texts / publications

The Migrant Assembly BOOK

The Migrant Assembly, the collaborative project of Martinka Bobrikova & Oscar de Carmen together with the curator María Alejandra Gatti is a device for encounters that articulates people, projects, spaces and temporalities for opening up and making visible to the community the experiences and realities of migrants. The project questions and problematizes concepts such as border, identity, territory and community.
Authors: Martinka Bobrikova & Oscar de Carmen
Editor: María Alejandra Gatti
Graphic Design and Layout: Anna Sole
Photos: Jacky Jaan-Yuan Kuo
Poster illustration: Martinka Bobrikova & Oscar de Carmen
Printed by: palgraphic
Edition: 300
Published by: Bobrikova & de Carmen
ISBN 978-82-692882-0-9
ISBN 978-82-692882-1-6
Printed and bound in Madrid, Spain, 2022.
This book has been supported using public funds provided by KORO and Art Council Norway.

Kitchen Dialogues Book

Kitchen Dialogues, the collaborative project of Martinka Bobrikova & Oscar de Carmen consists of a body of work around the notions of value and power that govern politics in the economic and social spheres.
Authors: Martinka Bobrikova & Oscar de Carmen
Editor: MaryClaire Pappas
Co-editors: Martinka Bobrikova & Oscar de Carmen
Graphic Design and Layout: Aurelia Garová
Cover Design and Illustration: Aurelia Garová
Illustrations: Oscar de Carmen
Coordinator: Petra Balíková
Printed by: PROTISK, s. r. o.
Published by: tranzit.sk, Martinka Bobrikova & Oscar de Carmen
ISBN 978-80-972325-5-9
ISBN 978-80-972325-6-6 (e-book)
Printed and bound in Czech Republic, 2019

Residencies Exchange publication

The publication Residencies Exchange aims to show the increasing diversity of the currently existent artist residencies. In this scenario, the dialogue between its organizers is essential to enable mutual learning and improvement, weighing in a critical way the work itself. Through this compendium of texts and dialogues, “Residencies Exchange” delves into issues around 4 key concepts in the frame of artist residencies: mobility, reciprocity, academia and hospitality.
Edited by Hablar en Arte.
Download publication HERE

Outsider booklet

Download booklet HERE

Ya-Mae booklet

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Nostalgia for the Future

Hwang Rok-Ju (Curator, Gyeonggi Cultural Foundation), May 2017

Insubordination of bodies text

In the heat of critical discussions on labor, value and alienation, Paul Lafargue denounced the repressive imperative of work, the all-invading and foundational basis for modern capitalist economies. He manifestes the necessity of establishing the right to laziness, situating this right outside of capitalist exploitation and apparatus of discipline: “to work but three hours a day, reserving the rest of the day and night for leisure and feasting”[1]. Among many other critical trajectories including the anarchist joy of refusing to work, supposedly Eastern-European idleness and non-productivity, critiques of over-production and reproductive labor have become part of a strong tradition of the abolition of work in political and artistic practices.

At the same time, with a transforming economic paradigm of late capitalist production, one can observe how capital and microtechniques of power has become embedded within most private zones of subjectivity: love, rest, dream and laziness, which originally existed outside of the disciplinary matrix of the eight hour working day. What happens when the right to laziness is being commodified in contemporary societies? How has non-productivity become inscribed into the economy, technologies of governmentality and creative production? This notion of subordination, normativity, and resisting bodies was the focal point of this exhibition by the artistic duo Martinka Bobrikova and Oscar de Carmen.

The exhibition presented two works: “Yes, I can (not)” (2014) and “Non-logic Devices in Logic Processes” (2018). “Yes, I can (not)” is a sound installation, consisting of microphones distributed on tripods in various dimensions. Two sets of microphones occupy the space of the gallery. One part of the installation arrests movement from one exhibitionary space from the other. The devices, which normally serve the function of voice amplification, are inverted as loudspeakers that, in different volumes, reproduce two sets of utterances in affirmative and negative forms in all persons, singular and plural, omitting only the first person in singular: yes, he/she/they/we/you can (not). The non-emotional voice belongs to a multilingual mechanic translation system. The construction of the installation could be seen as a metaphor for the nesting of power, both in linguistic and spatial terms. Mladen Dolar etymologically traces the connection between the act of listening and submission: “listening is “always-already” incipient obedience; the moment one listens one has already started to obey, in an embryonic way one always listens to one’s master’s voice, no matter how much one opposes it afterward”[2]. Omitting the modalities of the self, microphones reproduce strong utterances of innate ability, permissibility, and agency. The microphones are also installed at different heights that do not respond to the human scale: one set is too low, the other one is too high.

“Non-logic Devices in Logic Processes” is a composition of six chairs, a backward inclined wall, and a rope marked with a black stripe in it’s middle and a set of two anti-disciplinary exercises, activated by performers at the opening and finnisage of the exhibition. The performers, students of art schools, were paid to perform nothing within the proposed protocol of inactivity. The signed contract assumed that performers simply agreed to do nothing and were paid 7.5 euro per hour. The protocol provided the possibility to change from a sitting position (exercise 1) at one of the chairs to the standing position close to the constructed wall (exercise 2), which partly accommodated the weight of performer’s body. The sitting position also implied holding down a rope with one hand. Communication among both the performers themselves and the performers and the audience was forbidden. The collision of these two works produce supplementary meaning: it seems that the sound instructs the performers on the (im)possibility of their agency.  

Observed in a two-dimensional plane, the installation might be seen as a performative illustration, in the form of anti-disciplinary exercises, of the first Newton’s law. The first law of dynamics states that an object will remain at rest or in uniform motion in a straight line unless acted upon by an external force. The classical  scholastic illustration is the game of tug-of-war: the arrows represent power which one group of bodies exercises, putting the kinetic system into a state of imbalance. The bodies as agents of kinetic power are inscripted into the normativity of scientific representation, naturalized and systematic. The position of bodies is static: an illustration can not represent the somatic and physical tensions. Copying this illustrative character, with the help of performers, Bobrikova and de Carmen try to stage equilibrium, despite the fact that visually this equilibrium is always violated with one hand pulling on a rope.     

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Physical power is normally represented as an arrow that actually relates to Foucauldian notions of modern power: anonymous, diffuse and secretive, performed through permanent mechanisms of supervision and control. Both of the works question the nexus of power and the possibility of insubordination: agency and subversion in it’s frame. As far as power is spread throughout social relations, resistance also should be diffuse. Michel Foucault schematised the relationship between power and resistance as two important counterparts. This tension could be seen as a space for subjectification. Although power techniques could use resistance for reaffirming and re-establishing the system, “the elements or materials that power works upon are never rendered fully docile”[3]. Resistance is not also the “anti-matter” of power, it can be productive and affirmative. Focusing his  attention on the body and the productive effects of power-resistance relations allowed Foucault to consider the idea of aesthetic self-creation, which he later termed the techniques of the self. Struggle against the imposed norms and forms of subjectivity was also central in this exhibition of works by Bobrikova and de Carmen.

The contemporary performance in an exhibition space is often described in post-Fordist vocabularies (plasticity, precarity, virtuosity). Bojana Kunst reveals this proximity and the tension of performance art and capitalism: “On the one hand, the work of the artist is at the core of capital speculations on art’s value; on the other hand, by means of its work, art also resists the appropriation of its artistic powers”[4]. Bobrikova and de Carmen actually points out to this entanglement and question the relation of performer’s body, the contemporary disposition of (non)work, and subjectivity.

Aleksei Borisionok



[1] Paul Lafargue, The Right to be Lazy and Other Studies. Chicago: Charles H. Kerr & Company, 1907. P. 29

[2] Mladen Dolar, A Voice and Nothing More. MIT Press, 2006. P. 76

[3] Brent L. Pickett, “Foucault and the politics of resistance,” Polity 28/4, 1996. P. 458

[4] Bojana Kunst, Artist at Work, Proximity of Art and Capitalism, London: Zero Books, 2015. P. 18

text RAM

In the second instalment of Bobrikova & de Carmen’s “Living in the beginning of times, 59.923885, 10.758991 / 10.17”, this time at Galleri RAM in Oslo, the multi-temporal experimentation with site-specificity that they introduced in Skien returns, but with some added insights and strategies.1 Specifically, they take on the temporality of plastic and its embeddedness in already existing human and non-human ecosystems. With the material’s slow rate of deterioration, it accumulates and pollutes not just the surface of the earth; through ingestion, it enters into living beings, humans and animals alike, and it is also deeply set in the ground we step on and from which plants grow. With a starting point that already considers plastic as eternally embedded in nature, Bobrikova & de Carmen critically examine and imagine its role in the future. They set in motion an immanent scenario that rests ambiguously between dystopia and utopia, where plastic is lethal, abundant and beyond control, yet also a material that needs to be put to use and re-use, as shelter, in social space and as “photogenic objects”.

The three parts of this exhibition re-imagine the past, present and future simultaneously and as such do not subscribe to linear time. In museum display cabinets situated in the back of the gallery room, the fragmented remains from the now considered distant age of the industrial revolution serve as objects of curiosity. The setup imagines that in the future, our ecologically disastrous capitalist activities, human infrastructures and exploitation of resources will be looked back at with shame, as “The remain of the traces of an unmentionable time.” The three pieces installed here – chunks of welded wire reinforcement – were also part of the previous edition of this project in Skien, presented in situ next to other ruins. At Galleri Ram, however, it is as if they have been excavated and put on display.

Another work in the exhibition unfolds itself in real-time, inextricably tied to the present while re-negotiating the future and past. “PostIsotype” consists of a series of wall-hung LCD screens, a digital synthesizer, sound elements and a pile of paper. Isotypes based on Otto Naurath and Gerd Arntz’s Vienna Method are portrayed on the screens and paper, while a rhythmic, industrial sound emerges from the speakers. Via the synthesizer, the figures on the screens are made into moving images which wobble with the sound pulse. This effect dissolves the clear cut categories that these Isotypes represent, merging and bending the boundaries between constructed binary or exclusive categories such gender (male/female), ethnicity (white/black), class (workers/middle-class/ upper-class), and in an extended sense also the boundary between the human and non-human. The constructed categories of human subjects are scrutinized and questioned, giving way to a future of blurred boundaries. It exemplifies what the philosopher, Rosi Braidotti calls a nomadic exercise or a “nomadic subject”, which she explains as a way of thinking through and moving across “… established categories and levels of experience: blurring boundaries without blurring experience.”2

The monumental construction which is made of the green plastic bags Oslo residents recycle their food in serves as the centrepiece of the exhibition. Dubbed “Photogeny of a contextualization for a new revolution,” it provides creative proposals for a possible future that can arise from the ruins and ecological problems of our past. The lack of human presence is noticeable, opening up for doubt weather this construction emerged spontaneously, by other non-human self-organized means, or if it represents an involuntary and self-inflicted human-plastic relationship by which humans now have to fuse old garbage bags to create shelter because other construction materials are scarce. Regardless, this doubt and ambiguity is productive, because all options present the human exceptionalism and “bounded individualism” we are so used to as unthinkable options. This serves to illustrate one of Donna Haraway’s questions from her recent text, “Tentacular Thinking”:

What happens when human exceptionalism and bounded individualism, those old saws of Western philosophy and political economics, become unthinkable in the best sciences, whether natural or social? Seriously unthinkable: not able to think with.3

Rather than preserving the the anthropocentric idea of the human as the destroyer of the earth, this installation exemplifies how plastic – although a human product – not only outlives us, but also transforms with the natural environment into unintentional figures. The Great Pacific Garbage Patch, a hoard of plastic debris which is larger than Texas in the North Pacific Ocean, is an example of this. As an imagined future, the installation considers the more likely alternative in which the earth will adapt after the fall of civilisations and human infrastructure, with or without support for human existence. The robotic voice which emanates from speaker elements in this construction may in that case be a trace of our less mortal digital creations, even connoting – as post-apocalyptic works often do – the persistence of artificial intelligence. It could therefore also be seen as an argument for our present time and all its transformations, following Haraway, that the future is forever unfinished, rather than defined by the so-called “age of Anthropocene” as the final epoch.

Text by Liv Brissach

1 The first installment of “Living in the Beginning of Times” took place in Ibsenhuset in Skien, Norway during Greenlightdistrict, 11-14.05.17

2 Rosi Braidotti, Nomadic Subjects: Embodiment and Sexual Difference in Contemporary Feminist Theory, (Columbia University Press, 1994), 4.

3 Donna Haraway, ”Tentacular Thinking: Antropocene, Capitalocene, Chtuhulucene,” e-flux Journal #75 (September 2016): http://www.e-flux.com/journal/75/67125/tentacular-thinking-anthropocene-capitalocene- chthulucene/ accessed 05.06.17