The work of Andrea Luka Zimmerman explores the impact of globalisation, power structures, militarism and denied histories. Common Ground, Zimmerman’s first UK solo exhibition, celebrates strategies of social and cultural resistance and proposes new ways of living together in the face of a threatened idea of the ‘common good'.
Central to the exhibition, Zimmerman’s essay film Estate, a Reverie (2015) tracks the long drawn out closure of the Haggerston Estate in East London and the utopian promise of social housing it once offered. Filmed over seven years, Estate, a Reverie reveals the spirited everyday humanity and resilience of residents who, in circumstances like these, are habitually overlooked by media representations and wider social responses. The film portrays the complex relationships between people and the conditions in which they find themselves; asking how we might resist stereotypes of class, gender, ability, disability and geography.
The themes of Estate, a Reverie resonate in further films, images, documents and events brought together for Common Ground. Taskafa - Stories of the Street (2013), is a film about survival and co-existence told through the lives of the street dogs of Istanbul and the citizens who care for them. It is voiced by the late writer and storyteller John Berger from his own novel King: A Street Story (1988). Zimmerman’s Merzschmerz (2014) is a series of short videos in which children retell (from memory) fairy tales written by the German artist Kurt Schwitters to an adult neighbour or friend. These short scenes draw attention to the process of remembering and forgetting – as well as addition and subtraction – that is essential to the handing on of stories from one person to another. They are tender portraits which show the role of a listener to be as important as that of a narrator in the telling of a tale.
Common Ground provides an environment for open discussion, research and debate about the issues at the heart of these films and the other work in the exhibition. A series of talks, discussions, readings and screenings are organised over three weekends during the exhibition. There is a library area within the gallery with books and archival material related to the projects, where visitors are welcome to sit and look, listen or read.