Watch listy

Galerie Axel Obriger, Berlin 2011. Installation. “Water in Water”, general view. Details: PVC pipes, glue, acrylic paint, variable dimensions. Wall note, printed paper 15 x 11,5 cm. “Humans are fashionable”, wood, latex, drawing ink, 87,5 x 60 x 3 cm.

The piece was commissioned by the Axel Obiger Gallery for a collective exhibition called Watchlist. The criterion was to create the work of a fictional artist.

I decides to create an artist called Mady-Alem Akec, born in the recently formed nation of South Sudan. Akec moved to Kassel for a six months residency where he created a piece for the exhibition called Water in Water. This piece consist of 3 different objects that are connected by the idea of waste, exchange and cycle. The first one consists of 3 pieces of PVC tubes integrated into the walls of the exhibition space. The second one is a tribal design tattoo painted on a latex surface and the last is a wall note requesting computer residues for recycling.

Mady-Alem Akec´s premise is to reflect on the exchange between the world´s interest in his country´s precious natural resources and the objects that actually return to Africa in the form of waste. PVC, latex and computer residues are all products derived from oil. At the same time, they are all products that turn into waste or used to drain waste, like a drainage and sewage.

Cycles and recycling are central ideas to this work and are quietly integrated in his choice of objects, which are all everyday familiar elements -so familiar that we have ceased to see them. Therefore, by exposing them, he renders them visible.

This contain the idea of how we have come to perceive the world´s conflict for oil and have come to accept it as familiar, as “normal”; we have ceased to perceive it as a problem, like sewage piping and the background noise blasting form our TV sets. Thus by installing these objects as exhibits in a gallery, the artist wants the public to see, to look again, and to perceive the fact that human conflicts are involved in the process of supplying the world with oil. The implicit comment is that all we send in return for their precious oil is waste - hence the choice of materials. This is not the work of a clumsy plumber - it is a reminder that human conflict is the price we pay for transporting our shit.

The work is therefore a comment on this cycle of war and political struggle pertaining to the oil industry and nations involved. Through his experience in Europe, Akec comes to the conclusion that this is a cruel exchange, and the cruelty lies in the very fact that it is “normal”. Thus, he utilizes these quotidian elements of urban landscape, which for us are so familiar, to give us a snide smile at our conformity.