The online world that has emerged in response to the pandemic reshapes our definition of social contact, obscures our private and public environments, and circumscribes the evolution of communication. UN/MUTE-10002 follows the narratives of ten European artists who have never visited New York City and ten NYC-based artists, paired into teams of two, one European with one New Yorker. Additionally, one artist is a digital immigrant, born before 1986, and the other is a digital native, born into the world of web browsers and email, after 1986. Over a series of Zoom sessions, each team’s collective creative process will unfold in a series of video recordings.
Language serves as the first cultural indicator of change. At constant risk of complete extermination, the Amazon is now more recognized as an online shopping platform than one of our planet’s richest natural resources. We stream video content into our living rooms while drinking bottled water branded with pictures of mountain springs, and our most priceless memories are hidden away in a cloud. We sit a virtual world apart from each other – far more than the recommended six feet – obscuring the socioeconomic divisions of race, color, national origin, gender identification, sexual orientation, religion, and age. The present state of being often sounds more like mythology or folklore than reality.
As the internet conditions our lifestyle, we aim to find new normalcy amidst a shortage of vaccines, new virus strains, unsettling unemployment rates, and a Western world trying to mitigate racism and xenophobia during a delicate sociopolitical epoch. Regardless of our facility with digital technologies, how do we progress without compromising the past? How can we learn from each other’s individual histories and experiences? Embodying inclusion, multilingualism, and digitalization, UN/MUTE provides an opportunity for two transatlantic strangers to collaborate on a singular project for a sustainable future.
Participating artists include: Eren Aksu (Germany), Aaron Bezzina (Malta), Will Calhoun (NYC), Sanne De Wilde (Flanders, Belgium), FOQL (Poland), Gabriele Gervickaite (Lithuania), Kris Grey (NYC), Sophie Guisset (Wallonia-Brussels, Belgium), Kyle Hittmeier (NYC), Mo Kong (NYC), Yi Hsuan Lai (NYC), H Lan Thao Lam (NYC), Marie Lukáčová (Czech Republic), Olesja Katšanovkaja–Münd (Estonia), Sheila Maldonado (NYC), Barbara Maria Neu (Austria), Emmanuel Massillon (NYC), Alex Mirutziu (Romania), Emily Shanahan (NYC), Sydney Shavers (NYC).
Eren Aksu was born in Istanbul, Turkey. After earning a Bachelor of Arts degree in Film & TV from Istanbul Bilgi University, he moved to Berlin, where he currently lives and works. He holds a Bachelor of Arts and a Master of Arts in Arts & Media from Universität der Künste Berlin. His narrative film projects tell personal stories through hybrid forms. “Cosmorama” premiered at the International Short Film Festival Oberhausen (2016). It was screened in Sarajevo Film Festival's short film competition (2016) and Dresden Short Film Festival's competition (2017), Akbank Short Film Festival as well as other international film festivals. “Routines” premiered at the International Short Film Festival Oberhausen (2018), was screened at Exground Film Festival (2018) and was included in the German Short Films - Cannes Edition DVD (2018). He was invited to Talents Sarajevo as a director in 2017. His latest film, “Other Than That, I’m Fine” won the 3sat promotional award at the 66. International Short Film Festival Oberhausen.
UN/MUTE-10002 is a project by EUNIC NY and Undercurrent. EUNIC — European Union National Institutes for Culture — is Europe’s network of national cultural institutes and organisations, with 36 members from all EU member states. This project was initiated by the Lithuanian Culture Institute and the Consulate General of Estonia in New York and is co-organized by Austrian Cultural Forum New York, Wallonia-Brussels International in New York, Czech Center New York, Delegation of Flanders to the USA, Goethe-Institut New York, Arts Council Malta in New York, Polish Cultural Institute New York, Romanian Cultural Institute, the Hope Recycling Station, the Jindřich Chalupecký Society, and supported by the European Union Delegation to the United Nations.