Following a text devoted to the neglected bacteria that “made us”, the press release for the show describes the human body as a map of a metropolis, where these micro-organisms become “citified, recycling all”, including these corpses of “once-living giant evolutionary offspring”.
It’s interesting to consider the high-definition art uniting a certain set of artists under the shadowless shade of ‘corporate aesthetics’. They tend to come from all over but are drawn together by a penchant for presenting the insidious engines of accelerated economies by mimicking the smooth countours and too-bright whites of these slick and luxurious markers of modernity; technology become the backdrop to a natural state long lost and regenerated under the stark light of an LED lamp. Pakui Hardware impress these same global markers and their opulent associations on the prosthetic bodies of in Lost Heritage (photos, top-right) at Rīga’s kim? Contemporary Art Centre, running January 14 to February 22.
Blocks of green studio-grown ‘Global Grass’ lie on plywood squares on rollers across the gallery; unnatural nature fragmenting a concrete floor in clean cut grids. Curved synthetic conches made of plaster, resin, silicone, are lit-up by flourescent tubes on tripods that throw the synthetic pink and purple of their smooth and wavy hollows in sharp relief. It’s an overwhelmingly ice-cold sense of alienation that permeates, made all the more noxious by the leak of sprinkler in the corner spraying edible Rose food-colouring fed through a Cristallo PVC hose that’s meant to move food products. It’s stuff that’s made to be eaten but it looks like it could kill you.
The list of works eschews names for materials – including “hydrant system”, “water pump”, “R-Duino
microcontroller” – Lost Heritage is an exhibition that’s the sum of products, while the accompanying text (below) refers to “silicone arteries”, “human-created-designed-programmed organisms” and “never-sweating bodies”. In all this unreal realness, Pakui Hardware follow along the lines lasered out by the likes of Katja Novitskova, Timur Si Qin, Andrew Norman Wilson, while functioning as a self-described “brand name” (credited to New York curator Alex Ross) that capitalises on all of these familiar visual cues. The duo, who’ve been collaborating since 2012, became their brand in 2014 in a name that references Hawaiian mythology in Pakui, attendant to Haumea, the goddess of fertility, at the Polynesian archipelago’s Kailua village. gohawaii.com describes the place on Kona island as “home to shopping, dining and important historic sites”.
Describing itself as a “construct of high-speed enriched brand politics that acts as a mythic semi-commodity desiring to transcend material limitations”, Pakui Hardware presents its “dysfunctional gardening” in disconnected and deterritorialised islands of fake grass used only as platforms for their deformed props. They look like seashells but are actually products and the result is a showroom display that’s as horrifying as it is alluring, in all its abnormality:
“With every limb there is detachment. Cut.
Cut-open limbs with silicone arteries stretched through their hollowed shells. Slimy surfaces of never-sweating bodies. Programmed biological efficiency, exact as a mission with military precision. Micro-beginnings of species outside of nature. Human-created-designed-programmed organisms crawl out sterile laboratories.
With every limb there is detachment.
That pink of your prosthetic teeth is most attractive.” **