Carmen Weisskopf and Domagoj Smolj of the artist collective show a five-channel video installation, touching upon their area of research into “notions of surveillance, social interaction and internet consumerism.”
The work, ‘Ashley Madison Angels At Work in London’ (2017) , will look at the online dating site Ashley Madison, which functions to set up married people looking to have an affair. A continuation of their research since 2015, !Mediengruppe Bitnik will explore internet intimacy and the blurring of physical and virtual boundaries on these platforms.
“Brackets are there to add to a thought,” writes Damian Griffiths when asked about the title of the ] [ group exhibition he curated at London’s Annka Kultys Gallery, “they are part of the architecture of language but strangely apart from it as well. It is like the opposite of the auto focus point on the inside of a camera ‘[‘ as well as ‘]’ a spatial reminder of the connections between things.”
The show, which opened July 6 and is running to July 29, explores the relationship between the artwork and its documentation through the lens. The curatorial premise inverts the process of the exhibition, arranging and including works pertaining to the camera’s “ideal point of view” first, a process Griffiths explains is when “the image and reality are doing the same thing.”
The project came about through gallerist Annka Kulty’s and Griffith’s professional relationship. Both an artist, as well as a commercial photographer, he has been photographing for the gallery for the last 18 months. Choosing, arranging and documenting the installation himself, Griffith chats to us about his interest in the lens and expands on the way the works “are analogous or have resonance to the subject of the show.”
** The press release uses the words ‘ideal viewpoint’ and ‘complicit’ and I can’t help but link this to ideas of truth?
Damian Griffiths: The camera is linked with ideas of truth because of it’s indexical relationship to the world. Of course this idea has been eroded to the point of naught. Yet a photograph would still be evidence enough to get you sent to prison in a way a painting wouldn’t. The truth of photography is that a good photographer is capable of rendering reality to fit their intent. One of the things that interests me about photography is how the world has also come to meet the camera – things like contouring, the make up technique that came to mimic what photo retouchers had been doing for years, or guitars from the 50s painted in TV yellow – the stage lights at the time were too strong and the poor dynamic range of the black and white cameras meant that white objects would blow out, so anything that you wanted white was painted yellow. I say complicit because I don’t think the gestures are innocent but other words that could fit the same feeling would/could be enmeshed, tangled, resonance, echoing, reciprocity or mimicry.
** Viewing art definitely happens way more online, do you find this to be an exciting direction?
DG: I have two children and a busy work life. I used to see everything, now I see what I can! I think most of what is online to the best of its ability is trying to reach out to an audience in the most immediate way it can. Within the usual perimeters of putting on your best face, most documentation is about enticing an audience to engage with the work further. But within the system of trying to look your best there are lots of technical considerations that can muddy those waters.
** Would you say this show is very much about the viewpoint of the documenter and curator (you) rather than the artists?
DG:What makes me a good commercial photographer is that I see it as a purely technical discipline. The work directs me as to how it should be best photographed. With regards to the show, I would say Annka and I organised it, the camera curated it. What is important is that the documentation of the work is not my work. I’m not trying to be Lousie Lawler, her work is great but I’m not looking to appropriate the value of these works into my own. It’s okay for photographs to be just photographs and not art work. However, I am happy for this relationship to be uneasy. Uneasy relationships could have been the strapline for the show.
** Do you think IRL spaces are on their way out?
DG: It is becoming increasingly hard to do for all the usual reasons, however, I couldn’t trust an online-only space. I need to know it exists, even if I can’t get to see it. It’s a bit like playing music, it’s cool to practice in the garage but you’re not a band till you get on stage.
** What do you hope the audience would get out of this project. Are there any interesting results or discussions that have come out of this?
DG: What I hope the audience gets from this exhibition is that nothing is given, everything has intention. The walls might be painted white but they are not invisible. The documentation of the show may be natural but it is not neutral. The art work and the art world should be seen in the round. The best of these conversations have come out from speaking with the artists and galleries who were involved in making the show happen.**
The Cacotopia group exhibition at London’s Annka Kultys Gallery is opening January 10 and running until February 11.
The multi-media exhibition will unfold over a five-week period, exploring “contemporary perspectives on feminism, ecology, celebrity culture, politics and professionalism.”The title brings together Greek originating words Caco (bad) and Topia (space). Each artist, a recent MFA graduate, will be given a week in the gallery to respond to current anxieties and coping mechanisms.
The event will begin with work Cornu copia copia topia of your broken lusty (2016) by Olivia Strange opening January 10 and running to January 14, taking us into a day-dream fantasy of ‘paradise.’
Andrea Williamson will take over January 18 to 21, giving her own version of a beautifully crafted butterfly chair, inspired by Kurt Vonnegut’s dystopian Cat’s Cradle (1963).
Soo Choi will present video Snow Romance (2016) from January 25 to 28, exploring personal desire through cinematic romance symbols.
February will kick off with work by Olivia Hernaiz from the first to the fourth, who will install an Airbnb in the gallery.
The event ends with Generalized Anxiety Relaxation (2016), a bookable relaxation studio by Ruth Waters running from February 8 to 11.
The nape of the neck, a jagged rib, flesh that could once have been a hand, the nub of a heel, oscillating between foetal and decaying. The figures in Serbian artist Ivana Basic’s solo show Throat wanders down the blade, running at Annka KultysSeptember 7 to October 8, are caught between becoming and unbecoming, stepping in and out of interiority. The show is based on the voice of Basic’s alter ego, ‘Bridle’, and features a series of seven blown glass bubbles mounted and scattered around the walls of the room, titled ‘Breath seeps through her tightly closed mouth #1-#7′. Suggestive of air being squeezed out of a balloon or an organ, some almost breathing themselves, they graduate in colour from flesh to beige and milk.
When Basic lists breath as material, she refers to her own, having blown the glass herself. Trailing off in long jellyfish drops or twisted uncomfortably, the evidence remains of a liquid turned solid; by sacrificing its fluid malleability, it becomes fragile and permanent. The balloons are clamped to the gallery wall in a steel vise-grip evoking wall sconces. The dim palette of pinks and greys are barely colours at all, evoking a simultaneous awareness of and separation from the body, a feeling of weight. ‘Stay inside or perish’, three works speaking to Basic’s childhood in Serbia during wartime, feature deformed wax figures, genderless bodies touched by injury. The exhibition catalogue features drawings of bodies alongside the artists text – one dark body inside another, like scaffolding. Basic’s withered, clawing forms seem unable to hold themselves without support. Nothing can move, everything is clamped or strapped, the steel supports and bandage-like cloth both raising trapping. The bodies in ‘Population of phantoms resembling me’ carry the sense of being cornered; forced by heavy steel bars up against leather pads mounted on opposite walls of the gallery. However, the engraved ‘R’ and ‘L’ of the metal arms that separate them almost connect, creating an umbilical bond across the space. Nothing is languid, everything is taut and on edge, from the tightening rivets and bars to the ties that bind the torso in ‘Stay inside or perish’. In both works, it’s hard to define which force is impressing itself upon the bodies, tension and torque operating simultaneously as crushing or potentially liberating.
The materials of breath, pressure, weight, and rigidity move alongside the twist and warp of figures in the process of rebirth or disappearance that speak to the emerging internal selves of the character Bridle. The name conjures a double meaning: wedded, or submitting to as well as being shackled like an animal. The central work in the show, ‘Stay Inside or Perish’, possesses a pair of glass ankles affixed to its hanging legs either held up or shackled down with steel crutches. The figure feels as though it’s being suspended against its will, perhaps a glass-legged cyborg being raised back up into productive mode. In their various interminable states, the dry, hollow bodies could still be reparative; states of flux moving through on their way, perhaps, to other forms.**