Ali Kazma’s Safe consists of exterior and interior footage of the Global Seed Vault, situated in the Svalbard Islands, between Norway and the North Pole. It was filmed in 2016, when access to the area was limited only to those with special permission. This specific vault is the largest of over 1,000 vaults across the globe, which were designed to serve as depositories for seeds in case of a man-made or natural catastrophe, and contain the world’s largest collection of agricultural biodiversity. While the wars of the last century prompted the construction of military bunkers to save human lives, the need to save plants (and clean water) continues to intensify and may arguably be taking precedence. Kazma’s emphasis on our collective solitary life experience, a metaphorical portrait of an isolated being, self-sufficient and protected, is not lost, as our emotional and national insulation solidify daily. That is to say that Kazma’s video, Safe, is in Notes for Tomorrow to look squarely in the face of what needs to be done practically and logistically, regardless of personal biases or political positions, to prepare for the worst, while also empathetically acknowledging the intimate human sides of fear, abandonment, and uncertainty.
Ali Kazma is a filmmaker whose work explores a fascination with the actions of work and labor enacted by human bodies. Many of his works capture the minute specializations of a range of professions, performed by people who have developed a knack for their task; over the course of his career, Kazma has filmed a taxidermist, studio ceramicist, brain surgeon, factory worker in a blue jeans assembly line, watch repairman, butcher, and many others. His most famous and ambitious work to date is seven-channel film titled O.K. (2010), studying the stupendously fast hands of a notary stamping stacks of papers. For Kazma, processes of work, particularly those that have involved mechanical repetition or artisanal hand labor, are related to national and global issues of production, commerce, and social organization.
Mari Spirito is Executive Director and Curator of Protocinema, a cross-cultural, site-aware art organization commissioning and presenting exhibitions and public programs in Istanbul and New York, since 2011. She launched Protocinema’s Emerging Curator Series mentorship program in 2015. In 2020 Spirito was commissioning curator of Ahmet Öğüt: “No poem loves its poet’, Yarat Contemporary Art Center, Baku,and Theo Triantafyllidis’ “Anti-Gone” which premiered at Sundance Film Festival, New Frontier; she curated public talks for Beijing Art Summit, 2019; was faculty for Independent Curators International (ICI) Curatorial Intensive, Bangkok, and guest curator, Alserkal Arts Foundation Public Commission, Dubai, with Hale Tenger, in 2018. From 2013-2018 Spirito programed Conversations for both Art Basel and Art Basel Miami Beach; served as International Advisory Committee Member for the Inaugural High Line Plinth Commissions, New York, 2017; was Curator and Director of Alt Art Space, Bomonti, Istanbul from 2015 to 2017; curated “On the Nature of Justice” exhibition and talk for Onassis Cultural Center, 2017, Advisor to the 2nd Mardin Biennial, Turkey, 2012; andDirector of 303 Gallery New York, 2000-2012. She is on the Board of Participant, Inc, New York, and holds a BFA from Massachusetts College of Art, Boston.
Notes for Tomorrow is a traveling exhibition organized and produced by Independent Curators International (ICI) and initiated by Frances Wu Giarratano, Jordan Jones, Becky Nahom, Renaud Proch, and Monica Terrero. The exhibition was made possible with the generous support of the Andy Warhol Foundation for the Visual Arts, VIA Art Fund and ICI’s Board of Trustees and International Forum.
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