Constant Dullaart

Return of the Object + The Disorder of Things @ Kvalitar, Sep 10 – Nov 6

10 September 2015

Prague’s Kvalitar gallery is opening two new exhibitions curated by Václav Janoščík this month, with Marisa Olson‘s Return of the Object and the group exhibition The Disorder of Things, both opening September 10 and running until November 6.

The introduction of the two simultaneous exhibitions is Janoščík’s response to the “renewed interest in the object” brought about by the advent of the internet and its various modes of interaction. New York-based German artist Olson opens her solo show, addressing the shift of the virtual from novel or “unreal” to intimate and very real with her notion of post-internet.

The second exhibition, The Disorder of Things, brings together 16 different artists, working independently to create diverse and distinctive perspectives on the being of an object. Among the participating artists are Iain Ball, Constant Dullaart, Martin Kohout, and Nik Timková.

See the joint exhibition page for details. **


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DullTech™ launches Kickstarter campaign

1 September 2015

Berlin-based artist Constant Dullaart has beguna Kickstarter crowd-funding campaign for a speculative “cult tech company” DullTech™, launched August 31.

Also described by the press release as an “intricate art installation, and performance piece” the project promises an “easy, plug and play, USB media player” for presenting art without the problems of compatibility so often encountered by multi-disciplinary artists. The campaign invites pledges to reach its €30,000 goal and will include a pre-order player and signed collectors edition t-shirt in return.

Dullaart’s practice spans a career of challenging the corporate interface with his early and calling the internet “a fucking big shopping mall owned by Facebook” in an interview with aqnb. Most recently he presented a solo exhibition in London last year, Stringendo, Vanishing Mediators, regarding “how computer software and technology has transformed art and culture”.

See DullTech project page for details.**

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Frieze London 2014 reviewed

31 October 2014

“Sounds like a trap. Is it a trap?” says the shifty blue iris of Sophia Al-Maria’s ‘Tsagaglalal (She Who Watches)’ (2014) video. The robotized voice carries through the speakers of a CRT TV set, on rack and rollers, powered by a battery and pulled along by two straight-faced attendants wearing sunglasses. They’re the props for a guided tour of Frieze London 2014, commissioned by the fair, inspired by John Carpenter and starting at the pavilion’s tours and catalogues desk. It’s raining outside, the tent roof is being buffeted by strong winds and everything feels futile. “Will they withstand a real rain?” Al-Maria’s words come less as a question than a warning as she interrogates the “temporary structures” of “weak shelters covered in a carpet chosen to match the drapes” that is the Frieze fair. It’s the premiere four-day event, bringing both the rich and the desperate from around the world to binge on “that great flower of our species’ effort” that some call art but Al-Maria’s omniscient eye calls commodity.

The TV and its two attendants lead their audience through a half-hour assault of the sections marked yellow, green and purple on the map in the Frieze Fair Guide. They’re the ones where each gallery’s share of the space appears to shrink according to their capital importance. Experimenter Kolkata and Project88 are there. The former features Indian art collective CAMP’s collaborative film From Gulf to Gulf’ (2013), while my Nokia won’t wordpredict ‘Mumbai’ when I try to type in the origins of the latter. Around here are the Gs, Hs and Js of the ‘Focus’ of the fair, the smaller spaces with fewer viewers where the more interesting artists are. Morag Keil capitalises the letters spelling “REVENGE” painted in acrylic across cereal boxes on a shelf in the center of an otherwise sparsely furnished Real Fine Arts booth. There are stuffed toys on one side; a conch, a hot dog and a puffed oat on a mixed media mount on the other. A print of an interview with Harry Burke called ‘Can you live in art?’ is chained to a pair of chairs for children in a corner. It was originally conducted for Keil’s exhibition called L.I.B.E.R.T.Y..


“In a way, that’s what locations are today, different markets,” says Michael Connor, moderator of the three-day offsite discussion series centred around its thematic title, Do You Follow? Art in Circulation. The stage is set up in the industrial space of the Old Selfridges Hotel, an extension of the high-end shopping centre. The infrastructure inside is non-existent so there are port-a-potties downstairs and the salon where the complimentary beer and Smartwater flows freely is full of plants framed by the building’s concrete structure. The sense of a space catering to the bottom feeding art marked ‘post-internet’ couldn’t be better realised.

Morag Keil installation view @ Frieze London 2014. Courtesy Real Fine Arts.
Morag Keil installation view @ Frieze London 2014. Courtesy Real Fine Arts.

On Day One Martine Syms, Kari Altmann and token abstract expressionism expert Alex Bacon talk the #same-ness of networked art across aesthetics and algorithms. Takeshi Shiomitsu reads out his dense ‘Notes on Standardization’: and cites a subject position – across race, gender, class, sexuality – as shaping an experience of culture, while “our interactions are rendered within the confines of the user interface or platform”. Hence, the notion of dissidence-so-long-as-you-follow-the-rules, which is exemplified IRL when a puppy enters the building to the joy of the ICA staff but the chagrin of Selfridge’s security who force the dog and the human it’s attached to back outside.

It’s this fruitless performance of disruption that is probably best realised on Day Two during Constant Dullaart’s ‘Rave Lecture’, his ‘BRIC mix’ booming across from a concrete corner as an art audience stands around largely unmoving behind obstructive grey pillars. They’re reading the geopolitical messages that dance in lurid neon streams of colour, the laser beams “projecting chemically enhanced pleasure into your children’s future”. The sonic intensity of thumping electronica featuring languages I don’t understand generates that familiar feeling of fear and fascination that’s also at the core of Al-Maria’s “cosmic horror of reality” back at the Frieze pavilion. Tsagaglalal’s shaming gaze glitches, cuts and scrambles across fleeting interjections of images and bold white text: “EARTH LOST 50% OF WILDLIFE IN 40 YRS”. Her human flunkeys run their UV torchlights along the pavilion walls to reveal the residue of human handprints glowing alien-blue.

How diverse. How pointless. These are thoughts that linger as the tour passes through this battlefield of economic warfare – assaulted by art and artists fighting for attention. There’s the queer crosshatch of space, time and cultural signifiers in a lurid installation of Sol Calero’s “ciber café” at Laura Bartlett. PC computers propped on desks, among Hispanic food brands and gaudy gestural prints, are running on Windows XP and screening films of street parties. Men in dark blue overalls are chanting “at the rodeo I was like, this is the one” for Adam Linder’s performance art-for-hire at Silberkuppe. A line of people connected at the head by pink fabric walk past as part of James Lee Byars’ ‘Ten in a Hat’ (1968) at the exact moment that Tsagaglalal asks, “What are these weird wandering ghosts?” No joke.

“…then we went to the ICA for a little bit, then we went to see Big Ben and the London Eye…” yawns a visiting invigilator at one booth describing a week of costly cultural enrichment before I’m confronted by Nina Beier’s ‘Hot Muscle Mortality Power Pattern’ (2014) at Croy Nielsen. Keychains and dog treats, power sockets and perfume bottles are embedded in packing foam and framed behind UV security glass above a carpet scattered with organic vegetables, ordered online for Beier’s ‘Scheme’ (2014). Villa Design Group’s live auditions for a film adaptation of Jean Royère’s 1974 memoirs, ‘Arab Living and Loving as Seen by a French Interior Decorator’ at Mathew Gallery is filmed and re-mediated above the scene via a line of screens on the scaffolding. Carlos/Ishikawa offers free manicures care of Ed Fornieles over an Oscar Murrilo table flanked by Korakrit Arunanondchai’s body-paintings. ‘Affordable’ limited edition reproductions by Parker Ito, Neïl Beloufa, Ed Atkins are available for purchase at Allied Editions, while Richard Sides’ mixed-media contribution warns ‘Gamble Responsibly’.

Carlos / Ishikawa, G26 Frieze Focus, London 2014. 
Carlos / Ishikawa, G26 Frieze Focus, London 2014.

“There’s even a food court” is another observation of art fair infrastructure by Al-Maria’s Tsagaglalal that runs through my mind while watching a photographer take a picture of the “A to B Coffee” café. The people there are consuming across from the Corvi Mora booth, where Anne Collier’s framed C-print memo ‘Questions (Relevance)’ (2011) queries “What does all this mean?”. An answer comes in the infantilised whisper of Laure Prouvost’s narrator in ‘Paradise On Line’ (2014), played in a pink-carpeted projection room at MOT International and suggesting ‘grandpa’ is “just interested in painting bottoms and not conceptual art”.

“Did I see Beyoncé? Yeah, yeah, yeah…” an attendant groans through her phone, walking past Mike Kelley’s ‘Rewrite’ (1995) enamel on wood panel that reads “our method of exploration: polymorphous perversity” at Andrew Kreps. The thin metallic ‘clack’ of Hito Steyerl cracking a screen in her ‘STRIKE’ (2010) video is playing on loop at its entrance as it occurs to me that Beyoncé’s presence was only felt at Frieze last year through the popular icon as self-image in Jonathan Horowitz’s eponymous mirror. It’s as if now the art and the image is not only reflecting a certain reality but somehow materialising it, in the same way that Amalia Ulman problematises the distinction between the performance and the person in her social media experiment in networked self-objectification, ‘Excellences & Perfections’ (2014). Presented in a slideshow on Day Three of the Art in Circulation series, she reveals that the photos of her fake boobs were fake. The minor plastic surgery and talk with the ‘King of Collagen’ was real but the public breakdown wasn’t. Or was it?

“Bodies are suitcases for a consciousness”, announces Ulman, paraphrasing infamous body-modification pioneer Genesis P-Orridge, “but who is this suitcase by?” In the case of the artist it’s one by the networked patriarchal gaze. Fellow panellist Derica Shields suggests an alternative model of authorship of the body for black women, reanimating themselves as cyborgs in 1990s music videos to create a “sense of control but also invulnerability”. Perhaps, it’s a way of achieving what Hannah Black’s polymorphous narrator can only aspire to while plummeting towards the earth’s core to the warped and slowed tune of Whitney Houston in ‘Fall’ (2014) screened before the panel begins: “At 13,000 feet, I finally discover my own language”.

The search for language appears part of a perpetual capital exchange as pamphlets from Deutsche Bank encourage “#artmagyourself”; urging art viewers to “post a selfie with the artwork you love and win a terrific prize!” whether it’s next to one of Cerith Wyn Evans’ chandeliers or Heman Chong’s red vinyl text of ‘The Forer Effect’ (2008) that cold reads, “Some of your aspirations tend to be pretty unrealistic”. They’re as unrealistically aspirational as Shanzhai Biennial’s ‘Live’ installation at the art fair entrance. There they re-imagine their work as real estate in the Frieze brand-emulating sale of a £32,000,000 “Ultra Prime Residential” property in a room coloured rich-people-red with a contact email on the wall for “qualified buyers” only. Merlin Carpenter’s consciously crude painting of a middle-aged couple grinning in the golden glow of a stock sunset suggests ‘Price on Request’ at dépendance. Cory Arcangel’s Lakes series of flatscreen animations advances from ‘Diddy/Lakes’ (2013) at the team gallery inc. booth in 2013 to the bigger Lisson Gallery. The ripples under ‘Miley Cyrus’ and ‘Dinner’ is powered by modems and hanging above the milieu of rainbow-coloured carpeting and Joyce Pensato’s huge black and familiar Disney head in ‘Mickey for Micky’ (2014).

The fabric of fantasy tears at one point when a cleaner walks past me in the Frieze pavilion’s ‘Main’ section. She’s sweeping the space in front of Fiona Banner’s huge dark image of graphite on paper shouting “THE HORROR! THE HORROR!” in ‘The Greatest Film Never Made (Mistah Kurtz – He Not Dead)’ (2012). It’s an IRL occurrence that has a similar effect as Monira Al-Qadiri’s mediation in her ‘Soap’ (2014) video. Screened at Art in Circulation and featuring popular Gulf soap operas based in worlds of affluence, Al Qadiri reimagines these shows that forever forget the labour behind the wealth by transposing the ‘help’ into existing episodes. A vase is smashed in a fit of passion. The maid bends down and cleans it.

Shazhai Biennial No. 5 installation view @ Frieze London 2014. Courtesy the artists and Project Native Informant.
Shanzhai Biennial No. 5 installation view @ Frieze London 2014. Courtesy the artists and Project Native Informant.

‘But what’s the plan?’ one wonders as Christoper Kulendran Thomas explains his accelerated drive to bringing Sri Lankan artists into a post-fordist economy, whether they like it or not. The artist argues for an integration into the spread of malignant markets on the back of branded sportswear: “I was thinking that what failure for me would look like in this work, is probably what success would look like for a lot of artists”. Though I’m not so convinced there’s that much of a distinction as I try to list every artist and booth who made it into Frieze worth mentioning: Simon Thompson at Cabinet London, Jack Lavender and Amanda Ross-Ho at The Approach, Lisa Holzer and Philip Timischl at Emanuel Layr, Hannah Weinberger’s ‘Frieze Sounds’ work, Société, Loretta Fahrenholz… There’s more but this whole piece has turned into an exercise in Search Engine Optimisation for ‘good art in a bad world’ while really just drowning in its own impotence as part of the fabric of collective failure.

“Is this an art fair or a mall?” barks Al-Maria’s electronic mouthpiece in my mind as I wander by Carsten Höller’s ‘Gartenkinder’ playground at Gagosian and Salon 94’s acid-yellow curation of Snoopy animation and largescale emoticons causing retinal burn at ‘The Smile Museum’. This is definitely Al-Maria’s “maze of particleboard walls built to bare a heavy product”. More succinctly, it’s Hannah Black’s “shiny surface of a world of shit”, as read from a poem performed during the Art in Circulation #3 talk, before speculating that “hopefully we are the last, or among the last generations of a collapsing empire”. Because when Monira Al-Qadiri says the purpose of the “over-the-top, luxurious, crazy, dystopian image” of the GCC art collective is to mirror the reality that “our governments have somehow become corporations”, it’s easy to assume that it also goes the other way. Along with the sense of being trapped in a violent cycle, circulated by the structures that exacerbate pre-existing socio-economic prejudice while hurtling us towards environmental collapse, one can’t help but agree when Tsagaglalal concludes, “this conversation can serve no purpose anymore. Goodbye”. **

Frieze Art Fair runs in London’s Regent’s Park annually in October.

Header image: Sophia Al-Maria, Frieze Live tour @ Frieze London 2014. Photo by Polly Braden. Courtesy the artist and The Third Line.

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You Are Here: Art After the Internet reviewed

7 May 2014

In her ‘Note on Capitalisation’, Stephanie Bailey points to the heart of an issue grappled with throughout You Are Here: Art After the Internet. Concluding the book of essays, provocations and projects, edited by Omar Kholeif and published by Cornerhouse and SPACE, if involves a  discussion of how the editorial team arrived at the decision not to capitalise the word ‘internet’. The question they faced, she points out, was of what kind of space the internet is –sure, in the 90s, as Jennifer Chan observes in the ‘Note’, the dot-com boom had it feeling like a corporate entity divided into commodities: hence the capital ‘I’ (and emphasis on the capital). Since then, our perception of what the internet is –as in where, how and why it exists –has lead to an uncapitalised form being widely preferred. You go on the internet as you would go to the park.

Taking a stroll through this collection of texts that dare to ask the daunting question of how art has changed and is changing, and will change –in the digital age we now inhabit, you come across many renderings of how that public space might look. In the meditation ‘May Amnesia Never Kiss Us On The Mouth’ by Basel Abbas and Ruanne Abou-Rahme it’s an unknowable yet tangible “afterlife of our experiences”, producing spontaneous counter-narratives alongside real word ones, constantly archiving to the second. It’s a space entirely dependent on, and entirely separate from, physical life.

Jon Rafman, 'Still Life Betamale' (2014).
Image courtesy the artist.
Jon Rafman, ‘Still Life Betamale’ (2014).
Image courtesy the artist.

Proponent of Gulf Futurism Sophia Al-Maria sees it more earthily, talking of “terraforming the WWW”, bringing life from a whole new landscape as if giving birth to a second Earth. In her short provocation, she ties up “life” with emotions and relationships. Similarly, in his essay exploring the nature of relationships formed online, Gene McHugh looks at how digital natives perceive no difference between the meaningful context of relationships formed online and IRL. If real emotions can be played out on online platforms, what’s to separate such platforms from ‘life’?

Meanwhile, editor Kholeif brings the book’s central question about art’s new environment home as he explores the potential and actuality of the online realm as a curatorial space. He relays the experience of moving through algorithm-driven “recommendations” in spaces like Amazon and Artsy, and asks whether art that exists on this plane will soon be downloadable to iPads, in a sense crossing a physical boundary.

In his provocation ‘Where to for Public Space?’, Constant Dullaart takes this internet-as-physical-space metaphor for a walk, delineating the unseen and largely uncontemplated differences between ‘public’ and ‘private’ spaces in cities, and drawing attention to the web’s status as a network of privately owned areas masquerading as a wide open public landscape. Touching on the still-murky realms of the deep web and encrypted codes as hidden spaces where art may yet be contained, Dullaart raises uneasy questions about the freedom of movement and information we associate with our digital world. One thing’s certain: “private” ownership means nothing good for your privacy.

When considering this uncertain, tangible-yet-not, interconnected space that determines the shape of life and the creation and distribution (and content) of art, the notion of ‘post-internet’ as a genre becomes practically impossible to grapple with. You Are Here begins to tackle it by observing current trends in art as you might stare at an endlessly rotating 3D gif; there’s not much in the way of answers or definition, but plenty of absorbing examples viewed from a prism of different angles. Take the cross-section of Jon Rafman’s ‘Virtual Worlds’ presented here, excellently chosen shots of his recent ‘I am Alone but Not Lonely’ installation at New York’s Zach Feuer Gallery and stills from his ‘Still Life (Betamale)’ video for Oneohtrix Point Never in particular. What both of these projects bring to visual realisation is the point or the boundary at which digital reality sits alongside the physical, providing something very real and engrossing that acts as a counterpoint to the decay and depression that surrounds it.

Jon Rafman, 'I am Alone but Not Lonely' (2013).
Jon Rafman, ‘I am Alone but Not Lonely’ (2013). Image courtesy the artist.

With visual interjections like these, the form of the book reflects the volatility and dynamism of the subject matter elegantly, always implicitly asking the question of what our post-internet world means to publications and consumption of information, as much as art. Jesse Darling’s ‘Post-Whatever #usermilitia’ kicks off with a Facebook status and a hashtag before even drawing a breath for its first sentence: this strikes up an instant familiarity with a reader whose reading experience is augmented by half-hourly Twitter-scrolling. The voice is that of a digital orator, strong from the offset and wittily contained. Embracing change as inevitable and technology as human, Darling asserts: “It seems unlikely that the contemporary condition should be qualitatively different from other technological and teleological shifts in human history. Current anxiety that the internet may be making us stupid (or lonely, or sexually aberrant, or socially dysfunctional) echo Plato’s worry that the widespread practice of writing would destroy oral literacy and the ability to create new memories.” This is a mindset that feels like a crux of the whole book, tying in neatly with Rafman’s depictions of un-lonely aloneness and McHugh’s assertion that real emotional bonds can be (and are) forged over the internet.

To quote Bailey again, she states in her provocation ‘OurSpace: Take The Net In Your Hands’: “as the internet continues to evolve, it might be worth admitting that its so-called ‘age’ is not yet ‘post-’ because it has only just begun. Its future therefore remains, to some extent at least, in our hands.” And so we find ourselves here, wherever here might be, inside the ‘after’ signified by ‘post-internet’. If you need a hand navigating, You Are Here maps the movement as diligently as you could expect to map a movement still in motion. **

You Are Here: Art After the Internet, edited by Omar Kholeif, was published by Cornerhouse and SPACE in April, 2014.

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Constant Dullaart @ XPO Gallery, Apr 25

8 April 2014

On April 25, Paris’s XPO Gallery will open its doors for the new Constant Dullaart solo exhibition titled ‘BRAVE NEW PANDERERS’.

Like that of most post-internet artists, both the focus of Dullaart’s work and the medium through which it is expressed are intimately tied to the internet and the digital world in which we increasingly live our lives. The ubiquity with which the internet has permeated our culture has sweeping consequences, but ones often left unexplored and obscure. Dullaart’s exhibition zeros in the unanswered questions, begging questions like who is responsible for the production of machinery that is beginning to govern our lives, and what the human costs of this movement towards a digital existence will be.

To read more from aqnb about Constant Dullaart, check out our feature-length interview with the artist, or get caught up on his latest exhibitions at Import Projects, Future Gallery, The White Building, and Moving Image London.

For specific event details, including location, head over to the aqnb event listing. **

Header image: Artwork by Constant Dullaart. Image courtesy XPO Gallery. 

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Surplus Living @ Alte Münze reviewed

18 March 2014

The concrete underground rooms of Berlin’s Alte Münze, accessed through heavy bank vault doors, provide an aesthetically crude backdrop for raw reflections on money and emerging forms of social engagement, both online and off.

With the building and venue name literally translating to “old mint”, it’s a fitting location for an exhibition set to interrogate the insidious relationship between capital and art, the increasingly widespread “capitalisation of the social sphere”, and dispersed and precarious monetary relations giving rise to the so-called ‘creative class’. The conceptually dense Surplus Living exhibition, curated by Elisa R. Linn and Lennart Wolff of km temporaer and London-based poet and writer Harry Burke, features the work of 19 artists and contributions, in a group show tackling the theme from assorted angles, ranging from the acutely literal to abstractly analytical.

Surplus Living exhibition view. Photo by Trevor Good. Image courtesy km temporaer.
Surplus Living exhibition view. Photo by Trevor Good. Image courtesy km temporaer.

Britta Thie’s images of a group of young, pale white models (herself included), lounging nonchalantly, replicate the visual language of advertisements in a starkly banal counter-gesture to some of the more abstract pieces in the show. Hung in the middle of one of the rooms, the women in the photos watch from all angles as visitors circle the outer perimeter, quieting critique with a simple gaze from the commercial ‘other side.’

The collaged, densely packed ink-on-paper scrawls by Ayreen Anastas and Rene Gabri, on the other hand, provided concrete, theoretical reflections on the role of the artist within a capitalist art market. The tiny print of ‘The Meaning of Everything’ (2008) offers innumerable insights, notes and observations about the politics inherent in the production and consumption of art, saturated with references to political theorists like Marx and Lenin and delineated like a cognitive flowchart marked by arrows and equal signs.

The Russian collective of artists, critics, philosophers and writers, Chto Delat?, screened the 37-minute long film ‘Tower’ (2010) from their Songspiel triptych. Mostly set around a boardroom table, with a comically large rotary telephone in the centre, the story is based on real documents of Russian social and political life, as well as an analysis of the conflict that has developed around the planned Okhta Center architectural development in St. Petersburg. The narrative is interspersed with varying political reflections by a chorus of Russian citizens: xenophobic workers concerned with a takeover of migrant labour, bourgeois businesspeople supporting development in the name of a “New Russia,” and revolutionaries calling for a “communist skyscraper!”

‘The Meaning of Everything’ (2008) install view. © Ayreen Anastas : Rene Gabri, Tanya Leighton Gallery, Berlin. Photo by Trevor Good. Image courtesy km temporaer.

The exhibition is broadly divided between these poles. Here, it presents either a tongue-in-cheek reproduction of commercial imagery, construed in an ironic repositioning putting our everyday experience of advertising into stark relief as in Thie’s piece –but also Yngve Holen’s sculptural work ‘Sensitive 2 Detergent’ (2012) and Josephine Meckseper’s video ‘Mall of America’ (2009) –or more academic and researched musings on particular political events and theories.

Constant Dullaart’s ‘Rave Lecture’ performance at the opening managed to playfully merge these positions. Around 10pm the lights in the foyer were turned off and the room was suddenly infused with the loud penetrating beats of Dullaart’s BRIC Mix –a selection of euro house club mixes from the so-called ‘emerging’ economies of Brazil, Russia, India and China. Dullaart’s manifesto ‘Balconism: Balconisation not Balkanisation’ was projected on the wall, set to the pace of the BRIC mix. In a strange juxtaposition, the quickly moving words offered a considered and articulate critique of online proprietary systems and the myth of the Internet –as well as select examples from the outside world, like Zuccotti Park as a locus of privately-owned ‘public space.’

Dullaart’s critique, set in the framework of a highly commercialized, fast-paced Euro disco, reflected the wider aim of the show. To varying degrees, all the contributions to Surplus Living aimed to question the way in which even forms of enjoyment and social interaction (like the rave or the exhibition itself) are sadly permeated with economic and commercial concerns. **

The Surplus Living group exhibition is running at Berlin’s Alte Münze until March 23, with a talk event, Anton Vidokle; Hedi Slimane, on March 18, 2014.

Header image: Surplus Living (2014) install view. ‘le‘ chavmoH’, Annika Kuhlmann, Britta Thie, Julia Zange (@Special Service), 2014. Photo by Trevor Good. Courtesy km temporaer.

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Constant Dullaart lecture @ White Building, Dec 20

16 December 2013

A talk and performance from Berlin and Amsterdam-based artist Constant DullaartRave Lecture: Performing in the Network, is happening at London’s The White Building, December 20.

As one for playfully examining transparency and visibility both on and offline, Dullaart will be exploring “networked non-spaces where performance can appear” through a laser projection, “bespoke performing WiFi network” and “curated” DJ set of euro dance-inspired tunes collected from his travels in the economically ’emerging’ BRIC (Brazil, Russia, India and China) countries.

See the White Building website for details. **

Header image: Aram Bartholl for Offline Art @ XPO Gallery

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FIAC Paris reviewed

6 November 2013

Testing the upper limits of the most initiated audience in terms of appetite, this year’s marathon FIAC (International Contemporary Art Fair) draws its public’s mercilessly selective attention to what creates turmoil in the small world of art. Collectors and amateurs could discover as much as 184 exhibitors representing 25 countries at the Grand Palais, but also associated outdoor projects in the Tuileries Garden, the Jardin des Plantes and along the Seine River. Going from strength to strength since Jennifer Flay took the reigns as Director of the fair, focus now lies on promoting the FIAC to an international audience.

That said, it’s also important to remember that the FIAC doesn’t aim to satisfy a penchant for innovation at all costs. It primarily embodies the standard course of glamour, monumental works and blockbuster artists, as well the highest, heaviest and more expansive art, while also being a wanderlust for a dose of spectacular, odd sights and irreverent pranks. There has been significant revision of the contemporary art dogma, though. Indeed, the commercial side and speculative flavour of the fair has given way to friendly gallery owners, increasingly willing to curate their own stands. One of the main reasons is the desertion of the bigger galleries, now relocated to regions with high volumes of trade. The Peter Freeman’s booth was the most striking example of a bold curatorial choice, arranging the floor in the baseball bats by David Adamo with a Giacometti sculpture at the centre of the installation and photos by James Welling on the walls. In the emerging section, the solo booth project by Société Réaliste, named CLASSi-FICaTION and curated by the promising Jérôme Poggi, looked like an exhibition room with a proper hanging. The Parisian cooperative founded by Ferenc Gróf and Jean-Baptiste Naudy in June 2004 is booming and demonstrates that contemporary artists are not uncultivated, with a penchant for artworks historically referenced and mischievously formed. A well-executed job to the benefit of a universal language ensuring a delight of the eye and spirit.

In the wake of that, at the Young International Artists Art Fair (YIA), the attractive and iconoclastic collective Nøne Futbol Club, lying uncomfortably between joy and denunciation through its emphatic proposal. In ‘Work n°888’, the slogan “GET RICH” is written in sparrow droppings, relieved from letter-shaped perches, the second-degree humour a gateway to a socially and politically engaged subject.

At the Bastille design center (YIA), Lyes Hammadouche was an interesting find which almost went unnoticed, among otherwise unexciting projects. A finalist in last year’s Tous pour l´art – Alles für die Kunst (All in Favour of Art) –a documentary television series aired on Franco-German TV channel, ARTE –and protégé to jury-member Caroline Smulders, Hammadouche’s main source of inspiration is time, smartly dissected, monitored, and challenged. Superb in its simplicity, ‘1/60’’ shows a second hand breaking down into as many pieces as seconds elapsed.

When entertainment itself doesn’t bring an artist to the fore, it may drive them in their practice, as with Korakrit Arunanondchai, starting his European career with Brooklyn’s C L E A R I N G gallery. Inspired by his favourite Thai performance artist Duangjai Jansaunoi, mostly known as the Thailand’s Got Talent ‘boob painter’, Arunanondchai decided to experience painting using his body for a whole year. From there, emerge paintings created using digitally-printed flames, superimposition and texture-mapping with bleached pieces of denim resembling earth from outer space. Obviously, we’re in the presence of a new form of digital expressionism.

But the focus on performance also turns to the Internet. The Berlin-based net artist Constant Dullaart, at the XPO Gallery stand of Loft Sévigné (YIA) is a case in point. Here, his famous webpage Revolving Internet features the Google search page spinning to the tune of Dusty Springfield’s ‘The Windmills of Your Mind’, as she sings, “the world is like an apple, whirling silently in space”, alluding to those backroom dealings that fool no one, while lulling them to sleep. For the prank, Google blocked the i-frame and removed all the comments from Dullaart’s millions of hits in 2011, citing security reasons before developing their own rotating page –just type “do a barrel roll” in the search field and see.

Korakrit Arunanondchai, ‘Untitled (Body Painting 2)’ (2013). Image courtesy of the artist and C L E A R I N G.

Photography was notably absent from FIAC overall, the best pieces no doubt reserved for Paris Photo Art Fair, coming in two weeks. Nonetheless, outside of the overrun grounds, there was the work of the Belgium’s Geert Goiris at Private Choice in a historic Parisian house. Describing his work as “traumatic realism”, the artist captures authentic places cleared of any recognisable geographical, social or physical features to generate purely mental images.

Though there’s little truth to the presumption that one learns through comparison, you could argue that the FIAC is an object in itself, to be admired  in the same way as a masterpiece like Da Vinci’s ‘Mona Lisa’. The single most important factor to make such a comparison is the undeniable mimetic desire at work. It is not about desiring the thing itself but being like everyone who saw the thing. The fact that so many visitors emerge for celebration creates a feeling that it’s worthwhile. And there is no reason to expect that this would change. Buried in the Porte de Versailles Métro station only ten years ago, since then the FIAC has flourished into a fully-mastered curatorial service with a clear and distinct identity, while its exceptional setting in the Palais and its fitting natural light exert beneficial immunology effects. The on- and off-site events are like the yin and yang of what has been labelled ‘Paris Art Week’. Inextricably tangled up with one another, the ‘on’ only enhances the visibility of the ‘off’, while the latter relieves the congestion from the ‘on’, often deemed too generalist. By shifting focus across different areas of the market –digital art at Show Off, folk art at Outsider Art Fair or the under-the-radar scene at YIA –it is thus beyond dispute that there is a pacific ‘balkanization’ of the fairs. Some art stakeholders regret it, others hope it will give them a chance to participate in that great mass of contemporary art. **

FIAC (International Contemporary Art Fair) is an annual event running at October at Grand Palais.

Header image: Nøne Futbol Club, ‘Work n°888, Get rich’ (2013). Courtesy of the Republic Gallery.

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‘Moving Image London’ running Oct 17 – 20

15 October 2013

Returning to the Southbank’s Bargehouse during  Frieze London, running October 17 to 20, contemporary art fair Moving Image London will be showcasing work by artists and film makers including Heta Kuchka, Karim Al Husseini, Constant Dullaart and Milica Tomić.

Conceived as a forum for engaging in “a unique viewing experience with the excitement and vitality of a fair, while allowing moving image-based artworks to be understood and appreciated on their own terms”. The event will feature a selection of single-channel videos, single-channel projections, video sculptures, and other larger video installations from across the globe.

See the Moving Image London website for more details. **

Karim Al Husseini, 'Dew Not' (2012).
Karim Al Husseini, ‘Dew Not’ (2012).
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Constant Dullaart @ Future Gallery reviewed

26 September 2013

Inhabiting the online and offline realms at Berlin’s Future Gallery, Jennifer in Paradise by Dutch artist Constant Dullaart is a reference to the first ever PhotoShop-ped image. A woman lying on a white beach, she has her back to the camera, black hair waving in the wind, the sky, aqua blue. The photo is of one of the ubiquitous software creator John Knoll’s girlfriend, taken and edited by him and his co-creators and points to the alteration and ultimate deformation of its subject across ‘realities’.

The online component of the exhibition, website, sees Dullaart modifying an online interface, its start page a familiar Google search engine. All the usual options are there and it works in the same way that Google does, except that the perspective has been changed. An embed of the original page is obscured by images of Dullart’s work; a brush tool erasing random areas, paint swirls obscuring the screen. Information and context is lost.

In the gallery, a large window at its entrance is complete with a YouTube play button. It’s a throwback to some of his earlier YouTube as a Subject series, inspired by the unmerited triumph of the poorly designed video hosting site over all others, its banality entering the material domain in his 2011 performance of its familiar loading circle at the Netherlands’ GOGBOT festival. Sat on the floor, eight white circles surround Dullaart, which he moves repetitively, generating a ring in endless rotation performed and then projected on a wall in the same space.

That motif continues inside, where a wall is dotted with the same ubiquitous loading sequence. Elsewhere, printed float glass work, a light-green, shimmering and transparent material, is printed with various screenshots from Floor-standing and hanging from the walls of Future Gallery, they resemble the countless screens that surround us in our daily lives. Looking out from windows at home and in to them through screens on our devices, we use both for collecting information. That information is filtered in one way or another, as thick glass screen shots display images and text the same way a webpage does. What content we see depends on where we stand, what search engine we’re looking at and how that perspective is monitored and obscured by personal algorithms, marketing strategies and governmental regulation, among other interests.

Here, like in in earlier work, Dullaart is editing online forms of representation, materializing the immaterial, making visible the normally invisible. He does this in a clear, minimalistic, and easily approachable way. Placing himself on a high level among artists working with a post-internet focus,  Jennifer in Paradise interrogates notions of reality, its visibility and its ultimate (mis)representation. **

Constant Dullaart’s Jennifer in Paradise is on at Future Gallery, September 12- October 5, 2013.

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