Assembly Point

‘At the Backend’: an AQNB x Video in Common screening rundown

16 May 2016

With new systems and infrastructures come new ways of organising information, new ways of thinking, of coming together. In light of this notion, AQNB editor Jean Kay, and Video in Common (ViC) founder Caroline Heron visited London’s Assembly Point, with an event called ‘At the Backend’, last Friday, May 6, to contemplate the theme of the Peckham gallery’s three-week Tableaux programme, in a very literal interpretation of its dictionary.com definition being, “a picture, as of a scene.”

‘At the Backend’ followed on from the ‘The Future Is Here, It’s Just Not Evenly Distributed’ screening at Berlin’s Import Projects in March by considering AQNB‘s forthcoming website upgrade, and the questions and developments that emerge when reformulating the categories, formats and frameworks for presenting information to an international audience. We examined the work of some artists within our global network that somehow addressed or embodied these semiotic shifts that come with networked communication, and its influence on community-building and identity-formation.

These included AQNB/ViC editorial video commissions by two Berlin-based artists —’ASMR-tist’ Claire Tolan discussing her practice born from the YouTube community concerned with the Auto Sensory Meridian Response phenomenon, and Anna Zett talking about constructing and editing narratives around an initial claim into video. Helsinki-based artist Kimmo Modig contributed a  video—consisting of outtakes from sessions leading up to a work presented as part of curator Valentina Fois‘  The Utopia Internet Dystopia pavilion at last year’s The Wrong biennale —especially for AQNB, as a response to the affective labour and techniques of YouTube celebrities.

Encyclopedia Inc., ‘Yellowcake’ (2015). Courtesy the artists.
Encyclopedia Inc., ‘Yellowcake’ (2015). Installation detail. Courtesy the artists.

Los Angeles-based collective Encyclopedia Inc. shared two videos that illustrate a widely varied approach to their ongoing interest in uranium. The symbolic and physical properties of radiation becomes the sole anchor of a responsive, research-based practice that eschews any drive towards a single identifiable aesthetic or mode of working.

Ashley Angelus Ashley presented a live reading of her religious poetry via Skype from her base in Philadelphia. That was followed by a Q&A where she discussed her shapeshifting practice and still-evolving sense of self in an often oppressive digital regime that has negatively exposed her as an artist, writer and person too young. Ashley continues to actively evade identification while exploring the parallels between, and ritual practice of institutionalised religion and popular culture. Meanwhile, collectives like Johannesburg’s CUSS Group passively confuse and elude classification within global (see: western) internet convention, by promoting misinformation through inaction when it comes to readings and representations of their work outside of their own self-presentation. Taking footage appropriated from artist-musician Dean Blunt‘s 2014 ‘DEF Freestyle‘ single and re-presenting it in a pop-up exhibition from the back of a car as part of their Video Party series in Johannesburg, Geneva-based co-founder Ravi Govender discussed the groups disinterest in regulating the distribution of their work and identity outside of their own context, in opposition to the hyper-constructed artistic identity of an artist like Dean Blunt. Rather than try to be understood within a proscribed informational system, CUSS Group dismiss its authority entirely.

Below are the full videos, excerpts (and video stills) of the films and readings presented in their running order:

Claire Tolan: ‘Thinking Systems (ASMR)’ (2016) video. [6:55 min]

Berlin-based artist Claire Tolan discusses YouTube-born phenomenon ASMR (Autonomous Sensory Meridian Response) and how it informs her art practice. From mixing ASMR sounds on the radio to organising live ASMR Karaoke events, Tolan’s work and interests are centred on how strangers come together online and communities are formed alongside new technologies.

Anna Zett: ‘Theory of Everything’, p.1 (2016) video. [7:02 min]

Berlin-based artist Anna Zett talks about gathering empirical evidence of the attitudes and perspectives surrounding her chosen subjects, including dinosaurs, boxing and the brain. Prior to her most recent video work, ‘Circuit Training’ (2015), Zett’s impressive “modern research drama” ‘This Unwieldy Object’ (2014) saw her dealing in the construction of raw data into meaningful narratives along existing ideological lines.

Ashley Angelus Ashley, ‘BITCH/BITCH’ (2016) poetry reading

Philadelphia-based artist Ashley Angelus Ashley seeks to reconcile her religious poetry with the social experience of exploitation and oppression. Taken from the position of what she calls a “sexually androgynous Catholic woman”, Ashley presents a live poetry reading via Skype, covering the stigmatization of gender nonconformity, ritualized humiliation, the sex industry, internalized misogyny, and biological control.

Encyclopedia Inc.: ‘Yellowcake’ (2015) [1:25 min], ‘Fukushima, Mon Amour’ (2016) [3:34]

LA-based collective Encyclopedia Inc. –Carlye Packer, Googie Karrass and Nicholas Korody –is a research-based project that interrogates the inherited western idea of an object in isolation. In a continually evolving, process-driven practice that questions notions of art and information as self-evident, the group has produced publications, videos and installations reflecting a conceptual approach to the lived reality of ecological enmeshment, with uranium at its core.

Encyclopedia Inc., ‘Fukushima, Mon Amour’ (2016). Video still. Courtesy the artists.
Encyclopedia Inc., ‘Fukushima, Mon Amour’ (2016). Video still. Courtesy the artists.

Kimmo Modig: ‘KIMMOTALKS’ (2016) [9:26]

Helsinki-based artist Kimmo Modig deconstructs the languages and systems surrounding labour and production by both mimicking and destabilising an audience’s conception of capital flows in its various forms. Modig performs his own anxieties and sense of precarity in relation to the existing lexicons of communication media –like video, marketing and sound design –thus laying bare the oppression and authority implicit in the restrictive social paradigms they reinforce.

Cuss Group: ‘Video Party #4’ (2014) [8:22 min]

Johannesburg and Geneva-based collective Cuss Group –Ravi Govender, Jamal Nxedlana Zamani Xolo, Lex Trickett, Bogosi Sekhukhuni and Chris Mc Michael  –have been working as a dispersed group of artists and practitioners on the margins of not only a South African art market indifferent to video as a medium, but a globalised online network of artists still focussed on traditional Western economic centres. But instead of applying for impossible access to these systems and flows of information, Cuss Group passively evade legibility within existing colonial structures surrounding art and aesthetics.

AQNB x Video in Common’s ‘At the Backend’ event was on at London’s Assembly Point, May 6, 2016.

 

Tableaux @ Assembly Point, May 4 – 31

2 May 2016

London’s Assembly Point is presenting a programme of interactive screenings, performances and discussions called Tableaux, running May 4 to 31.

Focusing on artists’ moving image in relation to the open interpretation of its title, the season will present events curated by invited artists and organisations —including aqnb and video partner Video in Common on May 6— in twelve events over three weeks.

Those presenting include the art space itself to open, as well as Slow Bounce, aqnb and George Mellor/Sister Arrow with Rosalind Wilson in the first week. There will be screenings and performances coordinated by Europa and Åbäke, Nicholas Brooks, Charles Richardson, and Film London Artists’ Moving Image Network (FLAMIN) in week two, as well as programmes from FriezeLea Collet & Marios Stamatis, Eva Papamargariti, and a rather Joseph Townshend and Ruaidhri Ryan to finish.

See the Assembly Point website for the full programme.**

Lea Collet & Marios Stamatis, KPIs [Key Performance Interludes] 2016. Courtesy the artists and Green Ray
Lea Collet & Marios Stamatis, ‘KPIs [Key Performance Interludes]’ (2016). Courtesy the artists + Green Ray, London.

Is It Heavy or is it Light? @ Assembly Point, Jan 21 – Feb 27

21 January 2016

The Is it Heavy or Is it Light? group show is on at London’s Assembly Point, opening January 21 and running to February 26.

Artists Rebecca Ackroyd, Matt Ager, Jemma Egan, Ziggy Grudzinskas, Edgar–Walker, who also run the space and are curating the show, will be presenting works reflecting on depth and surface, dullness and shine, meaning and superficiality and the conditions that float around production and making.

Is it Heavy or Is it Light? takes its title and investigation from a recent essay by Brian Kuan Wood who notes that “we might say that we now function so purely in the realm of the idea that any substance becomes ephemeral regardless of whether it is art or not.” The show will also think about mood and what mood art can make you in, despite the weight, level and intention of the work in question.

See the FB Event page for more details**

Mut Mut @ Assembly Point, Nov 11 – Dec 12

9 November 2015

London’s Assembly Point is launching a new group exhibition, titled Mut Mut, opening November 11 and running to December 12.

The show bases itself on the premise that there have been shifts within the medium of illustration “from the mediated form to the production of individual objects”, a necessary evolution that moves the medium away from its conventional forms and towards a more contemporary practice heavily influenced by other media.

The title comes from the truncation of the Latin phrase mutatis mutandis, meaning “the necessary changes having been made”, and the show features films by Jack Sachs and Pablo Jones Soler, as well as works by Nous Vous and Vallee Duhamel, among others.

See the show press release for details. **

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East Anglia Records compilation launch @ Assembly Point, Oct 16

15 October 2015

London’s East Anglia Records is celebrating Frieze week with the launch of a compilation album at Assembly Point , October 16.

The event closes the Faith Dollars, Taxfree Imagination & Uptown Bliss exhibition, which opened with the Gilded Ceremony performance night on October 1 and featured the likes of Kim Asendorf and Ole FachLawrence Lek, James Lowne and Eva Papamargariti

The album and limited edition merchandise available to buy on the night and will be accompanied by artist invited to perform by Faith Dollars… exhibition curator Marios Stamatis

See the Facebook event page for details.**

east anglia records

Gilded Ceremony @ Assembly Point, Oct 1

1 October 2015

London’s Assembly Point is hosting Gilded Ceremony to accompany the Faith Dollars, Taxfree Imagination & Uptown Bliss exhibition –running through and during Art Licks Weekend –to be held on October 1.

Organised by artist Marios Stamatis the event, including spoken word, live music and performance, complements the Faith Dollars… themes of what its press release calls “financial abstraction, absurdity and surrealism”, as explored through the “contemporary experience of post capitalist realism”.

Participating artists include Sarah BoultonJames LowneGiulia Loi.2dotLea Collet and Stamatis himself.

See the Facebook event page for details.**

An interview with Eva Papamargariti

21 September 2015

I like Eva Papamargariti’s re-tweets. One is by artist Sara Ludy and it says: “wonder whose art objects will float when the world ends in a big flood”. Another is by Petra Cortright who writes: “Every time I’m asked for a high res image of a low res work an angel loses its wings”. The London-based artist and I meet very briefly at the opening of Assembly Point’s group exhibition, Faith Dollars, Tax Free Imagination and Uptown Bliss –also running as part of Art Licks Weekend October 2 to 4 –in which she has two new pieces, before she becomes too busy rendering and editing work for several upcoming shows and production gigs to speak again in person.

The amount of production as well as the content produced within Papamargariti’s practice is staggering. It makes you wonder what it must be like psychologically to spend so much time contributing objects and landscapes to computer generated scenes, or “scenarios”, as she describes them. Computer generated metallic spheres, bleak landscapes, and a pair of tongues; Caravaggio’s horses, white linen bedrooms, and people turned into musical instruments playing themselves. These are just a small (non-)example of the things that make up Eva’s image making. They’re non-examples because, as one finds during a Skype chat with Papamargariti, there’s not much use in calling upon a speakable narrative of materiality or any content-based themes.

Eva Papamargariti, 'New Now' (2015). Video still. Courtesy the artist.
Eva Papamargariti, ‘New Now’ (2015). Video still. Courtesy the artist.

I ask Papamargariti, who’s also making work for new DAM Gallery show, Porn to Pizza: Domestic Clichés during our brief encounter whether or not she finds the feeling of infinity overwhelming. “No”, she says, “it soothes me”. It makes one think about vast panes of smooth glass. She sends images by 60s Architecture groups, Superstudio and Haus-Rucker-Co who pulled into question the tacit dominant optimism and surplus that ran throughout Modernist Architecture and its surrounding Design by stretching and multiplying perspectives in their images. It recalls a sketch on Papamargariti’s Animal New York profile, where Kanye West is pictured dissing an interior of a Modernist Le Corbusier house that has the largest pane of glass ever made in it. Glass is breakable, and when it’s that large a pane, you can hardly carry it anywhere, it can’t move. In her own videos, Papamargariti’s vast surfaces and images are also endless, but eerily floaty, proposed, uncomfortable, stretched and strangely real –or perhaps that feeling is pessimism. When considering the artist’s aforementioned re-tweet of Sara Ludy’s “big flood” comment, there’s an echo of Superstudio’s proposed flood of the Italian city of Florence.

A 2014 video work, ‘New Nosthetics’ presents shiny balls moving around and becoming attracted to each other in a sparse desert-scape, an automated voice mutters out loud over the video, its corresponding actions being undertaken in a 3D modelling programme. Papamargariti tells me she likes to  “inform the viewer of the characteristics of the file [she is] rendering”. Some of the visuals in this work, too, occasionally, intentionally break down and you see what could be an X-ray view of the work. You can see everything. The outcome is an art practice that feels like being in a dream. You can see everything unfold in front of you, not only because you are inside it, but also because you’re the one doing the dreaming.

Eva Papamargariti, ‘Someday I will Buy an Ikea Chair with Bitcoins’ (2015). Courtesy the artist. 

I just found this [‘Some Nights I Dream of Rooms’] online and was about to ask you what you dream of…

Eva Papamargariti: I always dream of rooms, buildings.

Are you always inside the buildings?

EP: Ninety-percent [of the time], yeah. Today I saw a weird dream. I was in a huge building. At some points it appeared in my dream like an old asylum. Then suddenly, inside my dream, I saw myself sleeping inside one of these rooms. I woke up (in the dream) and when I got out of my bed all the furniture in the room disappeared. Then I ran outside and suddenly the building appeared more luxurious and there were screens that were playing art and old movies.

Watching your work makes me focus on my eyes and how I am looking. Is there an attraction to being able to see everything?

EP: My previous studies were in architecture, so an important part of my work has to do with trying to create compositions that can all be viewed as individual frames.

Maybe then better wording would be, ‘to see everything at once’…

EP: Well, at the beginning of the videos you always have an eye that supervises everything, like a Panopticon approach. I got very affected by thinking about things through a bird’s eye view. But then I also want to consider what happens to that view and also the knowledge gained by it when you tip [it] horizontally. So that you see the same sense of everything but on a human scale.

Eva Papamargariti, '(untitled)'. GIF. Courtesy the artist.
Eva Papamargariti, ‘(untitled)’. GIF. Courtesy the artist.

Can you clarify that?

EP: Yeah… I’m thinking of a silent [Samuel] Beckett film called ‘Film’, which is about (and of) a person who is trying to escape being filmed. Watching, you sense that he senses the camera and the viewer behind him, following him. There is always something that has to maintain this contact with the real element. That is one of my intentions.

You mean to keep the scenario unfolding close to the viewer’s eye? With your work there are hardly any people depicted inside. It’s like the filmmaker is the viewer and also the person being followed. ‘Trainroom3.0‘ is interesting in this respect.

EP: Yes, and to keep the virtual object coming so close that you (the viewer) can touch it and kind of make it act. But then there occurs, for example, a violent camera movement that interrupts the video’s normal pace.

What you wrote there really reminds me of your cat / IKEA piece that you made alongside the film, ‘Someday I will Buy an Ikea Chair with Bitcoins’ for the Faith Dollars… show.

EP: Yes, totally. I saw a post on Reddit that was asking: “does anyone have a VITTSJO and a cat?” And I thought that was strange, so I Googled it and it appears cats and IKEA are more connected than I thought. I suppose it has to do with the increasing domesticity and intertwining of consumerism into domestic lives. Like how IKEA also sells things for cats, and I thought, ‘I dont have a cat’. So I wanted to print the words onto the fabric on top of the outline of a cat that says: I didnt buy my cat anything from IKEA because I don’t have a cat. I felt like it inverts this whole system of representation by bringing on this fabric surface all at once (including: cat/ IKEA/ image of non-specific cat/ buying something). It obviously also has a humorous aspect to it, which also somehow subverts the meaning from IKEA adverts. You know, they always try to say something serious but in a cute way.

Eva Papamargariti, 'New Nosthetics' (2014). Video still. Courtesy the artist.
Eva Papamargariti, ‘New Nosthetics’ (2014). Video still. Courtesy the artist.

So are you talking about a productive kind of over-representation?  

EP: Yes, but also how easily things can be symbolised now, and how they can produce meanings that are building one inside another. I hope I’m becoming clearer. One of my favourite things to do on Instagram or Twitter is to put hashtags that are completely irrelevant to the actual post I am doing. It feels like a game of defining but also deviating from a dominant statement sometimes.

I’m interested in the pessimism of this. I was thinking about the process of rendering and the idea that maybe you are rendering nothing into everything, and also somehow everything into nothing, especially in relation to objects/ things. Is this what you’re calling ‘Nosthetics’?

EP: Yeh, so the title, ‘Nosthetics’ is No + aesthetics. On art sites, on tumblr, on magazines, on fashion editorials, everything was full of digitally rendered objects, very abstract, blobs, geometrical fragments. And they all had a similar atmosphere, shiny and polished and hyperreal (I must say I also make objects like that a lot) but I don’t know at this point… It feels like there is a factory, that creates massive quantities of these digital objects and disseminates them on the net. They are so distant from reality. Maybe this is why they are so appealing to the eye. Everything becomes a bit flattened.

Like your horizontal perspective that you’ve ‘dragged down’ from the bird’s eye view?

EP: Yeah, and when your eye gets used to something it starts to lose its magic. **

Eva Papamargariti is a London-based artist participating in the Faith Dollars, Tax Free Imagination and Uptown Bliss group exhibition at London’s Assembly Point, part of Art Licks Weekend, running October 2 to 4, 2015.

Header image: Eva Papamargariti, ‘Trainroom3.0’ (2015). Video still. Courtesy the artist. 

Anticipating Back to the Things Themselves @ Assembly Point

15 June 2015

What would going back to things themselves mean, really? Assembly Point’s inaugural exhibition—titled just that: Back to the Things Themselves—probes at the phenomenology of objects and opens at the new London artist-run space this week on June 18. Founders James Edgar and Sam Walker (who work under the Edgar-Walker moniker) have curated the Peckham gallery and studio space’s inaugural exhibition, inviting six other artists and artist duos, including Nicholas Brooks and May Hands, to present their manifestations of ‘things’. Taking its title from the early 20th century work of philosopher Edmund Husserl, the phrase invites the notion of  ‘structures of experience’ and questions the links between how things appear and how they are in turn perceived.

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For Edgar and Walker, ‘things’ can mean a lot of things—objects, images, materials, structures, processes. They ask the participating artists to examine the very tenets of materiality through the lens of phenomenological inquiry, and to consider “everyday encounters with the material world”, exploring the ways in whey contribute to our collective sense of identity, value, and place. Amongst the seven artists and artist duos is London-based artist Nicholas Brooks, whose work with film and sculpture exposes the fleeting nature of many of the things used to define the world: fleeting encounters, fleeting objects, fleeting narratives. Through his characteristic fragmented archeological scenes, Brooks creates a kind of disintegrated reality, drawing attention to each object’s place, and the cultural space they occupy.

Joining Brooks is May Hands, whose paintings and sculptures poke at the materiality behind commodity, repurposing disposable couture brand packaging and pound-shop commodities as materials for her sculptural pieces. A Chanel ribbon becomes the string of a bucket in 2015’s ‘Bucket III (Please Come Again)’ and the luxury product’s packaging paper becomes 2014’s ‘Song River Chanel (Pink and Blue)’. Julia Crabtree and William Evans, the only duo aside from Edgar–Walker, select to explore the phenomenology of objects by examining the gap between virtual and real spaces, “playfully manipulating interfaces, objects and imagery into placeless, immersive scenarios”.

Back_to_the_Things_Themselves_IMAGE3_Assembly_Point

Another artist, Nicolas Feldmeyer, uses everything from drawings and installation to photography and film to intervene in the fields of landscape, geometry, and architecture, while Imran Perretta, like May Hands, uses socio-culturally inscribed objects like whitening creams and prayer mats as raw materials, and Henna Vainio presents sculptures and reliefs that use the “casts of everyday objects in their interpretations of architectural spaces and poetic rhythms”. The last addition to the lineup is Edgar-Walker itself, using a palette of found objects and building materials to examine the visual language at play in commonly ignored landscapes, like construction sites. The exhibition will also bring a publication in conjunction with the show that includes various contributions from the exhibiting artists as well as a previously unpublished essay by contemporary philosopher Graham Harman.

Back to the Things Themselves will run at Assembly Point from   June 18 to July 27, 2015.

Header image: courtesy Assembly Point.