Julia Tcharfas

Living in the Future #3: New Lands @ Tenderbooks, Jul 5

3 July 2015

Living In the Future magazine is releasing their third issue, themed “New Lands”, at London’s Tenderbooks this Saturday, Jul 4.

The science fiction journal focusing on future-oriented art and writing comes out with its third issue, asking What worlds might we inhabit in the future? and taking the reader Beyond the Fields We Know.

This issue launches at 5pm at Tenderbooks in London with some free drinks, a first look at the new edition, and readings from some of the close to thirty contributors, which include Holly Childs, Daniel Keller, and Julia Tcharfas.

See the event page for details. **

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Introducing Artyčok.tv

22 April 2015

Curated by Hana Janečková,  I turn the images of my voice in my head is a monthly critical programme of recent feminist moving image practices (selected exhibition photos, top right), hosted by Czech-run online contemporary art platform Artyčok.tv and established by the Academy of Visual Arts, Prague. The series follows a resurgence in interest in Feminism and offers a space to showcase work by artists with diverse perspectives on the subject. Allowing for what Janečková herself describes as a “sharing of feminist strategies across cultural contexts”, the artists and their output already exhibited on the site follow ideas around “technology, language, labour and identity”. They include the likes of Julia Tcharfas and  Chooc Ly Tan‘s Wild Nature, along with the latter’s application to the possibilities within the chaos of ‘Oubilism’ in her ‘New Materials in the Reading of the World‘ (2011) work, as well as Jennifer Chan and Cadence Kinsey‘s Next Time Baby, I’ll be #Bulletproof (2015).

Running since November last year, the I turn the images of my voice in my head programme presents its  fifth online exhibition, called Gentle Triggers and featuring work by London-based artist and S.A.L.T. editor Jala Wahid and artist Nicole Morris. Their practices examine the body through moving image and its materiality behind a screen that’s described as “an unconscious fetishist object”, and “a space for imaginary tactile encounters”. Hence, Wahid’s ‘Let Me Touch You, Make You Feel Really Nice’ (2013) presents long-nailed fingers brushing a horse-saddles mane and prods the viscous brown goo of makeup and facial sponges, as an ASMR-sounding voiceover whispers, “…always fingering your hair as if it’s delicate”.  Morris’ ‘Soft Power’, meanwhile, presents its protagonist’s view through the red and blue lenses of disposable 3D glasses to an IRL London as well as its Google Maps equivalent.”Women are constantly confronted with their ability to produce affect and are well versed in using it pragmatically”, writes Rebecca Carson in an accompanying text to a presentation that questions “the role of affective labour within capitalism”.

Other works shown in the I turn the images of my voice in my head series include Jenna Bliss‘s Letters to ‘Dad the Analyst’, ‘Grandma’ and ‘Osama Bin Laden’, and  Rehana Zaman‘s multi-channel video – a fictional soap opera examining the worker within globalisation – ‘Some Women, Other Women and all the Bittermen’ (2014). These are exhibitions showcased for a month, along with texts commissioned as online ‘artefacts’, that are freely accessible via the Artyčok online archive, alongside video extracts and images, which Janečková describes as follows:

“While the body has been central to feminist critique, in these works narrative, voice and language are seen as its extension. In the presented works Jenna Bliss, Chooc Ly Tan, Rehana Zaman and Jennifer Chan employ strategies of technological mediation, language play and re-narrativisation , actively seeking to unfold and re-imagine the dynamics of patriarchy, allowing for new perspectives and positions of critique.” **

Exhibition photos, top right.

Jala Wahid and Nicole Morris’ Gentle Triggers is on at Artyčok.tv, running April 22 to May 22, 2015.

Header image: By Jennifer Chan. Courtesy Artyčok.tv.

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Lunch Bytes’ Society: The Commons / Public Space reviewed

14 October 2014

The commons is a place that operates outside political, economic and commercial influence. At Society: The Commons / Public Space, the third London-based panel at the ICA, it is in the disappearance of such spaces that curators Helen Kaplinsky and Julia Tcharfas, artists Stephan Dillemuth and Eleanor Saitta, and Metahaven member Daniel van den Velden find focus.

Established by Amsterdam-based curator Melanie Bühler in 2011, Lunch Bytes has become a international discussion series of sorts, exploring the role of the internet in creative practices first with an ‘American Edition’ in Washington DC and Miami and moving across Europe throughout 2014 to culminate with a symposium in Berlin next year. It’s no coincidence that, as a programme concerned with “the increasing ubiquity of digital technologies in the art world”, the role of networked connectivity in effecting this restriction on free and autonomous areas, both online and offline, should be of central concern in London.

The ‘commons’, after all, is an Anglo Saxon term for scrub and arable land jointly owned by all village members, divorced from social status. Throughout the 16th, 17th and 18th centuries, such areas of collective ownership were increasingly privatised, spreading to industry and welfare housing through 80s Thatcherism, then to creative production and the art industries in a post-Fordist 21st-century economy.

Stephan Dillemuth, 'Coal By Any Other Name' (2000). American Fine Arts Museum. Courtesy the artist and Lunch Bytes.
Stephan Dillemuth, ‘Coal By Any Other Name’ (2000). American Fine Arts Museum. Courtesy the artist and Lunch Bytes.

Citing an early experiment in creating  space independent of capital markets, Dillemuth describes his ‘Frisenewall 120’ (1990 – 94), a storefront organised with fellow artist Josef Strau and located in Cologne’s central gallery district. It was meant to serve multiple functions, alternately operating as a video and newspaper archive, a gallery, a meeting point. Outfitted with a reading room and couch, it functioned as a place of social and intellectual exchange, aiming to offer a temporary supplement to the existing gallery system in the German city – a kind of situational intervention within a milieu increasingly constrained by market considerations. Citing the imminent eviction of London’s Lima Zulu project space, Dillemuth was sceptical about whether such an area is now possible in the capital.

‘Recent Work by Artists’ (2014) is another example of a gallery space aiming to operate outside of market control. Commissioned by Auto Italia, it was a collaborative project, including Tcharfas, Tim Ivision, George Mustakas and Rachel Pimm, located in King’s Cross, which then moved to Can Filipe Artes Visuales in Barcelona. For the duration of the exhibition, the space became a site of artistic production itself, investigating “how artists’ workspaces might function today”. Providing the basic amenities necessary for work, the exhibition became a space in which to reimagine the material conditions of artistic labour. Made up to look like an office space, with pot plants, a photocopier and water-dispenser, the installation revealed the cognitive production of such work, and demonstrated just how much places of leisure, consumption and production are becoming blurred.

Julia Tcharfas, Tim Ivison, Rachel Pimm, and George Moustakas, 'Recent Work By Artists' (2013). Commissioned by Auto Italia. Courtesy the artist.
Julia Tcharfas, Tim Ivison, Rachel Pimm, and George Moustakas, ‘Recent Work By Artists’ (2013). Commissioned by Auto Italia. Courtesy the artist.

As privatisation and a lack of funding means experimental not-for-profits are being squeezed out and replaced by commercial upstarts grounded in physical space, so too are online activities subject to commercial and political constraints. Market forces, the swirl of capitalism and overarching political agendas all encroach on the possibility of the free and emerging public space. And yet innovative agencies trying to forge an existence outside the capital-driven art market need a common space free of economic constraints; without this the possibility of non market-enclosed art that remains free for all becomes increasingly endangered.

But perhaps there’s hope in an example by van der Velden, where he argues the fame of a Japanese anime meme of former Ukrainian chief prosecutor Natalia Poklonskaya could have been due to state intervention. Explaining the difficulty of creating popular memes, he describes how the Russian government hires people to post comments on international press about its politics in order to influence public opinion, begging the question: how can this approach be re-appropriated by the public? **

Lunch Bytes is a discussion series examining the increasing ubiquity of digital technologies in the art world. The next event Society: Public Space / Architecture is in at Dublin Irish Museum of Modern Art, October 17, 2014.

Header image: Stephan Dillemuth, D3pt0fSurv31ll@nc3&3ncr1pt10n (2013) @ Bergen Assembly installation view. Courtesy the artist and Lunch Bytes.

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Domino Nights @ Banner Repeater, Mar 12

11 March 2014

Julia Tcharfas, Anna Barham and Louisa Martin will take part in ‘Domino Nights’ at Banner Repeater on March 12.

As part of the Peer Programme, running throughout the year as a forum for encouraging dialogue across practices and media, the events involve participants selected by respective speakers in succession to discuss and present current works in progress, either individually or as a group.

Read a review of Tcharfas’ Systems Thinking from the Inside and see the Banner Repeater website for details. **

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‘Systems Thinking from the Inside’ @ Chisenhale Gallery reviewed

7 October 2013

There’s something decidedly austere about the Chisenhale Gallery’s main exhibition space. Part of an old print works, its bare concrete floor and strip lighting radiate what could reasonably be described as ‘Industrial asceticism’, giving the impression of a space in monkish subservience to the work displayed within. For a single night, though, the gallery’s dignified solemnity has been trumped; the cup of a large blue inflatable tent occupies the centre of the floor, as gloriously incongruous as an episode of The Sky at Night guest-hosted by the Teletubbies.

The simile is not as glib as it might appear; inside the tent, artists Julia Tcharfas and Tim Ivison have set up what they refer to as an “imaginary planetarium”, using the dome of the structure to project the images that constitute Systems Thinking from the Inside, a travelling lecture-cum-multimedia installation that seeks to explore the relationship between art, technological development and the curatorial process.

Julia Tcharfas and Tim Ivison, (2013). Photo: Maria Eisl
Julia Tcharfas and Tim Ivison, (2013). Photo: Maria Eisl

Taking as their frame of reference everything from the Great Exhibition of 1851 to the oddball tycoon Dennis Tito’s $20 million holiday to the international space station, Tcharfas and Ivison (the former a curatorial assistant at the Science Museum, the latter completing a Phd) propose an intellectual continuity that runs tangentially from the writing of visionary 19th Century cosmist philosopher Nikolai Fedorov to applied virtual reality. There are countless, fascinating digressions, but the pair make a persuasive argument that the technology of space travel has been directly influenced by philosophy, art and literature.

They describe, for example, how Fedorov’s science-fiction writing directly influenced the studies of Konstantin Tsiolkovsky, an early rocket scientist and hero of Wernher von Braun, who foresaw the apparatus of space travel with uncanny accuracy. As they speak, Tsiolkovsky’s delicate, Saint-Exupéry-esque drawings of humans floating in zero-gravity environments envelop the sides of the dome, revolving around the audience with the fluidity of the spacewalking they depict.

Julia Tcharfas and Tim Ivison, (2013). Photo: Maria Eisl

There are flaws: the operation of the projections to coincide with the lecture’s themes could be a lot tighter, neither Ivison nor Tcharfas are natural public speakers and the delivery lacks the authority needed for a truly immersive experience. Similarly, the language can veer into vagueness and generalistaion; a section on closed-off ecosystems, such as the leviathan Biosphere 2 complex in Arizona, veers off into the academically gauche proposition that a suburb is “an inversion of an ecosphere”. It is, as the artists make clear, a work in progress- and once fully realised there’s every chance it could be truly spectacular.

The academic meme that fantastical art and technological development are inextricably interlinked- with the former providing the inspiration and aesthetic for the latter- is nothing new, not even to the East London gallery archipelago (The Real Truth, Suzanne Treister’s wonderful 2012 show at Raven Row is a case in point). It is, however, a theme that a pair as imaginative as Ivison and Tcharfas can successfully stretch further.

Julia Tcharfas and Tim Ivison’s Systems Thinking from the Inside was part of the Chisenhale Gallery’s 21st Century series.

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‘Institute Bianche’ @ Library + (2013) install photos

4 July 2013

Named after the Italian protest movement, Tute Bianche , Institute Bianche at Library + in South London features work by Eva and Franco Mattes’, Paul Kneale, Miami-Dutch, Bunny Rogers and Julia Tcharfas, curated by Harry Burke.

In the spirit of activism, each artist and collective explores globalisation, gentrification and artistic collusion across installation and sculpture, print and literature. Read our review of the show here. **

Library Plus

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