Talk and workshop by Nestor Siré and Steffen Köhn: Reorganizing the Internet: Reimagining digital culture from a Global South perspective.
You are invited to participate in a talk and workshop by the two artist researchers Nestor Siré and Steffen Köhn, that is part of the program series Experts of the Undercommons organized by writer, researcher and editor Tobias Dias, postdoc at Aarhus University, in collaboration with Kunsthal Aarhus.
Participation is free, but we recommend securing a seat by taking out a free ticket on Billetto.
Sign up for free here.
We ask participants to bring a laptop and a hard drive or USB stick to the workshop, as well as 1-5 pieces of data from their personal internet consumption that they would like to share with the world (this can be a video, a pdf, an mp3, social media content, a meme or whatever else participants can think of).
Cuban people’s access to the Internet and digital technology has long been restricted by their government’s fear of freedom of information and expression, as well as by the most enduring and punitive trade embargo in modern history. This has made the island one of the least connected countries in the world until only a few years ago. While the country’s internet is still characterized by slow speed, high cost, and inadequate infrastructure, Cubans have found ingenious ways to compensate for the lack of internet connectivity and affordability by creating massive vernacular infrastructures such as grassroots community computer networks or sneakernets in which information is transferred by physically transporting portable hard drives and USB memory sticks.
In this artist talk and workshop, Steffen Köhn and Nestor Siré give insights into their artistic research about Cuban alternative digital infrastructures that has resulted in interactive installations, video art, and a documentary mobile game developed in collaboration with Cuban maker communities. Their work explores how global digital technologies become “localized” or appropriated in different cultural and political contexts. The practical workshop will take Cuba’s offline Internet El Paquete Semanal (The Weekly Package) as a point of departure to collectively think about alternative forms of organizing and distributing digital data. As the open web of the past has given way to our current capitalist consumerist internet of closed platforms in which we are fed content that has been tailored to our algorithmically determined individual interests, such vernacular infrastructures allow us to envision more decentralized, collective, and non-commercial iterations of the web.
Nestor Siré (1988, Camagüey) is an artist living and working in Havana, Cuba, who is interested in informal methods of the distribution of information and goods, forms of social creativity in the face of scarcity, and the communities and human infrastructures that shape such practices. Siré pays particular attention to the alternative strategies that have emerged in the digital culture of his native Cuba, which are a response to the country’s disconnection from the global networks that control the Internet today. His works have been shown in the Museo Nacional de Bellas Artes (Havana), Queens Museum (New York), Rhizome (New York), New Museum (New York), Ars Electronica (Linz), Hong-Gah Museum (Taipei), Museo d´art de Rouyn-Noranda (Canada), Transmediale (Berlin), The Photographers’ Gallery (London), among other. He has participated in events such as the Havana Biennial (Cuba), the Gwangju Biennial (South Korea), the Curitiba Biennial (Brazil), the Warsaw Biennial (Poland), the International Biennial of Asuncion (Paraguay), among others.
Steffen Köhn (1980) is assistant professor of visual and multimodal anthropology at Aarhus University. He is the author of Mediating Mobility – Visual Anthropology in the Age of Migration. He is currently finishing a book manuscript about his research on the Cuban experience of the Internet. He also works as a filmmaker and video artist. His works have been exhibited at the Academy of the Arts Berlin, Kunsthaus Graz, Vienna Art Week, Hong Gah Museum Taipei, The Photographers’ Gallery and the Biennials of Lulea and Warsaw and screened at festivals such as the Berlinale, Rotterdam International Film Festival, Slamdance, and the BFI Film Festival London.