ART: Allora & Calzadilla Vieques Videos, Cuba . 23 November 2011 – 14 January 2012


Lisson Gallery is pleased to present Allora & Calzadilla’s third solo show at the
gallery ‘Vieques Videos 2003-2011’. Made over the course of a decade Returning a
Sound (2004), Under Discussion (2005) and Half Mast/Full Mast (2010) are now
shown here together for the first time. Each video addresses the complicated history
of Vieques, an inhabited island of Puerto Rico that was used by the United States
Navy as a bomb-testing range from 1941 until 2003. The Navy was forced to
evacuate by a civil disobedience campaign waged by local residents, with supporters
throughout the world. Allora & Calzadilla contributed to the visual culture of this
campaign with a long-term, multi-sited project entitled ‘Landmark’, informed by the
following questions: ‘How is land differentiated from other land by the way it is
marked? Who decides what is worth preserving and what should be destroyed?
What are strategies for reclaiming marked land? How does one articulate an ethics
and politics of land use?’

In Vieques the future of the reclaimed land remains uncertain and largely insulated
from democratic claims. Returning a Sound (2004) was made at the beginning of the
process of demilitarisation, decontamination, and future development and at once
celebrates a victory and registers its precariousness. The video addresses not only
the landscape of Vieques, but also its soundscape, invoking the memory of the sonic
violence of the bombing. It follows Homar, an activist, as he traverses the island on a
moped with a trumpet welded to the muffler. The noise-reducing device is diverted
from its original purpose: with every jolt of the road and spurt of the engine, the
trumpet might summon up the siren of an ambulance, Luigi Russolo’s Futurist
Intonarumori or experimental jazz. In his circuit Homar acoustically recapitulates areas
of the island formerly exposed to ear-splitting detonations.
Scarred with bomb-craters and with its ecosystem contaminated, the former military
land has been designated as a federal wildlife refuge. This designation entails further
violence by marginalising the demands of island residents for decontamination and
municipal management – the point of departure for Under Discussion (2005). An
overturned conference table has been retrofitted with an engine and rudder grafted
from a small fishing boat. A local activist uses the motorized table to lead viewers
around the restricted area of the island, re-marking the antagonisms that haunt the
picturesque coast and bearing witness to the memory of the Fisherman’s Movement,
which initiated the first acts of civil disobedience against the ecological fall-out of the
bombing. The hybrid device explores the absurd political inequalities of the situation:
the table, a common trope for the non-violent resolution of conflict, is forcibly
reliant on local navigation.

Exhibition Facts
Dates: 23 November 2011 – 14 January 2012
Opening Hours: Monday-Friday 10am-6pm, Saturday 11am-5pm
Location: 52-54 Bell Street, London, NW1 5DA
Tel: +44(0)20 77242739

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