Unforseen Forseens, which derives its title from Donald Rumsfeld’s now famous speech on the theory of knowledge, is a site-specific installation by Jasmina Cibic that explores various moments of the intertwining of political and astrological histories. Taking the form of a tripartite corridor, the work acts as an indeterminate space for performance – a pathway linking one historical possibility to another. It is a space into which are channeled elements that today do not rationally fit, but that have throughout history shaped the development of the social world: political power; the moral and philosophical institutions of religion; and the divinations of those who translate the movements of celestial bodies. The imposition of the corridor as a superfluous structure in this context also speaks of social and bodily control: the corridors of power, submission and confinement. When one adds to this set of associations the word’s original European meaning of one who runs to transfer messages (corridore) a whole system of temporal, spatial and communicative possibilities is set up.
This project continues Cibic’s investigation into the relationship between political decision-making and the formation of national myths and ideologies, reintroducing the often-ignored figure of the political astrologer. It seeks to archive historical moments in which there is a negotiation between power and prophecy that has an effect on what follows, even at apparently rational moments of modern history. This tension between power, the cultural hegemony of the patrician class, and the resistant, popular survival of astrological considerations is central to the work. Any political regime needs to ensure legitimacy not only through the display of physical power but also by ideology – the observation of political astrology as an ideological tool of propaganda provides much new information on the construction of State power itself as well as its psychology.
Formally, the installation of the corridor creates a space in which a group of performers can ‘decorate’ a space in-between using a variety of uniformly sized rubber stamps. The classical formal dichotomy of tiled or mosaic surfaces is repeated in the project’s central theme: decorative patterns form the framework of the composition, and within them figurative and narrative depictions take place – presenting the proposed archive which attempts to formulate a methodological categorization of material and information around political power and prophecy.
The project is a part of a series of new artist commissions for the exhibition CASEBOOKS at Ambika P3, London 2017.
CASEBOOKS is a collaboration between Ambika P3, the artists and Dr Lauren Kassell, Director of the Casebooks Project and Dr Natalie Kaoukji, Research Fellow at the Department of History and Philosophy of Science, University of Cambridge.
CASEBOOKS is curated by Michael Mazière. Curatorial Advisory Committee: Alanna Heiss (Chair), Professor Katharine Heron, Dr Natalie Kaoukji, Dr Lauren Kassell, Sam Thorne and David Thorp.