Ivana Bašić + Bradford Kessler present two person show MISERERE Paraphrase at Jackson’s Holiday Forever which opened February 11 and is running to March 27, 2017. Curated by artist Andy Kincaid, the exhibition featured work by New York-based artists Bašić and Kessler who both explore bodies and corporeal forms. The gallery’s program works in a domino effect, where the previous artist chooses the next artist who will be shown.
The artists’ exhibition purposely has no press release or description of the curatorial premise, but includes an accompanying text that reads as a type of prayer, excerpted below:
“Have mercy upon me, have mercy upon me, blot out my transgressions, blot out my transgressions purge me with hyssop and I shall be clean;…”
The installation is a mix of sculpture, drawing and painting that fills the walls, ceilings and floor with wax, silicone, plastic, foam and concrete; glass, insects, found posters and inkjet prints, among many other materials. Creating a cave-like atmosphere, the curator described the work as “floating in a dark void (or buried in snow).”**
As an example, Iinatti is involved in both music and art-based projects and is part of two Stockholm collectives; Yoga Centre and Evolver. He also recently participated in a screening for Episode 4: Bathroom, curated by Memory participants Kulbokatie & Gaweda at Münchenstein’s Oslo10,and dispersed across other projects including Hornig and Paul Barsch’s New Scenario online platform’s Body Holesexhibition.
Belgrade-born and New York-based Basic joins the Paris-born and Berlin-based Renard for a show that plays on themes common to both of their artistic styles—the threshold between the organic and the inorganic.
The press release, which begins with a quote on “the division of life into vegetal and relational, organic and animal” by Italian philosopher Giorgio Agamben, presents the show as a kind of intersection between the artists’ works: “the liminal spaces of the human experience”.
The show, curated by Courtney Malick, takes on the inorganic ingestible elements found in medicine, food, cosmetics and tech devices we are consistently exposed to, despite the chemicals and radioactivity they emit.
Through the works of the four participating artists, In the Flesh Part l: Subliminal Substances explores the ways in which our bodies “adapt, morph and mutate as a result of the increasing seamlessness between what we think of as purely organic or natural matter, such as skin and flesh, and inorganic, ingestible substances that are regularly consume”.
Who doesn’t end upa cultural cannibal? There is no such thing as a new idea; even this is not a new idea. Everything is recycled, including the cells of our own bodies, and if we squint resolutely enough, we could believe that our creations are not just memory-tinged collages of everything we’ve ever known, that arrant originality is not an absurd event at its very core. Denial is important. But the more we ingest, the more we see and feel and read and love, the more vital flesh we bring to the table; this is important too.
“One eats in conversation with others. One becomes subsumed by one’s context,” writes Tess Edmonson in her introduction to Cannibals, Olga Balema’s recent show at Croy Nielsen. The small, almost improvised gallery is strewn with soft PVC plastic bags filled with murky, copper-coloured waters in which various materials swamp and decompose. From certain angles, they resemble body bags, or bags one’s body would be thrown into if it was already dismembered, the wiry bits already removed. Slumped against the white walls of the gallery, the sculptures are completely devoid of life and yet uncannily human—the paradox survives even in decomposition.
The nine sculptures, all titled either ‘Threat to Civilization’ or ‘Border/Boundary’, are themselves the cannibals; they have ingested the materials of other, former sculptures and lie listless on the floors of the gallery, their clear, plastic skins exposing their gluttony. “The round bellies of some are greedy and full, pregnant from autoerotic absorption,” Edmonson writes, while “[t]he latex skin of others is concave around the scaffolding of sharp and unnatural growths.” The consumption neither begins nor ends with my visit; the cannibalized parts transform their consumers from within, releasing rust and dye from their steel and fabric parts into the clear water, gradually turning it tawny and black throughout the duration of the exhibition.
Alongside Edmonson’s introductory text is a paragraph from Maggie Kilgour’s From Communion to Cannibalism: An Anatomy of Metaphors of Incorporation. Bodily needs betray our vulnerability, she notes, and expose the carefully crafted appearance of autonomy as an illusion:
The need for food exposes the vulnerability of individual identity, enacted at a wider social level in the need for exchanges, communion, and commerce with others, through which the individual is absorbed into a larger corporate body.
Without others, we cease to exist. Better yet: we feed on others to nourish ourselves.
What did Balema feed on to give birth to Cannibals, and was it the same feast as that of Serbian artist Ivana Basic? The similarities are striking—the abstracted, flesh-like shapes, the haunting simplicity of their material loneliness; the frozen moments of “life into matter”, as Basic says, or “economy of fungible volumes”, as Edmonson write. The permeability of the human body is not a unique or even contemporary idea, but its execution in the works of the two artists is almost literally cannibalistic. Who fed on whom, and who was nourished from it?
Later in her introduction, Edmonson states that food scarcity during periods of overpopulation is “really the solution to its own problem”. That those who “obey the tenets of the cannibalism taboo” will be the first to die. Eat or be eaten, she whispers. The statement seems extreme, scandalous, but of course it’s not. They are just the cannibalized words of Jonathan Swift inA Modest Proposal in which he tells us: “I have been assured by a very knowing American of my acquaintance in London, that a young healthy child well nursed, is, at a year old, a most delicious nourishing and wholesome food, whether stewed, roasted, baked, or boiled.”
London’s Rod Barton gallery is hosting the Got Tortilla with Butter on Phone. Think it’s the End? group exhibition, running from November 28 to January 17.
Curated by artist Mikkel Carl and featuring a dozen different artists, the show works to answer the “delicate, perhaps metaphorical question” recently posed by the one and only Cher on Twitter. The participating artists – which include Ivana Basic, Anna-Sophie Berger, and Kate Steciw – are all “what may or may not simply be referred to as ‘female’ artists”, but the exhibition itself goes deeper than simply and randomly collecting artists with the ‘right’ anatomy, as so many exhibitions do.
Instead, it serves as an analysis, teasing apart the term “female” from the “so-called feminine aesthetics” and “politicized feminist positions” and, through the employment of a post-internet reality, collapsing the dichotomies that structure culture at large. The fact that this female-only exhibition is intentionally curated by a male artist adds another layer to this exploration of gender and equality in culture and in art.
Left to the elements, artworks are vulnerable to weathering, theft or destruction. Scattered across the Grunewald nature reserve on the Western outskirts of Berlin, the first intervention of Stoneroses – an ongoing project by Santiago Taccetti and Mirak Jamal in collaboration with Center for Project Space Festival Berlin -is subject to the same conditions. Though it will be documented and posted online, much of what will take place during the exhibition will not be witnessed. With no scheduled ending, no maps and no physical bounds, one may view Stoneroses by joining one of their tours, or by stumbling upon it.
At the tour meeting point, some visitors wait with blissful expressions, not noticing the time. Others wave their smartphones around in the air and bitch about connectivity until the second tour kicks-off, one and a half hours later than advertised. The show exists in a state of flux, the results of which will be seen, the causes largely imagined, its contingency is virtual.
In a grass clearing between the glittering dune – a remnant of the area’s former incarnation as a sand mine – and a small lake, a common house plant emerges from a swirl of freshly turned earth. Among the muted greens of the native foliage surrounding it, Steffen Bunte‘s decorative perennial looks conspicuous, almost artificial. Its green gives off a toxic glare and the dark sandy earth exposed by its recent installation looks purple against the plastic sheen of its stem. The plant’s leaves are laser engraved with product descriptions from the BMW i electric and hybrid car division. Slick slogans, ‘pure impulse’, ‘life modul’, ‘eco resort’, ‘add-on mobility’ become stand-ins for an urban attitude towards nature. Though made of the same ‘materials’, the urbanite has the feeling of being extraneous or even toxic to the ‘natural environment’. The impression is a posture, an attitude of plastic.
Several hundred metres away and dangling on a wire strung from a branch is Aleksander Hardashnakov‘s ‘Freud Diablo 1’. A few objects twist and turn; the red blade of a circular saw, metal washers, something that looks like a piece of cuttlefish or a mango seed wrapped in gauze. The materiality is rustic, it suits the nature around it, so much so that against the texture and noise of the forest – the leafy undergrowth and optical trickery of shapes in nature – the work sways, limply dissolving into the scene.
We walk on.
A herd of colourful joggers pass by. Our attention turns skywards. Tethered high to the long straight trunks of several pine trees is “World is all of one skin” a work by Ivana Basic. Several cushions are fixed to pole-like tree trunks with wide elastic straps that cinch the cushions through their middles, giving them the posture of a body being slogged in the guts. Basic has marked the satin cushion covers, of an indefinite, visceral colour, with inkjet prints of patterns from her own skin. Their colour, a purplish tone not usually associated with a forest landscape, accords to certain hues of the pine trunks and yet their texture and their fabric pops off the bark. They have the quality of exposure. As if they were objects that have been yanked from the tree’s interior and placed out on display.
The din of trailing conversations is covered by the sound of leaves crushing underfoot. Laid on the forest floor, Jamal’s two part work, ‘Walks in the park – Screenshot 6:20’ is in a process of embedding itself into the scene. As video abstracted into sculpture, the pieces – depicting a negative and a positive of the same distilled image – play with binary as a process of convergence/divergence. The first piece, cast in MDF, is set into the dry leaf floor as if it had been uncovered there. It has a fossil-like quality. The other piece, cast in resin, cracks and crumbles like a non-biodegradable polymer sheet. Both pieces point to an idea about lasting through time.
Almost immediately we come across Taccetti’s ‘Everything that isn’t me’. White plastic rip-ties fixed around tree branches somewhat mimic the trees own spindly brown limbs, jutting out at obtuse angles, mixing in with foliage of other plants to form layered patterns against the sky. The more recent adjunct, unlike the tree’s own, organic, appendages, are straight, white and plastic; reminiscent of prosthetic limbs. Each plastic strip is laser-engraved with the work’s title. Taccetti tells us that this was Einstein’s response to the question, “what is the environment?”, and that this sentence is something of a marker for the entire project. The binary pretends to offer an unambiguous idea of ‘nature’, yet the definition is constantly shifting. From your own perspective you are not ‘environment’, for everybody else, you are.
Walking from piece to piece, nature and art battle for attention. Anything (other than you) could be an artwork; a pock-marked ant-hill, a mossy log, a cluster of yellow mushrooms. At first, the sounds of electric guitar riffs come across as another native element of the forest. We pass by Rubén Grilo‘s jokey riff on the proverb, “If a tree falls in a forest” with his work ‘If Nobody Laughs’ depicting adjacent trees sharing a flat joke about pigs, at an accelerating pace. Perhaps it is the time of day, or perhaps it is to do with our proximity to coeval.gen.in (Clemence de La Tour du Pin and Antoine Renard)’s ‘Seasons in the Abyss’ a continuous six-hour performance of a guitarist practising Slayer songs.
The forest and the tour starts feeling hectic, epic. Nuzzling a papery log, Anthony Salvador‘s ‘http://goo.gl/maps/yeqU3 (I come from a long line of death)’, looks like something somebody has left behind. A time capsule of found objects in a semi-opaque plastic bag. Someone pokes at the objects inside, “a rear-view mirror… sand… is that a dead frog?” We leave the frenzy behind. Sandra Vaka Olsen‘s ‘Transfer Stick Leaf’, two copper sculptures stretch from the ground, bending over ferns like an echo. The sleek metal forms are bedecked with abstract, green toned UV epoxy prints of a leaf with water drops. The piece plays with the aesthetics of what it will become, when the copper oxidises, when it will be covered in morning dew. The piece looks magical, harmonious now, when the sun goes down it will glow.
Returning to ‘base’ the sky is ablaze. A new group is waiting for the next tour. One visitor drains the dregs of red wine from his plastic cup, casts a gaze into the darkening pine forest and says, “Blair Witch project space…” Leaving the reserve, the experience of the exhibition’s final installation, ‘Finding something nice while looking for something else’ by Zuzanna Czebatul, is everything that it promises to be. A heavy concrete bench, standing at the mouth of the forest. **