reCLAIM is a curated web application, presenting artists and their works opposing various forms of political violence.
To reclaim /rɪˈkleɪm/ means to recall from wrong or improper conduct; to rescue from an undesirable state; to demand or obtain the return of; to regain possession of. The artists presented on the platform reclaim symbols and narratives embedded in violent imagery. Through the assigned categories and additional texts we discuss our personal approach to and interest in the works. Users can display and curate the artworks according to their interests through selecting the various categories in the navigation that will grow throughout the existence of the platform, making the relations between these artworks visible. The artistic interventions displayed on the online platform decontextualize, re-arrange and imbue violent media and contexts with new meaning. In doing so, they comment on and criticize violent political movements and acts, and herby resist and defy the violence.
In the initial phase of the platform, artworks were chosen that are dealing with the ongoing war in Iraq and Syria, destruction of cultural heritage, the violent acts of Guantanamo prison guards, and the complex themes and dynamics relating to the so-called Islamic State (IS/ISIS). An opening event on Saturday, 27.02.2021 introduces the platform together with the artists Khalid Albaih, Morehshin Allahyari, Kevin B. Lee and Chloé Galibert Laîné. The event is part of the special exhibition RESIST! The Art of Resistance at the Rautenstrauch-Joest-Museum in Cologne. We seek to illuminate the complexity of political violence of groups such as the so-called Islamic State. The selected artists relate ISIS imagery to e.g. historic continuities of violence such as the invasion and occupation of the region as well as various dimensions of present-day foreign interferences including “the war on terror” and various forms of neocolonial hegemony. We discuss and analyze how IS appropriates symbols, narratives, identities and aesthetics and how artists reappropriate and recontextualise them subsequently. As part of the work we critically reflect on our positions as researchers and the academic apparatus our work is set in.
The initial focus stems from the context the platform was developed and funded in, the project Jihadism on the Internet - Images and Videos, their Appropriation and Dissemination at the Department of Anthropology and African Studies of the Johannes Gutenberg University Mainz, funded by the Federal Ministry of Education and Research. The virtual collection is part of a research collaboration between Larissa-Diana Fuhrmann and Dr. Simone Pfeifer with the artists. reCLAIM is also central to Larissa-Diana Fuhrmann’s dissertation project “The Art of Appropriating Violent Images”. In her research she uses curatorial practices as a central part of her digital media ethnography.
In the future the platform will grow through collaborations with additional artists and creatives focusing on defying various forms of political violence and reclaiming narratives.The instagram channel @reCLAIM_platform will inform about all artists and their works, related literature, upcoming events and more.