Julian-Jakob Kneer

Ying Colosseum @ Blackland reviewed

29 February 2016

Aided by Google image search, a depicted figure lies sleeping on a torn piece of white paper. The dreaming body is an orthopaedic marvel, a digital beauty, its skeleton inside and muscular outside rendered perfectly in x-ray and 3D. Drawn in by this edited image, a work by Kyle Joseph, and Ying Colosseum, I click attend to a one-night-only event, Late Nite Lullaby at heavy metal bar Blackland, on February 7. The motivations and processes leading up to Ying Colosseum’s ‘collisions’, a term used by Ying collective member Penny Rafferty, are perhaps as interesting as Ying’s adverse exhibitions. The recently born artist group, for instance, make all of their planning decisions in the front passenger carriage of the Ringbahn, an overland train that circles Berlin 24 hours a day and 365 days a year.

Nina Kettiger, 'Highlighting highlights (part 2)' (2016). Courtesy the artist + Ying Colosseum, Berlin.
Nina Kettiger, ‘Highlighting highlights (part 2)’ (2016). Courtesy the artist + Ying Colosseum, Berlin.

Ying’s chosen course, an escape hatch from the microsphere of the white cube can be found in recent patterns of internet-addressed art. Their exhibitions are installed and photographed in genre-class situations, effectively retouching and reformatting their respective host, a post-digital reflex, one foot in the romantic real and the other in the social feed. It seems to recall the ‘premiere’ of New Scenario, an artist collaboration, often profiled on aqnb, who launched their first project in early 2015 with a David Cronenberg-inspired exhibition called C R A S H. What is interesting about Ying and their peers, though, is how an understanding of the internet (and the social simulation it so often implies) has created the possibility to re-route viewers offline, riding along the screen’s edge, a psychogeography of sorts.

Perhaps no work in Ying’s recent exhibition better supports the idea of a body wearing the internet out than ‘Untitled, pullover (black)’ (2016) by Alex Chalmers. Inside a display case for Blackland merchandise, a generic black jumper hangs like a shrine to the music occult. More wearable fan paraphernalia is for sale in the background, a 15 euro t-shirt, branding oneself, not as a logo, but as a club culture participant. More interestingly, Chalmers’ performative-based art practice typically relies on the use and effect of social interactions and human negotiations, which produce outcomes that are consciously minimal, while co-opting ready-made services like online shopping, 24-hour printing and door-to-door delivery. Materially assisted in this way, his ‘decision-free’ art reveals the unquestioned assumptions of an all-giving customer helpline and the complications of using a labor force primed for ‘service’.

Alex Chalmers, 'Untitled' (2016). Pullover (black). Courtesy the artist + Ying Colosseum, Berlin.
Alex Chalmers, ‘Untitled, pullover (black)’ (2016). Courtesy the artist + Ying Colosseum, Berlin.

“They had to decide”, reads a line by Nina Kettiger, “between pretty and unique”, one of many covered song lyrics she has repurposed for an ongoing series of performances and pop-inspired prints, entitled Highlighting highlights (2016). Delicately pinned to a gaffer-tape wall of concert posters, bands like Doomed, Post Mortem and Fatal Embrace, Kettiger’s glossy tribute to a Britney Spears impersonator called Alejandra Vergara, is a teenage anomaly that sings “I’m not a girl, not yet a woman”. Positioned between Blackland’s public toilets and the cigarette machines, the artist’s account of a young-girl fantasy reveals a latent message about art and music: a play-hard scene, a stage crowded with men, impersonators acting like stars.

Under dimmed lights near double glass doors, Camilla Steinum’s lookalike tablecloth, ‘I’ve stopped eating stuff from the floor’ (2016), is caressed by hand —an unconscious outline of a butt —before the eyes adjust to reveal this visual and textural pleasure for the first time. There, her hand-dyed, hand-stitched carpet is lifted from the floor to chair-height, a plush surface to start conversation as smoothly as the beer bottles, ashtrays, cigarette lighters and mobile phones left on the artwork’s surface.

Camilla Steinum, 'I've stopped eating stuff from the floor' (2016). Courtesy the artist + Ying Colosseum, Berlin.
Camilla Steinum, ‘I’ve stopped eating stuff from the floor’ (2016). Courtesy the artist + Ying Colosseum, Berlin.

The late night ends with Inger Lund Wold’s ‘Sleep’ (2016, read below) and the aftereffects of Ying’s collision are remembered like a micro-sleep, dream, or virus, emerging and submerging, a potential that is there but not always felt. A few days later I look online for documentation. Artworks by Alex Turgeon, Claude Eigan and Julian-Jakob Kneer are fresh on my mind, but unlike the post-event habits of many things Ying-esque —the release of high res images —theirs is stalled and decelerated, and Late Nite Lullaby remains imprinted on the body, like smoke on a jacket, and the memory of arriving lingers. 

A few days ago. In an e-mail.

She wrote me that after she had woken up she had fallen back asleep. Then she wrote that she had dreamt that everyone around her fell in love with her. She was like a virus moving among human beings.

I answered that I could not remember what I had dreamt.**

Ying Colosseum’s Late Nite Lullaby was on at Blackland on February 7. Volume 4, Spitzweg’s Stay, is on at Berlin’s Simitdchi, March 6, 2016.

Header image: Late Nite Lullaby (2016). Facebook-event-poster (detail). Courtesy Kyle Joseph + Ying Colosseum, Berlin.

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