Pseudo-territory, Powered by Arhead, Ella Ponizovsky Bergelson and Anna Elena Torres

Pseudo-Territory brings a literary theory to life via augmented reality | Pro Club Bd

The Metaverse ecosystem platform Arhead participates in the 59thth Venice Biennale, where it presents an AR project entitled Pseudo Territory. The project was carried out in cooperation with the Yiddishland Pavilion and facilitated the presentation of Pseudo Territory from April to November 2022. The Yiddishland Pavilion is the first independent transnational pavilion aiming to trace and further develop the Yiddish and Jewish discourse in contemporary artistic practice.

Pseudo Territory – Yiddishland Pavilion and Arhead #1, 2022, Augmented Reality Image: Courtesy of Arhead; and Ella Ponizovsky Bergelson and Anna Elena Torres

As the press release for the project explains, Pseudo Territory is a collaborative augmented reality project developed by Ella Ponizovsky Bergelson and Anna Elena Torres and operated by Arhead. It is inspired by the concept of a “quasi-territory” and Arhead’s unique technology allows Biennale attendees to engage with the Bergelson and Torres sculpture in AR both on-site and for later transport of the piece to the Metaverse for future viewers. The concept of the “pseudo-territory” in turn comes from kmoy area, an idea pioneered by the Yiddish literary critic and editor Boruch Rivkin (1883-1945). Rivkin was an anarchist and positioned imagination and creativity as deeply spiritual processes. He also developed the term “Yiddishland”, which refers to his efforts to position Yiddish literature as a transnational psychological territory for the Jewish peoples Selects and highlights key artistic visions from around the world, including digital artworks.”

Pavilion Pseudo-Territorium Yiddishland and Arhead #2, 2022, AR, Ella PonizovskyBergelson and Anna Elena Torres |Ella PonizovskyBergelson and Anna Elena Torres, Arhead|  STIRworld
Pseudo Territory – Yiddishland Pavilion and Arhead #2, 2022, Augmented Reality Image: Courtesy of Arhead and Ella Ponizovsky Bergelson and Anna Elena Torres

Anna Elena Torres tells STIR about her life and work: “I’m from the Bronx, NYC, and my family comes from the diasporas of Puerto Rico, Istanbul, Costa Rica and Sochaczew. I am Professor of Comparative Literature at the University of Chicago and have also organized public art programs and mural collectives. My fellowship deals with migration and border critique, especially in Jewish literature and art. I have two books coming out next year: Horizons bloom, borders disappear: anarchism and Yiddish literature and With Freedom in Our Ears: Stories of Jewish Anarchism.” Ella Ponizovsky Bergelson has an equally diverse background, was born in Moscow, then emigrated to Israel as a child and finally has been living and working in Berlin since 2016. She says: “I am interested in notions and expressions of belonging in migratory hybrid cultural identities through the prism of language visualization, with a particular focus on Yiddish culture and its anarchist tendencies. I create interventions in public space and site-specific murals in public spaces. I think it’s an art form to connect a certain text to a place.”

Pseudo Territory Documentary, 2022, Augmented Reality Video: Courtesy of Arhead; and Ella Ponizovsky Bergelson and Anna Elena Torres

The project aims to fit perfectly with the Yiddishland Pavilion, itself a grassroots pavilion representing transnational Jewish art, particularly those focused on Yiddish genealogy and contemporary work. Torres sees the project as a “soft intervention” and tells STIR: “There has been a lot of debate about the politics of the Jewish language: should Hebrew become the sole state language? What role does Yiddish play in international labor movements? Anarchists uninterested in the nation-state were certainly not interested in these debates about a national language, but they were very curious about the possibilities of language and the utopia of multilingualism. Our Yiddishland exhibition examines this heritage and presents a deterritorial language in many ways.” Bergelson adds: “Anna and I have tried to give life and form to a theory that is over a century old. AR, the medium chosen for the project, reflects the concept; the result is and does not exist simultaneously, much like the pseudo-territory Rivkin had described – a territory that does not take place in the physical realm, but manifests itself as an emotional/cultural territory that lives in people’s minds, hearts and beyond the physical world floats away from it, where it remains unaffected by gravity.” In its entirety, the project combines three languages, Yiddish, English and the Proto-Canaanite alphabet, each representing a different epoch of Jewish cultural history. The project’s press release addresses and explains this decision Pseudo Territory strives to embody the multiple writing systems vital to Judaism, the above three being inextricably linked over time as they revolve around one another, shifting and changing instantaneously in time and geography – and thus one constantly represent living pseudo-territory. The result not only exists in an unlimited space, but also embodies time within itself.

Anna Elena Torres, 2022, Anna Elena Torres |Ella PonizovskyBergelson and Anna Elena Torres, Arhead|  STIRworld
Anna Elena Torres, 2022 Image: Courtesy of Anna Elena Torres

By placing it within the framework of the Venice Art Biennale, more specifically its dominant system of national pavilions, the project and the Yiddishland Pavilion challenge the principle of national division within the Biennale, forcing one to grapple with difficult questions about politics of national representation, selection and inclusion in the art world. Torres and Bergelson’s work also serves as a platform to explore the horrors of the 20th centuryth Century reference to Judaism and critiques the ongoing military aggression, imperialism and colonialism that threaten to atomize our reality to this day.

Profile picture of Ella PonizovskyBergelson, 2022|Ella PonizovskyBergelson and Anna Elena Torres, Arhead|  STIRworld
Ella Ponizovsky Bergelson, 2022 Image: Courtesy of Ella Ponizovsky Bergelson

When asked about her plans for the near future, Torres says, “I hope to continue collaborating with Ella and creating public works of art in the material realm. This augmented reality piece encourages viewers to play with and modify the work wherever they are. You can summon them Pseudo Territory in every room you live in! It invites viewers to join in and play using the intimate lens of their own phone. Although we have had many conversations about theory and art history, the act of viewing is itself quite playful and elastic. This was my first experience with the AR medium as a creator. I’m intrigued to continue exploring it and see where it can lead in terms of my artistic expression. Maybe I’ll find a way to incorporate AR into physical murals or other public art forms.” Bergelson affirms that she too is excited to continue collaborating with Torres and says she sees their practices as complementing and complementary. She adds that she would also be happy to continue her newborn relationship with the Yiddishland Pavilion and is excited for its future as the first transnational experimental pavilion and the artistic encounters it will facilitate.

The 59thth The international art exhibition of the Venice Biennale, entitled The Milk of Dreams, is open to the public from April 23 to November 27, 2022 at the Giardini and Arsenale in Venice.

click here to read more about STIRringDreams, a series of articles by STIR examining some of the best presentations from this year’s edition of the Art Biennale.

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