Curated by Vincent Honoré and Nicoletta Lambertucci, the premise of Networked Flesh moves beyond human corporeity in the digital era and is more concerned with empowered bodies that operate through networks to “perform, transform, transcribe, reconfigure or reinvent” and brings works together that view fluidity within a context of positive potential.
Exploring a condition of sublimation, the exhibition includes paintings, sculptures and drawings and includes work by both established, historical and emerging artists.
The text goes on to compare a selfie by the reality TV star to a character from a novel by cult sci-fi author Philip K Dick; a cyberpunk prophecy “where memories as well as identities are disposable commodities and the present is nothing but a perpetual staging of stillborn moments.”
Cool Memories takes its title and approach to a “fragmentary and messy” structure from philosopher Jean Baudrillard’s essay series, creating a space “where consciousness loses its ability to distinguish reality from its simulation” and promising “an assembly line for images, for shots swallowed by the present that they’re desperately trying to hold back.”
“How have all those exquisite adaptations of one part of the organization to another part, and to the conditions of life, and of one distinct organic being to another being, been perfected? We see these beautiful co-adaptations most plainly in the woodpecker and mistletoe; and only a little less plainly in the humblest parasite which clings to the hairs of a quadruped or feathers of a bird; . . . in short, we see beautiful adaptations everywhere and in every part of the organic world.”
The Croatian, NYC-based artist opened her first institutional solo show Spring this summer, which ran at the New York space from June 24 and was extended by popular demand until September 6. The exhibition, which examines the representation of emotional and physical experience in mainstream cinema, featured a series of sculptures and architectural interventions that incorporated cinema props in a process she calls “reanimation”.
Spring comes as the second exhibition in Swiss Institute’s ONE FOR ALL series, in which each show will be the artist’s first institutional exhibition with a newly—and specifically—commissioned body of work. Budor sits down with Whitney Museum of American Art curator Chrissie Iles for a conversation about her exhibition and her work at large.
Mexico City’s darkarts.international is bringing a group show to its space this weekend, titled Under a Thawing Lake and running from February 4 to 8.
The show runs simultaneously with Mexico City’s Material Art Fair 2015, celebrating its second season, and, not surprisingly, there’s quite a bit of overlap in the list of participating artists between the two shows. Dora Budor is included in the list, alongside Nico Colón with whom she is exhibiting at the fair with Paris’s New Galerie.
“(ò_óˇ)” marks an appropriate end to the strain of excess that (networked) EVERY WHISPER IS A CRASH ON MY EARS embodies. Stamped on the empty last page of the anthology published by London’s Arcadia Missa and featuring contributions by 45 artists from around the (digitised) world, it tracks a six-month exhibition programme of the same name and a surplus of extra material. Press releases, installation photos, film stills, essays, artist interviews, prose, poetry, emails; these are scattered across 300+ pages of information that eschews a single-channel stream of content in favour of the more realistic overload of its stated ‘networked’ culture. Snubbing any conventional compulsion towards a straight narrative, the publication opts to map the web of collective thought from a creative cluster bound by book and fibre optics.
Sometimes it feels like there’s too much. Presenting a complexity of ideas that crash and collide with, as much as they support and strengthen each other, (networked) performs its introductory challenge to “ideology’s racket on words” in anticipating, even encouraging a total collapse of any distinction between content and form. This is, after all, a print publication littered with hyperlinks –a Soundcloud for Megan Rooney’s ‘Feeling European’ (2013), a YouTube embed for Holly White’s ‘I’m on my bike because I’m looking for you’ (2013) –that a cursor can’t click on; orginally coloured video screenshots are framed and reprinted on paper in grayscale.
“This is the end of Publishing and books are dead and boring”, announces global trade book publisher Boyd (‘B’)’s daughter Alysa (‘A’), in Bunny Rogers and Jasper Spicero’s ‘Random House’. All grown up and confronting her dad-as-Old Establishment, ‘A’ illustrates the potential for a shift in power through a text that is almost but not quite a script, in a publication that is almost, but not quite, a book.
“# – scenes where there is an alternative” says the symbol legend of ‘Random House’ as ‘A’ contradicts herself in “#The End of Small Sanctuary” sub-heading: “What you’ve got to understand is you’ve got to open your eyes to my values, I think it’s unbelievable that you’re actually listening to us”. It’s a similar sense of bewilderment that Rózsa Farkasand Harry Burke share in a conversation –also called ‘The End of Small Sanctuary’ –that actively confuses any notion of individual authorship, while revealing the irony of an internet where “interactivity doesn’t empower the user, but instead traps them in plot”.
It’s a trap of windowless metal walls and marble as ‘B’ is harangued by an attorney (‘AT’) who insists on a “more effective response to change” in a new world order where “objects are fossils from the pre-history of the attention economy”, according to Maja Cule. Because while Eleanor Ivory Weber maintains “a clean corporate office is the image of unquestionable success” in ‘A Story for Corporate Cleaners’, William Kherbek’s nameless banker in ‘The Counterparties’ bares witness to failure as he watches his “chair with its coffee stains and miserable back wheel” being carried off with a dissolving financial sector.
“The future as realistically capitalist is no longer so convincing”, announces Farkas in an extract from ‘Immanence After Networks’ for Post Media Lab, as Amalia Ulman observes the gradual disintegration of the “technical middle class” in an interview with Cadence Kinsey. Guillermo Ruiz de Loizaga instead opts to embroider “never forget class struggle” in a pillow in his poem for the ETHIRA® gallery show and iPhone app commission. It’s a symbolic gesture as inconsequential as what Ulman calls the “obvious class war” of a “rye bread with seeds” urban middle.
So go the “possible rap lyrics” of Stephen Michael McDowell’s ‘poetry ebook titled ‘tao lin’’ contribution to the Random House exhibition’s publishing-house.me online initiative. It explores the “relation between narrative and affect” as Gabby Bess’s intimate one-sided exchange asks of the art hanging in the Gagosian, “why not put our poems there?”
Why not indeed, as the effectiveness of the word as both utilitarian and artistic communicative force used in oppression as well as disruption folds back on itself as Burke and Farkas at once point out its importance in the enforcement of ideology as “non-negotiable”, while “language, when used well, can always evade its own meaning.” Because when Dora Budor says the virtuosic artist can “creatively adapt to multiple situations”, she’s suggesting that although we do “operate within, not against” (according to Elvia Wilk) a dominant online culture, it’s in hacking her father’s Comment is Free account that Huw Lemmey’s schoolgirl protagonist in ‘#nodads’ seeks to slowly destroy him –from the inside. Sure, “dad had an opinion” but in the case of Lemmey’s novella excerpt, it doesn’t count as much as the “wave of powerful butt-focussed instant sex release” that turns the mob against the London authorities in anti-capitalist, anti-patriarchal revolution.
.rtfs, spreadsheets, and spam; Facebook, Twitter and iMingle; Macbooks, PCs and iPhones. These are all formats, tools and devices, elements of Jill Magid’s “mechanical weapon” to be used against an entire generation raised within an unjust organisational structure. Except that these are the artists, the queer interlocutors who’ve come to understand these constructions better than the people who constructed them. It’s here that (networked) EVERY WHISPER IS A CRASH ON MY EARS finds hope, in refusing authority, hijacking power and using it for their own illicit ends. “(I’m an optimist, gross)”. **
Generously offering various routes into its discourse, How to Sleep Faster is the digital sister series to Arcadia Missa’s print publication of the same name. Providing just as much depth of content as the previous editions, episode 3 operates on its own custom platform –an element of the ejournal which is reimaged for each individual online publication, transforming the same domain. For this project, a structure of responsive, pastel degrade grids extend outwards and downwards, revealing a collection of thoughtfully curated works which all connect to themes laid out in a rather magnificent editorial essay. Such an assemblage of content gives the online project the feel of a space rather than a browser page: an exhibition rather than a publication. It encourages exploration.
This is all carefully considered, of course –and the particular presentation of How to Sleep Faster only initiates the allusion of what this impressive (and ambitious) collection of work investigates: digital systems and context. As an exhibition, involved pieces relate to each other, and particular themes accumulate throughout the duration of the viewer’s involvement. A moment in Daniel Rourke’s interview with Dora Budor picks up on this interpretational process: Budor’s work ‘New Lavoro’, which culminated in the hosting of a competition for artists in the style of a reality TV show (at Venice Biennale), illustrates artistic labour as a system, in which different parts of a project make themselves and contribute to each other. Challenging systems in this way echoes the video work of Andrew Norman Wilson who questions responses to capitalist imagery and expectation in ‘Confused Foreigner at McDonalds Hoog Catharijne’. The journalistic approach to his practice, aiming to promote an awareness of contemporary subjective systems, also confronts Marxist (and Capitalist) ideologies –as an invitation to figure out some solutions. It’s recognised by Ben Clarke in his essay ‘DC Cinema’ as a particularly appropriate medium: the economy of moving or digital images recognises the system of cinema image distribution, as well as the transaction of profit.
But this Capitalist exchange is not the only recognised routine. The monetary gain made by distributors and cinemas is partnered by a physical transaction, “of bodies to the multiplex each week and their relationship with the screen”. The material realities resulting from interaction with technology is crucial throughout How to Sleep Faster, itself a critically digital ejournal. Maja Cule also challenges various necessary interfaces between body and representation, arguing in opposition to a particularly well-referenced figure of modern art history. Walter Benjamin’s now classic notion of “aura” collapses in the context of contemporary visual or social media: Cule suggests that each time a moving image is watched, it’s aura in fact expands –and with single videos on YouTube racking up millions and millions of views, this inversion of an established idea certainly seems justified.
Like choosing to watch a clip online, making a decision within a system features in Leslie Kulesh’s concise piece, presumably arbitrarily named ‘Pop Up Penguin Palooza’. Choosing to be active or passive when faced with her instruction inevitably results in some kind of physical movement (of the mouse or trackpad) – further implying the suggestion of confusion and tension between virtual consequences and human actions. The “truth to materials” as the evidence of self-production in Daniella Russo’s film ‘Tear, Break’ highlights this tension, as does the visual focus on texture and surface in Jala Wahid’s ‘Wearing Natalie Portman’. It’s a point of contention when the fluidity and ease of online action or movement simultaneously enacts the opposite on the body.
But the risks of engaging with a system (as lifestyle) that relies so heavily on software and hardware is made unassumingly desperate in Tom Duggan’s absorbing and haunting story of ‘The Troglodyte Network’. Our dependence on the internet and digital information networks –even as a way to facilitate the most personal, intimate and menial tasks –leaves its subject feeling isolated, despite the re-imagining and initiating of new data systems and communities. Duggan’s use of technical language, combined with the surrealism of the story, the real situations the subject finds himself in, and the dry wit with which they’re retold leaves behind a residue of a sad narrative –it seems to reflect some of the actual culture structures of contemporary society’s processes.
Despite the variety of references, histories and mediums of the pieces selected for How to Sleep Faster episode 3, all of these works aim to bind together their separate and often complex parts, rather than to investigate them individually and untangle them further: the featured artists explore that infinite process of interpretation, presenting their distribution and narrative (crucially, in the context of the digital) as the artwork itself. The exhibition’s editorial, which was a joy to read, begins by recognising the “two absolutes we can never attain. One is freedom and the other is authenticity”. By giving the featured pieces a firm position in an informed, art-historical discourse, Arcadia Missa not only offers a legitimate platform for such work to be viewed from (in an appropriate format), but recognises the contextual position of many artists who are making their way through the complicated systems of our contemporary, information society. These artists are not working towards answers as absolutes. Instead, the collapsing of symbolic reference in a digital context is refused by the body –those material realities engaging with the webcams and keyboards that they control. **