Dominic Watson is presenting solo exhibition YEAST at London’s Space, opening September 29 and running to December 17.
The Amsterdam-based artists’ new work consists of a single-channel video with a musical score that “revisits the medieval animal trial of a rooster”. A series of images derived from medieval bestiaries will be disseminated over the course of the show in the advertising pages of the Hackney Gazette. The work poses questions about “an anthropocentric worldview and the perils of assuming dominance over nature”.
The video depicts the trial of a rooster, who is accused of crimes against nature for laying an egg, as an “allegorical exploration of the assumed transcendence of humans from the realm of nature”.
The soundtrack of YEAST was made in collaboration with Daniel Woodhouse.
The Helsinki-based artist opened his SPACE residency with a “show-and-tell shop talk performance anxiety q&q event”, Living with Moneyin December of last year. It began with a “group therapy session”-cum-live sound design demo that culminated in a collaborative sound piece being produced in collaboration with his audience —specifically in response to The White Building’s location in the Hackney Wick art hub —called ‘RADIO PLAY CREATIVE INDUSTRY’ (2015), embedded below.
For this closing event, ‘Pappa Modig‘ will look at what the press release calls “key questions concerning the use of sound effects with moving objects & subjects”, such as “Does a lot of reverb always equal wealth?”, accompanied by video cameras peopled by Video in Common and an open letter exploring notions of affective labour and art production.
Iván Argote‘s solo show at London’s Space Gallery is called An Idea of Progress and it is centred around the construction site.
Immediately Argote asks us to think about the word construction. A construction site is a place where building work is happening, where what is old is demolished and where what is new will replace it, on an incredibly public –yet slightly behind closed hoardings –stage or setting.
Argote has made one of these stages to cover the entire facade of Space, as though what is imaged on the front is happening underneath and will be soon made manifest, revealed, presented, given to the onlookers who walk past. It is charmingly and quickly –although not without its neatness –strapped to Space’s face with big cable ties. What the facade promises is “AN IDEA OF PROGRESS” as well as, by the way, “THE FUTURE’S FUTURE IS UNDER PROGRESS” and an image that is part front-facing and part rendered with aerial perspective of what is best described as a Centre Parcs complex on drugs.
Inside the future and the promise of progress, are several other pieces by Argote, installed and hung around the white space. With a plant in the corner, simply potted in a terracotta base and still tied together at the stems with some rocks thrown in, and a couple of elegant screens lowered in with a metal pole, the place could be a showroom.
In the documentation images, the screens look like they are hosting perfectly still moments –or stills –rather than videos. Together and collectively, the three screens make up the following: image of a person moving captured in the middle of road works in front of a sign pointing towards London City Airport. An image of two floors, filmed by a camera that is very near to the ground. An image of the legs of what appears to be a giant person walking down the street fast, past a fake and tiny flat row of doors and shopfronts like ‘Hy Tek’.
This one is maybe the most sad because Hy Tek is definitely empty. It’s clear, according to Argote’s aesthetic decision: the shopfronts and front doors are very drawn, and quite uniformly purply brown.
Another empty building in the show is in a print hung on the wall. Two men in suits are walking past a tall lonely building. One of them is carrying a briefcase and is speaking to the other with a reassuring grin, as though he’s showing him something he wants him to like: “Actually that one’s not empty, we keep our profits in it”. Their figures have got brick pattern all over them, or they are imprinted in bricks, or –however you want to say it: they are the buildings.
Aesthetic promise on the surface only, showroom interiors and strategies: Iván Argote doubly manages and juggles both contemporary art and urban regeneration in their dynamic and vital relationship to (ideas of) progress.**
As part of our ongoing video series made in collaboration with Video in Common, aqnb recently caught up with Claire Tolan during her three-month Perlin Noise Residency at SPACE in London. In the first of what will be a two-part interview the Berlin-based artist talks about ways of relating to each other online and shared coping methods within the context of the ASMR (Autonomous Sensory Meridian Response) community on YouTube – a subculture of relaxation and care among strangers that has developed on the video hosting platform since its launch in 2005.
Through ‘You’re Worth It’, a regular show on Berlin Community Radio, Tolan has been exploring the breadth of the ASMR phenomenon, dedicating each broadcast to a particular trope or subset; Big Brother contests whispering, fingernail tapping, houseplant cleaning and role-play spa visits etc., that has emerged from the now over two million strong body of videos in circulation.
Tolan’s early interests lie in human-computer interaction, network behaviour and language (of care), encouraged by studies in Information Science and English Literature. Through her work she highlights the level of functional intimacy – both physical and emotional – created by the ASMR artists, showing how the community has galvanised around the need for a meditative space, one that counteracts attention-hungry apps, tabs and feeds. However, rather than going on a ‘digital detox’, the ASMR community looks to create alternative technological spaces for relaxation from the very tools and methods that in other instances exhaust us. **
Claire Tolan and Jeremy Hutchison will be discussing their work and ideas at London’s [space] AT(The White Building) in a pilot version of a “new distributed curatorial framework” by Space called AGORA_IN_RETE_01 on October 1.
Described, as a “public arena for the pattern recognition and critical discussion of creative process and process-led practice”, the event will present a platform for exchange between the aforementioned Berlin- and London-based artists.
London’s [ space ] will be launching the first issue of Pale Journal on February 13.
The contemporary art gallery’s inaugural launch will be accompanied by a set of performances and readings from various artists, including Canadian artist Dan Barrow known for his “narrative overhead projection performances”, artist Alexander Townend Bate, video and visual artists Giulia Loi andMary Vettise, Berlin-based artist Anna Zett, and London- and Basel-based artist Sophie Jung.
The night will be capped off with a musical performances by QUITTERS.
Each gallery will present a two-week long show in [ space ]’s Annexe gallery, kicking off with Piper Keys, who brings a three-artist group show with Roger Ackling, Keith Farquhar and Lucy Stein, running from February 7 to February 22.
Almost as soon as Piper Keys’ show wraps up, Life Gallery takes over the space with There’s No Space in Space, a group show with Morag Keil, Caspar Heinemann and Kimmo Modig, running from February 26 to March 15, followed by Berlin’s The Duck, which will host a larger group show titled ‚dm‘, with artists Hélène Fauquet, Nik Geene, Stuart Middleton, Naomi Pearce, Eidflo, Ellie de Verdier, Ryan Siegan Smith, and Veit Laurent Kurz, and running from March 19 to April 5.
The event comes as the first in a series exploring intersectionality in the digital age. The cyberfeminism programme NEWGenNOW, which Binary Static opens, investigates the tensions between gendered identity (constructed or not) and network behaviour.
The evening begins with a screening of ‘cut your coat according to your cloth’ by Raju Rage of Collective Creativity Arts Collective, followed by a panel discussion with Rage and fellow collective member Evan Ifekoya, chaired by Juliet Jacques.
The weekend kicks off on Friday with an afternoon discussion with Sidsel Meineche Hansen and Josephine Wikstrøm, followed by an evening film screening and talk with artist Imogen Stidworthy about her own practice and that of Fernand Deligny.
Saturday brings a stacked day, with discussions, performances, interventions, screenings and workshops happening throughout by various participants, including Plastique Fantastique (David Burrows & Simon O’Sullivan and collaborators), Anna Hickey Moody, and Mischa Twitchin.
The selected artists and “creative technologists”, as the press release calls them, have been on-site for three months, working on their conceptions of infrastructures (physical, political and social), and Thursday’s opening brings the somewhat disparate artists together for three unique points of view.
Altmann’s survival fantasy-focused practice, RealFlow, will be presented on the top floor through a collaborative reading followed by live text sets from Emily Jones and Flexia, and live music sets from Nkisi, and Hitashya. Below Altmann is Kirton’s justjustgirlythingsthings, a performance of “repentance, reconciliation and restoration” following her year of critically examining the Justgirlythings community. Last in the lineup is Lemmey, whose use of technology attempts to “read the city as a space formed by political and sexual desire”.
Perlin Noise welcomes the two acts as performative challenges to assumptions of what contemporary music and sound art are meant to sound like, and the project explores the “permeable boundaries between sound art, experimental music and networked performance”.
Described as “four bodies barely obscured by identical black boxes”, WE pushes the limits of pop, combining guitar, synth, and “cartoon drumrolls” and turning them inside out, converting the individual I into the collective We of an abolished and pluralized identity. The Rebel, in turn, brings Ben Wallers and his mix of lo-fi country, garage punk and “the political malaises of liberal democracy”.
Notoriously elusive Dean Blunt gives little away in the materials surrounding New Paintings, his latest exhibition for Hackney’s [ space ]. As viewers enter the room, two short wall-mounted phrases – “the good die young” and “ball in heaven” – are the only introduction to the wide open exhibition, and his deliberate withdrawal of context immediately feels overwhelming.
The honorific description of the death of young people sets up the idea that this is going to be a show dealing in similar themes Blunt has touched on many times before, in both his music and visual art: that of gangs and crime, or rather, how those things are glossed over or even abetted by our superficial societal obsessions. Just last week he shared ‘TRIDENT PART 2’, a spoken word track about violent events in Hackney and the police’s response. He’s often critiqued popular culture’s attachment of glamour to untimely death, the morphing of it into yet another distracting commodity in a world that’s full of them.
Standing out of the press information that circulated before the opening of New Paintings on October 3, “the good die young” seemed like a brutally clear-cut indication of what to expect, conjuring the idea that this might be a collection overshadowed by violence. Bodies have featured prominently in Blunt’s work before, and black bodies in particular: he explored the sexual objectification of the young men in his uncomfortably slowed-down take on D’Angelo’s ‘How Does It Feel’ video and gangs and gentrification in his Brixton 28s exhibit. The bodies in Blunt’s work are there to step over or to accept drinks from, dehumanised by marketing or by literally being made out of plastic.
Stepping into [space] this time, though, the emphasis is on the vast emptiness, as there’s not a body in sight. Eight near-identical and simply detailed ‘paintings’ hang, two on each wall, the room oddly symmetrical and serene. It lacks any of the physicality or immediacy you might expect from a show prefaced only by an angrily tongue-in-cheek line about the glory of youthful death; a line that projects wartime notions of “honour,” but resonates more today with young people caught up in gang violence and police brutality.
The paintings deal not with the bodily truth underpinning the statement “the good die young,” but the cultural deflection of it. Instead of canvas, the frames are stretched with denim: the “painting” element of the show consisting of identical logos emblazoned on the top left-hand corner each fabric base. They seem to say, ‘don’t think about homicide statistics: check out the luxury texture of these selvedge jeans’. The emblem is the Evisu jeans brand, everything engineered to project an upmarket ideal, including the clean boutique feel of the cavernous space that dominates the room and that feels full of ugly truths unsaid. It’s reminiscent of the cover of Greg Tate’s essay collection, Everything But The Burden: What White People Are Taking From Black Culture – which shows a pair of low-slung jeans, and featured prominently in Blunt’s Brixton 28s – in that it once again foregrounds the garment as a piece of commercially packaged cultural identity.
In place of a real conversation about life and death, denim becomes a stand-in for skin, fashionably glossing over the topic. The emphasis in the initially functional-seeming title now falls on the ‘New’; as long as there’s something new to be had, something material to be gained, who cares about anything else? The mind goes back to the hand-based images on the press materials, such as the National Lottery’s ‘finger’s crossed!’ symbol – hands implying action and power, and yet being used to sell a capitalist dream for corporate interests; of free wealth to society’s hardest done-by. “Ball in heaven,” of course, because monetary satisfaction is the ultimate answer to all of earth’s horrors.
What’s the difference between blue and Osaka Blue? One’s a colour recognised universally from preschool up, the other is an invention by Calvin Klein to sell jeans. Blunt names one of his paintings “Untitled (blue)” and another “Untitled (Osaka Blue)” in a nod to this commodification of colour. In the stark presentation of the gallery, colour is slight and presented in twos: pink and white go together (because they’re feminine?), blue and red go together (the UK flag, Bloods vs Crips?), “Osaka Blue” and yellow. The pairings feel weighted, perhaps because they’re the only representation of variety or choice in the room: your agency in this jeans-wearing world is pared down to “what colour logo would you like on your uniform?”, as everything surrounding the option is starkly empty.
Violence doesn’t enter this space, but rather a suffocating awareness – despite being in a huge, open gallery – of the limitation of the options presented to particular parts of society. Perhaps to young black men, specifically. The message of the eternal “ball” tells them that their bodies aren’t as important as what they’re clothed in. Save up, take a gamble, keep your fingers crossed: because blood will wash out, but your design brand jeans are forever. **
Dean Blunt is presenting his second solo show at London’s [ space ], titled New Paintings and running from October 2 to December 7.
It’s not his first time at the gallery, having previously held his Brixton 28s exhibition there last year, and though no concrete information is given about the nature of the upcoming solo show, Blunt fans can expect the standard discomfiting weirdness that colours much of what he does.
London’s [ space ]will be hosting a discussion about writing and being written about in contemporary art practice, titled The Artist’s Voice, running at The White Building on September 24, 6:30-8pm.
Chaired by artist Andrew Bick, the discussion explores the market value of art writing with regards to developing careers as well as to general cultural capital, inviting three panelists to share their views and experiences on the topic: freelance art critic and associate editor of ArtReview, JJ Charlesworth, London-based critic and Afterall editor, Melissa Gronland, and writer and art broadcaster, Louisa Buck.
Using Pablo Helguera’s satirical book, Manual of Contemporary Art Style, and its claim that artists exist as cultivated fields merely harvested by the critics as a starting point, The Artist’s Voice examines the dynamics of these cultural and monetary exchanges and who in all this ends up on the winning side.
Lifting the name from cult cyberfeminist group VNS Matrix‘s computer game, titled All New Gen, NEW Gen NOW explores how current cultural cyberfeminist strategies have developed and changed in the digital age.
The event will feature Beth Siveyer – artist, curator and founder of the Girls Get Busy Zine – in a talk titled “Cyberfeminism and the Digital Diaspora” that focuses on cyberfeminist art practices in relation to emerging digital diasporas.
In her ‘Note on Capitalisation’, Stephanie Bailey points to the heart of an issue grappled with throughout You Are Here: Art After the Internet. Concluding the book of essays, provocations and projects, edited by Omar Kholeif and published by Cornerhouse and SPACE, if involves a discussion of how the editorial team arrived at the decision not to capitalise the word ‘internet’. The question they faced, she points out, was of what kind of space the internet is –sure, in the 90s, as Jennifer Chan observes in the ‘Note’, the dot-com boom had it feeling like a corporate entity divided into commodities: hence the capital ‘I’ (and emphasis on the capital). Since then, our perception of what the internet is –as inwhere, how and why it exists –has lead to an uncapitalised form being widely preferred. You go on the internet as you would go to the park.
Taking a stroll through this collection of texts that dare to ask the daunting question of how art has changed and is changing, and will change –in the digital age we now inhabit, you come across many renderings of how that public space might look. In the meditation ‘May Amnesia Never Kiss Us On The Mouth’ by Basel Abbas and Ruanne Abou-Rahme it’s an unknowable yet tangible “afterlife of our experiences”, producing spontaneous counter-narratives alongside real word ones, constantly archiving to the second. It’s a space entirely dependent on, and entirely separate from, physical life.
Proponent of Gulf Futurism Sophia Al-Maria sees it more earthily, talking of “terraforming the WWW”, bringing life from a whole new landscape as if giving birth to a second Earth. In her short provocation, she ties up “life” with emotions and relationships. Similarly, in his essay exploring the nature of relationships formed online, Gene McHugh looks at how digital natives perceive no difference between the meaningful context of relationships formed online and IRL. If real emotions can be played out on online platforms, what’s to separate such platforms from ‘life’?
Meanwhile, editor Kholeif brings the book’s central question about art’s new environment home as he explores the potential and actuality of the online realm as a curatorial space. He relays the experience of moving through algorithm-driven “recommendations” in spaces like Amazon and Artsy, and asks whether art that exists on this plane will soon be downloadable to iPads, in a sense crossing a physical boundary.
In his provocation ‘Where to for Public Space?’, Constant Dullaart takes this internet-as-physical-space metaphor for a walk, delineating the unseen and largely uncontemplated differences between ‘public’ and ‘private’ spaces in cities, and drawing attention to the web’s status as a network of privately owned areas masquerading as a wide open public landscape. Touching on the still-murky realms of the deep web and encrypted codes as hidden spaces where art may yet be contained, Dullaart raises uneasy questions about the freedom of movement and information we associate with our digital world. One thing’s certain: “private” ownership means nothing good for your privacy.
When considering this uncertain, tangible-yet-not, interconnected space that determines the shape of life and the creation and distribution (and content) of art, the notion of ‘post-internet’ as a genre becomes practically impossible to grapple with. You Are Here begins to tackle it by observing current trends in art as you might stare at an endlessly rotating 3D gif; there’s not much in the way of answers or definition, but plenty of absorbing examples viewed from a prism of different angles. Take the cross-section of Jon Rafman’s ‘Virtual Worlds’ presented here, excellently chosen shots of his recent ‘I am Alone but Not Lonely’ installation at New York’s Zach Feuer Gallery and stills from his ‘Still Life (Betamale)’ video for Oneohtrix Point Never in particular. What both of these projects bring to visual realisation is the point or the boundary at which digital reality sits alongside the physical, providing something very real and engrossing that acts as a counterpoint to the decay and depression that surrounds it.
With visual interjections like these, the form of the book reflects the volatility and dynamism of the subject matter elegantly, always implicitly asking the question of what our post-internet world means to publications and consumption of information, as much as art. Jesse Darling’s ‘Post-Whatever #usermilitia’ kicks off with a Facebook status and a hashtag before even drawing a breath for its first sentence: this strikes up an instant familiarity with a reader whose reading experience is augmented by half-hourly Twitter-scrolling. The voice is that of a digital orator, strong from the offset and wittily contained. Embracing change as inevitable and technology as human, Darling asserts: “It seems unlikely that the contemporary condition should be qualitatively different from other technological and teleological shifts in human history. Current anxiety that the internet may be making us stupid (or lonely, or sexually aberrant, or socially dysfunctional) echo Plato’s worry that the widespread practice of writing would destroy oral literacy and the ability to create new memories.” This is a mindset that feels like a crux of the whole book, tying in neatly with Rafman’s depictions of un-lonely aloneness and McHugh’s assertion that real emotional bonds can be (and are) forged over the internet.
To quote Bailey again, she states in her provocation ‘OurSpace: Take The Net In Your Hands’: “as the internet continues to evolve, it might be worth admitting that its so-called ‘age’ is not yet ‘post-’ because it has only just begun. Its future therefore remains, to some extent at least, in our hands.” And so we find ourselves here, wherever here might be, inside the ‘after’ signified by ‘post-internet’. If you need a hand navigating, You Are Here maps the movement as diligently as you could expect to map a movement still in motion. **