Brand New Gallery in Milan presents group exhibition, Grey, opening January 14 and running to February 20.
The exhibition title can be spoken about in many terms, and the press release for this show makes a list. As a colour it contains both black and white. It is neutral – and not white. If an object is at first grey, the human eye can apparently recognise it in many different colours thereafter. It is objective. The brain is grey matter. Grey is the colour of Kansas and Dorothy’s red shoes in the Wizard of Oz. Actually, grey is pretty open.
HOAXis now accepting submissions for issue #7 until January 6.
HOAX publication is non-profit project dedicated to gathering, printing and publishing artworks that incorporate text in a small pastel-coloured pamphlet, every six months. Editor of HOAX and writer, Lulu Nunn has worked with the printed editions as well as HOAX’s website as an online exhibition platform to dissolve the distinction between the practices of writing and art making.
As the first instalment in the Ruptures “critical nomadic platform”, the event applies to the series remit of being held in “expected and unexpected” spaces with this one being “The Boardroom” of the ABI building and exploring the “contamination of the corporate” in art.
The Nothing group show is on at Huddersfield’s Unna Way, opening December 5 and running to December 11.
The exhibition will be the third for the gallery since their inaugural Its Our Party and We’ll Cry If We Want To, Cry If We Want to, examining art openings as places and times of partying “through our own cruel attachments towards artistic institutional rituals”.
“Do you feel the pull of soft comfort in the folds of those materials that offer optimistic value, that promise that this time it will be just right? What do we labour towards when the potential is often more affective than the completed form…?”
The lottery has been runs online here and here and at the train platform itself until December 4 and is being used to help fund some of the art space’s costs, including rent and running costs, new artworks, publications and commissions, on-going reading groups, and development of the Digital Archive of Artists’ Publishing: BookBlast.
The lottery tickets (priced at £5 each, while a membership of £30 comes with 7 free tickets) bring a chance to win various prints, publications and items from the Banner Repeater portfolio, including works by Hannah Sawtell, Jesse Darling, and Erica Scourti.
Dynamic and performative time-based exhibition platform New Scenarioand “post-gender avatar” Agatha Valkyrie Ice are presenting the Episode 4: Bathroom installation at Münchenstein, Switzerland’s Oslo10on November 24.
Episode 4: Bathroom comes with little additional information aside from a text with its focus on the digestive tract, including an excerpt that goes as follows:
“…Ai is closely related to the mouth and hand, which are also organs strongly controlled by the sexopolitical campaign against masturbation and homosexuality in the nineteenth century. The anus has no gender.”
The event is part of a special season-long series collaboration titled Networked Culture, Digital Politics between Carroll / Fletcher and Verso Books which examines the relationship between culture and digital technology.
Jacques, author of Trans: A Memoir published by Verso this year, joins artist and writer Darling to discuss feminist thought, queer theory, non-binary and trans-identities and “their articulation in online spaces”, as well as the general artistic practices and explore both body and technology.
NTGNE is a retelling of, Antigone, the hellenic fable whose eponymous heroine has been an enduring symbol of anti-imperial struggle for centuries. Like Sophocles’ original work which was written at a time of great national fervor, Jesse Darling’s performance is presented in London on the anniversary of the 9/11 attacks, a day of mass mourning and a sobre reminder of the greatest ideological attack on the Western Imperial project in modern times.
After jostling for space in the crowded Serpentine Pavilion, I find myself lying flat on a yoga mat in complete darkness, contorted amongst the multitude of bodies that have piled inside. As the performance begins, a discordant throb of electrical interference pulses through the air, vibrating the opalescent skin of the stage set. The atmosphere is ominous and psychedelic, like a bad trip, and my discomfort is intensified by a foreboding meta-commentary between bursts of white noise; “…the floor feels really hard on your head”, I am told by a young voice as I fidget, “you feel vulnerable…you’re forced to”. I am now hyper aware of my body and its encroachment into shared space. As audience members settle around each other, a chorus erupts, holding a dissonant harmony until their voices waver, breath running out, reminding us of our corporeality and the frailty of a collective voice.
A News jingle chimes over the PA; a reporter from ISMN (“International, State and Municipal Newswire” – whose initials are extrapolated from the name of Ismene, Antigone’s sister) who we are told is our “only legitimate truth source”, warns us of an epidemic with an unknown source that is sending the city’s residents into “mass hysteria”. The virus, NTGNE (an acronym for National Terror Grief Negation Epidemic), threatens to engulf the entirety of the “pale kingdom” of King Carry-On (whose name is a pun the original King Creon in Sophocles’ version, among other things). The allusions to 9/11 and the fall of Empire are recurrent, and the staging of the performance on a day of commemoration gives a sinister tone to the unfolding news reports that pace the production. The cast –with writer Penny Goring, actor Shia Labeouf and Darling’s own dad among them –burst into life, writhing and crawling, zombie-like, through the unsuspecting crowd having previously hidden in plain sight. An orgiastic struggle ensues and members of the audience are dragged to their fate as the performance reaches its climax. A silence descends, the crowd is left in a state of panic. Abruptly, we are told to “Leave the auditorium immediately”, to which we duly oblige, fleeing the scene of the imaginary contagion with considerable urgency.
Darling’s NTGNE is a somber reflection on powerlessness and subjugation, a complex deconstruction of neo-liberal subjectivity and Empire. Indeed, the etymology of the name ‘Antigone’, meaning “worthy of one’s parents”, elucidates a complex narrative of hierarchy and inheritance, and it is the legacy of these inherited ideologies that Darling is most interested, not least through the involvement of their own family as cast members. NTGNE tells us that to mourn the conditions of late capitalism is to mourn our collective agency, but that to deviate is to die. Upon taking our leave, we are given passenger jet-shaped cookies, fuselage aflame and wrapped carefully in cellophane; a saccharine end to a bitter morality tale. **
It attempts to take “the material of identity – where materials become identity – as a place from which to run”. The press release further states, “devotion exists, and does so, and must do, without empirical knowledge. Being devoted here (in the West) means embodying pushes and pulls between your irrational self and the rational world”.
Darling’s ‘Wounded Door’ (2014), an abstract rectangular sculpture made of welded mild steel with a cast iron wheel, appears to be in search of definition as the corners and edges demarcate where the position begins and ends in the physical space. Alongside ‘The Veterans’ (2014), their sculptures maintain a sense of strictness, with hard corners and angles that almost imply stability in their position, whether physical or theoretical. However, the fragile and vulnerable design contradicts itself: it seems as if they could tip over from the slightest poke or breeze.
A pencil drawing on archival paper, gesso, emulsion, and spray paint made up Shiomitsu’s ‘Untitled (Range #2)’ (2015), which also seems to “push and pull” between its position, the material’s irrational self expressed with marks and scratches against the rationale inherent in the support and material – rectangular MDF and plywood boards. Perretta’s ‘5 percent’ (2015) HD video loops next to sandalwood incense in a pickle jar, typically used as a votive or gesture of devotion. van der Maaden’s ‘From a Head to a Head (clip)’ (2011) uses HD video documentation of a ritualistic ceremony of non-western tradition that jerks at the ambiguousness of the other artists’ works, positioning itself within well-defined tradition and history.
A text by Tom Clark published to vqxz.net accompanied the exhibition. **
A recounted ghost story, they write, created a slippage between fiction and reality, a “part-believed, part-ridiculed ripple” that cast a shadow over not only their time at the Cambridge farmhouse but their post-residency work as well.
The exhibition is envisioned as a re-materialisation of the idea of a gay bar as a politically queer space, an idea that stemmed from and with their joint 2014 project @Gaybar. Much like their project, the show envisages “a fantasy gay bar through reimagining queer iconography, history and writing that spans geological, political and temporal locations”.
“I love internet cafes,” says Natalia Sielewicz through a chuckle, “I have an unhealthy fascination with them”. The curator is in a coffee shop next to a converted furniture sales department store of PRL Poland, that is now, temporarily, the Museum of Modern Art Warsaw where she works. She’s just closed a huge four month programme of exhibitions, performances and talks by artists from around the world called Private Settings, Art After the Internet and if you’re familiar with the art, or just the miscellaneous cities that that art comes from, you’d certainly understand her enthusiasm for the public-private space of the online interface.
You might note that those artists mentioned above are based along the faultline of a ‘global’ network that’s still centered around the traditional economic centres of the US, UK and western Europe. But there’s also the ‘Live Distillation’ (2013) single-channel video-installation from South Africa’s CUSS Group, work by Saudi Arabia’s Sarah Abu Abdallah and a response to Derek Jarman’s 1993 film Blue by Poland’s Gregor Różański. There are a few artists you’d expect to be included that aren’t and even a couple that you wouldn’t that are.
That’s because the conversation going on around Private Settings is more interesting than age groups and vaguely shared aesthetics. With less of the corporate and none of the speculative, the focus of the exhibition is set squarely on interrogating subjectivity and its interaction with the contemporary consumer-focussed, hyper-capitalist milieu of the internet, by extension questioning what exactly ‘post-internet’ as a branded catch-all really represents. That is, post-internet as a contemporary condition that doesn’t just affect those living where the major markets are, while recognising its influence as a hegemonic spread: “Maybe it’s even more honest to speak from this western-centric perspective because we’re not colonising other countries with this hot word in a very ideologically-charged way that’s both socially and geographically placed.”
You mentioned that when curating the show there was less of a focus on the aesthetics associated with this particular generation of artists and more on identity and the body.
Natalia Sielewicz: I started by looking at Private Settings as a space of intimacy, of performing your identity, not only online; also of how there’s this constant feedback between your online space and offline space interacting with each other. I thought that maybe we could define that precisely as ‘private settings’ and ask whether this is specifically domestic space, is it feminised space? Or is it basically a space where all these issues collide with each other?
And an important thing to me was also, not really thinking about ‘private settings’ as privacy settings, all the issues around surveillance and manipulation. Of course, that is also part of the show but what I found more intriguing was how the ‘black mirror’ of your iPhone or your laptop can give an illusion of intimacy, even though we’re constantly performing in a very narcissistic, exhibitionistic way among our peers and on social media.
I think we have to come to a new conclusion on how to define this condition that we live in and how to apply it to different groups of artists, and different media, without sounding crass and without pissing anyone off. Because even some artists who are in the show wouldn’t want be branded as ‘post-internet’, where as maybe there would be a need for some of the Polish artists to be part of the bandwagon. Or maybe not. It’s treacherous ground [laughs].
There’s often a misconception that because something is presented online, that it has some kind of broadened reach. But the internet, and social media specifically, is so personalised, dispersion is so specific. You can post something and assume that everyone will see it, but everyone won’t.
NS: Well, going back to this thread of colonisation, regional colonisation and also social colonisation, after 1989 many former eastern European countries tried to abolish the label of being ‘eastern’, with or without much success. But for at least 10 years the market, the galleries, the institutional shows, everywhere in Europe would really help to colonise eastern European arts of the 90s, or of the early 2000s. The same artists would reappear and it would be something that the later generations would also have to fight against. So maybe it’s just the natural order, but that brings me to this whole conversation about, say, African post-internet art. I’m sure that it would create a scene that will be perceived as, you know, the Nigerian ‘post-internet scene’ of 2015, 2018 [laughs] and maybe that will evolve into something else…
But it’s still a label that’s originated in the west so maybe you’re right in suggesting that it should potentially stay western-centric…
NS: Yeah, I don’t know, I’ve been thinking about this. There’s such richness in art-making everywhere and there’s such a richness in the internet that’s not western-specific. Maybe we should just let region-specific art flourish without branding it immediately with our Western stamp of evaluation.
I also have a problem with white hegemonic institutions doing there documentA-style research… putting it in neat boxes and categories and high-fiving itself. There is of course the educational potential of that, as long as we allow the subaltern voices to be truly heard, clear and loud.
One of the things that blows my mind, it how impressive Polish graphic design was in the 60s and 70s and how bad it is now. It seems like an extreme reaction to anything that looks vaguely Soviet.
NS: Partially, yeah, that’s a part of it. We have this term that’s called ‘typo polo’…
NS: It reflects the terrible aesthetic of early capitalism from the 90s, where it was basically like GeoCities but in the public sphere. People started opening their own enterprises and small businesses, and when you’d drive on the ‘Route 66’ in Poland you’d see all of these really horrible advertising billboards, with really horrible typography. They’d have company names that stand for a thirst for one’s own first business, or their first million, so anything with a suffix ‘-ex’ or ‘pol’. Like, ‘Natalex’, for Natalia, or ‘Glaspol’; anything that would connote western glamour and success ‘incorporated’, whatever service you’re offering and wherever this service is originating from.
This is actually now fetishised in Poland. You have DJ collectives that play on this trope, what we call the ‘kwejk aesthetic’. Kwejk is a website that’s like 4chan or something but rooted in a Polish aesthetic and Polish domains. It’s really crass and disgusting, quite funny but in a very crude way, and it’s embracing this identity that was really pushed under the carpet for many, many years by intellectual and social elites.
It’s quite interesting how, with modernisation, you have to work with these tensions between your aspirations and retaining your identity, even questioning whether there is such a thing as a core identity of a nation state or a nationality.
That reminds me of those pierogi restaurant chains here, Zapiecek, where the wait staff wear those generic folk outfits…
NS: Well, that’s catered to tourists, right? That happens everywhere. I’m talking about something more ‘street’ and something more rooted in everyday vernacular, of kebabs that are falling apart and underground kiosks near the central railway station…
We had this show at the Museum, which was actually called Typo Polo, and featured graphic design of the 90s from old public services and private businesses and there’s an amazing energy in this abundance and excess. I think it’s really interesting to think about in terms of excess. Because, perversely, and speaking of post-internet, I don’t think it’s dealing with excess, I think it’s trying to contain things and feelings to an object.
It’s interesting to think of ‘typo polo’ as this kind of contemporary folk art. I heard that there’s a similar thing going on with immigrant communities running small businesses in places like Berlin, that this internet café and kebab shop aesthetic is actually tied to identity.
NS: I think that’s what CUSS from South Africa is doing too. It’s a totally different aesthetic but they do in situ projects in internet cafés and I think it’s part of this aestheticisation, or a certain genre of the internet cafe as this transitory place. It’s also sad because here you can’t find them any more.
Speaking of London, it’s like this really clandestine public space, where you’re with other people sending money through Western Union, expats are looking for flats and families from the Middle East are on Skype because they can’t set up a direct debit so they can’t have a BT or Virgin Mobile broadband connection…
But to give you an example of the Polish ‘typo polo’ corporate aesthetic present in, let’s say, Polish post-internet art that I think is happening, is that instead of Red Bull of Fiji water, artists would use Monster Energy drink, or these Polish slippers from the 90s called Kubota [laughs].
I felt like this Private Settings exhibition was a good bookend to thinking about post-internet for 2014, or a significant point of transition at least. The label has already been absorbed as a fashion, there are artists making a lot of money and the brand has been reabsorbed into corporate advertising, even as it has just recently been appropriated from it. But I think the exhibition represents a certain maturity of the themes being explored across its artists.
NS: Well, I wonder if in general that might be a certain perception of post internet as this immature hedonistic youth culture of the present… Of course, I am critical of the show as well, but one thing I really didn’t want to do was replicate the aesthetic, to the point that at one moment I was like, ‘oh my god, this is not looking like post-internet art’ [laughs]. **
As far as a description of either the exhibition itself or the opening’s performance and reading, Evelyn Yard only offers a string of cliché phrases and random-seeming words that has become something of a staple with London galleries.
“Tug of war.” “Into the abyss.” “So stark. You scamp.” They don’t reveal much, but the show’s single released image shows sand gradients and the echoes of an ‘organic’ installations that seem in line with some of Tiril’s previouswork.
“If our bodies don’t end at the skin,” writes the press release, “but instead extend to and reconfigure themselves with the material environments they engage with, what kind of implications does this have for notions like representation, embodiment and gender?” Much like some of the other female-identified artists we’ve covered in the past, the conference begins with the body.
Moderated by Maria Lind, director Tensta konsthall, the conference invites artists Jesse Darling and Sofia Hultin, curator Rózsa Farkas, and editor and writer Elvia Wilk to discuss their work and how they “make use of, configure and create identities” through it. The discussion is also organised in conjunction with Hultin’s TK-comissioned project, ‘I Am Every Lesbian‘.