Change Lab 3 & 4

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Made in SK” is an artistic project about gun production in Slovakia. It focuses on production of the so called “cluster munition” which is very dangerous to civilians. It started as a cooperation between students from Academy of Fine Arts in Bratislava and Slovak Human Rights Institute (HRI). It was part of a course titled Change Lab 3 which stands for “Laboratory for Social Change”. Every semester within this class I teach my students basic principles of artistic research and we are developing methods how to use art as an investigative tool. The course is also aiming to operate within the realm of public space or “public domain”. For the school year 2012 / 2013 I had an idea to connect the class with a “real world” situation. I invited the HRI to cooperate with us in the educational process, first to offer us one of their causes to use as a theme for the class and later to provide consultations for the students about their work. We chose the “Gun Export and Production from Slovakia” as a theme. We chose this because, to our surprise, deep into 2013 Slovakia was one of the world’s few producers and exporters of the dangerous cluster ammunition. Together with EU, the HRI was trying to create a pressure on the government to ratify the Arms Trade Treaty. At the time the HRI was still doing research about it and we offered to participate in that process. In fall 2012 I gave my students assignment to collect as much data about the gun production as possible, using various forms of art as “collecting mechanisms”. Before 1989 Slovakia was part of CzechoSLOVAKIA, which was at that time was producing significant volume of military equipment comparable e.g. to Israel. After the Velvet Revolution most of this production stopped, as most of the Slovaks thought until nowadays. But surprisingly my students discovered besides the still existing larger companies recently there appeared a lot of smaller producing parts of military vehicles, drones, guns and artillery. Students collected information, processed it and created maps and databases which the HRI also used for their campaign. In spring 2013 the students received an assignment to cooperate on an information campaign supporting this HRI cause. Students based their campaign on the “Information” they collected, using art as collecting mechanism. They re-arranged this collected information and created an artwork interacting with public space. These artworks, or their documentation were later placed on the HRI web site and used as a part of the campaign. As a class we did also a small march through the city (in a shape of a bomb shell as shows the attached GPS drawing), interacting with the passed-by. Because of the HRI’s campaign and the pressure of the EU, around March 2013 Slovakia agreed to stop producing cluster ammunition. Later in June 2013 Slovakia signed the Arms Trade Treaty, but production of other military equipment continues until today.

Student works:

Yesterday's Newspaper, newspaper by Katarína Karafová

Katarína collected articles about the military production in Slovakia from main national newspapers since 90's until nowadays. Since almost nobody in Slovakia was paying attention to them she tried to re-issue all the articles she gathered within one newspaper she created. Our whole group was handing them out during the march.

"Konštrukta Defence", digital video by Lenka Kuricová

Series of interviews made in close surrounding of "Konštrukta Defence" company, which was producing cluster ammunition and lot of other military equipment. The factory building is situated in a populated area of Trenčín city in Slovakia. Almost none of the interviewed which live close-by knew what the company is producing

"Load, Aim, Cluster Bomb", drawing, kinetic installation, magnet, needles, el. motor

Partially realized proposal for an kinetic installation working with Slovak national symbols and military production. The proposal is divided into three parts titled "Load", "Aim" and "Cluster Bomb". In part titled "Load" (which was actually realized) needles with a thread are drawn to a hidden magnet through a canvas imitating sawing process of a Slovak flag. In another part of the proposal titled "Aim" needles with a thread are drawn to a rotating magnet. The rotation of the magnet is causing the needles to vibrate in the air. In the last part of the proposal titled "Cluster Bomb" is a larger stack of needles laying on a flat surface. A moving magnet is placed underneath of the platform. When the magnet comes near to the platform the needles "stand up".

untitled, thermal camera video by Lucia Nechybová

A next door neighbor of this student owns a private military company producing thermal vision cameras used in tanks. Lucia experimented with this camera to record everyday life snapshots and life in populated urban areas.

"Kill It", flash game by Michaela Novosadová

A videogame where the palyers's goal is to destroy all gun producing factories in Slovakia

Gun & Truth, Sound interviews by Katarína Nagyová

Two interviews with two philosophers about how a persons mind and perception changes when owns a gun and what does means truth.