/english).

Curators: Khaled D. Ramadan and Marita Muukkonen.

Nordic House, IS, 2001.


The exhibition error-ISM is a reflection on transnational terror activities conducted around the world in the name of political struggle on the one hand and by the interest of the free world on the other.

The Finnish researcher Max Ryynanen describes the contemporary visual conflict and reflects his view on the issue of brutalism and aestheticism as such:

´The deep historical ties connecting beauty, artistry, warfare, and aesthetic experience seem still to be forgotten. Only an idiot would underestimate the power of beauty and warfare united, and the disturbing fact is that representations of war can be enjoyable also for the pacifist. The most shocking evidence is naturally found in the schizophrenic experience of the real time horrors of Manhattan on 9-11, the day when the WTC came all the way down.

There is an aesthetics of ugly, but ugliness may still reside more in the moral side of the attack - as in all attacks on life in general. I would like to make a point which may sound unpleasant for some of us: maybe at least in part as a cause of our distant and mediated relation to the WTC (and maybe to physical global reality all in all), I haven´t heard anyone calling the catastrophe ugly. Discussions have, still, more than often cited the event as in some, though problematic, way beautiful, and the experience of it as in some sense enjoyable visually.´

Artists participating in the exhibition present their observations on the topic in order to debate it within the frame of contemporary visual art. The major power which generated the show can be detected in the controversial statements by Karl-Heinz Stockhausen who has described the planes hitting the WTC as the most sublime work of art of the century.

The exhibition will question and debate the freedom of the art, the borderlines between the elements of ethics and aesthetics. It will look into the notion of terrorizing the aesthetic and what it means to put a transnational political phenomenon on display in an art gallery.

error-ISM aims at generating a debate about the notion of contemporary terrorism and how it has been perceived as sublime aesthetics by some and as brutalism by others. When is it beauty and when is it brutalism? Who defines the line between terror, art, ethic and aesthetic? When art interferes, will it help us understand both dimensions of this particular visual conflict?

In this paradoxical show the aim is to comment on the essence of the visual conflict, debate the freedom of artists and how they view and perceive contemporary brutalism and aestheticism in their work.

The exhibition shows a variety of works presented as installation, photography, video, and drawings. Ethics and aesthetics side by side in a controversial exhibition. Welcome to the new world of error-ISM.

Artists: Marco Evarestti, Simone Aaberg Kærn, Khaled D. Ramadan, Jes Brinch, Ian Charlesworth, Dieter Buchhart.

Galleri Christian Dam 2002 (www.christiandam.com).

Site about the concept of authenticity and virtual identity

In the debate on expatriatism, most feared by the so-called nation state are the satellite dish and the internet, in other words, any facility aiding the construction of a virtual identity. The concept of virtual identity is the focus of the multi-media project cast by the Chamber of Public Secrets.

The project presents how expatriates become the authors of their own identity, and the processes by which they constantly draft and redraft themselves in a virtual/personal logic.

What we are about to explore is the dual and tranquil character of post-expatriatism. The project, which takes place in a twofold space, is concerned with the intimate inner, concealed, human identity. It explores the personal or hidden identity as a notion and how it is constructed, presented and perceived.

Much of the literature on expatriate identity focuses on the construction of so-called false identities, particularly the notion of identity swapping. Such position has been critically analyzed by Edward W. Said in his book Orientalism. According to Said, these other cultures and identities are presented as timeless phantasmatical entities, e.g. archaic, irrational, wild, dangerous, etc.

The site of Chamber of Public Secrets at Minority Report is a space where the authenticity of virtual identity is at scrutiny. The presented works negotiate such quarrel and attempt to reconstruct the postcolonial identity and the perception of cultural primacy in the age of networking and mass migration.

Theorist Magdalena Donea discussed the concept of ´virtual identity´, the (re)construction of identities and how that challenges traditional notions of how we indicate who we are.

Assumptions such as physical appearance, accent and mannerism tell us that a person has a fixed identity which is related to one´s sex, geographic location, history and social class. Nonetheless, in the disembodied world of the virtual community, identity is also ambiguous.

The aspiration of the site is to comprehend how a displaced identity is recognized in a virtually mobile (immigrant) community, the site examines the property of such identity including the circumstances that give rise to it.

The project is cast by Chamber of Public Secrets and implemented by numerous artists in cooperation.

Produced for Minority Report 2004 (www.minority-report.dk)

Accent - a video project with reference to H.C. Andersen

Duchamp demonstrates how the field of art as a universe of belief produces ´the value of the work of art by producing the belief´. Producing an artwork is one issue. Believing in its value and regarding it as knowledge producer is something entirely different.

Theorists Michael J. Parsons and H. Gene Blocker write: At any given time, there are limits to what can be considered art; an artist makes something that exceeds these limits in a particular way and claims it is art. Usually by exhibiting it as if it were art and often with an argument about why it is art.

In prolongation of Michael J. Parsons and H. Gene Blocker´s statements, the video project Accent attempts to add a new dimension to contemporary video art practice and thereby exceed its limits.

In contemporary video art practice we rarely witness a commissioned video art project. However, in the case of Accent, a project that commemorates the 200 years anniversary of H.C. Andersen, seven multi media artists were asked to deliver a new video footage negotiating the Danish author H.C. Andersen and address what he represents.

The artists illustrate how they consume and comprehend subject matters such as nationality, regionalism, socio-realism and phantasm in H.C. Andersen´s literary work. Manoeuvring between analytical and aesthetical visual representations, the artists engage in a visual dialogue with the hidden messages in H.C. Andersen´s work.

Unlike art critics, who primarily focus on specific, contemporary works of art, the artists selected are more like aestheticians concerned with essential questions about literary and visual art as such and the messages it conceals.

The choice of video as a medium in the exploration of H.C. Andersen´s representations stem from a wish of giving the project flexibility and mobility. It also has the potential of making the most of the advantages offered by the simulative technical digital culture we live in. This culture has introduced an art form and an art practice unlike any other in history.

The significance of motion picture and video art has been described by Terry L. Heaton as such: ´The motion picture is a remarkably effective medium in conveying drama and evocating emotion. The art of motion pictures is exceedingly complex, requiring contributions from nearly all of the other arts as well as countless technical skills. Probably, no other art has proliferated as much in the 20th century or gained similar popularity or influence. The motion picture in all its forms is the most influential medium man has known.´

The current trans-national, geo-political and socio-cultural climate has introduced a new visual vocabulary into video art. The result is a new expression of minimal art with maximum explanation power. One of the characteristics of this kind of art is the extensive use of historic and socio-political texts, narratives and antique-like footage and photography. Another characteristic is the tendency of this kind of art to commit itself and engage in political and social issues and interact with its surroundings.

The primary concern of the project Accent is the way we perceive an iconic author like H.C. Andersen and comprehend his literary representations and all that lies behind the letters. Accent in this regard examines the role of imaginary digitalism and semi-documentarism in contemporary society and how the visual element or visual experience can become a mediator between a literary icon as H.C. Andersen and the impact of his writings on humanism.

Video art or the art of motion picture play a central role in making culture. In contemporary time, video art as social visual structure has become more available to the audience, in most cases to educate and serve rather than to entertain. This motion picture endeavour is a visual paraphrase over a literary phantasm. The intentions of the video project Accent stretch from culture over education to entertainment.

Curator: Khaled D. Ramadan

Invited artists: Colonel, Lillibeth C. Rasmussen, Jane Jin Kaisen, Miguel Vega Olivares, Emil Madsen Brandt, Masar Souhail Al-Kenani, Tallat Shakour and Chamber of Public Secrets

Supported by Copenhagen County and Braendstof.

Clockwise - New Nordic Contemporary Art

Artists as humorous and melancholic ethnographers

The humoristic and melancholic works in the exhibition examine life styles and different attitudes toward mobility, internationalisation and new subcultural communities, which arise as traditional and cultural ties become lax. The nine artists target anthropological and sociological issues rather than aesthetics and form. The works constitute an ethnographic mapping of the cultural field and reflect cultural shifts related to identity, place and social environments, including the art world.

We live in a time of constantly changing identity stories. The British sociologist Anthony Giddens has called the phenomenon life style politics. The single individual creates his or her own identity, confronted with an ever-growing number of choices on all levels, from that of profession and sexuality to styles of dressing, music and eating. For some, this includes the voluntary or enforced choice of country and culture. Some are vagabonds, others tourists, the majority something inbetween, as stated by the sociologist Zygmunt Bauman, who in his own life experienced enforced relocation.

The works in the exhibition contemplate on cultural self-understanding and recognize how individuals, time and again, are forced to navigate according to their own experiences.

The hunt for identity has become the main source of social meaning. This hunt is as pervasive as the technological and economical shifts that have taken place recently. The hunt for an identity, whether collective or individual, earned or constructed, takes up more and more of our time - as art critique Tomas Ivan Traskman writes in the exhibition catalogue.

The artists use a range of different media, including installation, photography, video and drawing. They engage and invest depth of heart in our mutual social and existential reality in 2003 - and ask the same of us.

The exhibition was initiated and produced by Nordic Institute for Contemporary Art, NIFCA (www.nifca.org).

Curators: Stine Høholt and Khaled D. Ramadan.

Vejle Museum of Art, DK (www.vejlekunstmuseum.dk)
Nordic House, Reykjavik, IS (www.nordice.is/english)
Sparwasser HQ (www.sparwasserhq.de)
BergstublPROJEKT, Berlin 2002-2003.

Right to Strike First Club

The New World Order implies a New Cultural Order. As a direct reflection to the transnational political climate, Chamber of Public Secrets initiated a collective statement in 2003 in shape of the art project Right to Strike First Club.

At the time, the Bush administration outlined a new doctrine reserving the right to strike first against nations and governments it deemed a threat. The open declaration of the strike-first strategy, however, condensed into a dark cloud hanging over the UN Security Council.

One result of the new doctrine was that other countries suddenly found themselves entitled to launch pre-emptive strikes, rather than waiting until their perceived enemies would come to them.

Another development was popular anger against the United States over its foreign policy, which sparked a campaign to boycott American products throughout the world.

These are some of the challenges of the world today and the art world is not immune to the influences of such political developments.

In Flash Art December 2001 Giancarlo Politti wrote that art has always been the sensitive detector of change and is a delicate seismograph of our time. Right to Strike First Club is a project that addresses the role of artists rather than art as such, in relation to such hysterical political climate.

This project is not about art that goes political but rather about the role and relevancy of contemporary art and its relation to political activities. Art functions as a mediator and can influence people´s opinions. Artists and activists have to make a stand or accept everything their governments say, be it true or false. Dear ARTISTS, welcome to the Right to Strike First Club

During the exhibition at PIO-DIAZ, statements from about 200 artists, critics and activists from around the world commenting on the war was put on display.

5 Million Peace March

5 Million Peace March is a humanistic and peaceful annual event that started in 2003. Its vision is that millions of people worldwide will go to Jerusalem to promote that city's establishment as an international city of peace, and more generally, to highlight the need for peace and understanding between different peoples and cultures.

When the world leaders are unable to stop the violence and cannot end the conflict, it is
time for the people of the world to take action and put an end to one of the world´s most devastating conflicts. It was the will of the people who toppled the Berlin Wall, let's do it again!