Marianna Simnett is presenting solo exhibition Lies at New York’s Seventeen gallery, opening November 20 and running from November 23 to January 22.
The London-based artist works with film, often weaving disparate yet connected narratives together to explore the contaminated body and the visceral reality of identity. Rooted in layers and histories, there’s often a violent undertone to most of Simnett’s work; a balancing act between constraint and subversion.
A collection of paintings, sculptures, sounds, words and murals occupy the space by creating a sense of floating and providing the viewer with unfolding and recurring encounters of various characters, depicted within the works. The London-based artist’s practice is often filled by soft and grotesque figures, presented on large and spacious backgrounds within mushy blue and pink environments.
For Animals on the bed Rooney marks the gallery space as “foreign territory”, where contrasting physical and emotional states drift through, whilst the depictions of bodies are beset by images of confrontation and pollution, awkwardness and discomfort. The painted back of one painting reveals itself to the viewer as it sits on top of and smothers the mural underneath. Large and faint hands fall down the wall and in the middle are several sculptures of cat litter trays cradling plants inside and a cat basket with its cage door open.
An extract from the sound piece:
“She wasn’t really sure about his love life. No sex. Well yes but no. Laughing laughing laughing. Birds land on your shoulder. Killing time. Laying on the floor next to a stuffed animal. Letting your hair get greasy. Dying you hair. Ordering coke with ice. Living longer then you can afford.” **
Running alongside the bigger Frieze is the smaller Sunday Art Fair, taking over London’s Ambika P3, at the University of Westminster from October 14 to October 18.
The annual contemporary art fair celebrates its sixth edition this year with 25 international galleries exhibition solo or curated presentations, along with four major UK institutions displaying artist editions in a new section of the fair.
Hannah Perry opens Mercury Retrograde, a new solo exhibition running at London’s Seventeen gallery from October 9 to December 10.
Following on from the zodiac theme of last year’s Horoscopes (Déjà Vu) performance at Serpentine Galleries, the London-based artist continues to combine the use of video, installation, live performance and sculpture to create a complex and integrated network of references, both personal and historical.
Her new show, the press release promises, works “to observe the power of mass media in shaping our desires and identities”, manipulating materials to explore “intimate memories in today’s hyper-technological society.”
The press release for Basic Instinct, running at London’s Seventeen Gallery from September 4 to October 2, doesn’t give much away. It’s a juxtaposition of two quotes, extracted from two quite different contexts. The first is from Eros The Bittersweet by Anne Carson, a passage which interrogates the concept of eros, its basis in the psyche of an infant, and the identification of desire as implicitly involved in lack. The second is the short section of dialogue from arguably the most famous scene in the film Basic Instinct (1992) in which Sharon Stone’s character Catherine Tramell uncrosses her legs and seductively quips, “I have a degree in psychology”.
The choice of these two quotes introduces us to the historically difficult to categorise concept of eros. On one hand, it points towards a set of concerns in philosophy and psychiatry which, as seems to be customary in academia, use the Greek god Eros as exemplar from which to build a theoretical position on love and desire. On the other hand eros is often used as shorthand for a sort-of classy sexual instinct. Indeed these two divergent approaches to eros can be found in Basic Instinct the exhibition, mainly intersecting with the tactility of materials as a form of eroticism. Curator Attilia Fattori Franchini has brought together ten artists, each of whose works contain some inclination towards the sensual.
Beatrice Marchi‘s framed pencil drawings point perhaps most directly to the concept of eros as the contemporary erotic –a purely sexual force –while attempting to undermine its seriousness. In ‘Oh, Summer!’ (2015) a spread-eagle woman lies on the floor, an electric fan blowing aside her pubic hair. In diptych ‘Signorina Culinski cresce’ (2015), one panel depicts a woman bending over in front of a mirror looking at her own ass. In the other she is drawing eyes onto her buttocks to reflect a crude face back.
The time-based works included seem to double the imagery of contemporary advertising techniques. Jala Wahid‘s single-channel video ‘I am a charm’ (2015) feels somewhat like an extended perfume advert, matching seductive high-resolution shots of peeled citrus fruit segments with similarly poetic text. Reija Meriläinen‘s ‘Stabbing’ (2014), depicts the penetration and probing of what seems to be a block of gelatin with instruments including a metal pipe and a knife, conducted on a pastel-coloured set and shot in slow motion. These two works approach the hyper-sensual –too clean to feel perverse. On the spectrum of the erotic, they are sex with a Real Doll.
Megan Rooney‘s ‘Doggy breath, finger deaf, mute, winking. A wink she could only do with the right eye’ (2015) is a pale, fleshy, and almost ten-meter long mural. It’s frantic while retaining its balance –gauged abstract marks, smoothly applied layers of paint, and pseudo-childlike scrawls play both off and with each other. At the opposite end of the painting spectrum, Zoe Barcza‘s deeply considered grids look ripped away from the cotton by even more considered trompe l’oeil techniques.
“Sex Sells”, as advertising executives know well. And while on one hand empowerment is meant to arise from claiming autonomy over our own deeply-held erotic inclinations, this power is simultaneously withdrawn from us as these desires are sublimated into advertising campaigns, designed to turn the production of eros into a marketing technique. In Basic Instinct, Franchini approaches this reality with varying degrees of critical distance. She places emphasis on the tactility of making or observing artwork as a sensual act, and one which is necessary to highlight the importance of art in turning away from the often banal mainstream idea of what can be considered erotic. Although some works in Basic Instinct feel like they are straining to prove their sincerity, those works which shine do so effortlessly and with confidence. Our basic instincts are obfuscated by the pallid eroticism of advertising culture. Perhaps in recognising this, and trying to articulate our own grammar, we can begin to engage in honest, maybe even radical, sensual encounters with the world. **
The Ryan Trecartin and Lauren Cornell-curated 2015 Triennial, called Sound Audience starts at the New Museum in New York this week, with the majority of events and exhibitions elsewhere opening within a few days of each other.
The video work takes its title as the subject, or metaphor, of the show, and its description on the gallery website consists of a glossary of terms and works, the kind that would be hyperlinked in any digital text we read nowadays with words like “render” and “dissociative order”, works like Paul Thomas Anderson’s Magnolia, Herzog’s Land of Silence and Darkness, the ’60 adaptation of Redon’s Eyes Without a Face.
Alternately, on the show’s press release send around by Seventeen Gallery, the only information provided is this surreal, script-like dialogue, narrated by the CGI rendering the late Philip Seymour Hoffman:
A WIG AND A MAN ARE SEEN WALKING AWAY FROM CAMERA, TOWARDS THE WATER. HE CARRIES AN IKEA BAG. THE WIG HAS A PAIR OF WHITE TRAINERS.PHIL: This is an invisible woman, there’s no official term for what she is but historically there are many like her. She was a figure in a landscape until someone erased her, content aware filled her, and removed her from the scene.THE WIG IS AN INVISIBLE WOMAN. SHE STOPS, AND TURNS AROUND, TAKING HER TIME.
INVISIBLE WOMAN: Hi PHIL.
CUT TO THE INVISIBLE WOMAN AND HER PARTNER SITTING ON A BLANKET. SHE READS A COPY OF THE INVISIBLE MAN AND HE LOOKS STRAIGHT INTO CAMERA. THERE IS A BANANA TO THE LEFT OF THEM.
INVISIBLE WOMAN: How are things?
PHIL: You know, ok. We have an audience by the way.
INVISIBLE WOMAN CLOSES HER BOOK, PUTS IT DOWN, AND CROSSES HER FEET.
IW: Oh. Thanks for letting me know.
PHIL: Does that change things for you?
IW: Indefinitely. Up until now, I’ve been completely invisible.
PHIL: Well, until before you were.
IW: Right. I’ve been this way for a long time, and it’s getting hard to remember that part of me.
PHIL: How old are you anyway?
CUT TO INVISIBLE WOMAN PEELING A BANANA.
IW: Pretty old.
PHIL: Your hair doesn’t look old.
IW: I haven’t had it for long.
PHIL: Well, you know what they say about older women…
As Frieze is never so much about the art fair itself but the influx of artists and projects surrounding the international event – this year running in London October 15 to 18 – here are our recommendations for the week’s offsite and fringe occassions, including events and exhibitions opening and opened:
For the inaugural show at Seventeen’s new space, gallery associate director and current curator-in-residence at LUX Tim Steer has selected three works that consider the mechanics of perception. Starting with a quote by phenomenologist Merleau-Ponty, Neither seems to be considering the eye as a tool, one that allows us to absorb experience as well as draft the ways in which we see the world “through the traces of a hand”. The works in the show each consider the production of seeing in strikingly distinct terms.
Harun Farocki’s ‘Eye/Machine II’ (2002) is by far the most visually arresting of the three. A rapid-cutting video essay, it discusses and demonstrates the ways that various forms of automated “camera-eye” technologies are deployed in military training and intervention, as well as in the production of consumer goods. Footage of factories, military computer training rooms and camera movements are spliced with an explanation of the ways in which image processing is used in mechanised production processes. Amongst all this is footage from military missile analysis streams – hot white dots moving evasively around the screen, being sensed and targeted by image processing algorithms. We see what the machines see.
Drawing a strange aesthetic comparison, ‘One11 and 103’ shows soft circles of light drift and fade across the wall. It’s an amalgamation of two works – the film ‘One11’, produced by John Cage and directed by fellow composer Henning Lohner, alongside the sound piece ‘103’. Although produced in 1992 (the year of Cage’s death) it’s shot in black and white, emphasising the spots and fades of light and darkness rather than drawing attention to the nuances of colour and the quality of film. At 94-minutes long it’s feature-length, but in typical Cage style it’s conceptual, slow and mesmerizing.
Although Sophie Michael’s ‘99 Clerkenwell Road’ (2010) seems on first glance to be simply an abstract layering of coloured orbs floating in 16mm film-space, on closer inspection the outlines of an interior architecture can be seen – the orbs drift behind corners and at points appear to partially light the walls, revealing parts of coving and ceiling. A quiet study, it communicates subtly, not forcing but leading the eye towards the often less-examined components of a room.
Steer’s overall motivation is unclear – the relatively untroubled and simple works by Cage/Lohner and Michael sit uncomfortably with Farocki’s offering, once we realise the way the “camera-eye” might interpret focussed points of light. Maybe image processing technologies are infiltrating the ways in which we see, the act of viewing becoming weaponized and cold. Maybe these technologies are removing the responsibility of analytical seeing from humans, allowing us to open up to pure aesthetic enjoyment. Maybe it’s neither. **
Seventeen Gallery in London will be celebrating online art space bubblebyte.org‘s second anniversary with a group exhibition, aptly titled SECONDO ANNIVERSARIO and showing the works of nine new media artists that have presented there before in its short history. Running from Friday, April 12 to Saturday, May 11, the event will feature Constant Dullaart, Paul Flannery, Cieron Magat, Yuri Pattison, Hannah Perry, Angelo Plessas, Silvain Sailly, Travess Smalley and Jasper Spicero.
Alongside the physical exhibit, bubblebyte.org founders Rhys Coren and Attilia Fattori Franchini will take over the Seventeen website to curate Casa Del Divertimento, featuring the works of several other artists, to launch a new collaboration with Paul Flannery that concentrates on curating within the fabric of other functioning websites. See the Seventeen website for more info**