Rojava Film Commune
Forms of Freedom

Gallery Nova, Teslina, Zagreb

Thursday 24 /10/2019
18.30 Jonas Staal, Propaganda Art in the 21st Century, lecture and book launch
20.00 exhibition opening
20.30 curator iLiana Fokianaki guides through exhibition

Friday 25 /10/2019
19.00 Art as Counter Hegemony
concept and moderation: iLiana Fokianaki
participants: Jonas Staal, Milica Tomić and Marina Vishmidt

Tuesday 12/11/2019
19.00 Jerko Bakotin & Nikola Kuprešanin: Battle for Rojava - discussion and screening of an episode of the documentary series Kurds dedicated to the Kurdish revolutionary movement in Syria

Forms of Freedom looks at Rojava Film Commune, a collective of filmmakers founded in 2015 and based in the autonomous region of Rojava. Mediating and depicting the daily struggles in the Syrian civil war and Rojava’s collective attempt to build a new society, the exhibition Forms of Freedom realized by curator iLiana Fokianaki in collaboration with the Rojava Film Commune, thematizes the values and radical ideals of the Rojava Revolution.
Learning the process and unique values of the Rojava Revolution is crucial to understand the conditions of the collective’s work. The grassroots, stateless democracy declared its independence in 2014 and is based in the north of Syria. It is founded on basic principles including women's’ rights, ecology and equality in all spheres of life. This political project has challenged the patriarchal system, empowered ethnic and religious minorities and inspired the opening of local democratic spaces. All decisions on social issues, from infrastructure and energy to education and domestic violence, are discussed through public meetings where collective decision making is taking place, a radical democratic structure that is based on a bottom top power distribution. These days, Rojava is facing the most brutal attacks by Turkey’s Erdogan regime and is in the critical moment of struggling for its survival, abandoned by the US, once its ally with whom the Rojavans have been fighting against ISIS the last five years.

Developing guerrilla strategies of acquainting the broader audiences of the cities of Rojava with the medium of film, the Commune employs local productions, but also films from the Western Canon like works featuring Charlie Chaplin and Buster Keaton, particularly City Lights (1931), The Kid (1921), and The Great dictator (1940), which the Commune has shown in many cities in the region. Their choice here is pragmatic: they surpass the language barrier by using silent cinema to transmit the message of resistance. The exhibition also incorporates some classic works by Chaplin and Keaton which, seen in a Rojavan context, denote the triumph of the oppressed by emphasizing class struggle and the role of the working class.

The films presented in this exhibition, were selected through a dialogue between iLiana Fokianaki and the Commune, aiming to highlight the methodologies, thinking process and radical imaginaries of the collective. The exhibition consists of a selection of works from the vast archive of collectively produced films. The Zagreb edition of the exhibition will be contextualized through a public program that includes a symposium and a screening.

After Athens, the exhibition in Gallery Nova in Zagreb is the second iteration of the exhibition Forms of Freedom which will be presented next year in a series of internationally acclaimed institutions: e-flux, New York, Vera List Centre, New York, Moderna Galerija, Ljubljana and ArtSpace, New Zealand.

iLiana Fokianaki is a curator, writer and educator based in Athens and Rotterdam. Her research focuses on the notion of the state and the formations of power that manifest under the influence of geopolitics, national identity and cultural and anthropological histories. In 2013 she founded State of Concept Athens, the first non-profit institution of its kind in Greece. She is also the co-founder of Future Climates, a platform that researches viable futures for small-scale organisations of contemporary art and culture.

The exhibition is open until 30/11/2019.

Working hours of Gallery Nova:
Tuesday - Friday: 12.00 to 20.00
Saturday: 11.00 to 14.00

Program is supported by:
Foundation for Arts Initiatives
Zagreb City Office for Culture
Croatia Audio Visual Center HAVC
Ministry of Culture of the Republic of Croatia
Foundation Kultura nova