Brooklyn-based artist Jasper Spicero is opening his newest solo show, Centers in Pain, at Paris’s New Galerie, opening May 26 and running until July 11.
The exhibition comes as the culmination of a fascinating project by the same name undertaken by Spicero last year when he rented out Wapato prison, an abandoned maximum security facility in Portland, Oregon, for four days.
The pristine space had never housed inmates and remained unused aside from a small janitorial staff that maintained its plumping and changed the dusty bed sheets. Spicero spent his time filming and exploring the abandoned space, eventually producing a short film, a screenplay for an imaginary movie, and various documentation of the sculptures installed in the prison.
Always Brian (TI AMO) owes its title to street art. The only evidence of an underground language exposed in the light of day, the words could mean a range of things, their semantics depending on any number of factors that are too many to quantify. It doesn’t stop people and their programmes from trying though, with linguistic inquiry and word count text analysis software (LIWC) being one of them. It’s this purported window into the “emotional and cognitive worlds” of any given social media user that provides an interesting launching point for this group exhibition. Organised by 63rd-77th STEPS and running January 16 to 18, the show becomes an obtuse inquiry into the implications of the monitoring and manipulation of peoples’ very moods and the way we read them via the text they choose to share.
The three day exhibition marked a year since Fabio Santacroce founded the aforementioned “art staircase”, that often exhibits off-site, by taking up residence across the three rooms where the spray-paint tag of ‘Brian’ and his love were discovered at the train station of Bari, Italy. It acts as a nucleus in a synaptic network of information shared between nine artists that include Rosa Ciano, Benjamin Asam Kellogg, Lucia Leuci and Yuri Pattison; their self-contained clusters of personalised information presenting images and objects as codes and signifiers that can be read any number of ways.
Jasper Spicero‘s wall-hung iPad featuring a generic looking bedroom is tangled up inside a web of taut and tied-together shoelaces. Cecile B. Evans‘ dancing animated scissors are singing Sade’s ‘No Ordinary Love’ through the stilted tonal blocks of a Vocaloid application in a projection of ‘How happy a Thing can be‘ (2014). Matthew Landry‘s ‘Whisper’ collection of personalised image-board posts tacked to a couple planks of wood announce “MY BEST FRIEND MAKES ME UNCOMFORTABLE” and “Ummm”. Amalia Ulman‘s slide show presentation ‘The Future Ahead’ (2014) video – also shown at the artist’s The Destruction Of Experience solo exhibition in London last year – takes Justin Bieber as a starting point to exploring femininity in terms of masculinity and teen girl fandom: “he’s still monetizing on their prepubescent love-business”.
Before you read into the following riddle that is the Always Brian (TI AMO) presentation text – assembled from a harvest of status updates, mail and conversations – spare a thought for the fact that Santacroce himself describes it as “fragments from conversation mixed with personal considerations and turned into a “fractured”, hyper-textual poetry without any specific revealing intent”.
“Always Brian (TI AMO), Corso Italia and a burnt kebab. I like how you fall in sleep on trains, you feel fastened to Earth. Leaves are lying about their agony and we have all been gifted with a YEAR IN REVIEW. It tastes iron. Entertaining revolution, performed poverty, wealthy orgasm. Kamut year. DID YOU UPGRADE YOUR REVERENCE? Happiness is not a cinematographic effect and you have been approving only “first class” tags. LINGUISTIC INQUIRY AND WORD COUNT.”
Each sentence bares a semantic logic all it’s own like the exhibition of artworks it introduces. Its artists’ ability to communicate relies heavily on their association with last year’s 63rd – 77th STEPS programme, as well as their nebulous interrelation between one another, almost entirely by virtue of using text as material, and fragments as form. Understanding that might get you closer to the artists’ intentions, but it also might not. **
With the proliferation of online galleries and netart produced and sold digitally, the recently launched series of Bonus Material PDF publications – initiated by Leipzig-based collective Info-Punkt – takes the idea of ‘printed matter’ away from physical tangibility and the elite status of a collector’s item. Instead, they offer a free and accessible curated selection of images and video clips from exhibitions past. The second issue of Bonus Material, which was published online last month, features previously unreleased documentation of two 2012 solo exhibitions by American artist Jasper Spicero.
Spicero’s work is an adept amalgamation of the highly technical and the hyper-banal. The images of his show ‘Intriors’ –exhibited at Appendix in Portland, Oregon –present computer game style dreamscapes that, uninhabited, simultaneously look like advertisements for other-worldly real estate. Alongside these 3D renders, the documentation shows a series of mundane photographs: a row of flatscreen TVs inside a Best Buy electronics department, a blurry picture of some shelved wicker baskets, an out-of-focus selfie of the artist. The setup of this exhibition is aesthetically raw, wires and bolts protruding from the works and tape measurers and cords lying around the gallery floor. While we’re not entirely aware if this is how the finish product appeared, the Bonus Material compilation gives us an idea of the process.
In Spicero’s case the process work is revelatory of his overall aesthetic: the 3D interiors that he creates are loosely based on a stock of crude and slightly grotesque design clusters. The second PDF, based on his NYC show ‘Husk of a Wandering Meteorite,’ shows less process and more polished product. Spicero – who organized Open Shape, a series of exhibitions showcasing artist-designed 3D-printed objects – showed some of his own 3D printed works and their initial design renders. One –a strange alien-spider-clitoris hybrid –is documented ominously close-up, presenting it in a terrifying human scale.
Info-Punkt launched Bonus Material II at Center project space on Kurfürstenstrasse in Berlin. Hendrik Niefeld, a founding member of the Info-Punkt group, described the opening: “Our idea was to provide an opportunity to come together for a conversation about Bonus Material II, Jasper’s work and the Info-Punkt project in general. Various iPads and tablets were available for visitors, presenting the current publication as well as our recent projects. Also everybody was invited to use our wifi to download the PDF on their own device.”
This kind of simultaneously social/asocial opening is a growing trend: amassing a group of people in a physical location to then retreat into the isolated world of their personal devices. But the novel thing about Bonus Material’s layout is the opportunity it gives artists to present their exhibitions in an uncharacteristic light. Images of the installation, of the backsides of works, their materiality and texture, alterations of scale: a wholly other narrative of the show is produced in this way, one that is otherwise effaced by the standardised exhibition and documentation format. **