Auto Italia presents Army of Love, a newly commissioned exhibition of moving image and performance works developed by Alexa Karolinski and Ingo Niermann in collaboration with a concomitant group of diverse practitioners. This community form the “Army of Love”, a propositional regiment of soldiers varied in age and appearance tasked with offering all-encompassing love – one that includes a range of approaches to discussing forms of care, desire, sex, and respect – to all those who need it.
In this show, Army of Love (HD film, 42 min, 2016) explores how romantic love has become saturated with commoditisation. Previously ascribed socialist premises behind notions of “free love” crumble when desire is organised on a competitively aesthetic basis online, where the possibility of free sex represents the liberalisation, not the liberation, of love. The Army engage with these issues through a docu-fictional video campaign that presents utopian proposals on the basic premises of love and justice.
These speculations continue in Karolinski and Niermann’s newest film Oceano de amor (HD film, 95 min, 2019). This docu-fiction produced in Cuba with a soundtrack by Hannah Weinberger portrays ten volunteer members of the Army carrying out daily routines while answering questions about love and labour. Here, in one of the few remaining socialist countries, the members of the Army of Love describe an automated future in which distributing love will be the only form of work. Together they imagine a society in which everyone can give and receive love according to their needs, regardless of whether their bodies conform to orthodox canons of desirability and beauty.
At Auto Italia, the public will be invited to take part in the Army of Love Training Camp. These workshop performance sessions led by two members of the Army of Love – Andie Macario and Grainne Dromgoole – and are designed to enrol new recruits. The aim is to create an environment in which to learn how to practice love towards those we haven’t yet felt attraction for, and how to become ready to receive love from those that want to give it.
Past iterations of the training camp have taken place at Berlin Biennale, Casco Art Institute, Castello di Rivoli – Museo d’Arte Contemporanea, ENSBA Lyon, MACBA: Museu d’Art Contemporani de Barcelona, and Städelschule. These events have included contributions from experts of diverse backgrounds including sex work, queer and disability studies and activism, mutualism and critical studies of exchange economics, anti-racism, rehabilitation, and trauma-informed practices. The Army invites you to contribute to an ongoing debate on its motives, strategies, modus operandi, and day-to-day routines as part of the events at Auto Italia.
The production of Oceano de amor has been made possible with support from Castello di Rivoli – Museo d’Arte Contemporanea, Fachausschuss Film und Medienkunst Basel-Stadt / Basel-Landschaft, Robot Love, a project of the Niet Normaal Foundation.
The film Army of Love (2016) was commissioned by the 9th Berlin Biennale for Contemporary Art with additional support by Wiesbaden Biennale and Centre de Cultura Contemporània de Barcelona.