If Disrupted

Dark Fibres

Polish artist Alicja Rogalska’s artwork Dark Fibres focuses on the story of Hayastan Shakarian from the Georgian village of Armazi. In 2011, she allegedly cut the internet cable connecting Georgia and Armenia while looking for scrap metal to earn her living. The visceral yet powerful gesture turned the Internet off for several hours in the largest parts of Armenia and Georgia. While in detention, she was rumoured to have said ‘I have no idea what the Internet is’. In other words, the operational infrastructure of the Internet was invisible and hidden until the moment of its disruption. Rogalska’s work grasps the invisible and intangible character of infrastructures as well as their materiality, fragility and vulnerability. The name of the work refers to the fibre-optic cables installed in anticipation of exponential data transmission growth. The video comprises spectacular footage of the fibre-optic cable production process filmed in Germany, overdubbed with Chakrulo, a traditional polyphonic song performed by a Georgian choir. The lyrics of this mediaeval song about peasants’ armed rebellion against feudal domination have been adopted by the artist for the ‘new dark age’ of IT capitalism, referencing poverty, the global economy, the digital divide and material infrastructures.

The song was commissioned by Arts Territory for the Myth exhibition, part of the Artisterium 2015 Festival in Tbilisi. The video production was supported by the DAAD Artists-in-Berlin programme and filmed at Fraunhofer Institute for Applied Optics and Precision Engineering in Jena, Germany.

Alicja Rogalska’s practice is research-led and focuses on social structures and the political subtext of the everyday. She mostly works in specific contexts making situations, videos, performances and installations in collaboration with other people to collectively search for emancipatory ideas for the future. Recent solo exhibitions include Arsenał Gallery (Białystok, 2022-23), Scherben/Berlin Art Prize (2022), Manifesta 14 (Prishtina, 2022), Temporary Gallery (Cologne, 2021-22), OFF Biennale (Budapest, 2020-21) and Škuc Gallery (Ljubljana, 2019). Her works have also been shown at: Kunsthalle Bratislava, Kunsthalle Wien, Tabakalera, VBKÖ, Art Encounters Biennale, Tokyo Photographic Art Museum, Biennale Warszawa, Museum of Modern Art in Warsaw, Kyoto Art Centre and Muzeum Sztuki. Rogalska is currently a PhD researcher in the Art Department at Goldsmiths College.