Silvia Kolbowski and Naeem Mohaiemen

Naeem Mohaiemen, Silvia Kolbowski

Main Gallery

April 12 – May 26, 2012

Copresented by:

Since 2006, Naeem Mohaiemen has been making works related to the history of the ultra-left in the 1970s. Mohaiemen’s project consists of essays, photography, and films. In The Young Man Was (Part 1: United Red Army), Mohaiemen focuses on the hijacking of Japan Airlines flight 472 by the Japanese Red Army. En route from Bombay, the flight was redirected to Dhaka, Bangladesh where it remained for six days before the Japanese government ceded to the JRA’s demands. Mohaiemen’s film is based on audio transcripts of the negotiations between the Dhaka airport control tower and the lead hijacker, which the viewer experiences as barely decipherable voices accompanied by a black screen. Interspersed between the audio recordings are archival television images from Japan and Bangladesh, as well as Mohaiemen’s own reflections on the JRA, which frame events from an autobiographical perspective. For Images, Mohaiemen is also creating a timeline installation that connects tendency, ideology, event, and accident.

Silvia Kolbowski’s A Few Howls Again? uses stop motion animation to resurrect the late journalist and political militant Ulrike Meinhof who was found hanged in her cell at Stammheim Prison in 1976. The video includes excerpts from Meinhof’s writings as well as comments about her by her critics, contemporaries and Kolbowski. An actress portrays the dead radical as pictured in a newspaper photograph of her body, the same picture that was the source for Gerhard Richter’s painting Dead. Kolbowski employs the iconic text and images to raise questions about historical and contemporary state violence and political resistance, as she explains, using the past, “as a filter to try and understand the present.”


Naeem Mohaiemen uses essays, photography and film to explore histories of the international left, hyphenated migrant identities and utopia-dystopia slippage. His work as part of Visible Collective was a series of database sculptures, event timelines and public seminars which traveled internationally, including the Whitney Biennial of American Art (in Wrong Gallery) and L’Institut de Islam, Paris. Since 2006, he has been working on The Young Man Was, a research project about the 1970s Bangladeshi ultra-left, with each chapter realized in a different medium. Naeem is editor of Chittagong Hill Tracts in the Blind Spot of Bangladesh Nationalism, an anthology of 75 essays on ethnic conflict between indigenous Jumma people and Bengali Settlers in southeast Bangladesh. Other publications include Collectives in Atomised Time (with Doug Ashford, Idensitat Press) and System Error: war is a force that gives us meaning (with Lorenzo Fusi, Silvana).

Critical Art & Culture