The opening will happen in stages. First, with Nelson’s “movements on a continuous floor” will happen outside, before the procession moves into darkness of M.I/mi1glissé backyard with Zett’s performance that is introduced with a short, personalised introduction to the neuroscience of youth: “My prefrontal cortex was just in the process of finalizing its structural development…”. Finally, Fearon’s exhibition will open in the gallery space, also presented in his FB announcement in two suggestive steps:
“Step 1: you can write a text about wet willies, the liminal, and surface tension.
An evening of screenings, performances and short intervals called ‘Bubble Bath’ is on at London’s Assembly Point on May 19.
Organised by artists and frequent collaborators Lea Collet and Marios Stamatis, the event seeks to gather and present videos by a group of artists such as Paul Maheke, Alice Theobald, Cecilia Bengolea & Jeremy Deller, and Anna Zett, that each consider “performativity in relation to identity and production values”.
There will also be videos, performances and shorter (time-based) works featured throughout the evening pitched as ‘intervals’ by artists James Lowne, Richard Müller and Rebecca Loweth (among others) all responding to live by drummer Tassos Mesogitis, according to Collet.
‘Bubble Bath’ is a part of a wider programme called Tableuxthat incorporates several events delivered in relatively quick succession over the month of May.
With new systems and infrastructures come new ways of organising information, new ways of thinking, of coming together. In light of this notion, AQNBeditor Jean Kay, and Video in Common (ViC) founder Caroline Heron visited London’s Assembly Point, with an event called ‘At the Backend’, last Friday, May 6, to contemplate the theme of the Peckham gallery’s three-week Tableauxprogramme, in a very literal interpretation of its dictionary.com definition being, “apicture,asofascene.”
‘At the Backend’ followed on from the ‘The Future Is Here, It’s Just Not Evenly Distributed’ screening at Berlin’s Import Projects in March by considering AQNB‘s forthcoming website upgrade, and the questions and developments that emerge when reformulating the categories, formats and frameworks for presenting information to an international audience. We examined the work of some artists within our global network that somehow addressed or embodied these semiotic shifts that come with networked communication, and its influence on community-building and identity-formation.
These included AQNB/ViC editorial video commissions by two Berlin-based artists —’ASMR-tist’ Claire Tolan discussing her practice born from the YouTube community concerned with the Auto Sensory Meridian Response phenomenon, and Anna Zett talking about constructing and editing narratives around an initial claim into video. Helsinki-based artist Kimmo Modigcontributed a video—consisting of outtakes from sessions leading up to a work presented as part of curator Valentina Fois‘ The Utopia Internet Dystopia pavilion at last year’s The Wrong biennale —especially for AQNB, as a response to the affective labour and techniques of YouTube celebrities.
Los Angeles-based collective Encyclopedia Inc.shared two videos that illustrate a widely varied approach to their ongoing interest in uranium. The symbolic and physical properties of radiation becomes the sole anchor of a responsive, research-based practice that eschews any drive towards a single identifiable aesthetic or mode of working.
Ashley Angelus Ashley presented a live reading of her religious poetry via Skype from her base in Philadelphia. That was followed by a Q&A where she discussed her shapeshifting practice and still-evolving sense of self in an often oppressive digital regime that has negatively exposed her as an artist, writer and person too young. Ashley continues to actively evade identification while exploring the parallels between, and ritual practice of institutionalised religion and popular culture. Meanwhile, collectives like Johannesburg’s CUSS Group passively confuse and elude classification within global (see: western) internet convention, by promoting misinformation through inaction when it comes to readings and representations of their work outside of their own self-presentation. Taking footage appropriated from artist-musician Dean Blunt‘s 2014 ‘DEF Freestyle‘ single and re-presenting it in a pop-up exhibition from the back of a car as part of their Video Party series in Johannesburg, Geneva-based co-founder Ravi Govender discussed the groups disinterest in regulating the distribution of their work and identity outside of their own context, in opposition to the hyper-constructed artistic identity of an artist like Dean Blunt. Rather than try to be understood within a proscribed informational system, CUSS Group dismiss its authority entirely.
Below are the full videos, excerpts (and video stills) of the films and readings presented in their running order:
Claire Tolan: ‘Thinking Systems (ASMR)’ (2016) video. [6:55 min]
Berlin-based artist Claire Tolan discusses YouTube-born phenomenon ASMR (Autonomous Sensory Meridian Response) and how it informs her art practice. From mixing ASMR sounds on the radio to organising live ASMR Karaoke events, Tolan’s work and interests are centred on how strangers come together online and communities are formed alongside new technologies.
Anna Zett: ‘Theory of Everything’, p.1 (2016) video. [7:02 min]
Berlin-based artist Anna Zett talks about gathering empirical evidence of the attitudes and perspectives surrounding her chosen subjects, including dinosaurs, boxing and the brain. Prior to her most recent video work, ‘Circuit Training’ (2015), Zett’s impressive “modern research drama” ‘This Unwieldy Object’ (2014) saw her dealing in the construction of raw data into meaningful narratives along existing ideological lines.
Philadelphia-based artist Ashley Angelus Ashley seeks to reconcile her religious poetry with the social experience of exploitation and oppression. Taken from the position of what she calls a “sexually androgynous Catholic woman”, Ashley presents a live poetry reading via Skype, covering the stigmatization of gender nonconformity, ritualized humiliation, the sex industry, internalized misogyny, and biological control.
LA-based collective Encyclopedia Inc. –Carlye Packer, Googie Karrass and Nicholas Korody –is a research-based project that interrogates the inherited western idea of an object in isolation. In a continually evolving, process-driven practice that questions notions of art and information as self-evident, the group has produced publications, videos and installations reflecting a conceptual approach to the lived reality of ecological enmeshment, with uranium at its core.
Kimmo Modig: ‘KIMMOTALKS’ (2016) [9:26]
Helsinki-based artist Kimmo Modig deconstructs the languages and systems surrounding labour and production by both mimicking and destabilising an audience’s conception of capital flows in its various forms. Modig performs his own anxieties and sense of precarity in relation to the existing lexicons of communication media –like video, marketing and sound design –thus laying bare the oppression and authority implicit in the restrictive social paradigms they reinforce.
Cuss Group: ‘Video Party #4’ (2014) [8:22 min]
Johannesburg and Geneva-based collective Cuss Group –Ravi Govender, Jamal Nxedlana Zamani Xolo, Lex Trickett, Bogosi Sekhukhuni and Chris Mc Michael –have been working as a dispersed group of artists and practitioners on the margins of not only a South African art market indifferent to video as a medium, but a globalised online network of artists still focussed on traditional Western economic centres. But instead of applying for impossible access to these systems and flows of information, Cuss Group passively evade legibility within existing colonial structures surrounding art and aesthetics.
“In the boxing ring I practice a language that was already there”, writes Anna Zett in her piece, ‘Fist to Brain’, published in The New Inquiryin 2015. In the second of two videos exploring the Berlin-based artist’s work for aqnb’s ongoing video series made in collaboration with Video in Common, Zett shares her thoughts on the symbolic language of boxing in relation to the brain. Expressing a keen interest and dedication to the martial art independent of her creative practice, Zett discusses how the two traditions became intertwined, ultimately informing each other and culminating in video and performance, ‘Circuit Training‘ (2015), showing at London’s Banner Repeater between November 2015 and January 2016.
Zett’s ‘This Unwieldy Object’ video essay debuted at London’s Extinction Marathon: Visions of the Future at Serpentine galleries in 2014, a 47-minute film tracking the artist on a research-driven road trip through the United States, and her encounters with the fossil traders, sculptors and scientists who have a hand in constructing its primordial history in the image of the country’s pro-colonial scientific ideology.
Often working with text and language as an imperial tool, the Leipzig-born artist is also responsible for the ‘DINOSAUR.GIF’ (2014) video lecture, which draws connections between a history of blockbuster film with capitalism, as well as spoken word presentations featured at London’s General Fine Arts ‘Values’ issue launch and Berlin’s After the Eclipsereadings. Zett’s writing has also appeared in the The New Inquiry and Arcadia Missa’s How To Sleep Faster 5.**
The event closes off the Berlin-based artist’sCircuit Training exhibition, running at the Hackney art space from November 13, 2015, to January 31, 2016, and will feature a sequence of exercises incorporating text in an attempt to “get in touch with the secular deity generally known as the human nervous system.”
As an artist interested in “the physical end of language”, Zett draws links between boxing as a practice and “the archives of modern art and commerce” in an attempt to connect the experience of fist-fighting with verbal and visual communication.
Circuit Training builds on a practice that has developed from the entanglements of “science and fiction, bones and imagination, entertainment and politics” in “research drama” ‘This Unwieldy Object’ (2014), to boxing as a radical form of dialogue in essays like ‘Fist to Brain‘ at The New Inquiry.
Anna Zett “plays with the physical end of language” in Circuit Training, an exhibition of a newly commissioned video and text work running at Banner Repeater from November 13 to January 31.
Drawing from the artist’s own boxing practice and from general archives of modern art and commerce, Zett produces a series of texts and images that attempt to connect the notion of fighting with that of verbal and visual communication.
“Boxing is”, the press release writes, “a radical form of dialogue, just like a caress, but at the other end of language”. Zett’s show also features a performance on January 29 and comes alongside Banner Repeater’s fundraiser.
Presented by The New Inquiry, the event will be a US premiere of these two works by the Berlin-based artist exploring the construction of old and new mythologies through its replication and reanimation in fossils and dinosaurs; paleontology and CGI.
Recently showing as part of Serpentine galleries’ Extinction Marathon last year, and Helsinki’s Sorbus-galerie in March of this year, ‘This Unwieldy Objects: A Modern Research Drama’ presents the artist’s road trip into the heart of the United States, where the archeological data of natural history is reconstructed by fossil traders, sculptors and scientists around an Imperial ideology.
Similarly, ‘DINOSAUR.GIF’ explores a history of film and its role where “the spectacle of early animation and the paradoxical science of CGI meet in a screen recording.”.
Through both Zett and Vaahtera’s scientific research, Research Drama explores the entanglements of “science and fiction, bones and imagination, entertainment and politics” through their respective subjects, or characters, of prehistoric dinosaurs and the recently discovered fossil of a ‘fishapod’ called the Tiktaalik roseae.
Some of us, who either were too young or too unfazed to remember the last total solar eclipse, expected the earth to get completely dark while the moon passed between us and the sun. Rather than complete blackout, we noticed a slight change in directness of the sun’s rays. For the evening of performances and readings on at Berlin’s Flutgraben e.V. on March 22, the organisers of After the Eclipse, Ebba Fransén Waldhör and Imri Kahn, perhaps dedicated the evening in this artist-run space to the astrological event, not in terms of the sublime, but rather as an ordinary moment of interference.
Anna Zett begins the evening preparing for her performance as she prepares for a boxing match. As she wraps red wrist wraps around her fists, she repeats, “how can you have a dialogue within a monologue?” The long strands of blood red sparring fabric, and the ritualistic, methodical way they are tightly wound on to the body to allow for the sport’s skillful (yet violent) physical interaction. With a similar method, Zett overlaps the complexities in our everyday interaction between mental and physical (neurotransmitters and the nervous system), Zett draws attention to the value of this communication, persistently failing, persistently under threat by sudden knockout– or a host of diseases, malicious intent, or the unpredicted, violent interventions of applied science.
In a reading also heavily concerned with communication and its failures, Imri Kahn reads what he found in an archive in a recent trip to Jerusalem– a medieval debate between a pen and a pair of scissors over their relative superiority as instruments of writing. Which makes more meaning, that which inscribes or that which excises? Written by Shem Tov Ardutiel in Christian Spain of the mid-14th Century, the unusual rhymed narrative is an allegory from a darkening political atmosphere filled with motifs fitting the occasion of the eclipse: loss of speech, hostile surroundings, self-contradiction. The main characters battle, through dialogue, through sheer function, between preservation and evisceration of meaning and representation.
Dealing again with preservation and loss, Hannah Black’s performance is in some way a critique of Hegel’s Lectures on the Philosophy of World History. The artist-writer remembers a year spent on both coasts of the United States, as if the space between each side is enough to separate one version of the self from another -the architecture, the weather, the history of a place can split a person between, in Black’s own words, “animal and miracle”. Through this coupling she movingly recalls a Summers day spent in the Harvard Poetry Library, the “the historic campus with generous scholarships and beautiful light”. In juxtaposing her surroundings with her real condition of eating “trash for breakfast”, she is astonished by its resplendent architecture which, as Black points out, maintains its status as one of history’s greatest constructions with an air of being “built invisibly, built by no one”. This appearance becomes the site for critique, as it’s in this library that she makes vivid the very political struggle of remembrance. In a shaft of this beautiful light, she contemplates “the knowledge, and the suppression of the knowledge”, which is redeemed only by, as Black puts it, “the knowledge of the suppression of the knowledge”.
In another take on this interplay, the opposite of the suppression of knowledge is its enhancement. This appears to be the premise under which the characters of Elvia Wilk’s novel-in-progress operate, as they seem to spend the weekend experimenting with nootropics and developing a comedown machine that facilitates both physical rejuvenation and ethical reflection. Quantifying the self is taken beyond bodily performance into the realm of ethics. Yet, as these characters retrace their intoxicated steps through a paperless trail of audio and video recordings, online banking transactions, they seemingly reach an all-too-human impasse: as they try to reach a ‘real’ doctor, an artificial intelligence-powered phone service interferes.
Also dealing with the failures of communication, in her performance Sarah M. Harrison seems to wonder, how all this failure looks to the outside world. This idiom used to be an expression referring to people at large, but (perhaps it is the eclipse) lately, the outside world seems more distant, less familiar. One of Harrison’s protagonists feels this disjuncture acutely, and brings this to a head as her main character finds notes from her sister’s tarot reading. She recites it out loud, announcing it to be the most beautiful poem she has ever read. It concludes, as the evening of performances did, with a conspicuous sense of hope: as if all this trouble with messages, memory and meaning were just a series of ordinary interferences, no match for our persistence in making sense of it all:
“…magic in little things in life little steps see the doors opening opened through account to others time to open up to others.” **
Here’s a description from the After the Eclipse participants:
…an astronomical event that comes with a list of don’ts, as an eclipse could be (all at once) a fall into obscurity, a humiliating end, the total loss of splendour, the act of one object casting another in shadow, an unreasonable obscuring of light.
…notice, the backs of your eyes have no pain receptors. Burning corneas, it takes only a few seconds. Selfie danger during a solar eclipse, eye experts warn. Those who can’t help it best have at hand rather a pinhole viewer or solar goggles, or watch its reflection on a plain white piece of office paper.
…everyone else, let’s add to the list. Avoid the ordinary: sleeping, sitting on the toilet, eating, putting your hands into your pockets or onto another– as these comings and goings may leave one only more vulnerable…
London’s [ space ] will be launching the first issue of Pale Journal on February 13.
The contemporary art gallery’s inaugural launch will be accompanied by a set of performances and readings from various artists, including Canadian artist Dan Barrow known for his “narrative overhead projection performances”, artist Alexander Townend Bate, video and visual artists Giulia Loi andMary Vettise, Berlin-based artist Anna Zett, and London- and Basel-based artist Sophie Jung.
The night will be capped off with a musical performances by QUITTERS.
Berlin-based artist Anna Zett‘s “modern research drama” ‘The Unwieldy Object’ (2014) will premiere via stream online at EXTINCT.LY at 10pm (GMT+1) on Saturday, October 18.
Debuting as part of the Serpentine‘s Extinction Marathon: Visions of the Future in London this weekend, the 47-minute film essay tracks a ‘dubious’ protagonist as she explores paleontology at the heart of the US in relation to the old and new mythologies of the American Frontier. Hurtling ever-ahead toward an ambiguous “manifest destination”, the film is presented as a travelogue and detective story of sorts, tracking a near-future in images, narration and music, driven by eroding fossil fuels, with dinosaurs as emblems of a lost utopia.
“Imagine a yet unknown object just over the horizon, reachable only by car”, proposes the trailer narration as the road unfolds before us, holding the mirage of “the unwieldy object” ahead and at the heart of a colonial capitalist desire to “approach it, appropriate it and reanimate it”.
A critique of the destructive ideological fallacy of actualisation as serving an imperial agenda, ‘The Unwieldy Object’ is set to the backdrop of an unresolved disruption known as the End of History while becoming complicit in its own critique.
It’s a theme that becomes all the more pertinent in the context of EXTINCT.LY and the Extinction Marathon programme, in responding to the monumental global destruction of a technocene era with the very technology it aims to implicate.