The Survival Guides for Ballroom Dancers, Renovators, Softball Moms, Working Parents and Troubled Folk in General group exhibition is on at Middelberg’s Vleeshaal, opening July 2 and running to September 11.
The exhibition is diaristic and cathartic in nature, and structured according to the five artists’ often absurd internal logic; strategies for survival in an environment of dispersed and networked relationships as a characteristic of a screen-based culture. With that comes a need for “private rituals, secret semiotic systems, and personalised forms of communication.”
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.”
There is little information provided about the ins and outs of the show itself. The title roughly translated from Italian means ‘carrion’, or the decaying flesh of a dead animal. Sent along by Lofty with the logistical information of the show is an image of a piece of toast bitten into to make a moon shape with slightly charred areas, and a short Arabic text of lyrics from Syrian performer and noted Assad supporter George Wassouf’s ‘Tabib Garah‘ that opens, “I’m a surgeon, I cures people’s hearts”.
Circulation – Mise en Séance is the second exhibition in the Inflected Objects seriesand it runs at De Hallen Haarlem in the Netherlands from January 15 to May 16, 2016. The series is organised by Melanie Bühler. It looks into how artworks are effected by digital capabilities and social media platforms both in terms of their circulation and in terms of the artist’s attitude and understanding and expectation of spectatorship before the work is made.
Inflected Objectsalso looks to treat the digital as something now that is hard to locate and pin down. The digital runs “silently in the background”, says the introduction of the Inflected Objects website, designed by Nora Turato, David Kulen and Gui Machiavelli to house the series and its digital documentation. Bühler talks about it as having a 3D environment.
I click on the words “Circulation – Mise en Séance”, which is one phrase in among several that run down the page and move slightly as though waving in the wind. The introduction to the show is given on a black background with white text in a font that in places is not at all aligned and it causes a blurring of vision when combined with the floating titles behind the black rectangle. Of course! It’s because it is in a 3D environment, so I continue to read with my hand clasped as fake binoculars, eyes trying to grasps the words.
“Art is part of the economy of hyper-attention”, the uncertain words say. It describes what we are used to seeing and states the phrase “pics or it didn’t happen” in relation to the fact that for many, a show’s installation photos are more important than the exhibition itself. I start to wonder what the exhibition at the core of this website was. The next blackboard reveals that Circulation – Mise en Séanceis an exhibition about “things that didn’t happen” because their pictures weren’t taken, artworks that hardly saw the light of day, the light of electric circulation, or the stage lights before a digital camera-audience. It is about objects that were put away. They are not dead, but they are not fully alive.
Artists Martijn Hendriks, Katja Novitskova, Vanessa Safavi and Dan Walwin, all of whom have practices intertwined with digital production and the way things run in the digital economy were each asked to respond to one of these “things that didn’t happen” in the museum’s archives. Like candle light was once thought to resurrect old artworks by (possibly, imaginably) illuminating the mechanisms of chiaroscuro, each artist in this show conducted an inquiry into an object. The font for this part of the introduction, now in its eighth page, almost shakes when you try to squint at it to make it 3D and this somehow matches the conversation on ghosts, animation, seance and presence that the exhibition is staging in a digital pre-text.
Circulation – Mise en Séance is a play on the words mise en scène, which means ‘stage setting’ or the part where actors and scenery are on a stage for or before a theatrical production. There needs to be no actual theatre for mise en scène to exist. Interestingly, the Inflected Objects website hosts an ‘installation view’ page that does not exactly exacerbate this feeling. As in: It does not show image-after-image, as we might imagine it set like a stage on an Instagram feed, or a Facebook photo album.
A number of fragments that are actually small images, presumably of the resurrection collaborations and the show, are embedded in a space, which, when you navigate it with your cursor feels like an invisible whirlpool, or the inside of a beehive in the middle of a webpage. The images are like car windscreens, curved, and more like fragments or fractured objects than images. ‘Fractured’ is a word Vanessa Safavi uses in her essay ‘Circulation’, which is also on the site and deals with conservation, getting to the cold soul of an object and reading between the words and the lines. All the parts of the theatre are in this digital space and the ‘pics’ of “pics or it didn’t happen” are really held up and treated strangely, which transforms our understanding of them as being literally the kind of digital matter that is silently spinning behind all the usual exhibition photos.
In the spirit of the show then, there will be no words about the images themselves.**
The irregularly published zine aims to “edit the identity of ecology from the point of view of art” by fostering discussions about the topic and pushing it into the radars of contemporary artists, writers and poets.
As always, the symposium takes as its starting point the relationship between art and new media with a series of events examining the “current state of contemporary cultural production in relation to new technologies”, with a selection of participating artists, curators, philosophers, and researchers delivering papers, performances and keynotes.
Cambridge’s Wysing Arts Centre is presenting The Uncanny Valley group exhibition, opening September 26 and running to November 8.
Curated by Donna Lynas, the show features existing works and new commissions exploring the Masahiro Mori-coined concept of the ‘Uncanny Valley’, as in the emotional response and intellectual uncertainty experienced when a viewer encounters a hyper-real object.
Fotomuseum Winterthur has brought the group show Beastly / Tierisch to its Zurich space, where it will run from May 30 until October 4.
The exhibition takes its title from the obsession human beings seemingly have with the image of the animal: from advertisements and internet memes, to animal rights activism, agro-industrialisation, conservation or genetic engineering, humankind’s relationship to animals has been a complicated and fraught beast, so to say.
For Life Update, Novitskova has released a two-paragraph abstract that says little about the particular aesthetics of the show but tells the story of a “robotic instrument” named Ingenuity: “Despite many attempts to recalibrate Ingenuity, her own life processes were getting noisier over time and her astrobiological threshold became unclear. More than once, Ingenuity abandoned her daily missions, citing patterns of “risk of systemic collapse”, “bubble-fatigue” and ”distortions”.”
The media of the show is diverse, ranging from classical modes like painting and sculpture, to experimental video and animation, and using the tropes of science fiction including dystopia, cosmology, and fantasy to restructure narratives and create alternate realities.
Examining information dissemination and the archive on and offline, Tabularium exists as a physical exhibition and a website. Curated by Alana Kushnir and taking its name from the 78 BCE Roman building storing tablet legal documents, it builds on the ongoing project collating and preserving publications not available in a digital format yet drawing from, or reflecting on the internet. The original Roman Tabularium was closed to the public but the works on show at Melbourne’s Slopes gallery examine the modern archive as a public resource, actively created, modified and consumed on a daily basis.
Slopes is a space that exists in a transitional state – sitting in the back of a building currently being renovated into apartments, it will close once these renovations are complete. Right now though, it’s a white cube punctuated by a ceiling open to a rickety-looking wooden catwalk and its designated ‘slope’ (a remnant of its previous use as an underground carpark) jutting into the gallery. It’s a perfect place to present Tabularium, where the remnants of a utilitarian past and pre-ordained non-gallery future mean that the space itself is positioned within the fluctuating lifecycle of the archive.
The destruction of tactile documents, from the legendary burning of the Library of Alexandria to the recent loss of museum artefacts in Syria to civil war, are examples of how physical objects of knowledge and information can be lost, but the intangible online one is just as prone. Both Ry David Bradley’s ‘Flowers for Ukraine’ (2014) and Jon Rafman’s ‘Annals of Time Lost’ (2013) examine said extinction. Bradley inserts an abstracted flower into the Ukraine Wikipedia page, printing a copy to record the incursion. Presented along with a large-scale reproduction of the plant, its documentation continues to offer an IRL version of the page that exists long after editors have figuratively ‘deflowered’ the online one. Rafman’s video work, meanwhile, draws from the London’s National Gallery collection to produce juxtapositions of anime characters and old master paintings, building a new archive informed by the personal narratives of its creator.
The archive as physical property is examined within Lawrence Lek’s ‘Memory Palace’ (2014) video, taking its audience on a virtual tour of an imagined Tabularium space in which server racks and monitor screens take the place of inscribed tablets. Katja Novitskova’s knife-like ‘Shapeshifter X’ and ‘Shapeshifter V’ (2013), are made from circuit board wafers and presented within acrylic cases. The circuit boards do not disclose their originally intended use and any information encoded within them is lost. Instead, the museum aesthetic of their presentation prompts the audience to consider them as historical objects used in the distant past.
Other works, also including Tom Penney, Heman Chong and Anthony Marcellini, continue this exploration of documentation and archive construction. Eloïse Bonneviot’s ‘My Forensic Steps 2’ (2014) print on silk presents written instructions on the process of crime-scene documentation within the gallery, then subverts the objective output of those rules through a first-person game hosted on the Slopes gallery website. This subversion continues within Rachel De Joode’s print, ‘Hanging Marble’ (2014), rough marble reduced to two dimensions and exuding an oppositional strength and suppleness, a perfect representation of the way knowledge flows and changes within the archive.
Surrounded by these works in the gallery sits Tabularium Archive, a library of books on a server rack that capture the internet in some way, yet exist only within a physical reality. They’re digital ‘ghosts’ of texts from Kushnir’s personal collection, which fade in and out of view from within the space, reflecting on their status as information not available through online archives. Both the books and the works within Tabularium examine the spaces between the original Tabularium’s static information collection and storage, and the data flows of our current realities. Kushnir and the artists involved have built a modern Tabularium – an evolving space which sets nothing in stone. **
Katja Novitskova’s latest exhibition, titled GREEN GROWTH, is running at Birsfelden, Switzerland’s SALTS exhibition space from June 19 to July 21.
The Estonian-born artist’s style of putting to physical form the digital aesthetics of the internet has been evolving through the years, from her amazing 2014 exhibition at Berlin’s Kraupa-Tuskany Zeidler gallery to her part in the 2012 group show at Italy’s Foundazione Brodbeck. In 2013, AQNB caught up with her in an interview that shows the scenes behind her process, so-to-speak.
The exhibition explores themes of identity and identification, investigating how various societal groups have defined themselves along racial, ethnic, or gendered lines in order to increase their visibility and overcome discrimination.
The second of a three-part series of exhibitions at Berlin’s KLEMM’s galerie, conceived in collaboration with Alexej Meschtschanow and Ulrich Gebert, ‘Just came to say HELLO’, running January 17 to March 2, is a provoking insight into the myth of the person in the singular.