transmediale Residents: Bassem Saad and Natasha Tontey


transmediale Residents: Bassem Saad and Natasha Tontey

We are very happy to present two new transmediale residents for our Residency Programme in collaboration with Martin Roth Initiative (MRI): Bassem Saad and Natasha Tontey. Read more.

We are very happy to present two new transmediale residents: Bassem Saad, based in Beirut, Lebanon, and Natasha Tontey, based in Yogyakarta, Indonesia. The Residency Programme, in collaboration with Martin Roth Initiative (MRI), supports artists-in-virtual-residence to promote artistic and cultural activities – particularly under challenging socio-political conditions. The residencies will be hosted by transmediale from October to December 2020. During that time, each artist will develop a new video work that will be part of transmediale's 2021–22 exhibition. The artworks will also be viewable on the festival website.

Bassem Saad is an artist and writer born on September 11th and trained in architecture. His work explores objects and operations that distribute violence, pleasure, welfare, and waste. Through video, sculpture, and writing, he investigates and records strategies for maneuvering within and beyond governance systems.

Idling Persons Congress

Throughout the Residency, Bassem Saad aims to develop a video essay that looks at historical and contemporary moments in which different social groups conceptualised, demanded, and practiced “democratic biopolitics.” As well as forms of radical healthcare, mutual aid, horizontal social welfare, and collective care, the work looks at rioting and political violence as legitimate forms of mobilisation that a population may resort to when faced with no other options. The work will adopt a multi-scalar and heterarchical structure, thinking through collective lifemaking and revolt. The piece presents an alternate version of historic events shaping the present moment, and keeps a close eye on the possibility of insurrectionary activity and alternative organizing within, and despite, contemporary disaster capitalism.

© Courtesy of the artist

Natasha Tontey is an artist and graphic designer based in Yogyakarta. She is interested in exploring the concept of fiction as a method of speculative thinking. This investigation brings forward the fictional account of the history and myth surrounding ‘manufactured fear’ and looks at how it determines the expectation for the future. 

The Epoch of Mapalucene

For the residency, Natasha Tontey focuses her research on the indigenous practice of the Minahasa tribe, an ethnic group based on North Sulawesi, known for its economy of stone. Their stone-based trading and communication system is a mixture of New Age practice, capitalism and a spiritual connection to the Gaia. Minahasa culture is also known for cosmological thinking and the political system of Mapalus, which is the the act of knowledge transfer through volunteerism and mutual aid. Mapalus is a social currency that formed the foundation of Minahasa’s gift economy, where transactions are based on trust and reciprocity. Tontey’s video-based work will explore the dynamics of Minahasan cosmology through the perspective of contemporary digital culture, looking at its potential to imagine an alternative world where anthropocentrism barely exists.

Stills from the film “Wa’anak Witu Watu” (2020-2021) © Courtesy of Natasha Tontey


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