ZEFAK — in relation
University of Birmingham
“We must explore new sensory organs that make it possible to bring to the surface the unexceptional characteristics of the human. We should expand our senses to notice the slow violence, the slow destruction, the slow annihilation. The device of representation must be reconfigured. […] It is perceived as slow because our sensitivity fails to detect it”, state ZEFAK in their Calling the Future manifesto (2020). Calling attention to the swiftly irreversible devastation of our planet and desiring an alternative future, ZEFAK—a collective body based in Bremen, Germany—dedicates their artistic practices to unearthing a passage between local and global events.
In April 2020, the collective (Aria Farajnezhad, Elard Lukaczik, Zainab Haidary) was awarded a residency scholarship at Künstlerhäuser Worpswede. Deploying a diversity of strategies and hybrid methods at Worpswede, ZEFAK created a space to navigate temporal and spatial negotiations on the theme of justice in its broadest sense, thereby destabilising the dichotomies of self/other, human/non-human, culture/nature, etc. The collective’s practices consist of writing, performing, and animating its critical reflections on the current global power structures; reshaping institutional spaces and providing interdisciplinary platforms for local artists, activists, and researchers to engage in unfamiliar dialogues on familiar subjects; and documenting, archiving, and sharing resources online to captivate a potential translocal audience with an ongoing imagination, allowing for conversations of a just future to take place.
“We should expand our senses to notice the slow violence, the slow destruction, the slow annihilation.” ZEFAK
In their contribution to the Association for Art History’s Annual Conference 2021 in the UK, ZEFAK advocated for the recognition of non-disciplinary practices within traditional art history. Through an introductory presentation entitled We want everything “neerg” back, the collective requested urgent intervention, reparations, and compensation within the art world and beyond. Following the performative piece, they presented a video essay, Another Way of Arrival (2021), in which green stands for a visual element and simultaneously, a pathway to meaning. With the satirical and metaphorical language used in their works, ZEFAK invites the audience to reflect on the thorny questions of history and representation.Editing: Kali Thaker