Think too hard and you’ll miss the point of DOUBLE. Or maybe it’s not a point per se but an experience of wonder that its artists’ work tends toward. Showing in a joint exhibition at Vienna’s Medienwerkstatt from November 20 to December 8, the collection of works by US video and performance artist Shana Moulton and Luxembourgian media-performance artist Sophie Jung share a near-naïve aesthetic that presents across two films by Moulton (one, ‘Swisspering‘ (2013) projected on a wall and another, part of the Whispering Pines series, screened from a CRT TV on a rack beneath) and objects plus a performance by Jung, as part of the third programme of “Carte Blanche for Young Media Artists” award winners Markus Hanakam and Roswitha Schuller.
The images of DOUBLE present a similar sense of the fantastical as the literature and language of Jung’s ‘Learning About Heraldry’ (2014) performance is steeped in apparent nonsense and non-sequiturs. The text is like some sort of mirror of a web page scrolled and absorbed – without being quite absorbed – in its references to Pusheen the Cat, Ancient Egypt and social media (“What do Ancient Egypt and facebook have in common? They write on walls and worship cats!”), as well as Jennifer Lopez, online yoga sites and Jung’s own debatable descent from famous “pop-psychologist” Carl. Similarly, the gallery floor is littered with luridly coloured, hermetic readymades – brass piping, several iPod Shuffles and a flaccid pink and purple ball lying limply on its see-through plastic steeple – that become even more isolated and unmoving when presented as art.
Playing with the idea of a double ‘channel’ installation – as in two people working across technology, and two people working across spirituality – Moulton’s ‘Swisspering’ cotton pads rub the artist’s alter-ego ‘Cynthia’s’ face away into raw clay to end up an inanimate vase while looking into a mirror. Jung’s Hindu Shiva “came quickly (not across anything as he’s sacred and has manners) and drank it which turned his throat blue and the ocean was saved” in ‘Learning About Heraldry’ while it gives the sense that the artist’s protagonist is caught in the same self-referencing loop of a sea creature that reproduces by ‘selfing’. As a nonsense map of dissociations, viewed through a fog of dead ends and misunderstandings, DOUBLE presents the futility of form and format in a complicated web of contentlessness as Jung’s complicit character announces, “I felt the transition from icon to index. WITH my index. How funny.” **
Exhibition photos, top right.