The Kind of Flossy group exhibition is on at London’s Assembly Point, opening November 3 and running to December 10.
Curated by C.R.E.A.M., the show features work by London-based artists Evan Ifekoya, Adam Saad, and Zadie Xa,and looks at the use of visibility as a mode of resistance. Exploring the space of both spectacle as well as refusal, the exhibition “seeks to meditate upon questions of lived politics in the context of exploitation, appropriation and erasure within visual culture.”
C.R.E.A.M. is a curatorial initiative organised by Taylor Le Melle and Imran Perrettabringing artists, writers and community organizers together to problematize tokenism and explore possibilities beyond the institution.
Majed Aslam and Imran Perretta are presenting their two person exhibition it wasn’t a crash, in the usual sense at London’s Arcadia Missa, opening on September 2 and running to September 24.
The event is curated by C.R.E.A.M., and is the first of a new initiative by Taylor Le Melle and Perretta, which will include a text by Le Melle, as well as an afterparty to launch the new curatorial project with DJs @cruise_control, ORETHA and Perretta himself.
The evening, taking place at an offsite location, is a new commission by Chisenhale Gallery, where the two London based artists have devised a theatrical script and musical score, in collaboration with local LGBTQ community members. The performance reflects on the phenomenon of ‘pinkwashing’, explained in the press release as the way LGBTQ rights are “used to market a so-called liberal attitude of tolerance, serving to further marginalise local minority groups within current anti-immigrant and Islamophobic discourses.”
van der Maaden, who works between London and Amsterdam, recently had a solo exhibition, the unutterable thing(2016) at Rowing. Perretta, who also works in London, recently exhibited at 5 percent CPH Art Week, Christianshavn Station, Copenhagen (2015). Both artists have previously shown together in Devotions at London’s MOT International (2015).
With the accelerated pace of commodification and consumption of marginal identities (and spaces) globally, comes the question of, and tension between complicity and resistance in political art and social critique. Discourse is developing beyond ideas of visibility and representation to notions of assimilation into existing cultural paradigms, which is why AQNB was in Los Angeles to present the ‘Accessing Economies: Engagement & Withdrawal’ screening and reading at Club Pro LAon July 17 to interrogate the politics of identity within commercial or institutional spheres.
It’s part of an ongoing series of screening, reading, performance and discussion events lead by editor Jean Kay and organised in collaboration with video production partners Video in Common, and follows similar events already held in London and Berlin –two key cultural centres in the art editorial platform’s network. Titled ‘The Future Is Here, It’s Just Not Evenly Distributed’ and ‘At the Backend’, together these earlier programmes interrogated the systems and infrastructures embedded in networked communication, and how this affects distribution, flows of information and power, as well as language, community-building and identity formation.
Meanwhile, ‘Accessing Economies’ carries on that conversation into the consequences of structural affiliations as both inspiring and influencing critical art practice, and creating new markets. Maria Gorodeckaya, for example, inverts the gaze through the lens of female sexual desire in ‘do it for me’, while Vika Kirchenbauer‘s queer subjects confront the high art voyeur with ‘YOU ARE BORING!’: “I mean, who wouldn’t want to fuck a work of conceptual art?”
Evan Ifekoya talks marginality as a lived position for AQNB/ViC editorial video commission ‘Genuine. Original. Authentic.’ and Sarah Boulton‘s poetry, read by Ulijona Odišarija, passively lingers in the margins, outside of valuation, by dealing with what the artist describes as “what you don’t need to say, and not saying it”. Imran Perretta‘s ‘Untitled (work in progress)’ explores the privilege of apprehension and self-analysis for a work in progress video, while Ann Hirsch and Cristine Brachepresent two videos that concisely and consciously apply for access to systems of power and control, only to complicate and disrupt them when awarded it.
Below is the full programme of video, audio and stills of the works presented in their running order:
Maria Gorodeckaya: ‘do it for me’ (2016) [5:11]
Moscow-born, London-based artist Maria Gorodeckaya explores the nature of women’s objectification,
reclaiming the gaze through the lens of the camera and re-directing it onto the male body. Inverting sexual power dynamics, Gorodeckaya’s work expands into poetry, sculpture and installation, building on her interests in desire and its suppression by religious, economic and institutional means.
London-based artist Evan Ifekoya discusses their ongoing music video series, questioning the notion of cultural or personal authenticity and what it means to be entertaining. Also working with collage, knitting and drawing, Ifekoya talks about deconstructing pervasive gender binaries, expressing the banality and importance of physical ‘making’.
Vika Kirchenbauer: ‘YOU ARE BORING!’ (2015) [13:44], ‘COOL FOR YOU – GIVEN YOUR CONVENIENT ABSENCE’ (2016) [2:25]
Berlin-based artist Vika Kirchenbauer looks at the transference of (certain) bodies and politics from subcultural to high art spaces and the new dynamics that emerge. In complicating ideas of performance and shifting the spectator’s perspective back on themselves, Kirchenbauer questions how power and self-understanding is renegotiated within an institutional framework.
Sarah Boulton: Poetry read by Ulijona Odišarija [2:59 min]
London-based artist and poet Sarah Boulton presents moments of inclusivity, engaging and implicating its audience directly or with distance, or both. Friend and fellow artist Ulijona Odišarija reads as a single clear voice without embellishment, expressing a certain creative ambience around perceptions and consciousness in relation to objects that refuse signification and thus capital value.
Imran Perretta: ‘Untitled (work in progress)’ (2016) [5:00 min]
London-based artist Imran Perretta explores the liminal space between socially and culturally constructed spaces, as well as the role of the body within that. Inscribed as they are with external assumptions, prejudices and, above all, concerns, Perretta’s film is an interrogation of white-washed narratives of privilege and their ideologies of self-actualisation, described in an aqnb review of his performance work as, “the over analyzed body in stark contrast to the under analyzed body”.
Ann Hirsch: ‘Here For You (Or my Brief Love Affair with Frank Maresca)’ (2011) [14:06]
LA-based artist Ann Hirsch interrogates (networked) media and its false assumptions of personal freedom. Placing herself in the externally constructed environment of a reality TV programme and its culture of constant surveillance, Hirsch surrenders to the mechanism of production, where she and 14 other contestants vie for the affections of ‘Frank the Bachelor’ on camera with no control on how they’re viewed, edited or represented.
Cristine Brache:, ‘Sequence 02 1’ (2016) [15:56 min], ‘finally people are reading about me’ [00:14 min] (2016)
Toronto-based artist and poet Cristine Brache shows marginal women’s bodies and their reproduction as objects in circulation. In complicating and questioning economic, political and sexual power relations as both oppressed and empowered, Brache’s at times fetishistic work expresses a tension between aspiring for access and visibility, and the means by which one achieves it.
“Here there remains nothing to achieve, witness it, as it floats by like clouds in the sky.” This is one of the many articulations that permeate London’s Chisenhale Dance on March 5, 2016. Through a meditation on subject position and how a body of thought gets defined and grounded in truth, Taylor Le Melle‘s curatorial project, Citizen brings together a pile up of voices thrown together by installation, film, and live performance. Each presence in the space contributes to the overarching rhythm of the event; leaning on one another, the order of appearance feels like a gradual build up saturated by the varying densities of individual lived experience.
Depending on your position, the haphazard layout of performer, audience and screen personalize our encounter with the evening. Facing towards each other from opposite sides of the room, the audience is split in half and our bodies take part as props in the event. Two screens on either side of the seating are placed awkwardly in the periphery of our vision and manipulate how much we can see. With a strong focus on structure, physical and intangible systems manifest through architectural motifs. ‘An Ornamental Way of Moving’ (2016) by Leonor Serrano Rivas and choreographed by Nefeli Skarmea, is a durational piece that appears and reappears over the course of the night. Situated between theatricality, performance art and architecture, five bodies are abstracted by large shapes of paper, moving in tandem with one another. In the corner of the room, James Clarke‘s ‘Coastal Forest’ (2015-16) also remains constant, projecting a glowing HD video of an abstracted landscape on a dynamic screen folding into a bisected tetrahedron.
Exploring painting through technological process, the first performance titled ‘Bread Trilogy’ (2016) by Benito Mayor Vallejo combines light boxes, film and French narration over a gritty soundtrack filled with high-pitched squeaks and audio malfunctions. Through a shared rhythm, the conversation between disparate elements reaches an equilibrium. In a similar attempt with a less elegant outcome, Stephanie Mann‘s video, ‘Still Life on Face’’ (2012 & 2016) is a futile experiment in stacking various objects onto a face. Placed one at a time, the inability to reach a balance ends in an clunky display of gravity as the various bits of plant and household detritus inevitably fall off each other and onto the floor.
An underlying current to the show strings together humour and anxiety through varying degrees of weight. Zooming into the microcosm of daily life, Calvin Laing begins his stand up routine within a single spotlight in the top corner of the bleachers. Setting a timer, he promises the routine will not exceed seven minutes and commences by saying “My name is Calvin and I’m really tired.” Walking towards the stage, and clumsily falling over people’s feet, the minutiae of his daily routine to, from and during work is drawn out into an existential monologue that remains unresolved. The inability to pinpoint the exact source of discomfort results in a desperate display of exhaustion; the type of exhaustion that comes from exerting little to no energy comparable to the endless scroll of unproductive behaviour within the landscape of a screen.
There is a certain luxury that cannot be separated from the question “what am I doing with my life?” The luxury to feel restless in the fact that you haven’t reached your full potential and the privilege of having this potential in the first place. The quest for self-actualisation places the over analyzed body in stark contrast to the under analyzed body in Imran Perretta‘s ‘OM’ (2016), placing exhaustion between the space of giving up and fighting. The film is played alongside a MIDI and keyboard controlled sound performance. Computer generated imagery of clouds, a black smoke trail, a naked man and the body of a drone are placed over top of real footage across the landscape of Bangladesh and interspersed with close up shots of the artist in his hotel room. A mix of tapping, industrial and clunky sound effects interrupt the voice of a North American woman who instructs us to “drop into the deepest state of tranquility and completely let go.” The sound of Om, a chanting meditation technique in yoga, morphs into the sound of an airplane during take off. The desire to attain lightness through the mind is made heavy by the context of Perretta’s tapping hands, knees and feet. The animated drone flies in and out of the different contexts, carrying a weight of symbolism associated with contemporary warfare. The dehumanising reality of the zoomed out, hands off technology also embodies a strong metaphor for the colonial impulse to view other as a macrocosm of singularity.
Rivas’s dancers move into centre stage as the film ends. They begin with a whisper and gradually start shouting. Their voices are speaking different words but their tone is in tandem. Like a stop button, a clap abruptly ends the incoherent noise and Sondra Perry‘s ‘My Twilight Zone Thing’ (2015-ongoing) video begins to play. Appropriated footage from episodes of The Twilight Zone occupy one screen and on the other is reenactments of this narrative in art studio, Recess, in New York. Impossible to watch both videos at the same time, Perry’s DIY remakes of characters who have entered over into the non representable, are narrated by a man from an early 60s sci-fi soundtrack. Naufus Ramirez-Figueroa‘s ‘Arquitectura Incremental’ (2015) also uses a nonsensical form of dry humour to straddle an uncomfortable and muted space. The performance video records a naked body housed under a five tier set of white architectural boxes stacked high on top of the torso. Dancing around through a circus act of balance, studio assistants are on hand if any fall off and need to be replaced. Three men in suits play a xylophone alongside, each body becoming a prop in depicting an immaterial narrative.
The evening comes to a close with a FaceTime call to Eoghan Ryan. Titled ‘My Space’, the ten minute-long performance begins with a quote read in the context of a fictional email to the artist from “the late Rainer Maria Rilke, who was and still is the most lyrically intense german language poets”. After he finishes, Ryan asks us to close our eyes as he slips into the nude and grabs a glass of wine. He then guides us through poetic memories of sentimental objects over a soundtrack of club mix; “I fell in love with this wallpaper so I literally wrapped the room in it… a painting my parents gave me when I was 21… silverfish, silverfish, I bought my little fish from Mexico when I was 17, it is actually a bottle opener…” Playing on the opposite screen, a dry slideshow accompanies his tender recollections. Images that look like they have been plucked from a Google image search appear one after the next, sometimes overlapping. It is unclear as to whether or not he is making up these stories to go along with a separate form of research but the sincerity of the moment feels stronger than the question. Resisting any agreed upon ‘truth,’ the overarching performance of the event also questions this unstable desire to define and explain what is ‘real’ through a singular perspective. The divergence of voices highlight personal and empirical truths as relative, placing our multiple and shifting contexts at the forefront of the question: who gets to have the final say? **
How do we understand Malevich’s ‘Black Square’ today? How do we focus on its empty void that in the 1915 exhibition, 0.10 in Petrograd, reduced art to a promise of zero: where art had no icon, no image, no imagined state in its gaze and where, hopefully, art could start again and zero could be moved on from.
How does the ‘Black Square’ haunt art now? The artists in the exhibition The Absent Image, curated by Elene Abashidze in Tbilisi’s Gallery Nectar reflect upon this exactly 100 years since 0.10.
Imran Perretta’s work ‘FSWAD’ (2015) is two sheets of foil blankets on whose surface skin whitening cream mixed with white emulsion paint leaves two silver parts distanced from each other. The silver feels torn apart, and more visible now, perhaps despite being so. They sit above a plastic mosque that is placed on top of a plastic bag with an alarm clock nearby. It looks like it’s on top of a cloud, difficult to place.
Tbilisi born and New York-based Anna K.E.’s video from 2011 is projected on the wall. ‘Enough Sugar’ shows the artist pulling herself across a studio floor on a rectangle shape made of white tiles. She sits on the tiles as though there’s something terrible on the ground that she can’t touch and moves things out of the way with sticks as she makes her way painfully and slowly across. The camera is always behind her, filming her back, which is working hard. Somehow it is difficult to call the rectangle of white tiles ‘a boat’ and it is too simple to say she is ‘rowing’.
Gio Sumbadze, who was recently interviewed by Tbilisi-based Abashidze about the deep connection between Western-centric ideas of acceleration, and more historical understandings of utopia shows ‘Map of Nowhere’ (2015). It is a series of pencil drawings, torn from a sketch book and nailed to the wall, all in a row. The maps are not directive. They are flat, like photographs of roses taken from above, caught just as they are -imaged and not signifying. They do not lead anywhere and somehow there is a correlation between looking at them and looking at ‘Enough Sugar’, which holds a view also from slightly above and behind.
Presented in a wooden vitrine as an archive is Nikita Kadan’s work ‘Yesterday, Today, Today’ (2012). Small and portrait marble and granite blocks are lined up together, some with fronts coated in coloured tape while Sophie Jung’s piece is two paired-back and silently installed iPod minis. The title of Jung’s piece is ‘COS of the Grand Change, and dada: art is to be explored: it is not to discover just one way to paint, a painter must always try neeeew ways to paint’ (2015). Perhaps it’s a small request to focus-in on the present tense. Jung’s pitch of “Art is to be explored” against “it is not to discover just one way to paint” might pose a disconnection in the one-way flow or current route that art often takes to define an imagined and imaged future. **
Just Frustration, an exhibition presented at Copenhagen’s Sixty Eight between August 7 and August 31 explored frustration both as a feeling and an entanglement. According to the press release, it’s an enmeshment where “futures seem to be permanently seen from the perspective of a past of outwardly and inwardly expressed fear”, where Conservative “common sense” and where the “present is permanent(ly)” made up of the continuation of colonial and imperial historical values. Curated by Tom Clark and Iben Elmstrøm, the group show included work by Ester Fleckner, Rachel Maclean, Imran Perretta, Lousie Haugaard, Amel Ibrahimovic, Hanne Lippard and Chloe Seibert, asks how an artwork can be directed towards this entanglement, this frustration, and find nuances, reliefs, magnifications and common denominators, be it via language, material and/or object.
Ester Fleckner‘s ‘I Navigate in Collisions’(2015) are two woodcut prints on paper that are nervous images all bearing their forms (or trying to) out of straight lines, like family trees, as Fleckner’s collisionswebpage describes. London-based Perretta has created a surface that holds white washed marks up to bare scrutiny and that drapes, quite transparently and brightly, like a thing in the way in the space. It’s just behind Seibert’s video of landscapes, high sky scrapers, mountains, which sits in the window, looking out and titled: ‘I Am At A Loss For Words’ (2013). A small text also by Perretta is powerful and straight forward: “She knows about villages, the Modern and the savage, but I can’t listen anymore, because slowly she is taking my history away from me”.
Danish artist, Louise Haugaard Jørgensen‘s installation, ‘Rendezvous. Ascend to the second floor, melt down to the third floor. Bon appétit’ (2015)includes a white plaster 3D print, which resembles an ancient vessel, perched on a metal structure that could be a drawn symbol of a house. With it she has cut up a lecture by anthropologist, Claude Lévi-Strauss and added it to a tape by Danish Musician, Dario Campeotto. Campeotto’s song is about being in love and never leaving: “you could walk in and out the fire… but you would always be mine” and Levi-Strauss’ lecture is descriptions of methods of how to: cannibalism (boiling, melting etc.) The pairing evokes conversations about consumption but also devotion and enmeshment. “Old Hegemonies”, as the press release discusses, are brought into the foreground and distorted. How can art help itself, us and things around us in the present to remain un-distanced? **
What would going back to things themselves mean, really? Assembly Point’s inaugural exhibition—titled just that: Back to the Things Themselves—probes at the phenomenology of objects and opens at the new London artist-run space this week on June 18. Founders James Edgar and Sam Walker (who work under the Edgar-Walker moniker) have curated the Peckham gallery and studio space’s inaugural exhibition, inviting six other artists and artist duos, including Nicholas Brooks and May Hands, to present their manifestations of ‘things’. Taking its title from the early 20th century work of philosopher Edmund Husserl, the phrase invites the notion of ‘structures of experience’ and questions the links between how things appear and how they are in turn perceived.
For Edgar and Walker, ‘things’ can mean a lot of things—objects, images, materials, structures, processes. They ask the participating artists to examine the very tenets of materiality through the lens of phenomenological inquiry, and to consider “everyday encounters with the material world”, exploring the ways in whey contribute to our collective sense of identity, value, and place. Amongst the seven artists and artist duos is London-based artist Nicholas Brooks, whose work with film and sculpture exposes the fleeting nature of many of the things used to define the world: fleeting encounters, fleeting objects, fleeting narratives. Through his characteristic fragmented archeological scenes, Brooks creates a kind of disintegrated reality, drawing attention to each object’s place, and the cultural space they occupy.
Joining Brooks is May Hands, whose paintings and sculptures poke at the materiality behind commodity, repurposing disposable couture brand packaging and pound-shop commodities as materials for her sculptural pieces. A Chanel ribbon becomes the string of a bucket in 2015’s ‘Bucket III (Please Come Again)’ and the luxury product’s packaging paper becomes 2014’s ‘Song River Chanel (Pink and Blue)’. Julia Crabtree & William Evans, the only duo aside from Edgar–Walker, select to explore the phenomenology of objects by examining the gap between virtual and real spaces, “playfully manipulating interfaces, objects and imagery into placeless, immersive scenarios”.
Another artist, Nicolas Feldmeyer, uses everything from drawings and installation to photography and film to intervene in the fields of landscape, geometry, and architecture, while Imran Perretta, like May Hands, uses socio-culturally inscribed objects like whitening creams and prayer mats as raw materials, and Henna Vainio presents sculptures and reliefs that use the “casts of everyday objects in their interpretations of architectural spaces and poetic rhythms”. The last addition to the lineup is Edgar-Walker itself, using a palette of found objects and building materials to examine the visual language at play in commonly ignored landscapes, like construction sites. The exhibition will also bring a publication in conjunction with the show that includes various contributions from the exhibiting artists as well as a previously unpublished essay by contemporary philosopher Graham Harman.
Back to the Things Themselves will run at Assembly Point from June 18 to July 27, 2015.