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21th June - 7.30pm

Screening + Discussion

Christa Joo Hyun D'Angelo, Issa Touma, Jack Shieh OBE,

Kristian Vilstrup Madsen and Virgínia Brás Gomes



HD, colour, sound, 32'

German with English Subtitles

“PAST PRESENT TENSE" is a video work that examines the question of German identity and its relationship to racism of the past and present day. Through various interviews the viewer observes social and political transitions in Germany - the GDR, Post-reunification and the pogroms starting in Rostock, and contemporary Germany society. The work seeks to redefine social positions and identities within the framework of intimate dialogs that challenge the status quo on how to define not only German identity but geopolitics in the context of white Europe. As such, the audience is posed with questions on what are the responsibilities of dealing with colonial pasts and how do we reflect on dominant ideologies and discourse in a time of constant mobility and global shifts? In a time of cultural amnesia, recalling the past and the retelling of memories is becoming more and more under-rated in a time when forgetting is common practice. Through telling interviews that discuss the perspectives of Germans of minority descent, the film highlights many of the experiences and opinions that are otherwise unheard and unseen within our shared public space. It thus asks the audience to realign their perception of class, race and privilege that run alongside labels that ultimately offer a limited scope on the complexity of identity politics rooted in colonial exclusionary traditions.


Production Credits:

Director/ Editor - Christa Joo Hyun D'Angelo

Subtitles - Jason Harrell
Post-Production/ Video - Bastian Hopfgarten
Sound Editing/ Audio Mastering - Paul “SNAX” Bonomo

Supported by District Berlin

Featuring - Anonymous, Abini Zoellner, Anetta Kahane, Minh Nguyen, Martin Hyun, Jasmin Truong, Jasco Viefhues, Kien Nghi Ha, Noa Ha, Jan Riebe

Special Thanks: Jason Harrell, Sander Houtkruijer, Amadeu Antonio Stiftung, Reistrommel E.V.



Christa Joo Hyun D´Angelo

Is an American artist based in Berlin. She attended the Maryland Institute College of Art studying under TJ Demos and later the Academy of Fine Arts in Krakow Poland where she later obtained her BFA. Over the last few years D'Angelo's work has evolved into a research based art practice that encompasses political issues concerning the politics of representations regarding class, race, sexuality and gender paradigms that exist within our shared media landscape. Recently, D'Angelo begun to explore the production of race in both transnational spaces and urban areas within Eurocentric and American media zones, highlighting the questions of “exoticism” and object fetishism as a form of racism.  Her work attempts to reconstruct conventional modes of identification, while rejecting the restrictive categories of identity in order to adopt a more plural way of experiencing race, gender and sexual relationships. D'Angelo's work has been featured in Art in America, Artforum, The Huffingtonpost, Kenzo's Kenzine, and she has exhibited in Volta Artfair, Galerie Suvi Lehtinen, September Gallery, and was the 2014 studio grant holder from District Berlin.

Jack Shieh OBE

Rising from a humble beginning in Vietnam, who would become a refugee and in 1980 arrived in Britain, Jack Shieh is now widely regarded as being at the forefront of Britain’s Vietnamese communities. Jack Shieh has dedicated his life to furthering Vietnamese causes. On his second week of his new life in Britain, he decided on becoming an interpreter for a British Council project, which focussed on refugees. Still associated with the project he later became resettlement officer, tasked with providing necessary assistance to Vietnamese families; not only with emotional support, but with advice on daily tasks, such as how to register with a GP and how to craft a letter. In 1988-93 Shieh became Director of Refugee Action; in this capacity he oversaw the resettlement of Vietnamese refugees. It was also during this period that he was asked to serve as as a member of the Advisory Council on race relations for the-then Home Secretary. Perhaps one of the Vietnamese campaigner’s biggest projects was working as a Social Services Co-Ordinator for the United Nations Commissioner for Refugees. He was based in Hong Kong from 1993-96 and participated in the delivering of essential social services to a staggering 100,000 Vietnamese Boat people. The former director’s work with refugees has not gone unnoticed; he was awarded the prestigious OBE at Buckingham Palace in 1993. Returning to the UK in 1996 saw him join the Vietnamese Mental Health Services, and latterly became its Director in 2004.

Issa Touma

Issa Touma is a photographer and curator based in Aleppo (Syria). His photographic work can be found in international collections, including the Victoria & Albert Museum, London. Finding himself isolated from the international art community in his own country, Touma established the Black and White Gallery, the first photography gallery in the Middle East, in 1992. After its closure in 1996, Touma founded Le Pont, an independent art organisation and gallery that promotes freedom of expression and stimulates the local art scene through international events. In 1997, he started the International Photography Festival Aleppo, which despite the horrors and uncertainties of the conflict, continues to take place every year. In 2012, shortly after the war broke out, he initiated Art Camping. This event in the form of workshops counters violence with artistic interventions. Its aim is to bring young people from various religious and ethnic backgrounds together, encouraging them to express themselves through culture.

Kristian Vistrup Madsen

Kristian Vistrup Madsen writes about the possibility/conditions for the political, about the limits of deconstruction, about facts (to try and know something) and failure (starting from there), and about living with identity and beyond it. In 2015, he researched the I AM YOU campaign, a series of art posters by renowned artists, proposing solidarity with victims of xenophobic violence in Europe in the early 1990s. He asks: What does it mean to identify completely with an Other—to say I am—and what happens to the Otherness of the Other in this process?

In the same year, he edited the Royal College of Art student magazine Arc, designing the theme Contagion to emphasise urgency and commitment. The issue was concerned with politics from borders to bodies, disease, territory, and ethics. More recently he has written an extended essay about the US prison industrial complex and the politics of solidarity based around his real-life correspondence with a prisoner in California. In it, personal reflections are woven into cultural and literary observations, philosophical questions of ethics and erotics, and investigations into the particular political and legislative context. This project, Doing Time, was named the best in his graduating year in Critical Writing in Art & Design at the Royal College of Art in 2016.  He is currently working on texts about the end of identity politics, and the relationship between trauma and walking, as well as making arrangements for a PhD.  Kristian holds degrees from Goldsmiths, University of London (2014) and Royal College of Art (2016). He was born in Copenhagen, Denmark in 1991, and has lived in London since 2011. 

Virgínia Brás Gomes

Senior social policy adviser in Portugal’s Ministry of Solidarity, Employment and Social Security and UN Committee on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights Committee Member. In addition to her work with the UN Committee on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights, Virgínia is a Member of the International Board of PWESCR (Programme for Women’s Economic, Social and Cultural Rights); of the European Social Network high level advisory group on de-institutionalisation; of the UNRISD Advisory Group for the project on Linking Social Protection and Human Rights; of the Board of the Portuguese UNICEF Committee; and of Portugal’s National Human Rights Commission. As part of her training activities on economic, social and cultural rights, in 2008, she was a faculty member of the Nottingham University Human Rights Law Centre Summer School; in 2009, of the UNDP Global Human Rights Community of Practice Meeting; and from 2011 to 2014, of the yearly Leadership Institute in Women’s Economic, Social and Cultural Rights.  She has also conducted training in treaty body reporting on behalf of the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights in a number of African States parties to the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights. She has presented on social security and social development issues, and on economic, social and culural rights more generally, at a number of international conferences and seminars.

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