The Mexico-City based artist is presenting an installation in three parts that revolves around a video “made up of six chapters framed within fictionalized vignettes,” with the main character ‘Urchin’ at the centre.
The press release is short and brief, but also includes a piece of text alluding to the narrative that will unfold within the space:
“Down beneath the shimmering surface, our urchin was waking from his cozied slumber. Nestled between slowly quivering rocks, pulled by the ebb tide. As caustics danced across his barbed back, he let the larking swell bristle his outstretched spines, ringing out light melodies as they chattered together.”
The multi-disciplinary artist will also include two performances as part of the exhibition, which require an appointment.
Directed by Lewis Teague Wright, Lock Up International is a transient curatorial project that hosts artist exhibitions in storage units across the world, with previous locations in London, Frankfurt, Los Angeles, Istanbul and Tokyo. Mexico City-based artist Rios will spend a week showing in the unit, followed by Genesis Breyer P-Orridge on November 28 until December 4.
Rios recently presented a series of talks Relecturas al Colonialismo (‘Rereading Colonialism’) (2016) at a Mexico City public library Aeromoto, hosted by Lodos Gallery.
Lock Up International is presenting the next iteration of its nomadic project space in Tokyo, with locations TBA, opening September 26 and running to October 16.
Started by Lewis Teague Wright, the series — which has already appeared in Mexico City, Istanbul, London and Los Angeles — uses storage spaces worldwide as exhibition venues. They usually work as three-weeklong solo show in each location it chooses, with personally guided viewings arranged by appointment. AQNB reviewed a recent exhibition of Nevine Mahmoud’s Three Isolated Effectsin LA and Menna Comminetti and Sophie Lee presented Boy, ’12in London.
The Tokyo series will present work by Yuri Pattison (September 26 – October 2), Martin Kohout(October 3 – 9), and Russell Maurice (October 10 – 16). The first show was initiated by Pattison’s interest in collector marts in the Akihabara and Nakano Broadway stations, small stores in malls that rent out glass lockers.
The project continues to act as a way to bypass the gallery, art dealer, and collector, opting to go directly to the object’s end point, stored safely and hidden from view.
On a lonely hill above Los Angeles I find myself texting a complete stranger in order to be taken to an exhibition I know nothing about. Typically when I’m asked to write about art, I’ve at least heard of the gallery, and if not, I’m able to familiarize myself prior to visiting the show by reviewing photos and reading a press release. A barren website and a cryptic appointment e-mail containing the word ‘access’ confirming my reservation are all that lies between myself and the exhibition.
The stranger turns out to be Lewis Teague Wright, the ‘Gallery Director’ for transient art space Lock Up International that has hosted shows in London, Frankfurt and Mexico City. On this particular day Nevine Mahmoud’s Three Isolated Effects exhibition, running from April 18 to 24, is showing in a 10×10 space in a Public Storage facility in Los Angeles’ Elysian Park neighborhood and is made up of three sculpture pieces by London-born and LA-based Mahmoud.
The abstract ambiguity of Mahmoud’s pieces marry perfectly with their surroundings. Contained within the walls of a storage unit, we understand there is value. There is worth in the work. In the same way that value is given to art objects displayed in the white cube, Mahmoud’s Three Isolated Effects, too, feels right at home in a space with its function of storing a person’s valuables.
With construction going on both above and below the unit that houses the show, I become acutely aware of the delicacy of viewing art in a way I’d never realized. The floors and walls of the space are made of creaking and groaning plywood —the kind that noise and movement flow through freely. The banal act of walking from one piece to another to view it becomes a disruptive and self-conscious one. At times it leads me to focus on factors outside of the art, influencing the viewing experience.
Mahmoud’s most formally recognizable and least abstract piece is a colorful, to-scale beach ball. Without a list of titles or materials to refer to, I’m left to observe exactly what’s in front of me. Its glossy finish and stillness leads me to believe it is made of ceramic —making it a replica of a delicate, light object made of a different, yet equally fragile material. Diagonally across from the ball is a free-standing fibre-glass piece of what I can only guess was once a jacuzzi or bath. Smooth and white like the faux-porcelain of any domestic tub on one side, and rough and painted a bright, chalky, Pepto-Bismol pink on the reverse.
Almost invisible due to its hue and broad surface is a golden, canary yellow panel to the right. It lies nearly flush against an already yellowed plasterboard wall, creating a subtle and atmospheric piece that complements and observes the installation alongside it, without leaving an intrusive impression. The pieces conjure nostalgia in both their formal and conceptual existences. The colors and materiality of all three artworks make them familiar, even when a piece’s shape or size is surreal.
It’s rare to see a show with a title, environment and works that so succinctly combine and freely converse between themselves. Three Isolated Effects achieves what many Los Angeles art shows miss out on; existing outside of the city’s influence. Blanket statements about a place as diverse and complex as this one are typically invalid, but there are two truths that are proven exceptions to this rule: that Los Angeles has a lot of space and light. Although the white cube is an equalizer, it’s hard to ignore how these two physical elements exist and inhabit this Californian city. Mahmoud’s show, like others put on by Lock Up International, become truly free of existing in any one location.
As curator Teague Wright leads me through the labyrinth of identical hallways and safety-orange metal unit doors, in a generic Public Storage facility, in an ordinary residential suburb,these two truths of LA fall away —we could be anywhere. This anonymity, and the Lock Up International website’s lack of explanation, leads to an art exhibition palette cleanser, one that asks you to forget the white cube. Instead you’re invited to pay attention only to what is around you, and in front, lending itself tremendously to Mahmoud’s show, as abstract sculpture typically requires even a modest suspension of disbelief. This return to basics is both refreshing and eye-opening, leaving me glad to know that the places and modes of how we view art have a dialogue all their own, being hashed out on an international scale.**
Generously welcoming a criteria-less variety of media and personal exploration, the It’s been four years since 2010 group exhibition at London’s Arcadia Missa illustrates the value and undeniable power of instinct. A shared anniversary show of sorts between the UK and Mexico’s Preteen Gallery, the guttural curation of invited artworks by the latter’s Gerardo Contreras is something that feels very new, and at first, rather hard to grasp. But don’t be put off by initial, elusive confrontation. This show makes one work hard to break down institutional expectations, revealing something gloriously elementary.
What’s immediately noticeable on entering the gallery is that nothing really seems to match, other than a subtly shared notion of a kind of confused, apocalyptic expression along mixed media littering the space in the room and around the walls. A pillowcase, pasted Morrisons shopping bags, a disposable camera photo, paint, a boxy old TV, and moving image showcasing glitched layers of sexualised needle usage happily exist among one another –and the resulting atmosphere isn’t immediately recognisable.
Genesis Breyer P-Orridge’s layered collage combines framed text and coloured visual, while Phoebe Collings-James’ child-like line paintings incited an overheard conversation suggesting they could have been produced while high. Nightmarish sketches of bizarre shapes and characters from both Luis Miguel Bendaña and Abdul Vas were no different, while a hanging, ‘talking sculpture’ made from cut-down Australian Banksia nuts provided the only offer of natural materials from Lewis Teague Wright.
Although interesting in themselves, focusing too much on each piece isn’t necessarily helpful when exploring Contreras’ aim withthe exhibition. Only when the works are understood as a collective does the exhibition come together, and since all of them are so different, it’s surprising how simple and unified the ambitions of both Arcadia Missa and Preteen seem to be.
Without being material-led, the show and each artists’ work presents physical making as an intuitive act of expression. Simultaneously (and critically), the curator’s work appears to immediately react to that, and what is beautiful about Contreras’ approach is the visceral way in which this is executed. When asked, he told me that “curation is spiritual stimulation”, and as a celebration rather than a critique, It’s been four years since 2010 is an instinctive gathering of works without order, which for the curator, manages to elevate the art beyond its tangible meaning. The performance by O F F Love’s Simon Guzylack (with visuals from Leslie Kulesh) later on in the evening exemplified this idea. A projector showcasing an intriguing series of hand gestures executed by a group of webcam users and artists set the backdrop for an emotive musical performance. Wearing a caged, flowery mask, Guzylack’s ambiguous lyrics were contorted by various different electronic effects. Ambling bpm allowed for a trance-like, mellow tone, and despite being unable to connect to a figurative narrative in the artist’s song, the audience was certainly taken on a journey by the expressive sounds and movements involved.
By encouraging this kind of detached objective, It’s been for years since 2010 promotes both personal and collective dialogues –an act which directly relates to Arcadia Missa’s curatorial position as an established, independent gallery. By recognising the institutional nature of contemporary curation, an appreciation of different ways to work allows for exhibitions like this one to shine.
A brief conversation with Arcadia Missa co-curator Rozsa Farkas illuminated me further. She talked about letting the show and the works within it exist just as they are, rather than framing them with the agenda of the gallery or the curator. As she explains, what follows is a space for a show that makes no distinction between studio and gallery, bringing the studio to the viewer rather than trying to reform an artist’s practice into a finished product. It’s a good way to work, and the respect between all involved in the exhibition for this reason is evident.
This notion of respect runs deeper both within It’s been for years since 2010 and the collaboration between Arcadia Missa and Preteen gallery itself. Connecting originally on twitter and forming a ‘love affair’, the bond between Contreras and Farkas was described to me as cosmic: “we were meant to meet up and sync up so crazily on so many levels, so it was a cosmic thing this show we made happen” Creating a platform to support their community of artists is high on Arcadia Missa’s agenda, and equally, the thing that connects all of the works within the show is in a similar feeling of camaraderie between Contreras and all of the contributing artists.
And so we return to the liberality by which these pieces are allowed to exist as a collaborative art project. Despite an initially confusing collection of works, what’s very simple here is that direct reaction follows direct expression –and even if that expression is (in Farkas’ words) “a little bit fucked up”, we can all relate to the dilemmas it conveys. By accepting these works, we join Contreras in celebrating them, and without constraints or categorisation of medium or space, this show stands as a tribute to many of the things that make us human. **