The A New Prescription for Insomnia group exhibition, curated by GeoVanna Gonzalez, describes its artists as “Nation-rejecting state-founders, alienated in their own habitat.” Presenting a living death in art produced from a “hazy and half-awake condition” at Berlin’s HORSEANDPONY, the show features Paul Barsch, Julia Colavita, Lorenzo Sandoval, and Michele Gabriele, among others, making site-specific works, objects, records and videos. They’re presented from April 30 to May 21, starting during Gallery Weekend, as tactics for “making the mind stateless” in an autonomous zone that may as well be on an island but is actually just an art space.
There are works with titles like ‘End of the Line,’ ‘Moments of Clarity’ and ‘Insulation (coils II),’ and little doubt of the theme of endurance in the show, particularly when considering Omsk Social Club’s Survival Guide for “IRL and URL interactions” — extending the artist line-up further with additional contributors. This is a sense of preparing for the worst that’s echoed in a current political context of war rhetoric and xenophobia; anxiety and information overload. All these things are related, of course. Where a position of helpless hopelessness has been exacerbated by a constantly ‘on’ environment for the networked world, while the exploited populations its built on meets self-consuming abundance for the privileged class, with destitution for the rest.
With all this in mind, we asked each artist in A New Prescription for Insomnia, “You’re stranded on an Island with no internet, what do you do?” Here’s how they responded:
I would make cookies for all of the people on the island and then I would make them pizza. Then we would all snuggle on the beach and listen to the waves.
I would resume a deep trance of information feedback — deep learning for humans . I would aim to do this twice a day. I believe survival is all about a state of mind — tranquility is a powerful tool of endurance. Recently I have been studying the art of Breatharianism, a practice of food liberation — fasting. This method also enables you to control your immediate mental and physical needs, almost like declaring passive warfare on your own learned-body.
To survive one has to be both the submissive and dominant of their own psyche — an erotic welfare ticket.
Close your eyes, feel the sun on your shoulders, running down the tip of your nose, braising your cheek bones. Take in a deep breath, feel the sea salt crystalize around each hair of each pore of your skin. Exhale, bury your phone battery in the sand, and start fishing.
I often asked myself a similar question, at the beginning of my career: What would I do if I was alone and I had nothing? I answered myself that I probably would do a lot of little sculptures made of sand, soil, and shit. But in answer to your question that is a little different: I would probably continue to work on my research, trying not to deceive myself from the expectations of those around me, which the internet has always eased much, creating a bigger, wider and far audience.
I’d dig a hole deep into the earth and when (years later) I scraped away the final layers of soil, the floor of my pit would reveal the truth.
I’d go for a swim, then I’d congratulate myself on having brought along the three things along I always said I would take with me if I were stranded on a desert island.
Miller Robinson, aka L.L.L.L.L.
I would allow myself to embrace my reptilian instinct. I would simple refer to the only state of Being which could exist in a state of simplicity. What does one do on an island? One wanders, gathers what is necessary and, as foreign as it may seem, simply exists. That is what I would do. I would be.
After exploring the island for a source of fresh water, I would begin construction on an above-ground sleeping shelter, which would keep me away from bugs and night critters. After, I would create a fire using a primitive fire-starting techniques, like a hand drill, bow drill, or fire plough. Once fire was achieved finding a source of protein would be essential to replenishing my energy deposits and surviving another day.
I’ll look at the clouds. If there are no clouds, I’ll socialize with my co-islanders.
Relax in the sun.**