Created in 2007 and now in its 11th edition, the event is the first art fair to take place in the South of France. Run by Jérôme Pantalacci, the curatorial premise has its own unique format that allows the galleries and artists to design their exhibition space; each booth creating ‘signature lines’ in the project.
The fair brings together an intimate number of 26 international galleries and six publishing houses, including a guest project by Sabrina Belouaar. This year’s Showroom, running to September 10, features work by François Bellabas among others.
In addition there are a nunmber of talks moderated by Cédric Aurelle on the themes of “polarisation and the emergence of new contemporary art scenes,” which include ‘The Art Market between Feminism and Decolonialism’ on August 26 and ‘South(s) as a State of Mind’ on August 27.
Pakui Hardware is the duo of artists Neringa Černiauskaitė and Ugnius Gelguda, whose heavily collaborative process is focused on the combination and integration of different materials. From ready-made industrial products to clay, or resin casts on natural grass, it’s their intentional combination of the organic with the man-made that drives them. Closing their most recent exhibition On Demandat Berlin’sExile Gallery on July 15, the Lithuanian artists are fascinated by what they describe as “the transformation and interaction of materials, of various elements, rather than by some singular textures or products.” Writing via email in anticipation of their upcoming Creatures of Habit show at SIC Gallery, opening August 5, they’ll be presenting large-scale sculptures derived from their interest in robotic gear, built on their curiosity around observing, reading and testing, “how materials themselves perform, how they change under certain conditions or when different materials meet and interact with each other.”
These new works, constructed to a similar size of automated machines in factories, will be made with a metal understructure resembling what they call “both an industrial robotic arm and anthropomorphic limbs or parts.” A range of specifically produced skins will be stretched over them, made using disposable cellophane, soft textiles or expensive hard duty, heat-resistant materials reflecting the diversity of the machines in an industrial setting. These outer layers mirror the protective clothing of workers, connecting the human and the synthetic in a similar environment. These covered ‘bodies’ will then become an uncanny mixture of cyborg-like features and gestures, “creating an assembly of yet unknown or transitory species.” The resultant work takes on a striking and individual form that bridges potentially alienating emerging technologies with the reassurance of the everyday.
As materials play such an important role in Pakui Hardware’s output, we asked them to select five materials, products or types that they have always been inspired by, and how and why they utilise them in in their work:
Image: Pakui Hardware, Lost Heritage (2015). Exhibition view. Courtesy the artists + kim?, Riga.
1. “Prosthetics. For their ambiguous status – they are autonomous design objects and yet they are an integral part of a body, they combine soft and durable heavy-duty parts. Silicone that is used in prosthetics as its qualities – smoothness, elasticity and durability – immediately creates an uncanny feeling once coated on certain shapes and textures.”
Image: Pakui Hardware, On Demand (2017). Exhibition view. Courtesy the artists + Exile, Berlin.
2. “Unexpected or unusual assemblages of things created by people or forces of nature found on streets, interiors or landscapes. A colorful plastic bag mounted on a street sign to cover its function, duck-taped on a metal column, which is held by several cement blocks pushed on its sides, compositions like that.”
Image: Pakui Hardware, Vanilla Eyes (2017). Exhibition view from APPARAT group show. Courtesy the artists + Braunschweig Kunstverein, Germany
4. “Microorganisms. Their vitality and ability to influence our moods and thoughts, and capacity to survive and thrive under harsh conditions that are impossible to bear for the toughest human being. Or it could be genetically tinkered microorganisms munching metals on asteroids, transforming their rocky bodies through their metabolism into lonely gas stations for further human (or capital) expansion, as it is speculated by certain corporations and scientists in the possible plans to mine asteroids.”
Image: Pakui Hardware, Hesitant Hand (2017). Exhibition view. Image by Andrej Vasilenko. Courtesy the artists + National Gallery of Art, Vilnius.
5. “Precision. Innate or mastered, organic or engineered, or a combination of the two.” **
The Ungestalt group exhibition is on at Kunsthalle Basel, running May 18 and to August 13.
The show will feature work by a large number of artists, including Olga Balema, Pakui Hardware, Liz Magor and Lucie Stahl among others. The title is defined in the press release as a somewhat untranslatable German term that is “not exactly formless or amorphous, nevertheless describes something that struggles against delineation, against clearly defined form, indeed against the wholeness…”
Bringing together artists from international backgrounds and across generations and mediums, the work will occupy five ground floor galleries and explore this term as it itself ‘escapes capture.’
The Scissors Cut Paper Wrap Stone touring exhibition is on at Limerick’s Ormston House, opening March 23 and running to May 27.
Co-curated by Alissa Kleist and Matt Packer, the show’s title is a reference to Belfast-based novelist Ian McDonald and includes work that responds to the “science-fiction story of mind-controlling images” by exploring the impact of objects, images and new technologies.
The events took place at various locations in “semi-public places [that formed] the spine of an imaginary geography of flux”:
The Sunniest Beachwas a weekend of interventions (from August 27 to 28, 2016) at a hotel in the tourist resort Sunny Beach on the Black Sea where “we face a capitalism of excess, manifested by booze and trinketization.” Flowing with money, bodies, things and thoughts, reality “wobbles in desire and exhaustion until it finds itself stifled in an odd surface.”
After the Splashon the rooftop of Sofia’s Swimming Pool (September 2 to October 16, 216) presented an exhibition both romantic and dystopian, “immersed in a world haunted by the unruly effects of repressed selves.”
The Sanguinewas a walk through a forest and to a hot spring near Zheleznitsa (on September 3, 2016) in an attempt to share thoughts “of pleasure and relaxation.”
The Tokenwas a one-day intervention (on October 6, 2016) that took place in a Frankfurt self-service laundromat that asked “with such fictions governing our reality, how can we claim our vulnerable presence?”
The Scissors Cut Paper Wrap Stone group exhibition is on at Derry-Londonderry’s CCA, opening March 24 then running from March 30 to May 21.
The title is taken from a book written in 1994 by science fiction writer Ian McDonald about a young graphic design student who is able make images that control and affect human emotion to the point and consequence of tears, healing and even induce the viewer to murder, with the exhibition responding to the central ideas of the above story.
Deep Skin is a group exhibition in a particle physics research laboratory that is 2100 metres underground called SNOlab. SNOlab is protected by being underground so that greatly sensitive experiments can go on undeterred by the cosmic rays of natural light and the background radiation of air. Participating artists include Pakui Hardware, Agatha Valkyrie Ice,* Bitsy Knox + Christian Tonner, Visualize→Actualize, Antoine Renard, and TROI OI (Nhu Duong + Sung Tieu)
Visiting Deep Skin and SNOlab can result in experiencing vertigo and severe ear pain. It is nice that art is residing in such a place protected, distant and on the interior of something. The context runs deep -of course it does -to protect the particles: highly clean, no dust, some things vacuum packed: like the hair in Paul Barsch’s work ‘BIOBCI-CARRIER’.
Organisers, Berlin-based Canadian artists Grégoire Blunt and Emmy Skensved who previously curated shows: eStamina and 2nd Skin have also made pieces for the show as well as documenting it. All images are courtesy SNOlab and depict the art works/particles hand-held in close proximity to what presumably is already being used in the lab. ‘LINDA’ (2015) by Agatha Valkyrie Ice, a spray bottle with its name on and white foam escaping slightly out of the gap between the top and the body sits in a small seat with more foam having gently escaped around its base.
Martin Kohout’s ‘SKINSMOOTH VER.(s)’ are versions of clear gloves filled with a wet but hard material inside clear bags folded in various manners around the space. They are not quite hands and it makes it creepy. ‘SHE, A SKELETON’ (2015) by Dorota Gaweda + Egle Kulbokakaite is a silvery enticing object that looks like a fossil and, although it has no face or head, has a backbone and a recognisably amphibian tale. It sits on a much shinier piece of metal. Another piece of hand-held documentation is an image of someone applying on an iPad for a Guinness World Record for the ‘Deepest Underground Art Exhibition in History’. As part of Gaweda and Kulbokaite’s ‘SHE, A SKELETON’ a piece of writing dismantles and remakes an interior inside or elsewhere, like “working towards the seabed, following the steady pace of the sleeping animals”. The words are displayed on a small screen, held by a person and photographed, sealed in the image.
Deep Skin will be underground for one year from August 14, 2015, to August 14, 2016, protected by and co-existing in SNOlab. It pulls on memory and the preserving power of reminders. It pulls on that which is too clean and precious to be touched – or to touch back – but close enough to remember deeply. In six months time maybe you might think about the sea bed, or dry hair and think about them all down there. **
It’s interesting to consider the high-definition art uniting a certain set of artists under the shadowless shade of ‘corporate aesthetics’. They tend to come from all over but are drawn together by a penchant for presenting the insidious engines of accelerated economies by mimicking the smooth countours and too-bright whites of these slick and luxurious markers of modernity; technology become the backdrop to a natural state long lost and regenerated under the stark light of an LED lamp. Pakui Hardware impress these same global markers and their opulent associations on the prosthetic bodies of in Lost Heritage (photos, top-right) at Rīga’s kim? Contemporary Art Centre, running January 14 to February 22.
Blocks of green studio-grown ‘Global Grass’ lie on plywood squares on rollers across the gallery; unnatural nature fragmenting a concrete floor in clean cut grids. Curved synthetic conches made of plaster, resin, silicone, are lit-up by flourescent tubes on tripods that throw the synthetic pink and purple of their smooth and wavy hollows in sharp relief. It’s an overwhelmingly ice-cold sense of alienation that permeates, made all the more noxious by the leak of sprinkler in the corner spraying edible Rose food-colouring fed through a Cristallo PVC hose that’s meant to move food products. It’s stuff that’s made to be eaten but it looks like it could kill you.
The list of works eschews names for materials – including “hydrant system”, “water pump”, “R-Duino
microcontroller” – Lost Heritage is an exhibition that’s the sum of products, while the accompanying text (below) refers to “silicone arteries”, “human-created-designed-programmed organisms” and “never-sweating bodies”. In all this unreal realness, Pakui Hardware follow along the lines lasered out by the likes of Katja Novitskova, Timur Si Qin, Andrew Norman Wilson, while functioning as a self-described “brand name” (credited to New York curator Alex Ross) that capitalises on all of these familiar visual cues. The duo, who’ve been collaborating since 2012, became their brand in 2014 in a name that references Hawaiian mythology in Pakui, attendant to Haumea, the goddess of fertility, at the Polynesian archipelago’s Kailua village. gohawaii.com describes the place on Kona island as “home to shopping, dining and important historic sites”.
Describing itself as a “construct of high-speed enriched brand politics that acts as a mythic semi-commodity desiring to transcend material limitations”, Pakui Hardware presents its “dysfunctional gardening” in disconnected and deterritorialised islands of fake grass used only as platforms for their deformed props. They look like seashells but are actually products and the result is a showroom display that’s as horrifying as it is alluring, in all its abnormality:
“With every limb there is detachment. Cut.
Cut-open limbs with silicone arteries stretched through their hollowed shells. Slimy surfaces of never-sweating bodies. Programmed biological efficiency, exact as a mission with military precision. Micro-beginnings of species outside of nature. Human-created-designed-programmed organisms crawl out sterile laboratories.
With every limb there is detachment.
That pink of your prosthetic teeth is most attractive.” **