Daniel García Andújar, Disasters of War: Trojan Horse (2016), digital rendering

Daniel García Andújar


The contemporary painter inhabits a world of computers. The Marxist question of the representation and reappropriation of the technology of production is now a matter of interface and coding. Or, as Daniel García Andújar puts it, “We no longer visit the archive. We live inside it.” But what happens to people who cannot access the operating system? What are the new forms of power and oppression, of visibility and opacity that digital technologies create?

García Andújar was born in 1966, during the last phase of the Franco dictatorship, when National Catholicism combined state violence with a new “stabilization and liberalization plan” intended to mark Spain’s arrival into the international market. One day they garroted dissidents, the next day they promoted consumerism on television. His hometown, in southern Spain near the Mediterranean, would soon be devastated by real-estate plundering and frenzied tourism. Holidays for the workers of fascism: You, too, have the right to enjoy your free time!

García Andújar initially worked in painting and design, in his twenties creating album covers for ruta del bacalao records, a kind of techno associated with synthetic drugs like MDMA and the Spanish transition of the 1980s. Eventually he stopped painting and went online, learning to program and becoming part of the first wave of Net art. His work extends into the realm of cybernetics and the reflections of artists like Hans Haacke and Antoni Muntadas on photography and television as systems of representation. In 1996, sidetracking traditional art spaces, García Andújar launched Street Access Machine®, a project for a mobile credit card scanner that would allow homeless people to beg in a world of plastic currency. The machine’s entirely fictional nature did nothing to deter Apple from inquiring about purchasing the technology.

In García Andújar’s work, ideas of community, communism, and assembly aren’t understood as political utopias but rather as training methods, ways of accessing hardware and questioning the property and epistemology of the archive. In a book project for documenta 14, for example, he sifted through information related to the reign of the Greek junta (1967–74) to create an image-text glossary of fascist grammar called LTI—Lingua Tertii Imperii (2016). Here and elsewhere, García Andújar’s goal is to reveal the dominant operating system, expose its flaws, hack it, use it critically, and open up spaces of resistance to the standardizing of language through which the world is created. To democratize democracy is to crack the code.

Paul B. Preciado

Posted in Public Exhibition
Excerpted from the documenta 14: Daybook

Ahlam Shibli, untitled (Eastern LGBT no. 22), international (2004), chromogenic print, 38 × 58 cm

Ahlam Shibli


According to what Ahlam Shibli told me, the two photographic “reportages”—I use the term here for want of space to debate it—that will be presented at documenta 14 have precedents in her work. One made in al-Khalil/Hebron, a description of the Palestinian city’s territory, in Unrecognized (2000); the other, an investigation conducted in Kassel on communities created by exile, expellees from the eastern territories of the former German Reich after World War II and the “guest workers” who came from southern Europe and North Africa from the 1950s to 1970s, in Trauma (2008–09). Unrecognized is an account of a Palestinian village that the Israeli state does not acknowledge. Trauma reveals buried memories (or those perverted by nationalist dogma) of the colonial wars led by the French state in Indochina and Algeria, in a martyred city of World War II (Tulle).

Shibli was born in Palestine in 1970. She has always been interested in the living matter that is formed and transformed in inhabited areas. This matter transcends the divisions between private and public; it is a mosaic of gestures and places that includes “views” (landscapes), speech situations (elicited by the artist), and biographical documents (excerpted from family archives). I have known few artist-photographers capable of creating what the Middle East most lacks today: a position of trust and basic understanding (allowing for misunderstandings), against identity politics.

For Shibli, the friend/enemy structure is a matter of experience and a condition of action, but she puts it aside to combine the distance of documentary with the proximity of dialogue; she avails herself of the dual possibilities of critical remove and empathetic participation. Each situation is essentially problematic (she does not thematize), and the central problem is one of home and borders, both mental and territorial. Shibli knows that oppression, censure, and disinformation are not only practiced by the winners. She has learned to be wary of the pathos of the victim, in order to better get at the confused reality of reactions to oppression.

She works outside the system of the news, toward an understanding of the present. The dramatization of information that is a part of today’s “fake news” environment calls for deeper attention to everyday life, to the mechanisms of appropriation that determine the intimate experience of a land, in times of peace (and the enjoyment of collective property) as in times of war.

Jean-François Chevrier

Posted in Public Exhibition
Excerpted from the documenta 14: Daybook