‘Penthouse 4C’ @ Barbican

13 August 2013

Artists Lawrence Lek launched his half-sized installation ‘Penthouse 4C‘ of the most exclusive room in the Barbican on Friday for Hack the Barbican. It will host Public Assembly, a nomadic art collective founded by Lek, for the duration of festival, running August 5 to 31.

During that time the pop-up venue-within-a-venue will be hosting “a month-long series of interactive events, classes, installations, screenings, musical performances, hangouts, parties…” and the list goes on.

See the Penthouse 4C website for more details, including a timetable. **

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Ten minutes with (c) merry

1 August 2013

“Everything is extremely linear on Facebook,” says Maria Meixnerová, under her “krvavamera” name on Skype, roughly an hour before her first post on Chloë Flores Facebook Page. A cheesy YouTube video introduction comes in the form of “esomary”, leaning on one knee, explaining her project within a magnificent backdrop, breathing heavily while a wasp crawls over the camera lens. On her website she describes herself as a “CRAZY FREAK WITH NO SENSE OF DIGNITY, LIVING IN MY OWN UNIVERSE” and, while I don’t know about the “crazy freak” part, there is something rather odd, though interesting about her approach to world-building and multiplicity in her practice.

Based in the Czech Republic but living on Facebook, Meixnerová is a net artist starting a month long residency on a profile page. As part of a three year project of Los Angeles curator, Chloë Flores, Meixnerová – otherwise known as “(c) Merry”, “Mary Meixner” or “esomary” (depending on the online platform) –will be exploring Facebook as a medium for temporal metrical sculpture, inspired by experimental film makers like Peter Kubelka and Kurt Kren in Austria, Paul Sharits and Michael Snow in North America. Because, in the same way that these artists look at film beyond narrative –where light, installation and sound all play an important role in the audience’s perception of a work –Meixnerová aims to subvert the restrictive user interfaces of professionalised social media by using only the basic components of Facebook to disrupt the “stream”.

aqnb: The user interface of Facebook is so restrictive but, as with so many “professionalized” social media networks, users still find a way to to create and innovate within these rigid paradigms. Is that something you’re thinking about with this project?

Marie Meixnerová: Yeah, naturally. But when I use Facebook, or most people who use Facebook and are in contact with me are aware of these restrictions and are trying to work with them. I wanted to show that, even within this so limited space, where it’s like so ‘the big brother is watching you’, and it’s so restrictive, even within this space you can make some art. It’s not, let’s say, ‘politically coloured’ or reacting to those restrictions etcetera. I just take it as space you can work within, even when restricted. It is something that really scares me because people take all those restrictions as natural, in time. You just get used to it. But it is really not the theme of my sculpture. It’s something that I try to avoid.

aqnb: In terms of being political about it?

MM: Yeah. I’m also really, I don’t want to say worried, but I have some doubts about how this will develop because Chloë lives in Los Angeles, in America, and I’m in Europe. I’m a little bit afraid that, if she’s logging in on her profile, and I log in, because Facebook monitors those things, that she’s in the USA and I’m in Europe, I’m a little bit worried that it will want me to recognise my friends, or Chloë’s friends and I won’t be able to login on time to post something.

aqnb: You’ve plugged this as possibly the ‘first Facebook sculpture’ and then you said that Facebook is a sculpture in itself, so essentially you’re making a sculpture within a sculpture. That’s a bit meta.

MM: Yeah [laughs] but when thinking about Facebook within itself, it’s quite specific. It’s different because my approach is thinking about Facebook as a physical environment and creating within that environment. Most internet artists would say that they live on the internet and I feel, at this particular time, I’m not living that much on the internet as I live on Facebook; I take it as my natural environment right now. It’s similar as if I was living in the Czech Republic and I’m doing the First Czech sculpture [laughs].

But, for this one, I really take Facebook as a medium and as material, similar to these artists working with film. I really take Facebook as a kind of film strip that has, not only sound and image, silence and light, but it has many more elements, as I said, ‘liking’, ‘sharing’ and stuff.

aqnb: Are you saying that you don’t work as if you live on Facebook but you’re working with it as a medium?

MM: Right now, yes. I’m working with Facebook. As you see, I’m a little bit contradicting myself, or it might seem so, but I look at it this way: I feel like I live on Facebook and, I did many performances before on Facebook, but in this project, I take Facebook as a medium; taking its basic features as material and creating a sculpture. Now, it’s almost physical for me.

aqnb: So then, do you live in the Czech Republic or on Facebook?

MM:I live in both but more in Facebook than in Czech. I take Facebook everywhere with me; everywhere I have a connection to the internet, it’s my home. **

(c) merry will be performing her Facebook sculpture at Chloë Flores Facebook Page from August 1 to 31, 2013.

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Ryan Trecartin premiered a new film in Venice

3 June 2013

As Chris Kraus said at a recent panel discussion at the RCA, “The suburbs are the last ethnographic frontier.” Arguably at the vanguard exploring that borderline is Ryan Trecartin, one of the most influential contemporary artists working, who introduced his audience to the brilliantly dark and vapid landscapes of Pasta and friends years ago.

Since then, his approach and aesthetic has had an update, presenting his as yet unnamed new film at the Massimiliano Gioni-curated The Encyclopedic Palace of the Arsenale pavilion, open to the public since Saturday, June 1. DIS Magazine published some behind the scenes images to celebrate and it’s looking like the coloured contacts and virtual vistas of the future dominate his New World dystopia. You can see the images on the DIS Magazine website. **

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Fresh Trauma @ Ceri Hand reviewed

30 May 2013

Curator Rebecca Lennon brings together a noisy show at Ceri Hand Gallery. Bright with the glow of fluoro colours, vintage monitors, illustrations on Perspex, satirical paintings and the odd soft tiger toy, Fresh Trauma brings together a range of artists, in an open space awash with works vying to outdo one another.

A practicing artist herself, Lennon collages a variety of formats, including performance, video and installation, into an exploration into what is lost through mass media and what should be brought back to our critical attention. Often this results in direct engagement. As is the case in ‘The Pattern’ (2013), a large poster-sized piece of paper, on which white text purports to ‘SLIP PAST YOUR CONCIOUS THOUGHT AND WORM ITS WAY INTO YOUR MIND’, as its own typography dissolves into the light-blue background made up of the same repeated square graphic. At other times Lennon flips this notion. Video work ‘Fresh Trauma’ (2013) shows us trees being wrapped in plastic, accompanied by soundtrack clips from A Clockwork Orange. Nonetheless, it’s clear that both revel in the clash between that which is mass-produced and what seems personal, natural or individual.

Gabriele Beveridge, 'Mostly that your face is like the sky behind the Holiday Inn' (2013).
Gabriele Beveridge, ‘Mostly that your face is like the sky behind the Holiday Inn’ (2013).

It’s a critique of capitalism that the late Young British Artist, Angus Fairhurst, similarly pursues in poignant video, ‘Cheap and Ill-Fitting Gorilla Suit’ (1995). A consciously filmed piece of performance art that sees Fairhurst catch our gaze as he goes from a rigid standing position to the animated leaps of a primate. The costume eventually falls apart, pieces of scrunched paper falling out, flesh becoming visible. A metaphor for a wild beast’s manufactured image torn to pieces, as its weak threads break and a living person, with their own narrative is revealed inside.

Gabriele Beveridge’s off-centre recontextualisation of photographs used in advertising present a different encounter on this theme. ‘Mostly that your face is like the sky behind the Holiday Inn’ (2013) acts as a master class in the art of installation-as-seduction. Its window frame out in the exhibition space, broken blinds half-heartedly closed, obscure a glimpse onto a photograph of a modern day femme fatale, complete with covered bosom. Wine glasses smashed on the ledge in-between each layer attend to the business of creating a story, while the models fake smile laughs at the ease with which viewers are seduced.

‘Apoplectic’ (2013) by Benedict Drew layers over his own work ‘Big Shit, Little Shit’ (2013) in an installation that produces its own space and brings to life the infrastructure with which it was created. Cables wrapped in foil draw our attention to the power source for outdated monitor screens, where technology is given a character through flickering slogans such as,  “if it had a mind you could reason with” or “one day all things will answer back”. An angry collage of indignant anxiety, complete with tape bursting out of cassettes, it’s an image of technology’s potential for evil.

Altogether, Fresh Trauma thrusts its audience into deliberate overstimulation, asking if we can ever handle our own creation, clearly dictate an interpretation and satisfy an ‘audience’. It lets you find your own way, while always yearning for an alternative.**

Fresh Trauma is on at Ceri Hand Gallery, London, and runs from Friday, May 24 to Saturday June 29, 2013.

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Tony Oursler’s music video reviewed.

Tony Oursler. Old Times' Sake.
16 January 2013

A crystal seemingly abandoned on a studio floor, projections twinkling across panes of glass. ‘Where Are We Now?’ asks the title, as we walk, looking through the lens of a hand held camera, down a dark corridor. David Bowie sits center stage in a studio, surrounded by a larger-than-life candy blue ear, a projection screen and other thoughtfully misplaced oddities. Except it’s not Bowie’s body but his face. It is projected onto a sculpted oval that sits upon a conjoined twin-like rag doll, with another visage, that of abstract painter Jacqueline Humphries, whose husband, respected video sculptor Tony Oursler, directs the production.

David Bowie in 'Where Are We Now?'.
‘Where Are We Now?’ film still.

Continue reading Tony Oursler’s music video reviewed.

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24 January 2012

Philipp Artus hasn’t stopped studying for the past decade, first fine arts @ Nantes, then Portugal, now back to his homeland Germany (Media Art in Cologne)… will he ever stop?

Maybe French arts weren’t satisfying enough… but we’re glad he’s taken the new arts & media path over the last couple of years. Philipp’s installations haven’t stopped doing the world tour recently (especially last year) and if you’re around Frankfurt next April and happen to be a big light lover (in all its forms) he’ll be exhibiting part of his works @ Luminale 2012.

Break|through is one of his latest works presented as a projection sculpture last year where a capricious spider (that’s why they’re scary!) creates an audiovisual choreography by destroying a wall. Two complementary animations are projected on both sides of a revolving wall, so that the audience can see only one side – but simultaneously hear both (you can get the idea visiting his website of what the installation looks like in real-life, make sure you also watch the intro video).

Maybe his best-known piece was the Notebook Phase, a minimalistic piece of animation that explodes in what seems a never-ending loop of acrobat automatons which are being reflected simultaneously on a water surface moved by sound (up, full version documented by ARTE Germany).

And my personal favorite… his “Snail Trail” laser sculpture  projected on a phosphorescent material (allowing that after-glowing effect) at an angle of 360° onto a column, and forcing the audience has to walk around to follow the course of the snail….

He’s now finishing his next project “Ensō“, on which he’s been working for the past 5 years, and hopefully we’ll get to see in a less luminous environment. Amazing installations Mr Artus.

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Metropolis II

4 August 2011

Stressful, that’s how our lives have become. Stressful continuous mechanized routines, all part of a perfectly lubricated machinery whose pace & timings keep accelerating overtime. Chris Burden‘s latest piece (recently finished after 4 years in the making and that we had seen a while ago @ his studio in Topanga) may not be a metaphora but it could easily represent out current western mentality and state of mind.

Metropolis II” sculpture is finally being taken out of his studio and will be re-installed @ LA’s Country Museum of Art (LACMA) this fall as a long-term loan.

 The kinetic sculpture has 1200 toy cars… and if you think that’s noisy, think about us.

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