Judith Raum was born in 1977 and lives and works in Berlin. She studied art at the Städelschule, Frankfurt, the Cooper Union School of Arts and the Parsons School of Design in New York. Her artistic practice includes video, installations and lecture-performances with which she creates complex historical narratives based on long-term archive research on documents and objects as well as social and economic historical investigations, most recently on the textile workshop at the Bauhaus in Weimar. The Villa Romana fellow’s works have been shown in solo exhibitions at SALT Beyoğlu, Istanbul in 2015 and Heidelberger Kunstverein in 2014, among others. Her book eser was published by Archive Books in 2015.
Mixed media installation
Voice over: Ilja Richter
Installation views: Victoria Tomaschko
Primes (French for premiums) refers to a system of subsidies employed by the French colonial government in West African colonies in the 1920s to increase the effectiveness of fishing methods off the coasts of Senegal and Mauritania. In order to supply the motherland France with fish and the by-products of the fishing industry (fishmeal, fish oils, air bladders, etc.), trawling was introduced to the region and promoted with generous subsidies. In accordance with the colonial mindset, local production techniques were subsequently declared inferior. A laboratory for fishery and fishing products was set up at the National Museum of Natural History in Paris, where scientists worked on the controllability of the fish yields off the coast of West Africa. Correspondence from this laboratory was selected and translated for use in the installation.
Today, European and Asian factory vessels continue to fish on a large scale off the coast of West Africa, processing catches into market-ready products while still at sea. Although this happens with the permission of the Senegalese government, environmental organisations point out that actual catch volumes are at least a third higher than the stated catch volumes. The over-fishing of these waters, which deprives local fishermen of their livelihoods, represents one of the main causes of migration for the Senegalese population.
Primes has been created in the framework of the artistic research and exchange project Seeds For Future Memories, a cooperation between the artist residencies Thread in Sinthian, Senegal and Villa Romana in Florence, Italy, in 2018.
Research, exhibition, publication, audio talk
The 500-page strong publication eser is an artist monograph comprising Berlin-based artist Judith Raum’s works, installations and lecture performance scripts from 2011 – 2014. It is at the same time a theoretical reader and material collection on the semi-colonial advance of German entrepreneurs and bankers into the Ottoman Empire before World War One, which happened in connection with the construction of the Anatolian Railway and the Baghdad Railway. In realizing a railway network, the logics of capitalism and geopolitical interests connected engineers’ tasks with less obvious objectives: to get hold of the archaeology, agriculture and working conditions of the territory crossed. Raum’s art works and texts take her research on site and in archives as a starting point, while insisting on an autonomous aesthetic dimension — more so, that is, than a functional dimension — and as such suggest an alternative approach to artistic research.
With contributions by Sabeth Buchmann, Alexander Garcia Düttman, Suzanne Marchand, Iz Öztat, design: HIT, Berlin, published by Archive Books, Berlin, 2015.