Sean Raspet

JUMP @ CAC Brétigny, Nov 19 – Jan 22

17 November 2016

The JUMP group exhibition is on at CAC Brétigny, opening November 19 and running to January 22. 

Commissioned by Céline Poulin, 15 artists will show including Julie Béna, Aleksandra Domanović, Zackary Drucker, Dennis Rudolph and Sean Raspet, among others. These artists’ work exists on the edges of perception, looking at what it means to be seen and not seen and to be and not be real, questioning the essence of identity and its fluidity in the context of reality.

The exhibition will be presented in an installation designed by Jean-Pascal Flavien exploring these transitions — redefining and blurring our understanding of space and artefacts; as intimate, utilitarian, and ambivalent forms, or even passages between realities.

See the CAC Brétigny website for (French-language) details.**

Aleksandra Domanović , Bulls Without Horns (2016). Courtesy Tanya Leighton, Berlin.
Aleksandra Domanović , ‘Bulls Without Horns’ (2016). Courtesy Tanya Leighton, Berlin.
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Esperanto @ Rowing reviewed

2 March 2016

Pop-up restaurants proliferate in London these days, spurred on by the fomo-hyperbole of social media. Esperanto, a “multiethnic” global restaurant chain concept is the latest on the scene, according to its curators. Taking the simulacra of the rituals surrounding food as its theme, the show curated by CURA. Magazine at Rowing and running February 19 to March 19 has assumed the name of ‘Mr Bow’, a fictional character, as its head chef —to launch the first in a series of ‘food of the world’ eateries in the culinary-obsessed setting of London. With a Yelp page in addition to a sparse website, Esperanto walks a tricky line between appropriation and irony, emulating the cuisine and look of a traditional Chinese restaurant, but one transplanted from the future by way of a reliquary to a stage-set from a Quentin Tarantino film. With a new work by Sean Raspet at its core, the ‘restaurant’ is made up of pieces by Emanuel Röhss, Sean Townley, Zoe Williams and Amy Yao.

The gallery is presented as an intimate restaurant. Its walls are painted an enthusiastic Naphthol red – a flat, ripe-cherry hue usually used for spraying automobiles – and the floor is newly carpeted in the kind of patterned burgundy that you might find in a middlebrow hotel lobby. A tableaux of works are lined up in front of the far wall and a long, low, lacquered table in the middle of the room is sparsely set with glass espresso cups and saucers. A white mound of rice is piled threateningly in the middle of the table. So tidily arranged is everything, so symmetrical, that the words feng shui can’t help but come to mind.

Emanuel Röhss, 'Hunger' (2016), Sean Townley, ‘CF:SG:NM’ (2015), Zoe Williams, ‘The Flight of O’ (2010). Installation view. Courtesy Rowing, London.
Emanuel Röhss, ‘Hunger’ (2016), Sean Townley, ‘CF:SG:NM’ (2015), Zoe Williams, ‘The Flight of O’ (2010). Installation view. Courtesy Rowing, London.

On closer inspection the mound is a casual layering of brown then white rice, with iridescent pearled rice poured on top. It’s Amy Yao’s ‘Bay of Smokes’, and it’s the first hint that all is not well under the sheen of artifice here; this food is preserved, shrouded, yet spoilt. The seductive pearlescence is repeated over in the large folding screen, ‘The Flight of O’ by Zoe Williams that builds on the pseudo-Orientalism of the room. Alternating panels are filled with a glossy black veneer inlaid with mother-of-pearl and other lustrous materials. The details on these panels start to emerge as the schema for some kind of ineffable recipe: a little mushroom or a bamboo shoot floats in a black void, and the central panel is a swirling kaleidoscope of tiny aubergines, mushrooms and almonds mixed with geometric shapes, which if it were to be described in Masterchef rhetoric would surely be an ‘explosion of flavour’.

Emanuel Röhss’s gargoyles ‘Hunger’ and ‘Thirst’ squatly sit either side of the screen, the ‘studio debris’ that they’re made from poking out of the blue-green patina —Wotsits and dirt escaping from their admixture like worms out of a compost bin. Towering over them are Sean Townley’s ‘CF/SG/NM’; carbon-fibre and epoxy bear and pig-pelts hanging from ornately swirled flag poles, completing the strange symmetry of the curation. They’re reminiscent of the kind of heraldry you might get in a medieval banqueting hall —lending grandeur to the proceedings —but instead of family crests they pay homage to the animal’s flesh, luridly mimicking the fabric of a cheaply-made ‘disco diva’ outfit that you’d find bopping around the light-up tiled dance floor of a 70s tribute nightclub. That is to say, the theme of simulacra doesn’t skip a beat here: imitation is the name of the game.

All this serves to play backdrop to Raspet’s ‘Maillard Process Simulation 0.1% in Water’. A bog-standard metal tea urn sits incongruously in the opposite corner, spotlit, the reflections throwing shapes onto the cherry-red walls. The work (technically what is inside the urn) is the only thing on the menu at Mr Bow’s dinner table —a bewilderingly long list of unpronounceable chemicals to whet your appetite —and you can try it. I hope that someone finds the restaurant’s profile on Yelp and decides to pay it a visit to impress their date. I wish I could be there as they mistake the invigilator for a Maitre’d, and, raising the morsel of clear liquid to the light, swirling it around as though trying to imitate a sommelier, sniffing it, a subtle sweet-yet smoky smell fills their nostrils. It smells like —Peking duck! Tentatively putting the cup to their lips an umami duck-ness comes through, which surprises by its power in contrast to the unassuming clear liquid that delivered its flavour. “Raspet’s Maillard Process Simulation is delicious” one will confer to the other, before hedonistically sticking their forefinger deep into Yao’s rice mound, they just couldn’t help themselves.

Sean Raspet, ‘Maillard Process Simulation 0.1% in Water’ (2016), Amy Yao, ‘Bay of Smokes’ (2016). Installation view. Courtesy Rowing, London.
Sean Raspet, ‘Maillard Process Simulation 0.1% in Water’ (2016), Amy Yao, ‘Bay of Smokes’ (2016). Installation view. Courtesy Rowing, London.

Undoubtedly set to scare off the #cleaneating brigade, the chemical-infused water is a twisted version of Willy Wonka’s three-course dinner chewing gum: the desire to have the flavours of real food without all that bother of actually cooking and eating. A quest to have a single perfect uniform food. The peculiarity is that a ‘Maillard reaction’, as well as sounding like ‘Mallard’ – a very English duck – is actually the chemical process that gives browned foods such a delicious flavour. The depth of flavour of porter or brown ale for instance, or a dark, crispy skin. In making a clear liquid which contains all the hallmark smells and flavours of Peking duck, Raspet is not only highlighting the insane artificiality of commercial food production, but the very un-delicious drink plays with the idea that the food on which it’s based is an imitation anyway; this scented water becomes food by the design of its own accuracy.

Spilling forth a mood, a feeling of authenticity, the reassurance of familiarity that unites all these works serves to hide a sinister uncanniness in plain sight. Whether or not the show as a whole takes a critical approach to an economy where symbols behave like materials or makes a joke of it in the style of an easily accessible otherness in its desire to be plugged into a global network is perhaps a question that can only be answered after it evolves into other ‘world food’ pop-ups in its travelling incarnation. When the pastiche hits so close to reality, is the recourse to Asian imagery simply exoticising an already filtered and warped simulation? **

The Esperanto group exhibition curated by CURA., is on at London’s Rowing, running February 19 to March 19, 2016.

Header image: Esperanto (2016). Installation view. Courtesy Rowing, London.

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9800 @ 9800 S Sepulveda Blvd reviewed

12 November 2015

Protected under Los Angeles’ historical preservation codes, 9800 S Sepulveda Blvd lies as a vacant testament to 1960s Los Angeles, one where the junction of freeways, air travel and mass mechanization correlated with greater personal and economic mobility. The nine-story building was designed by Welton Beckett, the architect responsible for the Capitol Records and Theme buildings, as part of a larger development skirting the LAX airport. It is this backdrop of surplus modernism that provides the setting for the 9800 group exhibition, occupying eight floors of the empty building with more than one hundred artists’ works, performances and site-specific installations including Rachel Lord, Zoe Crosher, Khalid Al Gharabali + Fatima Al Qadiri, Sam Lipp and many more.

As part of the show, nearly every floor is taken over by a certain curator or organization. Three spaces are particularly noteworthy, starting with J. Shyan Rahimi’s curated lobby and basement titled If I Did It that alludes to varying displays of concealment, deception and entrapment echoing the title of O.J. Simpson’s memoir. This narrative is loosely drawn on the ground floor with a text-based piece ‘Burning Questions?’ (2015) by Tracy Jeanne Rosenthal mounted on multiple acrylic panels describing her descent into a web-based pop-up subscription service. Above her work hang video pieces by Simone Niquille depicting distorted, digital masks of Britney Spears and other pop icons. Further on, an installation by Sean Raspet vaporizes synthetic sugar that, when inhaled, creates a sensation of sweetness deep in the throat.

PLAYTIME (2015) @ 9800 S Sepulveda, Los Angeles. Exhibition view.
PLAYTIME (2015) @ 9800 S Sepulveda, Los Angeles. Exhibition view.

In the basement, the scale of the work grows more ambitious. A videogame by Ryan Trecartin and Lizzie Fitch’s Witness 360 + Fitch + Trecartin Studio allows you to fly as a drone around a Masonic Temple and, in another room, Doug Rickard’s selection of banned Youtube videos depict an underbelly of illicit behavior across the globe. Yet perhaps the best illumination of the relationship between concealment and malfeasance is a room occupied by an installation by Encyclopedia Inc. featuring an overlapping audio soundtrack of Arabic and English. These recordings were ostensibly used to justify the evidence of Iraq’s acquisition of uranium concentrate ‘Yellowcake’ in the lead-up to the United States’ 2003 invasion of Iraq. For a selection of work rooted in the concept of questionable motives, it is the best demonstration of an illicit intent lost within the process of the dissemination of meaning.

On the fourth floor, is a selection of much more modest works curated by Parisians Pierre-Alexandre Mateos and Charles Teyssou. As opposed to the other floors, Mateos and Teyssou’s exhibition includes no Los Angeles artists, instead focusing on relational works with instructions, performances or non-classifiable activity. The opening night featured Luis Miguel Bendaña and a room ringed with Maraschino cherries in small communion glasses, as well as a performance by Puppies Puppies consisting of a massive yellow python meandering about a central room. In one corner office, French designer Item Idem has set up an installation of a stack of LED lights, which capriciously turn off when the door is opened. In another darkened corner office, internet artist sstmrt’s soundtrack plays into the empty room, a sequence of bronchial coughing, wheezing, sobbing, urination and possibly even sex. This soundtrack, combined with the office’s outlook of Sepulveda Blvd and onto the tarmac of LAX, projects a visceral impression of Los Angeles’ ceaseless urbanity, one of both musing alienation and diffused impersonality.

PLAYTIME (2015) @ 9800 S Sepulveda, Los Angeles. Exhibition view.
PLAYTIME (2015) @ 9800 S Sepulveda, Los Angeles. Exhibition view.

On the rooftop, Matthew Doyle’s sound installation ‘SSB[39!], Leq i.i.d.’ (2015) utilizes the data generated from decibel meters monitoring community noise levels around the airport. Developed in collaboration with Sam Wolk, the program uses permutations of the data with the input of a rooftop microphone to sends impulses of white noise across three speakers on from there to the sun deck, creating particularly cacophonous blasts when Santa Ana gusts hit the building. The embrace of this noise data network, with its variable streams, vectors and paths, is in many ways a recognition of the arbitrary functionality of Los Angeles and its lost modernist promise. 9800 S Sepulveda Blvd, as a relic of a uniform spatial awareness, has been replaced by the ubiquity of other forms of uniform connectivity, a dialogue that 9800 successfully addresses in spite of its bewildering scale. **

The 9800 group exhibition is on at 9800 S Sepulveda Blvd, running from October 29 to November 15, 2015.

Header image: PLAYTIME (2015) @ 9800 S Sepulveda, Los Angeles. Exhibition view.

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9800 opening @ 9800 Sepulveda, Oct 29

29 October 2015

9800 transforms a large vacant building into an art space with seven curators, each occupying a different floor of the building and presenting over 100 artists at the historic 9800 S Sepulveda building in Los Angeles on October 29.

The event will bring in a rotation of simultaneous exhibitions and events, many of which were created specifically for the space, and all of which “take the particular location as their orienting force, their impetus”.

The result is something “more in the realm of the experimental, temperamental, fleeting, emerging”, with the curators and artists alike considering the site and creating works “activated” by it. Among the seven curators are Courtney Malick and Ana Iwataki, and among the over 100 artists are ÅYRFatima Al Qadiri, Sarah Abu Abdallah, Felix Melia, Item Idem, Rachel Lord, Fabio Santacroce  and Sean Raspet

See the Facebook event page for details. **


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In the Flesh Part l @ Martos Gallery, Oct 23 – Dec 5

23 October 2015

Ivana Basic is joined by Encyclopedia, Inc., Nicolas Lobo and Sean Raspet for the In the Flesh Part l: Subliminal Substances group show running at LA’s Martos Gallery from October 23 to December 5.

The show, curated by Courtney Malick, takes on the inorganic ingestible elements found in medicine, food, cosmetics and tech devices we are consistently exposed to, despite the chemicals and radioactivity they emit.

Through the works of the four participating artists, In the Flesh Part l: Subliminal Substances explores the ways in which our bodies “adapt, morph and mutate as a result of the increasing seamlessness between what we think of as purely organic or natural matter, such as skin and flesh, and inorganic, ingestible substances that are regularly consume”.

See the exhibition page for details. **

Ivana Basic, 'World is all of one skin' (2014). Courtesy Center, Berlin.
Ivana Basic, ‘World is all of one skin’ (2014). Courtesy Center, Berlin.
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Eva Löfdahl + Sean Raspet @ Minibar, Aug 20 – Sep 26

18 August 2015

Stockholm’s Minibar opens a new exhibition titled Arche Apeiron, with works by Eva Löfdahl and Sean Raspet, running from August 22 to September 26 with an opening reception of August 20.

The exhibition is described as “an attempt to lay the groundwork for something to arch over, and into, several mediums”, and patterns, repetitions, evolutions seem to be the abstract and thematic focus of Arche Apeiron.

Trajectories, geometric timelines that interlace, colliding in their extemporaneous frequencies” are what Löfdahl (“a perennial universe that fluctuates, morphs, unravels, and revises”) and Raspet (whose “formulations and deformulations – creations out of the intersections of process, coagulation, and chemical composition – orbit the point where science takes on the tonality of language”) take as their focus.

See the exhibition page for details. **

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Sean Raspet @ New Galerie NY, Apr 19 – May 9

18 April 2014

Sean Raspet is presenting solo exhibition Untitled (Registration/PIN: G0009296/78GY76DM; G0009297/99ER43TB; G0009298/39ZL54SJ) at New Galerie New York, opening April 19 and running to May 9.

The artist, also represented by Berlin’s Société, announces the show with a description of a substance that sounds a lot like SmartWater (a coded anti-theft liquid that can be read under UV light) covering the gallery space.

All that draws some interesting connections between law enforcement and the “forensic preoccupation with the logistics of surfaces and contact being isomorphic to certain modes of traditional aesthetic contemplation”.

See the New Galerie website for details. **

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Société @ ALAC, Jan 30 – Feb 2

30 January 2014

Berlin’s Société is one of the exhibitors at the fifth year of Art Los Angeles Contemporary (ALAC) this year, running January 30 to February 2.

The gallery will be presenting work by Josh Kolbo, Sean Raspet, Timur Si-Qin and Ned Vena, along with 70 other international blue chip and emerging galleries at the Barker Hangar in Santa Monica. Tabor Robak and Cory Arcangel representative team (gallery, inc.) will also be there with a selection of its other artists, while Jonathan Viner will present work from George Henry Longly, and Brenna Murphy represented by Portland’s Upfor gallery.

Read our interview with Timur Si-Qin and see the ALAC website for details. **

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