Tapping into the transformational, uncanny and irrational, the exhibition is “brought to life by the ambivalent, the enigmatic, the dubious” and its title is taken from a previous collaboration organised by Galerie Meyer Kainer between Rudolf Stingel and Franz West in 2002 at Museum der Moderne in Salzburg.share news item
Curated by Sorbus and Jaakko Pallasvuo, the show included work by Katja Novitskova, Maya Ben David, Ville Kallio, Salla Tykkä, and Bora Akinciturk, as well as a performance by André Chapatte on the opening night and a guided meditation to close the exhibition by Emmi Venna.
The installation was accompanied by a press release drawing on the lyrics from the song ‘Human Fly’ by 70s band The Cramps, including “garbage brain /That’s drivin’ me insane,” as well as the show’s stylised webspeak reference to Rappaccini’s Daughter. In the 19th century short story — written by American novelist and dark romantic Nathaniel Hawthorne — the beautiful daughter of a reclusive scientist becomes resistant to the poisonous plants of her father’s making only to become poisonous herself. The purple and millennial pink junkspace of works strewn across the exhibition creates its own garden of contemporary hazards one can’t live without.**
The Hybrid Layers group exhibition at Karlsruhe’s ZKM opens June 3 and is running to January 7, 2018.
Looking at the intersection of social, technological and aesthetic debate, the show will “reflect on how comprehensively the digital realm influences every area of our daily life, our perception and our production of knowledge” and includes work by Sophia Al Maria, Auto Italia South East, Guan Xiao, Katja Novitskova, Yuri Pattison, Tabita Rezaire, and Rachel de Joode among others.
Both physical and virtual, the show will include video, performance, and sculpture, all exploring the way our feelings and actions have been profoundly altered and speculations on what the future will bring. Picking apart the layers of hybridity, the 22 artists included examine how this situation “influences our globally networked world.”
Visit the ZKM website for details.**
The 57th Venice Biennale opened to the public last Saturday, May 13. As always, an event with so many works on view tends to overwhelm the eyes and the mind. However, whether amongst the endless halls of the Arsenale, the Pavilions in the Giardini or spread throughout the city, some positions clearly stood out.
Rachel MacLean at the Scottish Pavilion
Chiesa di Santa Caterina
‘Spite Your Face,’ Rachel MacLean’s extravagant take on the tale of Pinocchio, is shown in the Church of Santa Caterina, far away from the Giardini. Projected on a huge, vertical surface just in front of the altar, her hallucinatory reinterpretation of the traditional children’s story includes masturbation, in-your-face music video aesthetics and perversion, both consumeristic and sexual. At times hard to watch yet captivating, this video proves the artist’s commitment to investigating our society’s taboos through the grotesque and the caricatural.
Jeremy Shaw, ‘Liminals,’ 2017
At the Arsenale
The practice of Canadian artist Jeremy Shaw has always been informed by his interest in subconscious states of mind. In his circa 20 minute long video ‘Liminals,’ a group of people — it’s unclear whether they’re a dance collective, a cult, or both — experience various states of ecstasy, triggered by exercise, dancing and light stimulation. Subtly the aesthetics shift from 1960s modern dance documentation to Xanadu extravaganza and in the end, to the ones of a 1990s rave. In the end, one leaves the room dazzled by the dystopian echoes in Shaw’s powerful work.
Katja Novitskova at the Estonian Pavilion
Katja Novitskova’s installation ‘If Only You Could See What I’ve Seen With Your Eyes’ almost reads like a proposal for a post-human science fair. Her large cutouts of animals in various stages of predatory or parasitic feeding are placed densely next to each other. This cleverly amplifies their fatalistic aura. In one of the rooms, a group of mechanical baby-rockers, adorned with organically shaped, semi-transparent sheets of resin, move to a regular rhythm, like the zombified larvae of a giant insect. All in all spooky, terrific and frankly unforgettable.
Conceived as a small-scale survey of the Romanian trailblazer’s work, this presentation seems classical, while helping one grasp clearly how multifaceted Geta Bratescu’s practice has been and still is. Whether looking at her geometric collages — the brilliant video of her immediate drawings executed by her dancing hand with the thickest possible black marker — or an outstanding series of drawings inspired by Bertholdt Brecht’s Mother Courage and Her Children play, one is confronted with an artist whose curiosity seems to become only more vivid with age.
Anne Imhof at the German Pavilion
While the use of ultra-referential props — Dobermans, black mattresses, cages, and so on — seems all too expected, the performers in Anne Imhof’s ‘Faust’ at the German Pavilion manage a tour de force many will be discussing for a long time. The performance-installation explores exclusion and visibility, self-promotion, self-destruction, escape and the omnipresence of anxiety in a world many of us, especially millennials, have little idea how to deal with. As such, ‘Faust’ is set to make hearts and guts pound until the Biennale closes in November, and probably after that too.
Mike Bourscheid at the Luxembourg Pavilion
Ca’ del Duca
Conceived like a parcours through the ground floor of a palazzo, Mike Bourscheid’s exhibition ‘Thank you so much for the flowers’ features a set of both humorous and oppressive elements. In one room, lit with yellow light, a bronze sculpture of a lion sits on the carpeted floor, its head chopped off, the surface of the cut reflecting any viewer interested in a closer look. In another one, fetish-y aprons smelling of fresh leather hang from the wall, all combined with a set of clunky shoes, decorative ironwork and funny props, such as sausages or eggs. There’s a dark undertone to this, possibly about captivity within social structures; but nobody is forced to swallow it, just like the over-salted cookie visitors are encouraged to bite a piece off of when they leave the pavilion.
Julien Charrière, ‘Future Fossil Spaces,’ 2017
At the Arsenale
Majestic hexagonal columns of different height compose Julien Charrière’s installation. The works are carved out of Bolivian salt rich with lithium — a material necessary to the manufacturing of batteries — and occasionally feature a triangular glass box filled with aquamarine liquid. ‘Future Fossil Spaces,’ as the work is titled, might be an incarnation of just that: the remains of a civilisation overcome by its own greed for more gadgets. The Swiss artist’s work, somber and static, successfully clashes with the colourful and flowy aesthetics that characterise many other pieces on site.
Two animatronic sculptures in the shape of an egg and a box, father and son, recreate the globe 35 million years in the future based around Finnish societal values. In ‘The Aalto Natives’ installation, the whole world is one big Finland, and there’s an ocean full of herring. There are no women but mad, impotent creatures fruitlessly swinging their cocks about as various creation myths intertwine.**share news item
The Survival Guides for Ballroom Dancers, Renovators, Softball Moms, Working Parents and Troubled Folk in General group exhibition is on at Middelberg’s Vleeshaal, opening July 2 and running to September 11.
The exhibition is curated by Roos Gortzak in collaboration with Julia Mullie and Sophie Oxenbridge, and features artists whose work the press release describes as “process-based, sincere, and often amusing”. Those include Moyra Davey, Martin Kohout, Katja Novitskova, Laure Prouvost and Jay Tan, working within the “slippery terrain between truth and fiction, private and public, and intimacy and perversion.”
The exhibition is diaristic and cathartic in nature, and structured according to the five artists’ often absurd internal logic; strategies for survival in an environment of dispersed and networked relationships as a characteristic of a screen-based culture. With that comes a need for “private rituals, secret semiotic systems, and personalised forms of communication.”
See the FB event page for details.**
Header image: Laure Prouvost, ‘Stong Sory (Cake)’ (2005). Video still. Courtesy the artist + MOT International, London + Brussels.share news item
The Cool Memories group exhibition is on at Paris’ Occidental Temporary, opening on June 5 and running to July 20.
Curated by Myriam Ben Salah, the exhibition features 20 artists and collectives —Dora Budor, Fischli & Weiss, Martine Syms, Mélanie Matranga, Caroline Mesquita and Katja Novitskova among them —and comes accompanied by a piece of prose comparing global celebrity Kim Kardashian’s Snapchat to a “Near Death Experience”.
The text goes on to compare a selfie by the reality TV star to a character from a novel by cult sci-fi author Philip K Dick; a cyberpunk prophecy “where memories as well as identities are disposable commodities and the present is nothing but a perpetual staging of stillborn moments.”
Cool Memories takes its title and approach to a “fragmentary and messy” structure from philosopher Jean Baudrillard’s essay series, creating a space “where consciousness loses its ability to distinguish reality from its simulation” and promising “an assembly line for images, for shots swallowed by the present that they’re desperately trying to hold back.”
See the FB event page for details.**share news item
The CAROGNA group show is on at Amsterdam’s Rijksakademie, opening on April 20, running April 30.
Featuring the likes of aqnb regulars, Kareem Lotfy, who is the show’s organiser and a current Rijksakademie resident, Katja Novitskova, Ilya Smirnov and Anna Solal, CAROGNA promises to be an interesting gathering of works.
There is little information provided about the ins and outs of the show itself. The title roughly translated from Italian means ‘carrion’, or the decaying flesh of a dead animal. Sent along by Lofty with the logistical information of the show is an image of a piece of toast bitten into to make a moon shape with slightly charred areas, and a short Arabic text of lyrics from Syrian performer and noted Assad supporter George Wassouf’s ‘Tabib Garah‘ that opens, “I’m a surgeon, I cures people’s hearts”.
Other artists include 63rd – 77th STEPS founder, Fabio Santacroce, Isaac Penn, Michael Assiff and Mathis Collins. Many of them are also in current show, Il Futuro Era Bellissimo Per Noi at Cité Internationale des Arts.
See the FB event page for (limited) details.**share news item
Circulation – Mise en Séance is the second exhibition in the Inflected Objects series and it runs at De Hallen Haarlem in the Netherlands from January 15 to May 16, 2016. The series is organised by Melanie Bühler. It looks into how artworks are effected by digital capabilities and social media platforms both in terms of their circulation and in terms of the artist’s attitude and understanding and expectation of spectatorship before the work is made.
Inflected Objects also looks to treat the digital as something now that is hard to locate and pin down. The digital runs “silently in the background”, says the introduction of the Inflected Objects website, designed by Nora Turato, David Kulen and Gui Machiavelli to house the series and its digital documentation. Bühler talks about it as having a 3D environment.
I click on the words “Circulation – Mise en Séance”, which is one phrase in among several that run down the page and move slightly as though waving in the wind. The introduction to the show is given on a black background with white text in a font that in places is not at all aligned and it causes a blurring of vision when combined with the floating titles behind the black rectangle. Of course! It’s because it is in a 3D environment, so I continue to read with my hand clasped as fake binoculars, eyes trying to grasps the words.
“Art is part of the economy of hyper-attention”, the uncertain words say. It describes what we are used to seeing and states the phrase “pics or it didn’t happen” in relation to the fact that for many, a show’s installation photos are more important than the exhibition itself. I start to wonder what the exhibition at the core of this website was. The next blackboard reveals that Circulation – Mise en Séance is an exhibition about “things that didn’t happen” because their pictures weren’t taken, artworks that hardly saw the light of day, the light of electric circulation, or the stage lights before a digital camera-audience. It is about objects that were put away. They are not dead, but they are not fully alive.
Artists Martijn Hendriks, Katja Novitskova, Vanessa Safavi and Dan Walwin, all of whom have practices intertwined with digital production and the way things run in the digital economy were each asked to respond to one of these “things that didn’t happen” in the museum’s archives. Like candle light was once thought to resurrect old artworks by (possibly, imaginably) illuminating the mechanisms of chiaroscuro, each artist in this show conducted an inquiry into an object. The font for this part of the introduction, now in its eighth page, almost shakes when you try to squint at it to make it 3D and this somehow matches the conversation on ghosts, animation, seance and presence that the exhibition is staging in a digital pre-text.
Circulation – Mise en Séance is a play on the words mise en scène, which means ‘stage setting’ or the part where actors and scenery are on a stage for or before a theatrical production. There needs to be no actual theatre for mise en scène to exist. Interestingly, the Inflected Objects website hosts an ‘installation view’ page that does not exactly exacerbate this feeling. As in: It does not show image-after-image, as we might imagine it set like a stage on an Instagram feed, or a Facebook photo album.
A number of fragments that are actually small images, presumably of the resurrection collaborations and the show, are embedded in a space, which, when you navigate it with your cursor feels like an invisible whirlpool, or the inside of a beehive in the middle of a webpage. The images are like car windscreens, curved, and more like fragments or fractured objects than images. ‘Fractured’ is a word Vanessa Safavi uses in her essay ‘Circulation’, which is also on the site and deals with conservation, getting to the cold soul of an object and reading between the words and the lines. All the parts of the theatre are in this digital space and the ‘pics’ of “pics or it didn’t happen” are really held up and treated strangely, which transforms our understanding of them as being literally the kind of digital matter that is silently spinning behind all the usual exhibition photos.
In the spirit of the show then, there will be no words about the images themselves.**
Exhibition photos, top right.
Header image: Inflected Objects #2: Circulation – Mise en Séance (2016). Exhibition view. Photo by Gert van Rooij. Courtesy De Hallen, Haarlem.
The irregularly published zine aims to “edit the identity of ecology from the point of view of art” by fostering discussions about the topic and pushing it into the radars of contemporary artists, writers and poets.
The party will be hosted by M¥SS KETA and will be accompanied by a listening party selected by Bava and contributing artist Jacopo Mazzetti. Other contributing artists include Harry Burke, Juliette Bonneviot and Katja Novitskova.
See the FB event page for details. **
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As always, the symposium takes as its starting point the relationship between art and new media with a series of events examining the “current state of contemporary cultural production in relation to new technologies”, with a selection of participating artists, curators, philosophers, and researchers delivering papers, performances and keynotes.
Among the selected events is a talk with Harry Burke about Eugen Gomringer, one with Rózsa Farkas titled ‘Artist Novella; Language and Publishing Today’, Katja Novitskova presenting ‘New Horizons’, an E-performance by Gilles Furtwängler, and another performance by Lauren Huret called ‘Relaxing Data’.
See the Symposium website for details. **share news item
Cambridge’s Wysing Arts Centre is presenting The Uncanny Valley group exhibition, opening September 26 and running to November 8.
Curated by Donna Lynas, the show features existing works and new commissions exploring the Masahiro Mori-coined concept of the ‘Uncanny Valley’, as in the emotional response and intellectual uncertainty experienced when a viewer encounters a hyper-real object.
Including a new piece by Joey Holder and music produced by Rachel Maclean during a her 2015 Wysing residency, the show looks at “the aesthetics of the uncanny through computer generated imagery” via contributions from Julia Crabtree and William Evans, Benedict Drew, Sidsel Meineche Hansen, Holly Herndon, Sophie Jung, Lawrence Lek and Katja Novitskova.
See the Wysing Arts Centre website for details.**
Fotomuseum Winterthur has brought the group show Beastly / Tierisch to its Zurich space, where it will run from May 30 until October 4.
The exhibition takes its title from the obsession human beings seemingly have with the image of the animal: from advertisements and internet memes, to animal rights activism, agro-industrialisation, conservation or genetic engineering, humankind’s relationship to animals has been a complicated and fraught beast, so to say.
The group show brings about thirty international artists reworking categories of representation to examine human-animal relations, including Katja Novitskova, Xiaoxiao Xu, Erik Kessels, and Charlotte Dumas, and is accompanied by a catalogue with illustrations and essays from artists and writers like Ana Teixeira Pinto and Slavoj Žižek.
See the exhibition page for details. **
Novitskova’s been busy this last year. After opening a solo show called GREEN GROWTH last summer at SALTS, she’s lent her work to a few different group exhibitions, including Don’t You Know Who I Am? – Art After Identity Politics at the Museum of Contemporary Art Antwerp (M HKA), Tabularium at Slopes contemporary art space, and most recently, a science fiction-inspired show called Les Oracles at Paris’s XPO Gallery this winter/spring.
For Life Update, Novitskova has released a two-paragraph abstract that says little about the particular aesthetics of the show but tells the story of a “robotic instrument” named Ingenuity: “Despite many attempts to recalibrate Ingenuity, her own life processes were getting noisier over time and her astrobiological threshold became unclear. More than once, Ingenuity abandoned her daily missions, citing patterns of “risk of systemic collapse”, “bubble-fatigue” and ”distortions”.”
See the exhibition page for details. **
Paris’s XPO Gallery is bringing in ten artists for a science fiction-inspired show called Les Oracles, running from February 12 to April 4.
The group show, which features an all-female lineup, includes in its lineup Julieta Aranda, Juliette Bonneviot, Caroline Delieutraz, Aleksandra Domanović, Jeanette Hayes, Kristin Lucas, Brenna Murphy, Katja Novitskova, Katie Torn, and Saya Woolfalk.
The media of the show is diverse, ranging from classical modes like painting and sculpture, to experimental video and animation, and using the tropes of science fiction including dystopia, cosmology, and fantasy to restructure narratives and create alternate realities.
See the Les Oracles exhibition page for details. **
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Examining information dissemination and the archive on and offline, Tabularium exists as a physical exhibition and a website. Curated by Alana Kushnir and taking its name from the 78 BCE Roman building storing tablet legal documents, it builds on the ongoing project collating and preserving publications not available in a digital format yet drawing from, or reflecting on the internet. The original Roman Tabularium was closed to the public but the works on show at Melbourne’s Slopes gallery examine the modern archive as a public resource, actively created, modified and consumed on a daily basis.
Slopes is a space that exists in a transitional state – sitting in the back of a building currently being renovated into apartments, it will close once these renovations are complete. Right now though, it’s a white cube punctuated by a ceiling open to a rickety-looking wooden catwalk and its designated ‘slope’ (a remnant of its previous use as an underground carpark) jutting into the gallery. It’s a perfect place to present Tabularium, where the remnants of a utilitarian past and pre-ordained non-gallery future mean that the space itself is positioned within the fluctuating lifecycle of the archive.
The destruction of tactile documents, from the legendary burning of the Library of Alexandria to the recent loss of museum artefacts in Syria to civil war, are examples of how physical objects of knowledge and information can be lost, but the intangible online one is just as prone. Both Ry David Bradley’s ‘Flowers for Ukraine’ (2014) and Jon Rafman’s ‘Annals of Time Lost’ (2013) examine said extinction. Bradley inserts an abstracted flower into the Ukraine Wikipedia page, printing a copy to record the incursion. Presented along with a large-scale reproduction of the plant, its documentation continues to offer an IRL version of the page that exists long after editors have figuratively ‘deflowered’ the online one. Rafman’s video work, meanwhile, draws from the London’s National Gallery collection to produce juxtapositions of anime characters and old master paintings, building a new archive informed by the personal narratives of its creator.
The archive as physical property is examined within Lawrence Lek’s ‘Memory Palace’ (2014) video, taking its audience on a virtual tour of an imagined Tabularium space in which server racks and monitor screens take the place of inscribed tablets. Katja Novitskova’s knife-like ‘Shapeshifter X’ and ‘Shapeshifter V’ (2013), are made from circuit board wafers and presented within acrylic cases. The circuit boards do not disclose their originally intended use and any information encoded within them is lost. Instead, the museum aesthetic of their presentation prompts the audience to consider them as historical objects used in the distant past.
Other works, also including Tom Penney, Heman Chong and Anthony Marcellini, continue this exploration of documentation and archive construction. Eloïse Bonneviot’s ‘My Forensic Steps 2’ (2014) print on silk presents written instructions on the process of crime-scene documentation within the gallery, then subverts the objective output of those rules through a first-person game hosted on the Slopes gallery website. This subversion continues within Rachel De Joode’s print, ‘Hanging Marble’ (2014), rough marble reduced to two dimensions and exuding an oppositional strength and suppleness, a perfect representation of the way knowledge flows and changes within the archive.
Surrounded by these works in the gallery sits Tabularium Archive, a library of books on a server rack that capture the internet in some way, yet exist only within a physical reality. They’re digital ‘ghosts’ of texts from Kushnir’s personal collection, which fade in and out of view from within the space, reflecting on their status as information not available through online archives. Both the books and the works within Tabularium examine the spaces between the original Tabularium’s static information collection and storage, and the data flows of our current realities. Kushnir and the artists involved have built a modern Tabularium – an evolving space which sets nothing in stone. **
Exhibition photos, top-right.