March 7 — May 2, 2015
Gallery II : CIRCLES OF CONFUSION
I like to think of the shows developed in our space – in relative freedom from limitations of institutional and commercial overpowering -, in terms of a certain programmatic continuity or an evolution of thought, from one (physical) manifestation to the next.
When I was interviewed about our last show, – the pioneering Sound Installation “Rainforest” by David Tudor & Composers Inside Electronics -, I started thinking again about the politics of the avant-garde: they can be found in the best sense in formalist relational principles such as Interdependence or Resonance. And these ideas can even have an ethical dimension…
This thought prolongs into the mindset of this new project, – for which the artists works are not an illustrator or laboratory. Rather, I like to think of this project as a sphere of materialized processing. ”Rainforest” literally performed resonance. This show could – beyond its material manifestation – provide a resonance space of thought, a form of abstracted window or a white mirror.
This idea was already anticipated by Anna Molska in one of her last projects in our space in 2012. At the outlook of her two-channel film piece Glasshouses, – where she imagined that the women in the first film “The Mourners” look through the window of the derelict glasshouse in the second film “Hecatomb”, where a boy void of making sense of the world starts to whip foam pouring into the abandoned space- , she stated: “Making Hecatomb, I was already thinking about how it would be to make a film inspired by a film, inspired by a film – whether there existed an even denser essence, the message of which would be universal and clear. Perhaps such a deprivation is a path towards abstraction, but it is possible that another derivative will bring a powerful need for concreteness by making a circle starting with documentalism and ending, after passing through various stages, in the need for plot simplicity.”
It was there that the thought of the white mirror was born. And could it be the art-countermove to the Black Mirror of recent UK-TV sci-fi postulations of post-internet’s derivative effects on social interaction?
Lauren Pascarella, a great collaborator with whom I shared thoughts about the Black Mirror series, remarked: “It is indeed primarily intensifying what we already know, but I think its more about the underbelly of humanity than the digital one (nothing new there) – emphasizing our nature to disassociate via our devices – hence the name ‘Black Mirror’ (looking at your smart device when it is off and seeing your own reflection). …Disassociating in the sense that our devices become an extension of ourselves, a socially accepted new limb, or in the case of social media an avatar that we can assume. We adopt the constraints of the device as an evolution in our humanity and make little checks and balances for it since it is such a presumably unassuming socially accepted behaviourist trend.”
What can art stimulate alternatively? As Anna started formulating it, – a move towards a derivative abstraction or liberating ‘plot simplicity’, – stepping once more through the looking glass into a detoxing sphere beyond the fashionable philosophies of late capitalist nihilism?
After an intense need for excursions into the past, emancipating some art from the grip of political dismissal, in search for the ‘other avant-garde’, and to level with a corrective reception of a still radically inspiring time, when contemporary art was not yet entirely engulfed by market strata, – one feels suddenly catapulted back into a sense of new velocity, – even as I remain a passionate advocate of the non-linearity of time (and age) (a still powerful thought).
But there is this new energy going on (it’s finally happening, the decade defining contemporary), a proclaimed liberating spirit, from Downtown to South London, of “some kind of naiveté” (Hood by Air) lived out in and backed by the think-trends of Accelerationism, subversion/decline from within the latest of digital capitalism, performed by a “youth excellence” on the new runways of culture, a (still curiously boy signified) gender fluid and pan-racial collectivity, friendship based utopia of partial independence guarded on the inside the headquarters of art-and-style industry.
“The goal is no longer to subvert the mainstream, but to refashion it in subversions’ own image.” (Christopher Glazek on generation DIS)
So is it a time again, when some are looking for a new ethic codes inside the omni-operating system?
What is art’s ‘currency’ beyond of what has been revealed in all consequences in popular culture and Wiki-politics?
In a conversation last week in London with a cultural critic (who had been in close alliance with the 1990s YBA story) it came up again, the post-recession art scene’s ‘productive amnesia’ hijacking every form, media, gesture and means necessary for the needs and ends of new aesthetic production, significantly free of legitimizing, referencing or critically framing what has been done before.
And of course the call for amnesia and radical cryptization had already been out there 30 years ago in post-modern, hedonistic or anarchistic intellectual ‘wars’. Difference today is that this move has not even to be conceptualized or termed – it’s simply getting done in an ongoing stream and relish of memory and reference abbreviation or disassociation. And yet, could there still be a complementary force of non-linear time, generation, age, – mutually intruding a generation’s privilege of radical mediation of the contemporary condition (most of all the post-digital age), when that new ‘spirit’ so desired by the industry, is again the exact product of this condition? In the best sense, can it be a white mirror?
I want to write that this show is not about post-internet, not about historical escapism, not about post-existentialist nothingness, not about new and critical ecology, not about globalism, (and not about ageist claims for art made by artists born after 2000). But then again for a moment of arrest, it tries to look beyond the latest proclamations in search for where art stands now and again among other fluid and blending manifestations.
“Our normal waking consciousness as we call it, is but one special type of consciousness, whilst all about it, parted from it by the filmiest of screens, there lie potential forms of consciousness entirely different.” (William James, 1902)
Some very timely, ultra-modern architectural visions appeared in the 1970s, made by an artist who had traveled from Hungary to Switzerland and from there to Iran and to Israel, to finally arrive in New York City in 1953. The titles of one of his painted reliefs reads One Made It. Brightly painted cubes hovering through an ominous dark blue space behind a giant grid, – one of cubes is breaking through.
Tibor Freund, the artist, a today forgotten architect and pioneer of optical art and motion painting was originally influenced by the innovations of the Bauhaus. What is so striking about these works is a vision in which abstraction becomes an agent of the narration of a contemporary state of mind, at times even dramatic and dark. The 70s were a decade when modernist form was still embraced, and yet slim lined and economically minimalized, or stripped down to bold raw material, and to a matter-of-factness that expressed elegantly and enthusiastically the bleakest ends of urban ratio. Still modern form was kept from any traces of nostalgia. But something else happened. Formalism started peculiarly turning inwards, not anymore a glorious and playful symbol of progress, into new psychological states. Tibor Freund’s visions of the 1970s are psycho-environmental, – an ‘urbanatomy’ of things to come.
Oran Hoffmann, born in 1981 in Kibbutz Sarid in the Jezreel Valley in Israel, lives and works in Tel Aviv and Amsterdam. Oran developed a project for our Gallery II titled Circles of Confusion. The title is as deadpan as the work itself. A line of five photographs showing colored circles on monochromatic backgrounds, surmounted on another three larger photographs directly applied on the wall of the same motifs in different color and order. The all-over composition looks at first glance like an abstract, even ornamental frieze that goes at some point optically berserk. “My starting point was these Mondrian colors, the modernist yellows, blues, reds and blacks. When you have a color circle and you move those 4 colors evenly around, you can get this structure. My set of rules has limitations and exceptions. Sometimes colors are not used but others are. I think of those colors as almost building blocks, as for instance in music to have an accord. You have major and minor chords, and the keys that make up those chords have also major and minor roles.” (Oran Hoffmann, 2015)
And yet that is not all there is (“…these are merely silly things I use to work with, not really an essence as to discuss the work through I think….”, OH).
Something else happens in these images that is quintessential for Oran’s work altogether. That excess moment that suddenly surfaces in his photographs puts him in an interesting tension to the image culture of the post-internet art milieu where the central medium premise is new technology and the image digitally generated, manipulated and manufactured to the point of no return (e.g. in DIS’s antagonism to anything crafted or ‘artisan’). In Oran Hoffmann’s works there is an overdrive of realism – a feeling of defaulting, poor state of materiality at the same instant of defaulting digital post-manufacturing – that unsubscribes them from smoothly blending into the post-internet ‘genre’. The result is a peculiar image noise on the edges of the ‘objects’, objects, which are in fact of speculative and unstable reality and form.
Oran Hoffmann’s images are based on objects (e.g. mirrors or any other profane mass produced object or material) that he stages and photographs in ways that they reach in their final representation an almost perfect pan-psychological state of materialization: a materialization that is again perfectly speculative.
“There is a layer of noise around content rather than content itself. The object of representation here has no formal legitimacy of existence as such.” (Guillaume Rouchon, 2015).
Hoffmann’s work, consciously or not, is a reflection or abstraction of recent object-oriented philosophy, where everything is regarded as an object, whether it be “a mailbox, electromagnetic radiation, curved spacetime, the Commonwealth of Nations, or a propositional attitude” (Graham Harman). All things, whether physical or fictional, are equally objects. In this line of thought, objects are inexhaustible and real objects are incommensurable with our knowledge, untranslatable into any relational access of any sort. Consequentially, when objects combine, they create new objects.
In Hoffmann’s works objects are combined to the point, where they loose their former intentional integrity and become another; an object that is now at the same time abstract as it is still concrete, a most sensual and state-of-the-art balance. Further his image-objects are in perfect autonomy from any (human) relation.
In distance to post-internet art’s productivism, ‘new spirit of collectivity, post-crafts and low auratization’, Oran Hoffmann is a studio artist through and through. The work shows physical traces of its making while keeping with a sense of cool anonymity. There is something enigmatic about the transition when he has photographed the provisionally sculpted objects in his studio to the final state of image that he releases.
About Circles of Confusion he states:
“The whole series has an almost inner logic in which colors jump from the background to be mirrored in those mirrors that I photographed.”
Marcius Galan was born in 1972 in Indianapolis, U.S.. Today he lives and works in Sao Paulo, Brazil, where his practice is situated in a deep sense.
Marius’ ultra subtle / or materially solid sculptural interventions are dedicated to a structure of subtraction and ‘speculative’ balance (even with political implication, thinking of his giant Immobile of coins in 2013 at White Cube, London, signifying the flipside of the 2008 recession where a country like Brazil, before on the periphery of world economy, saw significant growth while the old West was crumbling). His work is quintessentially ‘post-minimal’, – to use a term of currently high resonance.
“My work is sometimes found in that very fragile line between non-existence,
non-functionality, non-balance and sometimes it behaves as a questioning of the
need for its own existence.” (Marcius Galan, Miami, 2011)
The first piece I saw of Marcius Galan was Diagonal Section (2008) at INSTITUTO INHOTIM, in Brazil. I was fascinated by the effect, standing right in front of what appeared to be a trapeziform cube site-specifically demarcated in the pavilion by a large glass wall, there was in fact nothing, no wall, no cube. The illusion was so perfect, achieved by some minimal interventions, almost like immaterial alchemy.
The new piece Translucent (2015) in our show derives from the same line of thought, experimentation, sensation, but is even more reduced, looking like ‘sheets of glass’ leaning against the wall awaiting their utilitarian destination (- for one premature ‘ruin’ of investment real estate?). In the course of their anticipatory existence, their (im)material presence becomes abstract, while in a similar way as in Oran Hoffmann’s photos, a resistant residuum of materiality always remains: another white mirror, an “improbable simulation of shadows and reflections”.
(Marcius Galan, 2015)
Warsaw based filmmaker Anna Molska (born 1983) presents her recently completed film Scena 46. Like all of Molska’s works, the ‘plot’ is based on a social situation amplified and intensified up to a flash point like in a giant test glass. Astonishingly, the young artist made a film about aging, about old people. An injured, elderly female relative gets unannounced ‘delivered’ by some of her age peers to the modern bare apartment of a young, male metropolitan (probably culture) professional, – someone like us-, for recovery.
The setting of lifestyle and generation clash, the improbable intrusion of one world into another, the scenery of utter inconvenience and imposition, causes more and more psychological and physical escalation. What is practiced as a given today, – the constant blending and fluidity of (digital) social platforms -, here such an abstract proposition reaches a total boundary of acceptance and inconsumable real-ness. Molska exemplifies and stretches this social dilemma as plot limitation point by repeating the whole scene all over, dissecting it and demonstrating its manufactured nature (as she was granted a major national film prize to produce a feature film format, a call to which she simultaneously opposes structurally in Scena 46).
New York, March 2015