Eglė Kulbokaitė & Dorota Gawęda - YGRG14X: reading with the single hand V, Cell Project Space

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Initially organised as a weekly event, ‘Young Girl Reading Group’ was established in 2013 by Dorota Gawęda and Eglė Kulbokaitė referencing Tiqqun’s Preliminary Materials For a Theory of the Young-Girl; a non binary and ageless protagonist identified as a product of consumer society. Organised around feminist inspired theory and fiction, Gawęda and Kulbokaitė first conceived YGRG as an intimate discursive space within the experience of collective reading then subsequently extending it into the domain mediated through the Internet, social media and immersive installation.

For their solo exhibition at Cell Project Space, Dorota Gawęda and Eglė Kulbokaitė present the fifth iteration of the performance YGRG 14X: reading with a single hand along with a new video installation under the same title. Initially conceived for the 13th Baltic Triennial-Prelude, CCA, Vilnius in September 2017, the performative installation investigates the act of reading as an intimate experience, holding the potentiality to become public performance through the « outlouding » of words. Shown on screens of varying scales throughout the installation, the new video work will become the framework for installed elements and commissioned sculptural interventions alongside a staged performance at the opening and closing of the exhibition. The group will perform Young Girl Reading Group’s manifesto interspersed with paragraphs from the third part of Paul B. Preciado’s Gender, Sexuality, and the Biopolitics of Architecture: From the Secret Museum to Playboy.

Essential to the artists’ output is the increasing technological mediation of the project’s activity. For YGRG 14X: reading with a single hand, Gawęda & Kulbokaitė will present YGRG Outlet. The store represents a branded material collapse of production into a gesture of social performativity using their recently patented fragrance BODY AI, newly commissioned limited editions and sportswear line. In the same way as the artists’ social media interventions, their branded unisex YGRG T-shirts and sweatshirts orientate their activities around collectivity and peer-to-peer circulation. The scent, as with ‘Young Girl’, embodies a conceptual notion of ‘non-place’, with or without location, class, or gender signification.

Eglė Kulbokaitė & Dorota Gawęda - YGRG14X: reading with the single hand V
Cell Project Space, June 7 - July 22
www.cellprojects.org

Nina Beier - The Downer

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The first artwork I saw by Nina Beier was her performance Tragedy, which she has staged a number of times, but this particular version took place at Metro Pictures in New York on a muggy night in June 2012. Tragedy stars a dog laying on a Persian rug, splayed out and stock-still, playing dead. The performance inspires double takes on different emotional registers; the first is the need to confirm that one is seeing a live animal and not a hyperrealistic sculpture. After a few seconds of observation, one realizes, yes, the dog is shallowly breathing. But then one wonders how this dog is able to keep it together in a hot room filled with a hundred people. The dog isn’t exactly zen. It is still, but its somewhat anxious stare is directed at one person in the crowd. The dog’s trainer is mixed in with the gallery visitors, reassuringly staring back at the animal with a gaze that invokes supreme trustworthiness, indicating the praise, biscuit or whatever reward will be granted to the performer for a job well done. I am not sure how long the performance lasts, it could be anywhere from five minutes to a half hour. Time gets a bit suspended while watching Tragedy.

At this point, I wasn’t familiar with Beier’s work and I unexpectedly stumbled into the performance. Tragedy was featured in a jaunty summer group show about dogs – fittingly titled “Dogma” – and while the piece does feature a dog (and a live one at that), its intrigue and power far exceeded the context. It’s the only thing I still remember from the show. As I’ve learned more about Beier’s work over the subsequent years – and indeed now been able to enjoy an ongoing conversation with her in the months leading up to her exhibition at the Downer – I have come to see Tragedy as a decoder ring to her larger practice, which regularly digs into the more unsayableterritory of art. The fact that it was the first piece of hers I remember seeing is just dumb luck.

Deceptively familiar would be a good way of describing much of Beier’s work, and Tragedy is no exception. A conventional illustration of domesticity is doubled: the pet dog and the Persian rug. The fact that the dog cast for the part at Metro Pictures was a Golden Retriever, a quintessentially suburban American breed, made the tableau almost too rich. Despite itself, Tragedy is less ‘tableau’ and more ‘tableau vivant.’ In inviting her viewers to observe the ostensible nothing going on – which is actually completely riveting – Beier opens a space for considering a subject so familiar that rarely is a passing thought levied on it other than, “Oh, cute.” So after the brief confusion over what exactly is taking place, Tragedy is narrated by each viewer’s inner ruminations on dogs, domesticity, domestication, conditioning, trust, ownership and mortality, and that’s just the obvious stuff.

Funnily enough, Tragedy addresses its audience in the least dogmatic way possible, instead placing the onus of decoding its meaning into the hands of its viewers totally without didacticism. Gettingthe work doesn’t require an explanatory text or an understanding of Beier’s previous projects, but rather a willingness to dig around in one’s own ideas about its component parts. Tragedy doesn’t contribute to our understanding of these. Instead it inspires a meditation on what our understanding of them currently is and how we may have arrived at it.

At some point, the trainer rouses the dog and the audience snaps-to. The small resurrection leaves the door open for a reprise.

While the dog is still on the rug, Tragedy presents a scene aspiring to be a fixed image, though its failure to be completely still is what makes it captivating. A photograph of a dog lying on a rug can’t inspire the same stupefied reflection as seeing the it nervously performed for you. Instability – or unfixed-ness – runs through Beier’s practice. She selects and massages her materials not only into being strange enough to inspire a double take, but also into being myriad things simultaneously. One sees that the unfixed-ness literalized by the seeking gaze and the rise and fall of the dog’s shank exists metaphorically in Beier’s sculptures, assemblages and installations.

Beier’s research into stock photography banks is often mentioned in writings about her work. She has borrowed these images as templates for sculptures, reassembling in physical space the props used in the original photograph. Stock images in general, especially the type that Beier utilizes, have proliferated crazily over the past two decades. Cheaply made by arranging commonplace objects into theatrical still lives, these photos are also unfixed by design, aiming instead to fulfill a bevy of uses and in doing so appeal to the broadest group of paying licensers. Stock image banks host thousands of near identical images of the same objects in similar configurations. This deluge is a perfect illustration of contemporary image culture, in which the societal appetite for visual information is insatiable, but also the paradox of working on no assignment for no client. Thousands upon thousands of things are thrown at the wall to see if they stick, those that don’t just pile up.

Despite their volume, these images consistently employ fairly superficial metaphors: telephone and Ethernet cords signify connectivity and communication; coins and banknotes – commerce; eggs – fragility or fertility. They function almost like visual security blankets, reassuring those who use them that they won’t go over any potential audience’s head. Beier is guilty of employing the same tactic, at least at first glance. Her materials are often quotidian objects – sometimes they are aspirational ones – all of which elicit what I imagine are fairly standard responses from most people. They are familiar.

The seductiveness of familiarity may be what initially draws an audience to Beier’s work, like me to the dog on the rug. But as with the slipperiness of the tableau in Tragedy, one’s recognition is quickly complimented by the realization that whatever one is looking at has been changed or charged to allow it to point beyond its everydayness and into the murkier history that produced it. A cigar is never just a cigar. This is a meaningful duality in Beier’s approach: she simultaneously exploits the emotive, feeling, sensing context within which we are used to approaching art, as well as our contemporary collective unconscious that has ballooned to incorporate all manner of shared information, from Wikipedia to advertising to memes to political dog-whistling. Her work is particularly dependent on her audience’s preconceptions and it bends to confirm or challenge these depending on how willing each viewer is to reckon with them.

In one of Beier’s sculptures that uses coffee beans, a seemingly endless cascade of them spill forth from a tiny espresso mug, piling in a heap on the ground below. The sculpture seems unbound by the forces of the world, with the mug hovering half a meter off the ground (spoiler alert: it’s held up by the beans it is purportedly pouring). In this instance, stillness is unsettling rather than the opposite. This thing defies gravity. Its uncanniness leads one beyond the stock-image-level of communication. Sure this could be an illustration of the warm sensation that washes over you when you have a sip of your first morning cup, or abundance, movement and the effortlessness of global trade, and it is, but here somehow it’s also more. It wouldn’t be heavy lifting for a viewer to spin through these thoughts and end up thinking about the glorifying images of coffee harvesters in Latin America, Africa and South East Asia they have seen plastered on the walls of Starbucks worldwide. Then remembering that coffee is a product of imperialism, which now sits somewhere in the canyon between empowering and exploitative.

The things Beier brings into her work are loaded, but seeing them inspires the realization that everything is loaded. Elsewhere, Hermès ties show up. The ur-luxury-brand (it’s literally the first, or at least the longest operating) signals a very distinct version of entitlement. Their iconic patterned neckties caricaturize world culture with breezy nonchalance. All drawn with the same flattening hand, they illustrate safaris, Holland’s tulips and windmills, Native Americans dancing around a fire, Russian nesting dolls and Indian snake charmers. Another project involved a cache of engagement rings purchased second hand and shown together. The grouping contained rings sporting real diamonds alongside those fitted with cubic zirconias. I’m not sure if this fact was made clear to the audience to send them appraising or if the imposter rings were allowed to masquerade as the real thing with no one the wiser.

At some point, Beier told me about the anthropological term Material Culture. It refers to the study of society through the things it produces and that eventually trail in its wake. It also focuses on how these objects garner meaning, come to represent larger concepts and move between cultures. Beier’s work could be seen as an elucidation of this field, but I think that might be the stock-image-level reading. She does this, of course, collecting and investigating the products of our hyperactive, over-connected and often insolent culture. Concrete take-aways are more elusive, and Beier declines to share hers. Instead, she leaves her audience to grapple with the limitlessness of things, their unbelievable wealth of meanings and, ultimately, their unknowability.

Text by Patrick Armstrong.

Nina Beier
The Downer, May 19 - July 7
www.thedowner.de

Simone Zaccagnini – Riviera Sunset Boulevard, Galerie Derouillon

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“I won’t send you two pages about my work, but I’ll send you my playlist and my references. I can’t write about my work, it’s complicated, it will be pretentious. I, as an artist, has a vision about something, and cannot pretend to be someone else, who has a vision about my vision. It’s not the artist’s job to try to analyze the works, it will become vulgar. One can’t be the actor and the critic... You will have to try to contextualize it, make sense of it, put it all together”.
These are Simone’s instructions when I speak with him on Whatsapp from his car in Prenzlauer Berg in Berlin, where he sits when he needs to be alone. Usually, Simone works in a studio space that he shares with his girlfriend Anna. But he had an incident – he broke his sewing machine, which then had to be replaced – and as he bought a new, industrial one, it was, by default, delivered to his home. “So now I had this monster installed at home”, which led to a decision of moving his studio home temporarily. “I actually prefer to work at home, it forces me to be more clean, although my home now is messy, with plastic and gummy and jackets and socks everywhere”.

He says he is not romantic per-say with his works, that he is trying to escape an obsession of how to use technique or a language. He doesn’t see art for art, music for music, painting for painting, but a diagonal line between them. “I don’t have any symbolism in my work, that’s for sure; nothing is symbolic.
If people don’t see what it is, I tell them, it is what it is, and it might not be anything. My work should speak on its own; have its own legs, it should be able to walk alone. It has its own life (or its own career, if stuff goes well), its own price, its own house, brother and sisters and owners, and eventually it doesn’t belong to me anymore, it’s not mine.” It’s not the usual approach that art drives you into. “Formally, I’m trying to have precise works, because although I have a punk approach, I don’t like trashy results” he says, and obviously references Jean Dubuffet and Art Brut. “Sometimes beauty and ugliness are so close. Since the renaissance people tried to have an answer for what beauty is, but beauty is a moment, something that shows itself, not something you can manage or reproduce as a medium”. I’m interested in the rather inelegant and sporty element to his work. “I don’t to any sports, I’m too lazy to make sports, I’m keeping skinny by being nervous and smoking cigarettes. Obviously I don’t know the sports world too much.” However he is interested in sports logos and logomania.

Riviera Sunset Boulevard is an installation of 10-12 works. The works escape all borders, forms and shapes. The materials are all chosen carefully and sourced from the Internet; the three identical Kellogg’s jackets were ordered from New Zealand, Italy and the US. Typically, Simone would use wooden stretchers as canvas, but these have none – they’re made a bit like a soft suitcase; onto red gummy these jackets and jerseys are mounted, with logos in bright palettes (no blacks or browns or dark reds), layered with Fimo clay (typically used by kids or punks), also in intense colors. For this exhibition, Simone has looked to COBRA artists like Karel Appel and Asger Jorn, as well as Tanaka Atsuko from the Gutai collective. Part of the idea of a sculpture is that you’re standing in front of, looking at, a monument. These new works are not monumental like sculptures normally are. They are empty inside, but have a functional structure, which allows them to be put on the couch, put on the wall, slept on. “In a way, I try to keep the functionality away. When I start working on them, they have a function, and after I have worked on them, they have no function. They are stretched until broken, they are cut”.

Apropos cut, Simone is majorly influenced by deconstruction and sampling in hiphop; tracks are cut, manipulated until it hurts something else, if you want. He sent me a playlist of Madlib, Ol’ Dirty Bastard, Travis Scott and Dean Blunt. And during the time making this new body of work, an old friend of Simone’s re-appeared in his life, Dre Love, an American rapper and MC, who said of Simone’s new works they have an energy and strong references reminiscing the golden era gladness of the 90s in Jamaica, Queens, where he had grown up. And it’s precisely these nostalgic connotations to and combinations of, hiphop, 90s fashion and childishness that makes these new works so paradoxically refreshing.
- Elise By Olsen.

Simone Zaccagnini - Riviera Sunset Boulevard
Galerie Derouillon, June 27 - July 21
www.galeriederouillon.com

Pedro Matos & Struan Teague - The Unbearable Lightness of Being, The Court

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The artists were invited to deepen the title of Milan Kundera's novel The Unbearable Lightness of Being in a fascinating dialogue between weights and voids that express themselves through the medium of painting.

Exhibiting Artists: Pedro Matos, Struan Teague.
Curated by: Maurizio Vicerè.
Photos by: Pierluigi Fabrizio.

The Unbearable Lightness of Being
The Court, June 16 - August 16
www.thecourtspeaks.com

Matt Mignanelli - Nocturnes, Denny Gallery

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Matt Mignanelli is best known for his intricate paintings of grids inspired by light, shadow, and architectural elements present in the urban landscape. Mignanelli explores permutations of the geometric forms while recording the element of chance associated with his freehand process in drips of paint that he allows to splash on the canvas as he works. The work in the exhibition will introduce expressionistically painted abstract fields of color alongside of the gridded compositions for which he is best known.

Mignanelli’s show title, Nocturnes, harkens back to the origins of his departure from his black and white work, inspired by the inky colors of the night sky. When he first started using blue on white in his paintings, Mignanelli noticed that the eye registered the blue as black, and had to adjust the colors to make them appear to be the color they are. This slippage between the eye being able to see color and not see color is also a specific property of evening, the realm of the “Nocturne.” His use of blue also refers to utilitarian painting applications in municipal and industrial contexts. This confluence of disparate influences, such as romantic night and everyday municipal paint, is an apt metaphor for the balance in his practice between spontaneity and methodical planning, expressionism and control.

Matt Mignanelli - Nocturnes
Denny Gallery, June 21 - August 17
www.dennygallery.com

Laurie Kang - A Body Knots, Gallery TPW

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A new site-responsive installation by Toronto-based Laurie Kang, A Body Knots coalesces several threads of research and creation, animated by the artist’s deep curiosity with science studies, science fiction, feminist theory, and personal and cultural history. As a twin, Kang considers these discourses and their combined impact on understandings of bodies as individual and specific, while also imagining possible shared micro-level blueprints. Most recently, Kang’s attention has turned to epigenetics—the study of how one’s genetic makeup is expressed or suppressed in relation to environment. The blueprint itself doesn’t change but how it expresses itself is mutable. The field is a groundbreaking rethink of the old nature versus nurture binary, speaking to an interrelation of the inherent biological code of an organism and how, through wide-ranging environmental factors, that code is amplified or repressed.

Applying such framing to the life of all matter, it’s possible to ask if photography has a genetic blueprint of its own. Do photographic materials have their own inherent codes of expression beyond how humans use them? Pushing at this question, Kang’s work highlights the inherent expansive nature of photographic materials by misusing and thus freeing photographic processes from the medium’s structures of control. Most known for her camera-less images, Kang uses light-sensitive photographic papers brought into relation with organic materials, darkroom chemicals, and uncontrolled natural light. Each image is produced without fixative, allowing her abstractions to remain continually sensitive and perpetually evolving in relation to their environment. Interrupting the depictive role of photography traditionally used to fix vision and memory through the capture of an image, Kang’s abstractions work to unfix, allowing photographic materials to metabolize their environments at their own pace.

With A Body Knots, photographs become skins in relation to material forms of both intimate and architectural scale, turning the apparatus of presentation—the physical frame, the hanging mechanism, the space within which images are presented—into felt evocations of skeletal structure, fascia, muscle, and flesh. Materials such as rubbers and metals become gentle industrial bodies to carry Kang’s responsive skins. Combining the photographic with the sculptural, Kang intuitively collaborates with matter to expand her thinking about what constitutes a body. What further expressions these images take on remain to be seen, as their inherent sensitivities entangle with new environments—an ongoing performance of coexistence.

Text by Kim Simon.

Laurie Kang - A Body Knots
Gallery TPW, May 5 - June 9
www.gallerytpw.ca

LUÍS LÁZARO MATOS - Tomber Dans Le Lac, Galeria Madragoa

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In the melancholy of the chroma Blue of Prussia, we see immersed the after death of King Louis II of Bavaria, in “Tomber Dans Le Lac”. To fall into the lake, an expression that in French means to fall into a world of illusions, is the diving board of Lázaro Matos to perform a tragicomic acrobatics on the perils of dazzle. Ironically, it was on the Lake Starnberger that the defunct body of Louis II of Bavaria was found, three days after being deposed. This State figure, known for contracting debts and withdrawing from matters of the State, is the driving force of various follies, opulent buildings built on dreams and musings. Lázaro Matos presents these works as narcissus-castles, accentuating an architectural view as an extension of the self. One of the undertakings of this delusional and megalomaniac legacy, the Neuschwanstein Castle, is the inspiring model of the Disney Castle, this American stronghold where so many unattainable romantic stories are written, especially when we talk about queer lives. "(...) searching for romantic love, but always abandoning my book too soon (...)". Atop a transparent blue, we see a moray reciting the outbursts of the scorned sovereign which metamorphize into an astonishing confessional manifesto. The aesthetic exaggerations of privilege cover the solitude of the bottom of an unknown lake. 

Textt by Rodrigo Vaiapraia , May 9th, 2018, Lisbon.

Luís Lazaro Matos - Tomber Dans Le Lac
Galeria Madragoa, May 16 - July 21
www.galeriamadragoa.pt

Michele Gabriele - Clumsy and Milky: encoding the last quarter of a pose, White Noise Gallery

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I tried to show you the best parts of me, the most edgy, composed, winking and generous of futile details, and I turned my silhouette into its own artifact orthogonal essence. Three plans, three quarters, simultaneously. Fractionated segments, carefully selected to make sure you will look at me.

I hoped I could show you only the good, the best, like through a pleasant profile picture, in which I am the image of your admiration, the contemplation of a perfectly-accomplished connotation inside the space of a narrow geometry.
I’m like you imagined. The protruding cheekbones, the winking curves drawn by the compass and concluding in the squared jaw, the edgy nose when viewed from above, the languid and transparent glance,
the newborn’s nothing-patinated colored eyes. The torso slightly turned, a tuft of hair turned between the fingers.

You said you loved me, and now you are disappointed, your heart is broken.
It ‘s true, they are not as you thought, they are not at all orthogonal, nor appropriately squared. I’m so clumsy, and you’re so beautiful. I wanted to please you, for a moment, a very short time, before everything ended, before disappointing you and then I quickly hid all the rest, so ungainly, milky and inhomogeneous, the last plane of that axonometry that is the pose of a form staggering. But I never lied to you, never. I just wanted to see you speak again of me so proud, openly, and feel connected to me, to the clumsy sensuality that I could not hide between my back and shoulder. Accept me … I’m what you wanted …

Michele Gabriele - Clumsy and Milky: encoding the last quarter of a pose
White Noise Gallery, June 7 - July 27
www.whitenoisegallery.it

PIERRE CLEMENT - ABOVE TOP SECRET, Galerie Escougnou-Cetraro

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The exhibition finds its most literal correspondence in both the daily life and imagination of Pierre Clement. We visualise the artist in his studio, behind his computer, searching within survivalist sites, surfing on conspiracy theorists, among which: Above Top Secret «The oldest pessimists website. It talks about everything without any hierarchy, goes from biology through ufology, down to Donald Trump. Above top secret could possibly be the title of a film by Terry Gilliam, evoking a nightmare of a future nuanced by a hymn to love. An antiphony within which, Pierre Clement would unveil, to the apocalyptic sound of «The war of the worlds”, scenes of disasters and other lines of an anticipation novel.

A mixture of a dramatic soundtrack ; Clement adds, à la Jack Foley’s post-production style, the effects of a daily geomanipulation: photocopies, desert views, satellite imagery, jet-fighter holo-gun sights, hurricane eyes, 4G relay antenna’s shapes and other syringes. He integrates, in transparency, different overlays of fiction, from reconstitution down to drama. «I mix layers, I associate them. They are found in the gestures i am using, in the choice of materials. They escape from me, they organise themselves; there is a frame, a grid. I’m sampling, I’m sequencing»

In the exhibition space, six large formats on wood frames are facing six small sculptures, a pure and classic tradition’ display; small shrubs in levitation: corals composed of syringes stitched together and suspended on springs. Each of these pieces are worked as expansive organisms, they exist as juxtaposed elements that create a visual effect, a distortion. They givethe viewer the impression of movement or hidden images. Clement’s works point a form of traveler’s syndrome, evoking a temporary psychic disorder caused by confrontation to reality.

The titles of his works, such as, «4Ghudhurr2», combine the abbreviations of the different ingredients, hurricanes, HUD gun-sights (military enhanced reality system), 4G antennas. These become the passwords of a scientific fiction. We imagine Pierre Clement searching inside trash-bags of a certain future, or even those left by our ancestors, gradually build-up, layer by layer; temporary vestiges and material witnesses of eras in the making, or of the past, on which our present would be erected.

The exhibition, seems to continuously develop the artist’s discussion on the gap between artistic fiction, reality, and absurdity. By ruining the «cut-and-paste» aesthetic and/or hypertext references, Pierre Clement uses both the medium and its story, as a filter of his personal experiences. Above top secret, ultimately, is a subversive “home movie”; the low-tech way, a back and forth journey between ironic appropriation and political resonance. Pierre Clement, a.k.a Nanouk l’esquimau, plays and stages a certain future archeology and lays down the foundations of post-reality.

Text by Anissa Touati.

Pierre Clement - Above Top Secret
Galerie Escougnou-Cetraro, May 17 - June 17
www.escougnou-cetraro.fr

Aline Bouvy & Nicolas Pelzer - Late Down, Mélange

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Looking at technology and its evolution/development is one way of perceiving the simultaneity of things: What exists at the same time in various places, can be obsolete in one and necessary in another. Everything connects, but the evolving steps in technology are only slowly getting globalized. Since we finally had the epiphany, that history is not a singular narrative, but a multitude of storylines, perspectives and shifts, how would it be possible to capture a fraction of our time in an adequate way? When the concept of progress fails where does our need for a narrative driven plot lead us to and can it branch out into the periphery? This question is similar to the idea to describe where our present begins, or ends. Technology evolves so quickly – currently, and over the past 160 years – that it always pushes the present into a state of flux and future, affordable for the one, problematic for the other, but always only in one direction: ahead. Improvements, innovations and recycling of ideas pushes the lifespan of our lives, as well as the boundaries of our bodies in a new a continuous quest of understanding our place in time, space and society. This never ending loop of the not natural, accelerated and technology invested life is also our way to look for a better future, to overcome limitations and boundaries, but is also inevitable.

Late Dawn refers to this delay of what is inevitable to come and cannot be changed.

Aline Bouvy’s installation The future of not working combines two different objects that depict depleting economies. For one, piles of self-baked charcoal pieces are spread across the exhibition space. Charcoal and coal, just like oil, used to be the dark gold of a nation, prospering wealth across the region, firing the economy. The German word Kohle (coal) became a synonym for money, because coal turned into the source for economic, social and cultural transition. Today however, it is associated with destruction and pollution, leaving massive markings in our hinterlands – irreversible scarring. In addition Bouvy created molds of discarded ATM machines. By deforming their shapes, they look beaten up, even close to melting and seem to derive from a near future that unleashed its wrath against the financial economic system. At the same time, as digital currencies and transactions are on the verge, these machines slowly become obsolete. These exhausted machines of Bouvy could also be a notation of an ongoing Angst by populists, that express their fear from an oppressive government taking the cash by force. Be it nostalgia or the need of revolting against the upcoming – time goes on, relentlessly.

Nicolas Pelzer instead enforces the concurrency of different periods. His interest with objects that seek industrial perfection has led him to his latest series Cockpit Rule resulting in life sized anodized aluminium laser cuts of cockpit armatures. Being reduced to their outlines the armatures become monochrome minimalist sculptures that yet contain the stylistic information to date their chronology. Alongside this piece, one of his light-sculptures from the ongoing series Evolving Masters – Lantern traces an imaginative narrative of invention, combining kerosene lamps with complex aluminum pieces. Often depicting shapes of hands or footprints, some being taken from prehistoric cave paintings Pelzer works embody the notion of being made despite their slick appearances that have standardized human craftsmanship. While his works are planned with 3D software, the production process is however mostly outsourced.

For the roof of Mélange, Bouvy and Pelzer developed a steel structure also called Late Dawn that reminds of a bursted and worn out bird cage. As the revolving idea of the objects in the show referring to mining in one or another way, this sculpture is an interpretation of the warning system mines to down with them into the shafts, a bird in a cage that react earlier than the human if there was poisonous gas or depleting oxygen. A mixture of cage and chandelier, two kerosene lamps hang from the sculpture and enlighten the space. Like Evolving Masters, the lamps technology date back to more than 100 years and are still being produced today and can function outside of our very demanding electrical grid.

Aline Bouvy & Nicolas Pelzer - Late Down
Mélange, May 10 - June 3
www.megamelange.com

Contribution by Marialuisa Pastò.

L'immagine e il suo doppio - Eduardo Secci Contemporary

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Eduardo Secci is pleased to present the exhibition "L'immagine e il suo doppio," curated by Domenico de Chirico and featuring works by Sara Barker, Andrea Galvani, Sanam Khatibi, David Noonan, and Margo Wolowiec.
Doubles have always greatly interested philosophers; especially those focused on aesthetics studies. The search for something that is concealed behind an image has been dismantled even before the dawn of the phenomenology through which a new meaning of doubles was introduced, or, better, a new feeling. This feeling isn't new, but rather a primordial feeling, probably the most ancient, pure, naïf and harmonic, or, in other words, one dating back to Ancient Greece. There are two ways of understanding doubles in its more dialectic sense: one is suggested by Jean-Pierre Vernant in his book "L'immagine e il suo doppio" and is drenched in sacredness in which the éidõlon (or ‘idol', with the added value of ‘simulacrum', ‘figure') turns something absent or unreachable to present, in which the unveiling of the image is a constant gift; in another interpretation, a double is what mostly makes of an image the image, or what makes of theatre the theatre, as claimed by Antonin Artaud. Maybe, the most appropriate meaning of the double is found in the circle that turns and blends these two meanings, in which their dialectic becomes one, in which a double becomes the same manifestation of the image, which reaches its double when its capable of culminating the emptiness surrounding it in perceptive terms, and finds itself elevated at a higher degree, repeated. This circle seems to cross all the works in the exhibition, each one carrying an internal conflict between pairs of different nature, and which passionately seek to show to the eye the complex stratifications from which they have generated.
Strongly tied to the world of literature, of language, of medieval xylography, of illustrations and of a certain kind of painting, and by blurring out the boundaries between painting, drawing and sculpture, the artworks by Sara Barker position themselves in a specific state of perception of the image, conceived in its varied dimensionality. In her work, suspended between light and darkness, reflection and fluidity, there's a particular attention to lines, patterns and colors. Characterized by fragmented images and elaborate stratifications, the work by Barker appears as codified and encrypted, without a definite narrative or a direct interpretation; the space, subjected to transformation and the inevitable process of regeneration, is present and absent at the same time, as it constantly reveals hidden perspectives and dimensions. 
Defined by a solid and recognizable creative identity, by means of an interdisciplinary approach, which is also deeply open and receptive and often based on a scientific and rational methodology, the artistic practice of Andrea Galvani, in its attempt to push beyond a limit imposed by the need to delete in order to rebuild, offers an interpretation of the image by opening up glimmers of a landscape that is often concealed, in which subjects are transfigured and the limits of sensorial perception find their extension, between visible and invisible, fragility and strength. Galvani develops a conceptual epicenter that produces worlds of nature consisting of languages from which nature itself is generated.
The works by Sanam Khatibi, ranging from paintings, embroideries, tapestries and sculptures, concern "animality" and our primal impulses. Her practice mainly leads us to interrogate our relationship with structures of power, in particular the duality of triumph and failure. The recurring themes that often appear in her works question our relationship with excess, loss of control, bestiality, male-female dynamics, domination and submission. Khatibi is also interested in the thin line existing between fear and desire and their strong correlation. Her subjects live of their impulses in exotic and fascinating landscapes, and their ambiguity is underlined by the visceral interwining with themes of power, violence and sexuality. 
David Noonan transforms images in black and white or sepia into majestic collages and silkscreen-printed tableaux on canvas or film. Noonan collects photographs, archival records, magazines and books related to utopian collectives of the ‘60s and ‘70s, theatrical and dance shows, and stratifies the result of such selection with other images of plants, animals and buildings. The stories merge together, while the sense of time and place is progressively blurred or decontextualized. Moreover, his research is an experiential reflection on theatre, on gestures, on time and on the tension between figuration and abstraction. Noonan recycles the past to create an alternative vision of it in the present. 
Margo Wolowiec ranges from paradoxes to oxymorons to explore the worlds created by digitalization, social media and any other corner of cyberspace, while reviving an ancient form generated by a long manual dance. The artist, in fact, collects jpegs and tiffs under specific hashtags and geotags, and then transfers this composition by a process of sublimation of colors on polymer chords, and then spins the threads on a handloom to create a tapestry to which a gesture is sometimes added. The images acquire a connotation that goes beyond that of what is real or ideal, where personal becomes anonymous and what is private is now shared. The final outcome is the result of a wise harmony between speed, the neuroses of the images, and the slow meticulousness of the hand-weaving process. The constant battle between beauty and politics, information and knowledge, words and images, are just some of the tensions that can be perceived in a work made of clashes between painting, photography, textiles and sculpture.

Exhibiting artists: Sara Barker, Andrea Galvani, Sanam Khatibi, David Noonan, Margo Wolowiec.
Curated by Domenico de Chirico. 

L'immagine e il suo doppio
Eduardo Secci Contemporary, May 19 - June 30
www.eduardosecci.com

RICHIE CULVER - C’EST SOMBRE VERS LE NORD, LEHMANN + SILVA

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Richie’s work draws on many personal references, from his working-class roots in the North of England, to metropolitan living, as well as his own experience of the darker side of urban life, making humorous references to popular culture, contemporary politics and social commentary.
The exploratory and improvisational approach to painting we find in Richie Culver, can be seen as an outcome of the tensions between binary cultural and social opposites – provincial vs. cosmopolitan; on Benefits vs. affluent; art museum highs vs. street-cultural lows; North Vs South. In what seems an examination of one’s experience and inner self.
As Oliver Morris Jones said, “the brevity of the content and the austerity of painted matter, contributes to an overwhelming sense of truth; a sort of colloquial chat that makes for an unbelievable sense of urgency. (...) Culver’s painting enacts the frankness of his intervention, an empty canvas becomes decorated with the details of a brief exchange of words, a documentary painting, if you will.

Culver’s practice is awash with arcane messages and symbols where dialect, colloquialism and local knowledge come into play. At a time when the gentri ed art world is becoming an echo chamber of middle class artists, Culver’s work cuts to the critical point. He represents a cohort of artists still making work that is strictly rooted, tethered honestly to a personality and person whose art knows no deviance. (...)
He rightly does not make a spectacle out of his roots or the strife of a community but his practice, after all, aligns his humour with a certain optimism and pride.” 

C’Est Sombre Vers Le Nord roughly translates - It’s grim up North. A term used by people living in the South of England towards those living in the North.
In the autumn of 1933 the author and playwright J. B. Priestley went on a tour of England. His subsequent book English Journey is widely blamed for the “Grim up North” stereotype.
C’Est Sombre Vers Le Nord, is a glimpse into the North Vs South divide in the UK and other parts of the World. The Football rivalry, the class divides, the political or sometimes personal tension that can run deep into and beyond the realms of society, be that home or away. 

Photos by Dinis Santos

Richie Culver - C'Est Sombre Vers Le Nord
Lehmann + Silva, May 15 - June 23
www.lehmannsilva.com

Mariana Caló & Francisco Queimadela - Alfabeto Analfabeto, Monitor

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“[W]hen we see beauty in desolation it changes something inside you. Desolation tries to colonize you.”

- Jeff VanderMeer

For the exhibition at MONITOR this artist duo developed a new body of work specifically for the gallery space. In the first room there are five paintings that present proto characters drawn with gouache over acrylic plaster and pigment, in fragmented compositions, that suggest proximity to a potencial language evoked through bones and inner shapes.

In the basement, an immersive environment was created, a space of projection and acid innerness in which all the elements are wrapped by different tones of green. From the floor of the room erupt ambiguous sculptures that evoke horns, turning the environment strange, visceral, aggressive - where at the same time a video where the image of a mortuary mask is manipulated.

Mariana Caló and Francisco Queimadela - Alfabeto Analfabeto
Monitor, May 11 - June 16
www.monitoronline.org

Nona Inescu - An Animal that was once thought to be a plant that transformed into stone, SpazioA

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“For still like nature ever since is in our coral found
That, look how soon it touches air, it waxeth hard and sound. And that which under water was a stick, above is stone.” (Ovid, Metamorphoses, 4.908-20)

You are on an ocean reef. look down at your body. You have become a coral. An important part of this underwater ecosystem. look around at your new home. This is a healthy reef populated with a variety of different plants and animals and several different species of coral, including you. To survive coral need to build and maintain their skeleton. The first step is to collect the basic building blocks: calcium and carbonate ions. Use your polyp arm to grab one of each types of ions around you. These ions are combined to form calcium carbonate, the main component of your coral skeleton. You will need to continue collecting ions to maintain your skeleton and stay healthy.

“An animal that was once thought to be a plant that transformed into stone, upon exposure to air...”.

The exhibition brings together a collection of works based on the artist’s ongoing research on the affinities and compatibilities between human and non-human bodies. Coral, which reverses its own death, is the ideal nonhuman presence in the post-tragic theatre of resurrection. Simultaneously animal, vegetal and mineral, coral not only challenges a traditional human / nonhuman divide that privileges human exceptionality and endurance, it also occupied once an alternate temporality through its wondrous resistance to biological decay. Through a new series of works, Nona Inescu speculates on symbiotic possibilities triggered by nutritional and medical practices, such as the consumption of coral calcium supplements and the use of coral for bone implants. A sessile animal, coral has now become a symbol for accelerated climate change and ocean acidification. Faced with imminent decay, fragile coral reefs and human bodies share their vulnerabilities, in an exercise of entangled empathy.

Nona Inescu - An Animal that was once thought to be a plant that transformed into stone
SpazioA, April 28 - June 16
www.spazioa.it

Harold Ancart - CLEARING

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Harold Ancart’s horizon line is limitless. It extends through numerous paintings, photographs, sculptures, and drawings in an inexhaustible exploration of painterly space and color. Though Harold Ancart’s new paintings are fgurative, they may also be among his most abstract. In his work, subject matter serves as an alibi for the paint to be pushed into the canvas, says the artist. Once again the paintings reveal a series of images that are connected to a delirious longing for escape, or connectivity to one’s place. Ancart has pared down his imagery to elemental forms while amplifying scale and tonality. Clouds, fres, icebergs, and imposing fora are the identifable shapes he uses to strip landscape painting down to its rudiments. The irreducible qualities of painting, and of drawing, have long been Ancart’s driving concern. Ancart fuses the techniques of both, creating radiant compositions that recall the most animate works of the Color Field painters, while extending their delicate minimalism into an exuberant vision.

Ancart recognizes an unquenchable search for a kind of Eden, or escape, as a constant feature of our imaginations. This vast collective ideal is the setting for Harold’s new paintings, in which he discovers the possibilities for transformative experience are not just out “there”, but here, in the arena of painting. 

Harold Ancart
CLEARING, May 1 - June 17
www.c-l-e-a-r-i-n-g.com

Everytime you switch me off, I die. A little - Foothold

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ON

— Where does the flame of a candle go when the candle is turned off? Where does the light go? Where does the past go?

Firstly I realized that I am not immobile at the center of the universe. Then that I am not distinguished and different from any other sentient and non-sentient being. That I am far from being entirely transparent to myself. Now, digital light tells me that I’m not a separate agent, but an informatic organism  sharing with others a global environment fundamentally made up of information: the luminous Infosphere.

I observe myself observing myself in the communicative production; I see myself with the eyes of a possible audience; I glimpse myself in the luminous traces I produce online. I observe the light and light observes me and captures me, I am subjected to it.

I risk losing myself in the labyrinthic network of changeable and temporary connections, the fragmentation of the perception of myself corresponds to a multiplicity of incoherent and disconnected relations. These intermittences push me in a myriad of directions, leading me to play a quantity of roles such as to make disappear my self-conciousness.

— Does the self completely saturated by digital light become a non-self?

In the luminous technosphere there is the possibility not yet present in the real world. Each manifestation in physical reality must have a luminous representation. All changes in physical nature are consequence of digital information processes; nature has ended up in digital light.

I live in a place where autonomous intelligences multiply themself, where body-machines generate images fed by autonomous information that become new forms of life, where millions of environments cohabit in the same physical space, creating a chain of parallel worlds. The image becomes dematerialized, while I merge myself with a luminous medium that questions the notions of authorship, corporeity.

Identity is overloaded by the plurality of my iconic projections, falling into a biological imbalance where an informative proliferation develops, a background light characterizes the identity itself, to the point of confusing it with the traces of other actors distributed in the network.

Light allows me to enter an area with weak borders,  subject to continuous redefinition, marked by multiple belongingness and osmosis between center and border. Through light I instantly propagate myself in every direction, I multiply myself in an endless process, I extend myself in every direction.

I am surrounded by luminous flares that amplify my ability to look into matter and through space. I know, I perceive, I meet and communicate with others and with the environment through lights-prosthesis  making body with my body, quickly dissimulating one’s own otherness.

I am present-absent. Absent in the presence. I am here and there at the same time, I am on and off, my body expands itself, turns itself, extends itself, «naturally». I am in the light of a transpersonal experience that allows me to look at the interconnection of everything, the permeability and instability of boundaries, the lack of distinction between the part and the whole, the foreground and the background, the context and the content.

I move in a landscape where the flesh no longer needs redemption because it has already become a body of light.

PRAISE BE TO THE FLAWLESS, ALL-PERVASIVE ILLUMINATION OF THE GREAT MUDRA. TURN OVER TO ME THE JEWEL, LOTUS AND RADIANT LIGHT.

OFF

More beautiful than the day, peaceful by all means, the star-studded, pensive and soft night is a better model of knowledge than the sun-struck, cruel, exclusive, eye-hurting, ideologically-prone and opinion-ridden light of day.

I live in a fluid space that extends the finite limits of traditional metaphysics, traceable to the anthropocentric sight and light, that is, linked to the space-time dimension proper to human sensoriality. I free myself from the anthropological structure anchored to the «vision», to the truth of evidence, and lose myself in the trans-human horizon, revealed as trans-optical, trans-luminic, trans-spatial, trans-temporal….

My universe refers to what is widespread, not localizable or definable, to what is not shown, to what is stingy with signs, expressing itself, if it does, in an ambiguous and transversal way.

Light blinds me and prevents me from seeing. It is the shadows to give me the perception of depth, to make the sensible world endowed with density and concreteness. I need shadows to leave the opacity that is proper to the object. I need shadows to escape from the blinding light of a flattened universe.

I was in the center of an immense grotto. The ground was covered with fine sand bespangled with gold. The vault was as high as that of a Gothic cathedral, and stretched away out of sight into the distant darkness. The walls were covered with stalactites of varied hue and wondrous richness … The decomposition of the luminous rays by the thousands of prisms, the showers of brilliancy that flashed and flowed from every side, produced the most astonishing combination of light and color that had ever dazzled the eyes of man.

Exhibiting artists: Daniela Corbascio, Claude Eigan, Alexandra Koumantaki, Andrea Martinucci, Catalina Ouyang, David Stjernholm and Maurizio Vicerè + a dreamtale by Jonny Tanna.
Curated by: Like A Little Disaster

Everytime you switch me off, I die. A little
Foothold, April 18 - June 2

Heather Cook - 1D 5L 2D 6L 3D 7L 4D 8L 5D 1L 6D 2L 7D 3L 8D 4L, Praz-Delavallade

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Praz-Delavallade is pleased to present Heather Cook’s first solo exhibition with the gallery entitled, 1D 5L 2D 6L 3D 7L 4D 8L 5D 1L 6D 2L 7D 3L 8D 4L. The show consists of two interrelated series of woven works, each following Cook’s continued investigation of the process of the construction of an image. In the first two rooms there is a series of works known as Shadow Weaves, and in the last room, Weaving Drafts, works that depict the graphic representations of the weaving programs for the Shadow Weaves themselves.

The title of the show 1D 5L 2D 6L 3D 7L 4D 8L 5D 1L 6D 2L 7D 3L 8D 4L, is a technical set of directions for foot pedal strokes on a jack loom used to make the series of works in the show known as Shadow Weaves. Cook has been investigating this traditional pattern since 2012. The name shadow weave has a double meaning in its historic usage: First, the word shadow is used to reflect a narrative account of the temporal aspect of the process, one thing after another, as the dark thread literally follows the lighter thread through the loom in the sequence of the pattern. Second, that the effect of the final result is a visual likeness of raised and recessed planes. So the singular name long used for a very traditional pattern has already within it a common space where the act of making the object and its optical effect come together as the same. 

Thematically, shadows have always played a role in Cook’s works. The shadow is an indexical projection a physical body into space, a two-dimensional image of a three-dimensional object. Cook leads us to moments where the material and immaterial blur together. 

Each yarn in the Shadow Weaves is painted with acrylic paint prior to being woven. This allows for the creation of a painting of sorts, but one that has been painted inside the woven fabric, rather than on it. Subtle vertical bands of difference in color are the result of variations in the density of paint applied to each thread. 

There are also visual breaks in the consistency of the pattern itself, glitches that occur disrupting the repetition. These breaks in the pattern become notations of time within the studio. The disruptions are caused by either the artist becoming distracted by outside thoughts, a crying baby, a phone call or something else. When Cook returns to the weaving she doesn’t start off from where she left off, but rather starts from the beginning of the pattern. This causes these moments to become recorded into the timeline of the image. The monotony of the repetition is broken up with these moments and creates the subtle difference and specificity for each work. 

The last room of the show consists of the Weaving Draft series. Weaving drafts are traditional graph paper plans that dictate the set up of a loom in order to make a weaving. The works shown here are enlarged versions of these drawings painted on a woven grid. These particular drafts depict the plans for how to weave the Shadow Weave works in the adjacent room. Each Weaving Draft work is the same size as its companion Shadow Weave piece. Painted on the grid is all the information needed to set up the loom and weave the shadow weave pattern. A final work in the room is a weaving draft of the grid pattern itself, its visual form a description of its own underlying structure.

Heather Cook - 1D 5L 2D 6L 3D 7L 4D 8L 5D 1L 6D 2L 7D 3L 8D 4L
Praz-Delavallade, April 28 - June 16
www.praz-delavallade.com

Alessandro Di Pietro - Felix, Marsèlleria

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“Do you know what being happy does mean? Time, electricity, maybe heat.
The moment when the closed shells are more important than the pearls.”

Felix is the last chapter of a four-episodes series. Alessandro Di Pietro developed it since 2016 through an exhibitions series corresponding to the prequel – Tomb Writer (solve et coagula)(Bergamo, 2016) – , the appearance of the protagonist – Downgrade Vampire (Milan, 2016) – and the entry of its “psychological switch” or “ghost” – Towards Orion – stories from the backseat (Paris, 2017). Started during the residency at American Academy in Rome – where it was part of the exhibition The Tesseract – this last episode is accomplished though an intervention exclusively designed for the spaces of Marsèlleria.

The enemy emerging here is not a nemesis of the main character, it moves on a parallel channel, without identifying with a negative projection of the “good”. The space looks like being designed by someone who has been loved too much and, as a consequence, sees in the time and energy conservation technology not a mechanism but an object to be admired – says Alessandro Di Pietro.
Felix – the writing that the character places on this technology – is probably his name, or maybe just a way of life where the love for the world is not taken seriously: his action wants perhaps to modify the process of an event that already took place or maybe a try to “cheat”, not the natural flow of history but the sociological principle of the “self-fulfilling prophecy” by William Thomas Merton or its science-fiction application in the “paradox of predestination” or, better still, the infinity of the self inside the multiverses of the animated series Rick and Morty.

The four episodes follow a simple grammatical structure working on the design of the spaces and proto-narrative installations and developing “nameless” characters. The figure of the “nameless” is here directly attributable to the concept of monstrosity. “Nameless” is a being which is not subject to a normative process of cataloguing and classification. The monsters, according to the opinion of the scientist Isidore Geoffrey De Saint Hilaire, do not exist outside the scientific system of their time, but prove to be extremely long-lived and also continually updating from a linguistic point of view, because they are declared as still not studied and not classified physical entities.

The spaces design becomes for Alessandro Di Pietro an act of identification in his research object, the character itself. Its physical, social and political features glimpse and are then crystallized in the space planning to create an empathic and possible relationship with the observer, distracting him/her from the fiction.

The end goal is to understand how to still be able to produce Monsters, inside the limits of images and things.

AKA Felix.

Alessandro Di Pietro - Felix
Marsèlleria, March 29 - May 25
www.marselleria.org