Ferenc Gróf: "or firing of a red star alert"
In 2016/2017, Ferenc Gróf was a participant of an extraordinary residency programme. The recipients of the international open call of Container Artist Residency voyaged on the cargo company ZIM’s container ship on different sea routes. The projects made by the artists working in their container-studio were presented in the group exhibition of Para Site, in Hong Kong. As its summer exhibition, acb Attachment shows, for the first time in Europe, Gróf’s works inspired by the journey through Haifa, Istanbul, Novorossiysk and Odessa.
The exhibited graphic interventions deal with the semiotics of maritime shipping and shed light on its systems of reference, some aspects of which constitute the base of this global industry. The large format piece entitled Harmonized projection is a montage of the Harmonized Commodity Description and Coding System and the Dymaxion map invented by Buckminster Fuller. The full text of the encyclopaedia of tariff nomenclature that forms the base of international commerce fills the world map projected on an icosahedron. Fuller’s projection represents the continents as an island almost contiguous, while the tariff articles listed in the twenty-one categories of the Harmonized system embrace almost all the items that can be subject to trade, from livestock products to works of art.
The photos taken on board of the ZIM Shekou appear in the series entitled Flags of convenience. They show parallels in composition and motifs with the flags of countries which have an open registry for commercial vessels. More than half of all existing vessels circulate under these “flags of convenience”, including those of Antigua, the Bahamas, Cyprus, Malta and the Marshall Islands, referred to by the exhibited flags. Moreover, not only does Gróf evoke the collapse of national borders and closed identities, he also references the iconic work of Soviet painter Geliy Korzhev by throwing the flags on the ground.
From the video shot during this sea route, Gróf made still sequences on which he painted signs used in maritime shipping. These signs compose the visual synopsis of a never-to-be-realized film, and references the film script of Moholy-Nagy’s Dynamic of the Metropolis. The exhibition features the first piece of the series (Container film, seq.01) showing the photos taken from the aft of the container ship in the Aegean Sea, with the pictogram that gave the title of the show.