Steven Warwick @ Exile reviewed

15 February 2016

Neutral is a text-heavy tour de force, revealing an apathetic subset of Berliners, the so-called ‘staylienz’ who, intending to visit for a short time, end up living in the city for a decade “sat on a beanbag, splifta in one hand”. Musician-artist Steven Warwick (aka Heatsick) develops a series of similarly catchy neologisms throughout his solo exhibition at Exile, running January 30 to March 5. The central narrative ‘NEONLIBERAL’ is a tale of two bubbly Brits Spirulina and Chorella who embark on a spontaneous road trip from London to Berlin in their driverless car to check out the hottest new nightclub, the next Berghain, Club Nutri. Thinking they’ve arrived at the venue, they find themselves trapped in a maximum security prison-vessel for Jeremy Corbyn supporters, drifting offshore. In a mounting procession of absurdities, they decide that the only way to free themselves is to take “Testo Gel”, grow Appalachian folk singer beards and bore the guards to sleep with their prosaic music. Success. They make it to Club Nutri and are admitted after only a nine-hour wait. Disappointed by how easy it is to get in, they immediately turn back for home. Berlin. Is. So. Over.

Steven Warwick, 'NEONLIBERAL' (2016). Installation view. Courtesy Exile, Berlin.
Steven Warwick, ‘NEONLIBERAL’ (2016). Installation view. Courtesy Exile, Berlin.

The screenplay is hand-scrawled on a chalkboard in the gallery, taking up the length of a whole wall. The only other thing in the large room is a bed, a blow-up mattress in the centre of the floor, sheets printed with an unambiguous message: “CAN’T BE ARSED”. Complementing the ‘NEONLIBERAL’ characters’ names, a bag of fresh large-leaf spinach stands in for the plump pillow at the head of the bed. Visitors are invited to sit or lie on the bed to read the script –a strange reversal of the usual lazy experience: instead of watching a projected film we are confronted with a wall of densely-packed script and only our imaginations to add colour to the story, in this almost clinically neutral setting. The show’s other props –houseplants, a pair of sneakers, Heatsick’s own grated u-bahn platform record sleeves –corroborate the oozing neutrality, comfort, placid health goth style, and lack of ambition until we feel almost at home in our own spacious, minimal Berlin apartments, wandering between rooms unfazed and uninspired.

A text by philosopher Robin MacKay accompanying the show elaborates the theoretical underpinning of Warwick’s self-mocking visual shtick. Mackay’s biting essay considers the cultural dominance of the word space. Places are imbued with creative capital in their transformation to spaces: the project space, the research space, the gallery space. This neutralizing word is unparalleled in the art world, a strong signifier for a transitory and white-washed cultural landscape, devoid of meaning and positioned towards boundless potentiality. While a certain Berlin lifestyle (and the reverence afforded to it abroad) is critiqued, Neutral acknowledges a more structural problem. The insatiable desire for newness propels the creative class toward cities like Berlin, but the by-product of their appearance is an emptying out of substance they seem to take everything and add nothing.

Steven Warwick, 'Club Nutri' (2016). Detail. Courtesy Exile, Berlin.
Steven Warwick, ‘Club Nutri’ (2016). Detail. Courtesy Exile, Berlin.

Neutral, the exhibition, and the staged living ‘space’ in which it is enveloped, are united in a “serene streamlined integration”. The cybernetic nomad is at home here, in this exhibition and in this city: futily suffusing it with creative desires and energies until they are left hollow, a “superfood-guzzling grindr-swiping concept-hungry pitch-shifting multi-desking gentry for whom every glancing encounter is a creative opportunity”. Faced with Warwick and Mackay’s eminently quotable texts, the art critic (a cultural parasite, guilty as charged) wonders to herself for the umpteenth time: “Do you really have anything to add?” **

Exhibition photos, top right.

Steven Warwick’s Neutral is on at Berlin’s Exile, running January 30 to March 5, 2016.

Header image: Steven Warwick, NEUTRAL (2016). Installation view. Courtesy Exile, Berlin.

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Heatsick @ Cafe OTO, Sep 11 – 12

11 September 2015

Producer Heatsick (aka Steven Warwick) is commencing a two-day residency hosted by London’s Cafe OTO, running across the evenings of September 11 and 12.

A Berlin-based, Nottingham-born artist, perhaps best known by his Heatsick moniker, Warwick’s immersive performances spanning the spectrum of the senses have been presented in various contexts, including live sets at Unsound festival, a performance in a pub toilet and a “noir installation and soundtrack to LA” performed as part of a residency at Los Angeles’ Villa Aurora.

The latter was featured as part of a two part video series on the artist, one of which is embedded below, and may come as a fine supplement to Friday’s “laboratory-cum-club” presenting new works in progress and a temporary Cafe OTO rebrand as “Club Nutri”. On Saturday, expect a play called Neonliberal, in which “a group of Superfoods become animated as characters and unravel their journey in Neoliberal Fortress Europe 2k15”.

See the Cafe OTO website for details.**

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Steven Warwick: ‘Letting Things Unfold’ , p.2

20 August 2015

In the second video instalment featuring Steven Warwick, aka Heatsick, the Berlin-based artist talks with John Bosco Burns about his growing body of work, key influences and the threat of digesting philosophical texts while on a hectic tour across the southern hemisphere to ones sanity. It’s an experience, though, that’s come to inform Warwick’s work such as his ‘Extended Play’ (2013-) live performances, along with their explorations of physicality and the abstraction of time and space.

Through this conversation the divergent line between Warwick’s range of interests and method of exploration becomes evident. As already demonstrated in his album Re-engineering, released on PAN in 2013, and the site specific response of Re-Engineering Villa Aurora (2015) –coming live and direct from the home of the “The Californian Ideology” –Warwick researches the conditions of ‘constructed space’. That is, the responsive and ever-permeating socio-political spaces of contemporary neoliberal existence.

However, in his own ‘spaces’ –those brought about to reflect and explore these ideas –are not as contrived as the subject matter might lead you to think. Warwick’s method is more akin to early participatory art practice and experimental theatre, where situations are open and allowed to ‘unfold’. It is through his juxtaposition of these parallel but wholly different means of producing space that Steve Warwick brings us to a very human moment in the alienation of mediated experience, with our firmly planted on the dance floor. **

Watch the video embedded above and see here for Part One.


Produced in partnership with Video in CommonThis project has been made possible through the generous support of Arts Council England.

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Steven Warwick: ‘A Postcard From LA’, p.1

26 June 2015

In his works Extended Play and Re-Engineering, Steven Warwick (aka Heatsick) loosely constructs potential situations that unfold into a sculptural experience of a moment, an idea, or a place. He then manipulates these plastic environments: slowing down or speeding up flows to explore all the events that exist in-between.


Recently, Warwick was an artist-in-residency at the Villa Aurora in Los Angeles for 3 months, during which he spent time travelling around the city and its surrounds. Towards the end of his stay, he staged a performance (which included playing the Villa’s newly-restored organ) and released an accompanying soundtrack, ‘Reengineering Villa Aurora‘, which depicts the strangeness of LA, edged between the expanses of the Pacific ocean and the Mojave desert.

As an extension of this documentation, we asked Warwick to write us a ‘Letter from America’—to tell us about his experiences there that have come to influence his work.

In this video, which is part anecdote, part observation, Warwick takes us on a tour of a place where the sun shines almost relentlessly and the days blur together. In this hazy perfection, a sense of dread — extensively portrayed in writing by inhabitants such as Octavia Butler and in film by characters like Edwards Scissorhands — is never far away.

This video is part 7 in the series produced in collaboration with Video in Common exploring art and artists from cities around the networked world — published at the start of every second week from March to December, 2015.

Watch the video embedded above and see here for Part Two.

This project has been made possible through the generous support of Arts Council England.

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Berlin Community Radio new website launch

19 August 2014

Germany’s hottest community radio station, Berlin Community Radio, celebrates the launch of its new website this month.

Nearing a year since its official radio show launch, BCR has developed a solid platform with a steady stream of diverse content filling in the live schedule. From experimental noise on Noisekölln, to slick mixes on Berlin artist Heatsick’s self-titled show, to the latest tunes from Berlin record label Blackest Ever Black, BCR takes its music seriously.

No Fear of Pop joins the line-up with some future-thinking pop, as does Ilja Karilampi with a weekly music/noise segment. But BCR’s range extends past music, with a bi-weekly feminist panel called HYSTEREO, a segment by online publishing house General Fine Arts, and one by Berlin-based art space Mathew Gallery, among many others. 

The launch of the new website comes together with the launch of the BCR Zine, a round-up of some of the station’s favorites by the various contributors, including Earworm with its hosts’ favorite tracks of the week.

See the BCR website for details. **

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Heatsick’s Extended Play @ BGWMC, May 25

20 May 2014

Heatsick‘s Steven Warwick returns for the long-awaited London edition of his dance party, Extended Play, on May 25.

Extended Play is Warwick’s latest three-hour Casio improvisation, based around his Deviation EP, featuring a live, specially engineered audiovisual performance by the artist.

Influenced by early Chicago house mixtapes, musique concrète and psychedelia, Extended Play combines unusual sounds in order to expand the senses, creating a dizzying live show created in real time, while vocals and visuals loop around themselves in Warwick’s hands.

See details on the Facebook event page or buy tickets for the event here or here. **

Heatsick ‘Déviation’ (PAN 29) from PAN on Vimeo.

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Taint @ Chesters, Apr 20

18 April 2014

The Taint night is celebrating Easter Sunday at Berlin’s Chesters in it’s own way, on April 20.

Performers include a reunited Nuclear Family, Heatsick, who released a RE-ENGINEERING earlier this year, and rRoxymore, who also has an EP out on Planningtorock‘s Human Level label.

Also featuring are Joey Hansom, Dj Alternegro and Cut Loose at the event that also falls also happens to fall on a stoner holiday, 420. No points for guessing which tradition the night identifies with more.

Read an interview with Heatsick and see the Facebook event page for details. **

Header image: Illustration by Stefan Fähler. Concept by Joey Hansom.

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Heatsick – ‘RE-ENGINEERING’ video + US tour

11 February 2014

Heatsick dropped another artist-directed video, this time for ‘RE-ENGINEERING’, the title track from his LP released on PAN in November last year.

So far artists Rachel Reupke and frequent Heatsick collaborator Hanne Lippard have contributed videos to songs from the album. This time around Berlin-based Stefan Fähler presents a moving still life of Mark Colle‘s flower arrangements, while nudging to a New Materialist fetish for the form and texture of Heatsick’s “modern rubbish”, while model Tiffany Corsten kind of does but doesn’t really look at them.

Read Heatsick’s 10 favourite artists and see his upcoming February tour dates in the US below. **

2.07 San Francisco – Slate
2.12 The Empty Bottle
2.13 St. Louis – William A Kerr Foundation
2.14 New York – Issue Project Room
2.15 Boston – Goethe Institute
2.16 Philadelphia- Kung fu Necktie
2.21 Portland- Reed University
2.22 Los Angeles – Private Island

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