Cibic_The Gift_The Diplomat_still 6

Jasmina Cibic’s video installation is the first chapter of her new poetic study of the many “political gifts” found in European history of art and architecture, especially during times of rebuilding after political upheaval. There is a persistent and unsubstantiated rumor in Graz that the Künstlerhaus was also such a “gift” from the departing British occupation forces. Cibic’s installation looks at how culture turns into a Trojan horse with such donations. Some of the most spectacular architectural examples of this become the backdrop for a poetic narrative guided by “Four Fundamental Freedoms”—allegorical characters based on a speech by Franklin D. Roosevelt in 1941. These protagonists devise a plan for a cultural battle between different worldviews, where three personifications of Art, Architecture, and Music face off to tender themselves as the perfect presents for an imaginary, divided nation. They are judged by the Freedoms, who offer increasingly aggressive populist criticisms of culture’s complicity to politics, and in the end, their verdict is damning. Cibic’s film follows this contest, while a wrought metal sculpture represents the perfect gift with a quote drawn from the political debates around one of the film’s locations: “Everything that you desire and nothing that you fear.”

The Gift, Act I (2019)
Co-commissioned and co-produced by FLAMIN – Film London Artists’ Moving Image Network with funding from Arts Council England; steirischer herbst 19; macLYON; co-producers Waddington Studios London. Supported by Cooper Gallery DJCAD, University of Dundee; Northern Film School; UGM Maribor Art Gallery; Museum of Yugoslavia; United Nations Geneva; Espace Niemeyer.