It’s title is a reference to the idea of soft power, as well as the 80s British New Wave band Soft Cell, while suggesting “a padded cell and by extension the panoptic gaze of the state or the institution.” Also referencing Benjamin H. Bratton‘s reverse panopticon effect as ‘exhibitionism in bad faith,’ where one understands they’re being watched but acts as if they’re not, the show looks at architecture, as it is employed within commercial and museum settings. It thus places emphasis on ‘surface, image and display,’ while rendering us “passive consumers and impotent political agents.”
Curated by Meryem Erkus, the event is labelled a ‘Facebook stalking as Real Game Play’ that asks “Can you Deep Learn Desire?” The press release uses the metaphor of a leech appropriating human life to stay alive where we “enter into another mode of existence.” Players included Naomi Bisley, Konrad Bohley, Nikolas Brummer, Dagmar Buchenthal, Billy Bultheel, Jonathan Omer Mizrahi, Garrett Nelson and Pitt Wenninger.
GAME Two roles: the dominant, and the submissive.< GOAL To create an intensive culture shift in the submissive’s subconscious and lived architecture IRL. TRACE FB Messenger discourse / digital dialogues and two Word documents. The documents were required to be the truth, everything else could be fictional, lied, real or played.
The exhibition is formulated around a game which was played over digital and live platforms in October and ending in February, where a dialogue on FB messenger becomes the trace element which was then re-enacted for live for the show. The installation then transformed the gallery, with a looped 21 minute audio work by OMSK Social Club & Vonverhille, which allowed the viewer to “eavesdrop over the players’ private games and the soundtrack.”**
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The A New Prescription for Insomnia group exhibition, curated by GeoVanna Gonzalez, describes its artists as “Nation-rejecting state-founders, alienated in their own habitat.” Presenting a living death in art produced from a “hazy and half-awake condition” at Berlin’s HORSEANDPONY, the show features Paul Barsch, Julia Colavita, Lorenzo Sandoval, and Michele Gabriele, among others, making site-specific works, objects, records and videos. They’re presented from April 30 to May 21, starting during Gallery Weekend, as tactics for “making the mind stateless” in an autonomous zone that may as well be on an island but is actually just an art space.
There are works with titles like ‘End of the Line,’ ‘Moments of Clarity’ and ‘Insulation (coils II),’ and little doubt of the theme of endurance in the show, particularly when considering Omsk Social Club’s Survival Guide for “IRL and URL interactions” — extending the artist line-up further with additional contributors. This is a sense of preparing for the worst that’s echoed in a current political context of war rhetoric and xenophobia; anxiety and information overload. All these things are related, of course. Where a position of helpless hopelessness has been exacerbated by a constantly ‘on’ environment for the networked world, while the exploited populations its built on meets self-consuming abundance for the privileged class, with destitution for the rest.
With all this in mind, we asked each artist in A New Prescription for Insomnia, “You’re stranded on an Island with no internet, what do you do?” Here’s how they responded:
I would resume a deep trance of information feedback — deep learning for humans . I would aim to do this twice a day. I believe survival is all about a state of mind — tranquility is a powerful tool of endurance. Recently I have been studying the art of Breatharianism, a practice of food liberation — fasting. This method also enables you to control your immediate mental and physical needs, almost like declaring passive warfare on your own learned-body.
To survive one has to be both the submissive and dominant of their own psyche — an erotic welfare ticket.
Close your eyes, feel the sun on your shoulders, running down the tip of your nose, braising your cheek bones. Take in a deep breath, feel the sea salt crystalize around each hair of each pore of your skin. Exhale, bury your phone battery in the sand, and start fishing.
I often asked myself a similar question, at the beginning of my career: What would I do if I was alone and I had nothing? I answered myself that I probably would do a lot of little sculptures made of sand, soil, and shit. But in answer to your question that is a little different: I would probably continue to work on my research, trying not to deceive myself from the expectations of those around me, which the internet has always eased much, creating a bigger, wider and far audience.
I’d go for a swim, then I’d congratulate myself on having brought along the three things along I always said I would take with me if I were stranded on a desert island.
Miller Robinson, aka L.L.L.L.L.
I would allow myself to embrace my reptilian instinct. I would simple refer to the only state of Being which could exist in a state of simplicity. What does one do on an island? One wanders, gathers what is necessary and, as foreign as it may seem, simply exists. That is what I would do. I would be.
After exploring the island for a source of fresh water, I would begin construction on an above-ground sleeping shelter, which would keep me away from bugs and night critters. After, I would create a fire using a primitive fire-starting techniques, like a hand drill, bow drill, or fire plough. Once fire was achieved finding a source of protein would be essential to replenishing my energy deposits and surviving another day.