Rehearsals in Instability curated by Rózsa Farkas presents a group of artworks at Vienna’s Galerie Andreas Huberthat display certain disbelief –instead of critique –in the situation outlined by the press release of the “current state of capitalism” and “the rising awareness of the unsustainability in this world”. The show, running September 11 to November 7 as part of the 2015 curated by_Vienna programme, deals with the understanding that although “capitalism as we conventionally know it is shifting”, its “increasing financialisation” of everything will continue: it is a “reproductive social contract”.
The works selected by Farkas take on and absorb the processes and gestures by which capitalism works –to take on possible alternatives, to locate new counter-aesthetics and in one fell swoop to have them saturated, creases stuffed, marketed and re-introduced back into an inescapable mode of value and consumer-ability. As the press release highlights, disbelief and absorbency, as opposed to critique and explanation, perhaps produces something stronger in the current climate (both Art World and socio-economic): a nod, or, at the very least, a desire and concern to ‘move beyond’. How does Art escape?
Charlie Woolleymakes two new works, ‘Shelf’ and ‘X’ (4 in a series) which both have shiny strips of aluminium and a sense of reification about their presentation and absorption of stereotypical counter-culture symbols. Emily Jones‘ text lifted from an unknown, un-given context and also, coated in aluminium sits on the wall. Maja Cule, who’s video, ‘Facing the Same Direction‘ (2014) was shown in a solo show at London’s Arcadia Missa, which Farkas runs, is accompanied by a slate plaque on which is etched ‘Do What You Love’ in bubble-writing that’s been filled in. Sidsel Meineche Hansen displays circular and patterned works that call into vision the cyclical production of artwork and its formed subjects. The works of Christopher Kulendran Thomas and Richard Nikl literally hold up the delicacy and instability of dissemination, or how things are constantly newly mediated outwards, traded out, packaged up ‘comfortably’ and as given as “the fabric of our society”, as the press release describes.
Experimental writing, it is said by those more comfortably ensconced in the sagging sofa of English literature, is simply a genre: a stereotypical form of book in which certain conventions apply, the same as in any other. As such, it’s over. That fuss and nonsense was all fine in the days of the proper modernists, from James Joyce, up to say, Brigid Brophy or Gilbert Sorrentino, but really, that’s all been mapped out. It’s done with. Now it’s time to knuckle down and write studied novels with the occasional nod to Derrida if you really must. The relation to tradition is all the better to show that you have mastered it and are beyond it, there’s no need to be disruptive. Writers want that familiar warm novel feeling back, but with a few winks. Or rather, not back so much as to insist on being in a position to perpetuate it, though cleverly, at the same time as insisting, in tune with the times, that there is no alternative.
Danklands would suggest otherwise. Written by Melbourne-based artist Holly Childs it is a book that takes place in the bits of cities that slipped through the master-plan despite being in the middle of it; something that echoes its place in literature. Danklands is written in English, but at all those points where it turns into a thick wet post-natural swamp, in jargon, awkward love, smoggy spaced-outness around the edges of the city’s docklands. Indelicate sentences, packed with clichés and gulped down verbiage that come back wrong, strands of linguistic mouth-backwash float into the reader’s bottle of Fiji water like the delicate tendrils of a jellyfish before dissolving back into narrative, a cluster of lists, bejewelled molten plastic slag and the goings on of several ciphers that pass for characters. In this movement the book occasionally takes time to gather its own co-ordinates, shifting paces, there’s a precision zoned-outness in the finely, almost molecularly, constructed sentences that flow out into the vast intertidal marshes of language with which the internet is silted together with. At other moments, the text floats in dense poetic dazes, tightly worded and loose.
Danklands has the best YouTube make-up tutorial yet to be lightly spritzed on the surface of video. If you follow its steps precisely, it will make your synapses shimmer as much as it extends your lashes. Working out the co-ordinates of the book, in the coagulated oozing mass, of leachate, is part of the fun. Making a list of all the things that aren’t things in the world is amazing enough, making the links between them work as they are brought into conjunction by fire, sunburn, romantic interest, sleepiness, new kinds of plastic and code. Soon enough you’re gliding over the surface of the ice rink, smoothing out the crud from the surface on a giant Zamboni machine that leaves everything crystalised and clear, a glittering swathe of reflection that you can carve a path into, but not before hot water is already poured over it by the machine, Childs’ writing machine, that recomposes the relations between molecules.**
Leicester’s Two Queens is putting on the group exhibition Too Much which will be running at their gallery space from October 2 to October 25.
Taking up the topic of emotions and expression in the art world and in media at large, Too Much focuses in on the “emotive and affective properties of artistic expression”, featuring contemporary practices that work to respond to emotional stimuli, “replac[ing] cynicism, disillusion and apathy with rage, fear and love”. Based out of the gallery’s re-launch of Leicester’s collection of German Expressionist art, the exhibition aims to explore how the internet – and media or technology at large – has transformed how artists express themselves.
They come accompanied by an intimate text illustrating the inspiration behind the curatorial partnership on The Limited Collection Tumblr, where Farkas and Fois aim to explore the “nature of art today and the relations that implicate the artist within these very social economies” via artists who work online at various stages of production and distribution; a GIF representing its “infinite loop for winking for dispersal”.
Including screenings, performance lectures and discussions, the focus is on exploring the relationship of technology and information with visual culture, poetry, science fiction and narrative structures.
Events worth checking out include a screening of works by Hannah Black, Hannah Perry and Richard Sides on the afternoon of Friday, March 28, as well as a talk, ‘From Production to Consumption’.
Films by Michael E. Smith –who’s showing with the Geographies of Contamination groupexhibition on display in the gallery in parallel –will be screening from midday to 6pm both days. There’s also a performance and investigation into sincerity versus authenticity with ‘I Know That Fantasies are Full of Lies (Take IV)’, so best just see it all.
When Arcadia Missa co-founder and THE ANGRY SHOW curator Rózsa Farkasaccidentally emailed me her “secret planning pdf”, I was confused by the artwork descriptions like “perhaps the goetse vid and the text she wrote on the modern phallic subject in htsf, in vinyl on the wall” for Jesse Darling’s ‘Mouf’ (2013) video. Assuming there was a reason for presenting the exhibition information sheet in such an unfinished manner (where a ‘?’ stood in place of an actual closing date), I asked Farkas if I could use the piece below, being drawn to how it called attention to the connotations of a given font: the delicate and graceful Chancery for “feelings”, clumsy and awkward Comic Sans for “the lonely sad girl” and dark Gil San Ultra Bold for “Other”. It turned out to be a very old draft curatorial plan.
Nonetheless, Farkas said I could use it but asked that I clarify how the writing came about, “cos like – they aint proper sentences ahahaa <3 <3”. In the context of THE ANGRY SHOW, though –where the didactics are scrawled in black felt tip over white walls and Jake Kent quotes UK punks Crass in ‘Do they owe us a living? ‘Course they fuckin’ do‘ (2013) –it’s sort of fitting.
Because between Aimee Heinemann’s gleefully low-brow reference to Chris Crocker’s emotional plea in ‘Alter (Cathedral of Our Lady of the Angels)’ (2013), with “LEAVE BRITNEY ALONE” spray painted on a survival blanket, and Rachel Lord’s tribute to the pink ‘girl’ Angry Bird in ‘Stella with flowers’ (2013), THE ANGRY SHOW already willingly rejects the “refinement, delicacy, or sensitivity” that Kent’s ‘crass’ is defined as being lacking in.
This is an exhibition that refuses the political structures that not only dictate one’s social worth via externally defined acceptable behaviours but determine its very aesthetic. To Melika Ngombe Kolongo & Daniella Russo’s ‘Unintended Circumstances‘ (2013) video, Farkas says, one viewer at the Sydney exhibition commented that the work, drenched in radiance and depicting the curb Florida teen Trayvon Martin was gunned down on, doesn’t look very “angry” at all.
“If we think about crying selfies and lonely girls, we begin to see a hierarchy in the deployment of affect: the Other cannot embody anger as part of their affect/subjectivity”, she explains. THE ANGRY SHOW refuses that hierarchy and “welcomes rage”. **
The end is as good a place to start as the beginning, especially when it comes to American Medium. It’s an until recently nomadic online and offline project that’s been running for two years, now settling in BedStuy, Brooklyn, and extending its operations to a permanent exhibition space, “office, garden sanctuary and outdoor artist’s studio”. There’s a kickstarter campaign, ending February 28, to help fund it and it’s run by two of the past six curators of art space anomaly Appendix. As key members of the renowned and now defunct suburban gallery in Portland, Travis Fitzgerald and Josh Pavlacky (along with Extra Extra’s Daniel Wallace) have plenty of experience in creating a supportive environment for interesting artists to work within.
A collective and an art space that established itself at the forefront of the drive to grasp “the divide between the physical and the digital”, as American Medium continues to do, the Appendix retrospective and elegy to a dynamic bygone era, was conceived by some of its core members and published by Container Corps on the gallery’s close in 2013. Starting at its end, the book becomes a document deconstructing documentation and a presentation of art that interrogates ideas of framing and interpretation through its own resulting abstraction.
As Fitzgerald flatly puts it in the Kevin Champoux-led interview ‘It’s a Garage, Not a Gallery: Appendix at 5 Years’ –including past curators Fitzgerald, Pavlacky, Zachary Davis, Maggie Casey, Ben Young and Alex Mackin Dolan –the space was nothing more than “a garage in a house”. Maybe so, but as said Google Hangouts conversation reveals, what began as a naïve foray into a project begun by a bunch of recent graduates who “really didn’t know anything”, Appendix became one of the most vital hubs of what you might call the ‘post-internet’ conversation (“Net art merging with formalism? It’s hard to say”).
It’s in this ordinary house “that smells vaguely of three men cohabiting in little rooms” with its two car garage-come-gallery glowing “like a television set” –according to David Knowlesin ‘Full Spectrum’ –that artists like Bunny Rogers and Darja Bajagić became some of the last exhibitors in 2013. It would take a highly supportive and independent space, driven on intuition, that would make something like Bajagić’s You Ve Been A Naughty Boy [C55] 1.e4 e5 2.♘f3 ♘c6 3.♗c4 ♘f6 4.d4 e×d4 5.0-0 ♗c5 6.e5 d5 7.e×f6 d×c4 8.♖e1+ ♔f8 9.♗g5 g×f6 10.♗h6+ ♔g8 11.♘×d4 ♗×d4 12.c3 ♗f5 13.c×d4 ♘×d4 14.♘c3 ♗g6 15.♖e8+! ♕×e8 16.♕×d4 ♕e5 17.♘d5!!, 1-0, exhibition title fit the pages of the Appendix ‘Exhibition History’. Also listed are Tabor Robak, Justin Bland and Brenna Murphy in the early days; Sean Joseph Patrick Carney’s Boyz Night Out, Dump.fm and The Jogging at its satellite sister-galleries Hay Batch and Little Field. Iain Ball and Katja Novitskova making appearances online.
Jasper Spicero, Bea Fremderman, MSHR, Brian Khek and Micah Schippa also make up just a fraction of the exciting artists to show through those garage doors between 2008 and 2013, for a short residency meant as a place to sleep and support a practice in the isolation of suburban Portland. Andrew Norman Wilson swung an Apple mouse by its cord around his head while dancing to Jackson Browne’s ‘Doctor My Eyes’, according to Gene McHugh’s collaborative short story ‘Andrew Norman Wilson at Appendix Project Space’. Daniel J. Glendening took time for an atomic description of a rotating rock at the exhibition on which ‘Daniel Baird, This New Ocean’ is based –all the while submitting to that realm that Knowles describes as where “rumor and memory begin their work”. Knowles compares galleries to tombs where “acts of life and labor end”, while Amy Bernstein’s incredibly evocative stream of thoughts on “the collective voice of expressive peoples giving form to contemporary experience” in ‘When the Walls Are White’, is underpinned by a question recurring throughout Appendix: “what if the new norm was that the documentation WAS the thing?”
In the context of the Appendix book –conceived by the art space curators, curating documents of exhibitions they already curated –it’s both interesting and overwhelming to consider the infinite interpretations and abstractions of an artist’s work and the ‘creative degradation’ that happens within that. After all, Appendix the bookis first hand experience, bound, framed and formatted through text and photography. Those exhibitions, in turn were the product of intense critique and conversation between artist and curator, constructing a unique exhibition tailored to the dimensions of a unique space. Even this very overview on this particular website is framing the book, the gallery, and the work in a way that is specific to its relevance to the continued and evolving ‘net art’ conversation at American Medium. It’s for this reason that perhaps the most thought provoking piece comes from Lisa Radon’s closing ‘APPENDIX’ (or Appendixappendix, Appendix appendix appendix, even). It’s a fascinating deconstruction of communication as embedded in and limited to its lexicon, building on Bernstein’s initial question: “when we look back at this time in art history what will we remember?”
Equal parts enlightening and indecipherable, across computer coding, Finnegan’s Wake footnotes and seemingly endless postscripts, ‘APPENDIX’ interrogates Appendix as both art space and idea, through Minecraft, CSS and the history of the American residential garage. “Do you remember a time before things were so codified, ossified?” Radon asks, in relation to the visual signifier of “the ransom note typography of the Sex Pistols” that a Finnish punk band, also called Appendix, borrows as its logotype. Rózsa Farkas questions historicity in ‘Five Years’, outlining the progress of DIY gallery movementsof the past to illustrate their effects on the present and leading to the conclusion that artist-run spaces “now have to deal with the marketability of art that older movements brought about”.
Hence, the vitality of Appendix and now American Medium, self-funded and caught in Knowles’ “looping progress of time”, where artists and curators return to carry on and build upon “the full spectrum suspended present available to us immediately and always”, within these realms of net art now contained within the walls of a space in Brooklyn. It’s here that one wonders whether this new more permanent space, with its defined public function, will no longer be the dynamic hinterland only a re-purposed residential garage “stuck somewhere between lost histories and unimaginable futures” could be, but the “relic, a piece of evidence” Glendining outlined in his fetishistic examination of a rock. There’s really only one way to find out. **