Nina Cristante presents solo exhibition Complications at Copenhagen’s YEARS opening May 12 and running to June 24.
The press release includes no information on what to expect, and includes only a well-known riddle:
A father and his son are in a car accident. The father dies instantly, the son is taken to the nearest hospital. The doctor comes in and exclaims “I can’t operate on this boy.” “Why not?” the nurse asks. “Because he’s my son,” the doctor responds. How is it possible?
The London-based artist’s work generally deals with health and wellbeing, with previous projects including LifeSport and Zao Dha Dietwhich shifts in form from health consultations to “fitness povero” workouts to exercise music.
“Sweatpants are everywhere, they defy notions of social stratification, gender and age. Sweatpants unite contradiction, they are a symbol of defeat or paralysis for some, a statement of ultimate resistance and emancipation for others. At the very least, they are really comfortable, fit everyone and wash at 40 degrees,” declare LIFE SPORT.
In an effort to “reclaim independence and self-empowerment,” the project fund their exhibitions, talks, spoken word events and presentations solely through the sale of sweatpants. The group’s name refers to their interest in the exhausting notion of “life as sport” and is responding to the growing need to cope and collaborate as a community.
** How do you describe yourselves?
LIFE SPORT: We try to avoid definition as to what we are or who we are (we are a mix of artists, curators, others). For us it is important to keep blurring the singular (artist) identity, as a means to value collective initiative and achievement.
** Is this project a result of running into financial troubles?
LS: We came to Athens with Caribic Residency, which is kind of the parent project to LIFE SPORT. Caribic is an emergent artist residency model that is based on encounter, synergy and shared experience. Before Athens it was based in other European cities, until a physical location no longer served the project.
The idea for LIFE SPORT was pretty immediate after arriving in Athens- we had the desire to generate our own funding for Caribic’s activities as well as being able to do exhibitions in Athens with a new project. Applying for arts funding has always been difficult, as our focus doesn’t fit the usual application requirements. Arts funding is usually limited to a fixed geographical location or national identity and a predictable outcome, and we aim to defy all of that.
** Do you make the merchandise yourself?
LS: The sweatpants are produced in Athens with a small family business, while the major textile industry has left. A couple of our sweatpants editions utilise sweatpants from other brands, which started with the need for a faster, more efficient and affordable production but turned into a valuable creative process of embracing co-existence.
** Are you going to open up a space in Berlin after the show, and/or any other spots around the world?
LS: We have opened a second (temporary) space in Berlin in January this year and want continue to do pop-up versions and exhibition contributions with LIFE SPORT.
** Could you tell us a little bit about why you chose sweatpants as the object to sell or why only this sole piece of clothing and not others?
LS: Sweatpants are the ideal product. They are popular and easy, comfortable but not polite. Everyone wears them! The idea for the product started by focusing on people wearing sweatpants everywhere, especially in Athens. It is not about reinventing sweatpants or following a capitalist entrepreneurial ambition, but creating our own ‘brand’ that serves our aim to generate funds for a collective. If it works out, LS could be an alternative to both arts funding and to the commercial gallery model.
** Do all the shows you put on deal with a similar political/economic standpoint that relates back to how it was funded in the first place, or is it just a means to an end?
LS: All of our activities are about survival, survival of alternatives. We believe that we can’t stop trying.
** Who/what do you think you are trying to ‘reclaim independence’ from as stated in your bio?
LS: LIFE SPORT aims to reclaim emancipation to make our own choices. We are soft radical. Financial independence is the first step to keep going and not be limited by external factors that dictate most art production.**
Artist and self-taught dietician Nina Cristante had a solo show, Life Sport at Athens’ Life Sport that ran last month between February 27 to March 19. For the exhibition, the grey sweatpants produced and sold by the Greek art space —and that each artist who exhibits there is invited to install or wear —are hung in neat rows on white hooks with their elastic waist ties hanging down, all to the right hand side and mostly in unison. There is definitely a way to the way that Cristante, who has shown work with Bari’s 63rd-77th Steps and has what could be described as an ‘accompanying’ sound cloud accountdoes things in her works and in the way she installs them in space.
One photograph, which is mounted on a wall shows two women exercising. One is using her pushchair to do a headstand with and the other is balancing a baby with no hands on her lap, while she squats and tones her triceps against a park bench. It is a nice image to look at, partly because the gap created between the first woman’s leg and the pushchair might be mirrored in the gap between the second woman’s arms and the bench, and partly because we can see that Cristante has installed it at the top of a descending staircase, down to the lower floor, as though the photograph is resting and balancing at the top of a squat.
On the lower floor, and on the floor, is a large gym mat, whose corners Cristante has lined up delicately in relation to the position of the projection on one side of the room, and several hanging folded white towels, or pieces of linen, on the other, which mimic the grey and black sweatpants.
The documentation images for Life Sport themselves seem to exist to point out the subtleties and relationships inside the show and works, between the mat’s corner and the corner of the mat in the projected video, for example. In the same way that Cristante talks about “inner cues” and “making room for intuition” in relation to her diet during an interview for DIS magazine, the works are also available to be listened to.
In the video, Cristante is doing a set of exercises on the mat for about 13 minutes that are not boring to watch. This is helped by the simple piano playing track that accompanies it, which changes in tone as the exercises change in tone —for example, when Cristante sits almost lying down with her arm like a halo arched around her head, the piano notes go higher, slower and become more of a twinkle than a series of notes.
The sound and actions suit each other, no fuss and no excess, just like the shape made on the crumbling wall that hasn’t been touched up in the lower space suits the shape of the woman in the third photograph who is exercising by doing push-ups over a baby that is sat playing on something in a park. Both of them are being, regardless.**
Dean Blunt has a solo show at London’s Cubitt Gallery, opening January 27 and running to February 28.
There is little information to accompany the announcement of this show and it has no title. Hype Williams, the elusive music collaboration that once featured Blunt and Inga Copeland recently produced a chilling and beautiful new track, ‘Distance’ (listen below), which was also unannounced prior to its release.
New Milan-based artist-run project Pane is hosting group show Kelly Bar at Cafè al 5 on via Pellegrino Rossi 5, opening January 13 and running to 17.
Kelly Bar is a Chinese cafe that “DOESN’T list abstruse and exotic Chinese dishes with bright names”. Instead, the press release says, it has sumptuous Italian sandwiches and “fragrant breakfasts”. It is a Westernized place that “fully reflects the imagined expectations of a young Chinese teenager” while walking along via Pellegrino Rossi in Milan.
The London-based artist’s work generally deals with health and wellbeing. Her main project, Zao Dha Diet, shifts in form from health consultations to “fitness povero” workouts to exercise music.
With fitness povero-homeworks, Cristante creates a self-sufficient and cost-efficient workout “for moms and peeps that can’t make it to the gym…in time of austere tightness and active living”. The project consists of nine “total body workouts” and a “full-body stretch”, accompanied by music from Cristante’s ninandkris.
Curated by Nina Cristante,Eva By Heart was a series of artist-led nights, running once a month from February 2012 to February 2013 at East London’s Visions Video Bar and charging its participants with the task of conceiving an event in the basement venue. Launching from that will be online publication evabyheart.me at South London’s Arcadia Missa, on Thursday September 12.
Hosted by Nina Cristante, we’re just as excited about the musical after party to follow, featuring M.E.S.H, THROWING SHADE, VIPRA and event organiser Felicita at Exquizite Lounge. Listen to Felicita’s wonky, bass-battered-into-abstraction below and see the Facebook event page for details. **