Hot New World Viewz is a show by Jen Chans (Jennifer Chan), Pappa Modig (Kimmo Modig), Goran Jacotey (Georges Jacotey) and Svea Holloway (Shawné Michaelain Holloway). Its work has been spread lightly. From the almost fictional press release (see between the images) in the run up to the exhibition at Dresden’s S T O R E gallery –where the reader was invited to imagine the four artists travelling through space, separately but dreaming and writing together –to the dedicated website made with, or for, or about, or in parallel to the show. Its work works like this.
Modig sends us several links. The top one is the hotnewworldviewz.com website, so it makes sense to click there first. There are some flames burning in front of a black background and at first encounter it looks like one of those domesticated Tumblr holding pages, which is there to warmly tell you with a flame that you are in the wrong place. Over the top is the phrase: “Live Your Life Creatively, One Step At A Time” and above that is a time-out message counting down from 8:00 minutes.
Scrolling through, there are four pictures that act kind of like image-emblems of places. One from the South, one from the North, one from the East, one from the West. All images included on the page feel like they are trying to say something with the least amount of speaking possible. Inclusion is a gesture in itself and the lightness of work capable by an image feels like a very present thing that is being asked. Text is interspersed throughout in separate light grey paragraphs and much of it deals with the immaterial “growing stormcloud of unwritten social knowledge”. One reads: This is what we know: if someone wants to work with you, they’ll be active. You can smell forced socializing from miles away.
Then there is a red button, which may well have remained inconspicuous on the red background had it not been for Modig’s sweet note to click on the “Proof of Labour” link. A beautiful moment just before the button, which ties together these two parallel parts of Hot New Worldz, is a screen shot of photoshop in which a photo of Chan looking up at something is layered under the words “save for web?”
The button leads to another page tabbed ‘documentation‘ and it glows in red. Or, to be more exact: the two screens, the four beer bottles lined up by the artists with their names typed on their labels, the skinny shelves each topped by a fake candle fallen down behind an unidentifiable object, and the text printed large on the wall are all photographed in S T O R E’s gallery space that is lit with red light.
Also in this part of Hot New World Viewz are a couple of gifs. One is of a looping embrace between two people in the middle of the gallery space, both holding phones as they hug. The other is of a person holding and floating some paper around while reading in the space. The gif makes the reader do a short dance. Sometimes the videos and photos taken around a “work” are tender, full of expression and more meaningful –can you catch art like this instead?
The 8:00 minutes have run out on the other tab and a LinkedIn favicon appears. I click a step back and notice one more sentence: “Sometimes you drink wine on your credit card and ask yourself if art or expression is meaningful anymore…” There is so much here. So much is made public –even the pondering of what it is to make public –and yet it is not heavy with this. The documentation tab, which I soon understand an affection towards because it won’t abandon me into LinkedIn, and is nice and permanent, has at the bottom of the page a scrolling white text that reads: “Forced to Create, Compelled to Coerce…” I keep forgetting the rest and have to look back and write it down. There is room in Hot New World Viewz to keep coming back and to understand the subtle touches between where things are and how things fix, burden or release imagination. There is room to see the red hue and the softness of the gifs. There is room to understand things incorrectly, and for you not to take words as instructional, nor weighty, which feels like the right kind of aftermath to artwork. **
A complaint often registered by members of regional art scenes is the hegemony of western-centric aesthetics and ideas centred on its own creative capitals, essentially importing and exporting art in its own image. It’s a problem that’s mirrored in other global markets, where rather than offer a platform for growing local business as promised, free trade and networked connectivity only aids in the expansion of already existing corporate monopolies.
As a London-based editor and writer visiting Helsinki, there’s a certain draw to the familiar that means any experience of art in Finland comes strongly coloured by that bias. Whether it’s in LA-based artist Amalia Ulman’s Prognostics lecture at the University of Helsinki’s Exhibition Laboratory or a particular penchant for Samantha Conlon’s tabloid and Tiqqun-referencing ‘The Young Girl Blames Herself’ (2014) at Node Gallery, mine is an interest that’s thoroughly centred on the Englis-speaking. But then, with English being the language of the imperial artform concerned with popular culture, the internet and economics –along with how they’re all related –it’s only natural that I’d be drawn to the cross-cultural Kylie Minogue-referencing I Was Gonna Cancel by Kimmo Modig and Georges Jacotey.
Conceived and recorded in Athens where Jacotey is based, the video features the two artists lolling about a Greek beachfront crying and rapping to sloppy-slow instrumentals while a German Shepherd howls and Modig rhymes, “The ghosts of your networks/ will haunt you till the day you die”. This plays from wall-mounted speakers in the Sorbus-galleria, which is otherwise empty aside from a canine plush toy at the window and an iPad on the ceiling. With no instructions on what do and the invigilators hidden from view, it’s hard to know that the handheld mirror next to the visitor’s book is what’s meant for watching the video rather than craning your neck and reading a flashing “G and K” on the distant screen run backwards rather than forwards.
A more lateral-thinking mind, perhaps, would read the short play-as-room-sheet that comes with the I Was Gonna Cancel lyrics and a character called “KYLIE” inflates and flies away as “DRAKE EX MACHINA” saunters into Sorbus, depressed and narcissistic, as he looks at a mirror and kicks the stuffed dog aside (“if you’re reading this it’s too late”).
Objects and their functions are things that concern the exhibition at artist-run SIC Space, a cold and concrete bunker-like structure in a defunct cargo port on the third floor of a post-industrial warehouse building. As part of the nomadic curatorial programme Ruler, “ruled” by Diego Bruno and Mikko Kuorinki, the latter’s dark blue ‘Sun Tracker’ (2015) boat cover and gray ‘Truck Carpet’ (2015), appears in the sparsely furnished and well-lit side room, along with gestural sketches and a sculpture by Ola Vasiljeva. Kuorinki and Carl Palm’s ‘Menu (True Blue)’ (2014) stands in the main room projecting its list along “Hamburgers & Tools”, “Sleep Over”, “Extra Toppings” from an LED-lit aluminium lightbox. Bruno’s Galindez (2015) video, inspired by the theatre play by Eduardo Pavlovsky questioning the social function of psychoanalysis in subjective constructions within capitalism takes the centre. Except that the back of the screen faces the entrance and the three torturers are absent as Pavlovsky himself narrates excerpts from the original text: “There cannot be a dictatorship without the complicity of civilians”.
Complicity is a point that Amalia Ulman addresses at her Prognostics lecture as she recognises the possibility for change by taking agency over, rather than mimicking, gender stereotypes as previously performed in the online artist-as-circulated-representation of Excellences & Perfections. A live narration of her recent ‘The Future Ahead’ (2014) video essay follows a PowerPoint presentation of recent work as its focus shifts away from the filtered self-mediation of a particular point of privilege to aestheticising violence in the sophisticated cinema of terror through Stock Images of War (2015).
Perhaps it’s a violence that can drive us together rather than apart as expressed via the At the party, I write words on balloons exhibition at Node featuring video by selected artists from the Cork-based Bunny Collective and Tampere’s Areole. Where Conlon’s images of ET interviews and Gothic Lolita’s in ‘The Young Girl…’ for the former barely crosses cultures to Hinni Huttunen’s body becoming fragmented across the H&M catalogue of ‘Koko-opas / Fitting Guide’ (2014). “The Young-Girl is good for nothing but consuming…” Conlon writes, quoting Tiqqun’s Raw Materials for a Theory of the Young Girl in the At the Party… photocopied catalogue. The Helsinki gallery’s website quotes the Oxford Dictionary in defining its name on the About page: “Junction, intersection, interchange, fork, confluence, convergence, crossing”. Given its proximity to Russia, Estonia, the ‘east’ and its ties to the Nordic and European Unions, Helsinki presents as a uniquely integrated economy and a global art scene in kind.
Exhibition photos, top right.
The exhibitions + events mentioned ran at Exhibition Laboratory, Sorbus-galleria, Node and SIC Space, opening February, 2015.
Header image: Kimmo Modig + Jacques Lacotey, I Was Gonna Cancel (2015). Installation view. Image courtesy Sorbus-galleria.