Archive for the ‘Programme’ Category

Revital Cohen & Tuur Van Balen

Event: Wed 26 June 7pm Revital Cohen and Tuur Van Balen in conversation with Elizabeth Price and Filipa Ramos. Free entry, no booking required. Click here for details.

The exhausted body of a thoroughbred horse, soil upturned through geopolitical voodoo, blinking lights conjuring irrational thinking, the song of sirens, the demise of a linear future.

Luna Eclipse, Oasis Dream is the culmination of Revital Cohen and Tuur Van Balen’s Stanley Picker Fine Art Fellowship and first act of their long-term project, Nearly Winning, which considers gambling as a contemporary condition. Imagining the exhibition as an organism, the artists bring together sculpture, film, light, sound, scent and text to create a space inspired by the subliminal strategies which induce self-delusion as a way of seeing.

Taking inspiration from Brown and Venturi’s ‘Learning from Las Vegas’ as much as Brian O’Doherty’s ‘Inside the White Cube’ – both examining how spaces are conferred symbolic meaning and structures – the exhibition is arranged as a space in which the lighting, sound, scent and atmosphere all follow subliminal strategies devised by the gambling industry.

A trance-like soundscape hangs in the air, oxygen levels are raised as the lights occasionally break into blinking patterns echoing the ‘siren song’ of a slot machine display (The Dancefloor, 2019). A scent commissioned from a marketing company (The Restraint, 2019) overlays musk with synthetic molecules that mimic human pheromones and the stress-like smell of the Dead Horse Arum Lily.

The new film work The Odds (part 1) brings together racehorses anaesthetised and collapsed on ketamine in a ‘knockdown box’, showgirls from a casino in Macau belonging to the world’s biggest political donor, and Steve Ignorant from anarcho punk band Crass performing in a bingo hall originally built as a cinema designed to look like a church. Produced specifically for a large LED screen, the footage is overlaid with pulsating light formations inspired by Vegas techniques of visual seduction. The interconnections evoked draw logic from apophenia – a psychiatric term describing the tendency to perceive meaning connections between unrelated things or patterns in random information. The resulting assemblage is eternally based on luck, and responsive to the other elements in the space.

Elsewhere is a constellation of objects, a sculpture made from scans of the collapsed bodies of thoroughbred racehorses (The Fall, 2019), casino chips made in China from clay dug out in Jerusalem (The Circuit, 2019), a subtitle track projected on the wall and a glass replica of one of the artists’ eyes (The Opening, 2019), hovering somewhere between commodity and amulet.

Revital Cohen and Tuur Van Balen (b.1981, based in London) work across objects, installation and film that explore process of production as cultural, personal and political practices. Their work was presented at The Renaissance Society, Chicago; Serpentine Cinema, London; Mu.Zee, Ostend; Fotomuseum Winterthur; Para Site, Hong Kong; Thyssen-Bornemisza Art Contemporary, Vienna; Haus der Kulturen der Welt, Berlin; Museum of Contemporary Art, Tokyo and Congo International Film Festival, Goma. It is part of the permanent collections of the Museum of Modern Art, New York and M+ Museum, Hong Kong.

Many thanks to Stan Bidston-Casey, Stella Bottai, Oisin Byrne, Chris Cairns, Francine Chan, Naomi Esser, Hannah Fasching, Daniel Fernández Pascual, Adam Gibbons, Fabienne Hess, Yasmin Hepburn, Lily Mccraith, Alexander Pavely, Lucia Pietroiusti, Elizabeth Price, Georgina Rae, Daniel Rothschild, Alon Schwabe, Dani Smith, Pierre Tardif, Jan Van Balen, Jan Wade, Jeremy Waterfield, Steve Williams.

Katrin Plavčak

Free Associated Events Listed Below

Democracy is in a state. This first UK solo exhibition by Vienna-based artist Katrin Plavčak comes at the start of the year that sees the United Kingdom on the verge of a dramatic break with the European Union. The exhibition of new and recent works will conclude with a live event on Friday 29 March, that will feature the musical trio Chicken (Plavčak, Hoffman, Ganglberger) who will play out the final day – or not – of the Brexit process.

Haus der Lose / House of Lots refers to systems of democracy, practiced since ancient Athens, whereby citizens selected by lot – through random sortition, rather than by public election – actively participate in what still function in certain countries as ‘People’s Assemblies’ that are convened to resolve the major issues of the day. The exhibition is partly inspired by the writings of the Belgian author David Van Reybrouck, whose book Against Elections: The Case for Democracy (pub. Die Bezige Bij, 2013) offers a convincing diagnosis for the failures of contemporary democracy, and makes the argument that our reliance upon present forms of electoral systems to provide us with representative leadership, has led to growing voter disillusionment with an increasingly narrow field of career-politicians jockeying for positions in power, across Europe and beyond.

Elections are the fossil fuel of politics…if we don’t urgently reconsider the nature of our democratic fuel, a huge systemic crisis threatens. If we obstinately continue to hold onto the electoral process at a time of economic malaise, inflammatory media and rapidly changing culture, we will be almost willfully undermining the democratic process.” from Against Elections: The Case for Democracy by David Van Reybrouck.

Directly engaged within this broad political context, Plavčak works with a sense of both urgency and optimism, offering through her paintings personal visual responses to current events as they occur. As Silvia Eibmayr comments on the artist’s work: “She has a keen sense of the bizarre dystopian and barbaric aberrations that characterize current world events, and without becoming cynical she finds poignant symbolisations for prevalent fears, traumas, aggressions, for malice, helplessness or repression, but also for empathy and political commitment, to specific agendas or individuals” (from On the Mirror of Twilight, Katrin Plavčak, pub. Snoeck 2017).

For Haus der Lose / House of Lots the artist paints a contemporary political landscape of carnivalesque horror; a world populated by a cast of grotesquely humorous characters, including real-life politicians, ‘sci-fi’ aliens, refugees, anthropomorphic objects, maps and cartoon beasts. Plavčak, nonetheless, remains critically constructive in her own political beliefs: “The European Union is a unique concept, which started as an important peace project. Yet the European Council seems, more and more, to be the institution which is working against the integration of a unified Europe, unable to find collective answers to the problems the world is facing, like migration, climate change and environmental pollution, digitalisation and the changing working environment. There is an urgent need to come up with solutions for the whole European continent and, by extension, what Buckminster Fuller called our spaceship earth.

Over the course of the exhibition, in response to ongoing events in the political landscape, the Gallery will be publishing an online dialogue of correspondence between Katrin Plavčak and Dr. Egle Rindzeviciute (Kingston University), with a live discussion on Wednesday 27 February 2019 (see below).

Katrin Plavčak (b.1970) is an Austrian painter and musician based in Vienna. She studied painting with Sue Williams at The Academy of Fine Arts, Vienna, and holds a Diploma from The Social Academy, Vienna. Plavčak has shown at many international galleries and institutions including: the Secession Vienna; Kunsthalle Wien; Deutsche Bank Kunsthalle, Berlin; Kunsthalle Basel; Galerie Mezzanin; Geneva; Marc LeBlanc Gallery, Chicago; Dispari & Dispari, Berlin & Reggio Emilia. From 2012-14 she formed part of the feminist artist group ff and, together with Caro Bittermann and Claudia Zweifel, runs the website The History of Painted Revisited; a growing archive of female painters from art history. Plavčak performs with M.O.G, a sewing machine improvistation duo with Swedish artist Ulrika Segerberg, and founded the band Chicken in 2018 with Nicholas Hoffman (vocals, bass) and Hari Ganglberger (drums), Katrin Plavčak (vocals, guitar). Chicken are currently recording their debut album in collaboration with the Visconti Studio at Kingston University.

Free Associated Events at the Stanley Picker Gallery:

Wed 16 Jan 6-8.30pm: Exhibition Launch / All Welcome

Wed 27 Feb 7pm: Katrin Plavčak in conversation with Dr. Egle Rindzeviciute and Prof. Ilaria Favretto (Kingston University). Drinks from 6pm / All Welcome

Fri 29 Mar 6.30-9pm: Live set by Chicken (Plavčak, Hoffman, Ganglberger) and DJ set by Stanley Picker Fellow Yuri Suzuki. Staged at the Stanley Picker Gallery, in collaboration with the Visconti Studio (Kingston University) / All Welcome

Also: Accompanying the exhibition, Kingston University’s Dorich House Museum is displaying Katrin Plavčak’s painting Is She a Lady? (2015) – a fictional group portrait of historical European women painters. Dorich House Museum is the former studio-home of sculptor Dora Gordine (1895-1991), and now operates as a specialist centre supporting women creative practitioners and thinkers. Special thanks to Marlene Haring & Anthony Auerbach, London, for the generous loan.

Many thanks to: Charlotte Cullinan and Jeanine Richards; Marlene Haring and Anthony Auerbach; Michael Gatt and Pol Jesperson, Liam Guest, Louis Peckham, Ben Williams and Samuel Johnson at Visconti Studio (Kingston University); Ilaria Favretto and Egle Rindzeviciute.

The following email dialogue between artist Katrin Plavčak and Dr. Egle Rindzeviciute (Kingston University) is published below online, as it develops over the course of the exhibition. A live discussion between Katrin Plavčak, Dr. Egle Rindzeviciute and Prof. Ilaria Favretto (Kingston University) takes place at the Stanley Picker Gallery on Wed 27 Feb from 7pm / All Welcome. 

22.01.2019:

Dear Katrin,

Congratulations on the opening of Haus der Lose / House of Lots at the Stanley Picker Gallery.

I am very keen to hear more about the background of this project – what led you to choose this topic?

Also, I was wondering, in what ways can painting as a form of “high culture” participate in the debates on the character and state of liberal democracies?

With kind regards,

Egle

25.01.2019:

Dear Egle,

A year ago I moved back to Vienna after 15 years living in Berlin. One reason why I went to Berlin in 2002 was that the right wing party of Austria (FPÖ) got so many votes by the people living and allowed to vote in Austria, that they could establish a coalition with the conservatives (ÖVP), and then formed a centre-right government. Even though the ÖVP didn’t get the most votes (the social democrats won the elections), they landed a coup with building a coalition with the right wing party (W.Schüssel / J.Haider). For me, it was unbelievable that in a country which was also responsible for the Holocaust, one third of the population was voting again for a party (FPÖ) with a racist and discriminating ideology that is the home of the ‘fraternities’ which, via the FPÖ, have been able to get into Parliament. These fraternities are the home of the Nazis in Austria, and the relationship of the fraternities and the right wing party FPÖ is very close.

Now, 15 years later, Austria again has a centre-right government. People seem to forget how quickly this coalition of a centre-right government enriched itself the last time with the money from taxpayers, and how their criminal activities are still keeping the courts busy in Austria today.

S.Kurz (ÖVP) changed the colour of the conservative party from black to turquoise and again, like Schüssel, chose a coalition with the right wing party FPÖ (H.C.Strache) to gain power. Since this government has been in charge, they immediately changed laws, rebuilding the state institutions, reversing the aims of progressive education, cutting rights for foreigners, and pushing the borders of language in a direction which should have been forgotten a long time ago.

The Austrian composer Georg Friedrich Haas explains well, in his text ‘Monolog für Graz‘ 2018 (a piece he wrote for the Musikprotokoll), how the Nazi ideology survived in Austria and how the parties have managed to put their people in places of power.

So this is the background of the country I happen to live in now, and the passport I carry. I consider myself a citizen of Europe, and every Thursday in Vienna there is a big public demonstration against this government, organised by great people of different occupations and backgrounds.

All over Europe right-wing ideologies are gaining power; or to be more precise, nationalism in the form of right-wing populism. I was looking for authors with critical minds and with answers to what could cause such a drift to the right of so many citizens of the European Union. I came across the writer David van Reybrouck and his book ‘For a Different Populism’, where he describes how more and more people in Western societies, of lower education and income, are rejecting taking part in voting as a democratic process or follow right-wing populists, as they no longer see themselves represented by their parliaments.

This led me into the topic of how democracies are legitimized, and how the democratic process has changed over its long period of existence. In his book ‘Against Elections’ Van Reybrouck suggests some kind of lottery as an additional tool for voting and find a democratic way to translate the will of citizens into laws. He talks about deliberative democracy to develop public discourse about all political topics. In this way citizens are provided with direct access to democratic participation and this returns their faith in the system.

(ER: Also, I was wondering, in what ways can painting as a form of “high culture” participate in the debates on the character and state of liberal democracies?)

I hope that painting doesn’t float away up in the skies, far away from practical political developments. I think one of the most noble, and therefore ‘high’, cultural achievements of our society is the political construction of a democracy. It assures citizens that they are equal, that they have the right to vote, and be a part of the process of defining their own government.

I have always thought of painting as a form of communication, as information, and in this sense it is able to talk about political circumstances. And it always did. A long list of painters over the centuries have produced images of the contemporary ‘powerhouses’ of their times – in part because they were the ones paying for it – and painting big political events. If we think of Goya, he painted the Spanish royal family in a very ironic way, and also the cruelties of war, which can be easily read as social critique. Painting is deeply connected with capital and the political powers in charge.

Painting is a tool for me to deal with topics I am concerned with, to help me think about them, and for me to provide quick reactions to political developments and express the status quo.

Friendly greetings,

Katrin

28.01.2019:

Dear Katrin,

You mentioned that you paint in response to the events happening around you, reflecting on the issues that are presented as the most burning ones on the political agenda. One thing that struck me particularly when seeing your exhibition was the bright colours and the vivid, painterly quality of your works. There is, I think, a very bright energy pulsing from your canvases. How do you make aesthetic choices when approaching such charged topics as the failures of the political systems?

With kind regards,

Egle

05.02.2019:

Dear Egle,

Painting is a method to think about certain topics for me. I guess it’s all about charging a work, during the painting process, with content and form. I try to understand something, and while painting it, I can get very close to the subject matter. I guess it’s also a way for me to digest politics.

Colour relationships are very complicated. Like Bridget Riley has stated, as soon you change one parameter of one particular colour, the whole enterprise starts moving. Also, colours make a strong physical impression on me, and hopefully to other observers, especially in the presence of bigger paintings, which I believe not only happens through the eyes but also through the body, where colours talk to my cells directly, like music.

In the painting The European Republic (The Lady Facing Afrika), I chose many different shades of blue – Paris Blue, Prussian Blue, Coelin Blue, Indigo – to paint one woman as a personification of Europe. There are many ways to describe and understand the same situation, so by representing Europe as a person, it is perhaps possible to develop an emotional response towards her; to try to fall in love with an idea, as Ulrike Guerot puts it in her book ‘Why Europe Should be a Republic; A Political Utopia’ (Piper 2017). Chantal Mouffe also talks to my understanding of this idea, when she points out that art could play an important role in establishing a left populism, because art is able to create affects or emotions:

“This is the big power which lies within art; the ability to show us things in a different light and to make us realise new possibilities.” Chantal Mouffe ‘For a Left Populism’ (Edition Suhrkamp, 2018).

In my painting, Europe is a woman who is hoping that the progress of emancipation and feminism will create new solutions for a European Republic, not dominated by one nation pursuing hegemonial power. One human body; the arm, the leg, the head and the heart all need to work together. Every part on its own is very specific – like the different regions of Europe – but they would have a sad and isolated existence on their own.

A very important role that Europe has to define anew, is its relationship with Africa, and the historical responsibilities we have towards our neighbouring continent. We have to find a solution which is not a concrete wall with barbed wire, or a sea where people who try to escape from no future, face death. We are obliged to deal, in a human way, with refugees coming to us from this continent, and in my painting Europe is unsure how to face Africa, and she looks, afraid, into the eyes of the black continent, which is so close on the map, yet so far away in the hearts and heads of European people. Colonialism then and exploitation now; African workers held like slaves in Southern Europe today, and nations, like France, not acknowledging the population of their former colonies as citizens of their own.

With friendly greetings,

Katrin

11.02.2019:

Dear Katrin,

Thank you for your thoughtful and stimulating response, and apologies for my delayed answer.

I was, coincidentally, travelling in Brussels, visiting the House of European History among other things. This museum is indeed trying to engage with the history of Europe as a totality of the nation states that comprise it. The exposition starts with the myth of Europa and ends at a hall, situated on the top floor, which already contains a display of Brexit voting ballots and campaign materials for both Leave and Remain. There is also an exhibit of safety vests, to acknowledge the ongoing crisis of refugees crossing the Mediterranean Sea.

While the museum speaks through objects arranged into illustrative sequence, to flesh out narratives scripted by historians, your paintings attack all senses and taking the command of the viewer by their sheer size, as you said earlier.

This made me think about the invisible, but important, role of technology, that determines the way in which we sort our information and images. I do not remember the last time I printed out a photograph, let alone a large size print. Images come to me in a screen size, and screens are compact, small and portable; perhaps like stereotypical judgements that are quickly and conveniently produced by the mind. A large size painting demands one to pause and to physically orient oneself in the space. Not so with the screen.

I heard that you reflected on social media by painting a few pieces that were intentionally smaller in size, in comparison to your large paintings not to the size of my laptop screen. I would love to hear more about the idea behind these paintings and how they originated.

With kind regards,

Egle

15.02.2019:

Dear Egle,

That’s a beautiful comment you make here, about the difference of perception between paintings and photographs, in delivering political content. It has to do with the time it takes to look at a painting and the physical presence of the image-object. You can’t scroll over a painting (yet!). The size, plus the time it takes the observer to look at an image and think about it, makes a big difference.

We still tend to believe that if we see a photograph we are confronted with facts and reality. A painting doesn’t promise to talk about truth and reality. Here we are in the realm of paint. As a viewer of a painting you are always aware that you look at the opinion of a painter – as long this painter is not called e-David (AI).

The fact is, we live in times of fake realities. Well-founded journalism is so important for democracy, but needs time for research and investigation. Journalists need to get paid well and need the support of a free society. Increasingly, citizens are getting information from Facebook and such, misinterpreting this for truthful information, and getting more easily manipulated.

I am not on Facebook, but I do use Instagram. When I started posting things, I got so curious about reactions; it’s such a strong trigger, very human. What a weird mixture of curiosity, advertisement, public and private. And you give away a lot of information of yourself and your habits, even if you try using social media as a publicity tool for exhibitions and music-shows. I started feeling very uncomfortable about it.

Actually, just one of these three small paintings in the exhibition is called Social Media – a more or less stressed-out face trying to idealize itself with tiny hands. The other two are called Pepsi and Lean On. If you want, you can read these three together as function-images when looking at Instagram: self-manifestation, desire for human closeness and product-placement.

Our data gets collected, processed and analysed, and these masses of data are not sorted out by humans, but by algorithms. I believe that these tons of data are also used by self-learning algorithms, to understand how humans work, how we think and how we feel. I think they want to learn how our emotions are functioning. In the present, social media is used to influence political decisions and voting habits of the citizens. I guess in the future data-information will deliver a tranparent image of humankind for real and virtual machines.

Friendly greetings,

Katrin

19.02.2019:

Dear Katrin,

Thank you for your thoughts. I am typing this in a hushed reading room at the Cambridge University Library, a beautiful place where a few old-fashioned card catalogues are kept in the corridors. However, the algorithms are everywhere and need to be reckoned with. The University of Cambridge hosts the Future Intelligence Institute, which gathers many scholars from what could be considered as traditional fields of humanities and social sciences to re-think the meanings of human and non-human agency, the history of intelligence assessing the political impacts of the increasingly effective algorithmic technology.

At Kingston University, Prof Felicity Colman led an important research project that investigated what she and her colleagues described as “the algorithmic condition”. Drawing on both Hannah Arendt and Francois Lyotard, Colman and her team assessed the origins of the algorithmic condition and probed the ways in which this ever expanding digital reality could be subject to ethical judgments and regulations. Their wise suggestion is to develop a basis of “ethical environment” – a social and material system of awareness of the algorithmic condition itself. Such an ethical environment could emerge as the result of education, but also of a “societal ethos”. It strikes me that there is an important role for the art to play in the development of a societal ethos for our politically disturbed and disturbing algorithmic condition.

This said, the relative feeling of containment that paper card catalogues and neat rows of books communicate is a deceptive one. History is only too full of examples of mass violence, the implementation of which was mediated by lists of names printed on paper…

The link to the report is here: https://ethicsofcoding.wordpr ess.com/2018/02/20/ethics-of-coding-the-algorithmic-condition/

With kind regards,

Egle

23.02.2019:

Dear Egle,

Yes that’s indeed a very uncanny aspect, that machine learning is being used to deploy bots on social media (social bots) so that can build misplaced trust, harvest personal information, and spread propaganda; how Dr. Thomas King, of the Digital Ethics Lab at the Oxford Internet Institute, writes in the report you sent. And that these machine learning techniques, which can be beneficial to society, in the fields of crime prevention and medicine, are being used to harm the infosphere. So the first big step is to become aware of the algorithmic condition we are living in and then ascertain and implement ethical regulations.

Maybe another reason to think of extending our democratic tools in the direction David van Reybrouck is suggesting in his book Against Elections. He is arguing for a stronger participation of citizens in democratic procedures, which also means a deeper involvement in the knowledge of topics of politics and society. He writes about finding the opinion of the population not only through elections, because they can be manipulated by misinformation, but also by sortition or election through lot.

Deliberate democracy means more participation of the citizen, and if we as citizens are more involved in the act of naming and working on topics which have to get organised by the state, then these decisions will be backed much better by the population.

How do you think that art could play a role in the development of a societal ethos for our politically disturbed and disturbing algorithmic condition, as you put it? Do you think art could create more awareness for this problematic development? Through creating images which are circulating not in the digital but in the real world? Lots of places where art is shown are rather elitist and just a small segment of the society dares to step into a gallery or contemporary art institution. Also, many artists don’t want their art to be seen as a tool for propaganda, and don’t want to get labelled as political artists. Making art doesn’t make you an ethical person. I think its crucial nowadays, where right-wing populism is growing like a disease everywhere, that politics has to construct a frontier between ‘us and them’ like Chantal Mouffe says, and that its necessary in these critical times to point out that our opponents are not the refugees coming in but the oligarchy.

I think a very important human strength for the future will be fantasy and resultant innovation. This could be a role for artists, who are able to imagine things and, as a consequence, invent things. I guess algorithms collect information, compare it and build variations. Also humour is a big human benefit, which machines, I guess, are not capable of.

But maybe machines don’t need humour, because they don’t have taboos and suppressed memories. Yet.

Friendly greetings,

Katrin

To be continued…

Michael Marriott

As a culmination of his Stanley Picker Design Fellowship at Kingston University, Michael Marriott presents “You say Volvo, I say Potato…”, a new solo show that investigates alternative means of marking and colouring plywood with methods that don’t rely on out-sourced services but rather on manual processes, such as potato printing.

A recurring feature in much of Marriott’s work, printing on plywood allows for certain qualities of everyday items, such as the utilitarian constructions and graphics of packing cases, to be introduced into his formal language and counterbalance the slickness of so much of the designed world. In this spirit, his Fellowship research was led by the desire to gain more control over the process of printing and achieve raw and non-uniform outcomes that could preserve the existing texture of the material surface, as opposed to the perfect-looking results obtained through digital printing.

As hinted by the title of the exhibition, which humorously plays a twist on the original lyrics of the popular George and Ira Gershwin song ‘Let’s Call the Whole Thing Off’ (1937), Marriott has created a new body of work substituting a potato for a Volvo as the printing tool. The car ‘arrived in the project by chance’, says Marriott, when his friend, curator Andrée Cooke mentioned that their fourteen-year-old family car – a sulphur yellow Volvo estate – was coming to an end of its life. Christened the ‘Banana Car’ by Cooke’s young daughter Phoenix, this vehicle held an emotional charge for this family and Marriott found it would be the perfect tool to employ in his printing research.

Pieces of machined metal work from the engine and other parts were utilised by Marriott as printing ‘plates’, with ink made from the exhaust soot and sump oil recovered from car. Even when converted to a 2D visual through this process, the mechanical parts retain the engineered aesthetic of the original 3D object – an aesthetic that celebrates the beauty of function, as opposed to the superficial styling of the majority of the auto industry. Alongside the prints, the sulphur yellow body shell of the Volvo is mounted vertically at the centre of the Gallery, like an Easter Island head, responding to the accentuated height of the building and also celebrating a somewhat heroic re-birth of the vehicle as a donor to the project and its printing plates.

Re: Use | Disegno Daily Podcast: Recorded Thursday 20 September at SCP London / London Design Festival 2018
Re: Use was a discussion about usage between Michael Marriott and Gregg Buchbinder
If a design’s success is tied to its usage, who determines what that usage is? Join designer Michael Marriott and Emeco’s Gregg Buchbinder at SCP for a discussion ranging across function, appropriation, and sustainable manufacture.
Hosted by Disegno at SCP London and staged in collaboration with Stanley Picker Gallery, Kingston University.

 

Meriem Bennani

Stanley Picker Gallery is pleased to present Meriem Bennani’s immersive video installation Siham & Hafida, the first presentation of this work outside of the US. Commissioned by The Kitchen, New York, Siham & Hafida will travel to 6th Les Ateliers de Rennes – Contemporary Art Biennale, Rennes, in September 2018.

Shot by the artist on handheld camera, Siham & Hafida juxtaposes the raw essence of docu-style TV with surreal digital animations to narrate the intergenerational complexities of evolving cultural forms, embodied by two popular Moroccan chikha singers of different ages. Its presentation in the Gallery takes the form of a multi-channel projection that overlaps walls with large-scale scale props as a series of interconnected screens, creating a dynamic and playful expanded-cinema effect throughout the whole space.

Historically, chikhates – female singers of the Moroccan aita music tradition – provided entertainment for important celebrations. Their lyrics, written in an Moroccan dialect, would relay subversive messages of resistance against French colonial rule, which ended with Morocco’s independence in 1956. Due to its association with revolutionary ideals, aita was perceived as a controversial musical genre representative of female emancipation. In recent years, renewed attention has been paid to this tradition by younger generations, as the Moroccan government declared it part of the national heritage in an attempt to turn it into a form of popular entertainment. The repertoire of songs does not update, however, as no new aita music is being written. Contemporary executions thus seem to soften, if not disregard, the activist nature of original lyrics as the revolution called upon by these songs is a crystallised symbol of a long-gone past.

While they knew of each other, Siham and Hafida had never properly met up until Bennani brought them together in this film. Hafida, one of the most famous chikhates, represents and older, mostly illiterate, generation of performers whose knowledge and training has been passed down exclusively orally, transmitted through female bodies. Siham, on the other hand, is emblematic of a new social-media-savvy generation of chikhates with a contemporary take on this art. Siham was equally trained through oral tradition and Internet research – something of unconceivable for Hafida, who criticizes the younger singer’s lack of ‘actual training’. Bennani’s work offers an intimate view into the lives of these two women whose tension over the chikha tradition reflects greater, universal shifts in how local, historical traditions negotiate their legacy within contemporary globalised cultures.

Meriem Bennani  (b. 1988 in Rabat, Morocco) lives and works in Brooklyn, New York. Juxtaposing and mixing the language of reality TV, documentaries, phone footage, animation, and high production aesthetics, she explores the potential of storytelling while amplifying reality through a strategy of magical realism and humour. She has been developing a shape-shifting practice of films, installations and immersive environments, composed with a subtle agility to misappropriate the clichés of North-African culture. Her work questions our contemporary society and its fractured identities, gender issues and ubiquitous dominance of digital technologies. Bennani’s work has been shown at MoMA PS1, Art Dubai, the Shanghai Biennale, The Jewish Museum and The Kitchen in New York.

Siham & Hafida at Stanley Picker Gallery is produced in collaboration with Les Ateliers de Rennes – Contemporary Art Biennale.

Cally Spooner

Stanley Picker Gallery presents the outcome of Cally Spooner’s Fellowship: OFFSHORE will be part inaugurated, part archived as a structure, in disguise as a performance, in disguise as a company.

Glossary 

OFFSHORE: 
A structure that enables EVERYONE (some of whom will have met before, some of whom will not have met) to maintain a state of rehearsal, over a number of days, in public.

Read full OFFSHORE Glossary

About OFFSHORE

“Arriving from literature, theatre and a messy, unrequited love affair with Philosophy, OFFSHORE scripts fictional structures to let real life (non-fiction) in,” says Spooner. “It sits somewhere between a philosophy school for embodied knowledge, an engine, an alibi, a backroom, a rehearsal and some deliberate, unguaranteed, social plumbing.”

Over the past eighteen months, Spooner organised five trans-disciplinary gatherings with near fifty performers, writers, artists and thinkers – including from Kingston’s Centre for Research in Modern European Philosophy (CRMEP) – that laid the groundwork of OFFSHORE. The gatherings researched the labour of maintenance, transactions in Human Resources and use of living tools as well as the dynamics and discontents of the social body in relation to the performative standardisation and quantification of language or life. Coincidentally, OFFSHORE formed as a group of core cast to draft new vocabulary and terms of how to perform. Departing from the ‘business ontology’ of a present-day financial, corporate or neoliberal mindset, OFFSHORE operates through theoretical and fictional modes that are always just a few steps removed from reality.

Coinciding with its launch at Stanley Picker Gallery, OFFSHORE IN KINGSTON takes residency at Walmer Yard – a new building designed and crafted by Peter Salter in collaboration with Fenella Collingridge and programmed by the Baylight Foundation. Walmer Yard proposes to map a more empirical understanding of architecture, using tools from the fields of neuroscience, psychology and anthropology. A text by Lynton Talbot will be published in Walmer Yard’s annual yearbook, as an outcome of OFFSHORE’s residency, documenting how the experience of living at Walmer Yard may inform the practical and theoretical investigations of working together.

OFFSHORE IN KINGSTON also includes the work ‘Improvisations out of Recitativo/Clouds and Noise – Fragments after Lucretius and Negri’ – by David Ryan (score) William Crosby (Guitar) Joe Zeitlin (Cello).

OFFSHORE IN KINGSTON is:

Chloé Turpin

Joe Zeitlin

William Crosby

Roland Brauchli

Michelangelo Miccolis

Maggie Segale

Lynton Talbot

Juli Brandano

Jesper List Thomsen

Emily McDaniel

Cally Spooner

Alice MacKenzie

Rebecca Thorn

Howard Caygill

David Ryan

Cally Spooner is an artist and writer. Her most recent solo shows include Centre d’Art Contemporain Genève (2018), Whitechapel Gallery, London (2017), The New Museum, New York, The Stedelijk Museum, Amsterdam (both 2016). Her recent group shows include Serpentine Gallery and Kunsthaus Zurich (both 2017). Her book of Scripts is published by Slimvolume (2016), and her novel Collapsing In Parts is published by Mousse (2012). Upocoming solo shows include the Swiss Institute, New York, Castello di Rivoli, Turin (both 2018) and the Art Institute Chicago (2019).

Yuri Suzuki

As a culmination of his Stanley Picker Fellowship, internationally renowned product designer and sound artist Yuri Suzuki presents a new solo exhibition that explores a definition of sound design in our contemporary period. The title Furniture Music comes from French composer Eric Satie’s description of his own music as ‘a sound that should not be actively listened to, but present at the periphery of our daily lives’. Suzuki’s work seeks to examine exactly those sounds at the periphery, which can greatly impact our environments, and offer solutions to real-world problems by challenging how these sounds are designed.

Suzuki’s decade of experience in sound design has spurred his work in creating soundscapes through the use of software, as well as in art installations and product design. Despite recent advances, he finds that sound design at the manufacturing level is falling behind other areas of design and technology, partly due to the field’s lack of definition. The everyday sounds of our contemporary industrialised society – such as those from computers, mobiles, appliances, transport, construction, and more – generate dramatic levels of noise pollution affecting psychological processes of the brain – such as one’s mood – in ways we are often unaware of. Developed out of Suzuki’s investigation on how sound affects us, Furniture Music attempts to re-design the domestic soundscape and propose ways for sound to not turn into noise but rather help enhance harmony and comfort within one’s surrounding environment.

‘When you do your laundry, why must you listen to a dreadful pounding noise that may distract you from your tasks or simply take you away from the present?’, states Suzuki. ‘Could a washing machine make a beautiful ambient sound instead? Our lives may be made easier with technology taking care of most of our chores, but perhaps, with a little imagination, we could redefine how sound impacts on our mental wellbeing’. Furniture Music comprises two main bodies of work: an immersive installation, titled Sound of the Waves (2018); and a series of appliances and furniture pieces conceived for the kitchen/living areas of the home which include, amongst others, a Singing Washing Machine (2018), developed in conversation with composer Matthew Herbert, and a Musical Kettle (2017).

The positive influence of the sea (and generally of nature) on our well-being is an established fact and is partly explained through the the mental association of nature with downtime, while the urban environment is commonly the backdrop for work and anxiety. In Sound of the Waves (2018), Suzuki explores the use of minimal and abstract sonic representation of nature to evoke relaxing and meditative emotional responses. The work is made of twelve rotating cylinders filled with little pebbles that are choreographed through real-time tidal data from twelve beaches around the world. As the cylinders rotate, they recreate the sound of waves and acoustically generate an artificial representation of the ocean. In Suzuki’s words, ‘It’s like a musical instrument played by the sea’.

Furniture Music events programme is curated with Disegno and realised with kind support from The Great Britain Sasakawa Foundation.

In-kind support to Yuri Suzuki’s exhibition is kindly provided by SCP

Yuri Suzuki’s Stanley Picker Fellowship Edition Acid Brexit – a 7″ Limited Edition Blue Vinyl is now available to listen to and watch online, and purchase on vinyl from 1 March 2019.

Yuri Suzuki (b. 1980, Tokyo) is a sound artist, designer, and electronic musician who explores the realms of sound through exquisitely designed pieces. He looks into the relationship between sound and people, and how music and sound affect their minds. His work in sound, art, and installations has been exhibited all over the world. After studying Industrial Design at Nihon University, Suzuki worked for the Japanese art unit Maywa Denki (who created the Otamatone). He then moved to London to study Design Products at the Royal College of Art under the tutelage of Ron Arad. During this period, he also worked with YAMAHA to produce musical experiences. In 2013, he started teaching at the Royal College of Art, while being a research consultant for Disney, New Radiophonic Workshop, and Teenage Engineering. In this same year, he set up Yuri Suzuki Design Studio, focusing on R&D, and sound and design consultancy work, where he collaborates with many clients including Google, Moog, will.i.am, Panasonic, and Disney to name a few. Suzuki created the DIY musical instrument OTOTO (comprising a built-in synthesiser and sampler) – with Mark McKeague and Joseph Pleass as Dentaku Ltd – to much public acclaim, also in 2013. In 2014, the Museum of Modern Art, New York acquired this work as well as Colour Chasers in their permanent collection.

P!CKER, PART II Céline Condorelli

Exhibition Launch: Wednesday 22 November 2017 6-8.30pm.

Prior to the launch Céline Condorelli will be in conversation with Prem Krishnamurthy at 5.30pm / All welcome

P!CKER Programme breakdown:

PART I: Elaine Lustig Cohen Looking Backward to Look Forward
28 September – 11 November 2017

Exhibition changeover
14 – 18 November 2017
During the changeover, the show will stay open to the public

PART II Céline Condorelli Prologue
23 November 2017 – 3 February 2018

P!CKER proffers a particular proposition: that curating, design, and other artistic pursuits in our present times must eschew the promotion of perfect products, instead presenting the creative process itself, with its plurality of positive outcomes and periodic faux pas.

This peculiar statement connects the activities of Stanley Picker Gallery, whose programme embraces the intersections of art and design within a university context, with that of P!, a hybrid exhibition space and ‘Mom-and-Pop-Kunsthalle’ that existed in New York City from 2012–2017. Founded by designer, curator, and educator Prem Krishnamurthy, P! operated with a quixotic drive to remake conventions of exhibition display, reexamine the relationship between aesthetics and political agendas, and reconsider accepted boundaries of contemporary creative practice.

With this collaborative context, P!CKER emerges as a series of two solo exhibitions – presenting polymathic practitioners Elaine Lustig Cohen and Céline Condorelli – alongside a programme of activities. Building off P!’s five year exhibition history while pointing towards future pursuits, the exhibition offers alternative models for considering interdisciplinary pedagogy and ways to work within the world.

P!CKER, PART II

Céline Condorelli Prologue

Céline Condorelli’s exhibition at Stanley Picker Gallery extends Epilogue, her closing show at P! in New York City (May-June 2017). Taking the history of P! as part of the exhibition narrative, Prologue opens up new readings of past actions.

Comprising existing and newly commissioned works reflecting on legacy and transmission, Prologue also builds upon the inherited remainders of the preceding exhibition, P!CKER, PART I – Elaine Lustig Cohen: Looking Backward to Look Forward. One direct link is Bauhaus-trained designer and artist Herbert Bayer’s Extended Field of Vision drawing (1930). Highly influential in its time – and now emblematic of an entire era of exhibition design – the work points to blind spots within Bayer’s ambiguous position during the rise of national Socialism, as well as his later reticence to acknowledge this compromise.

Condorelli’s show questions Bayer’s legacy and P!’s own institutional story. The original flooring from P! is laid out, displaying marks accumulated over five-years of exhibition making. A series of abstract, window-scale vinyls frame the views between the gallery and its immediate surroundings. These recall Condorelli’s previous intervention on the storefront of P!, as pictured in a new edition, It’s All True, Too.

Other pieces, such as Alteration to Existing Conditions, consider the setting of the gallery space, addressing Bayer’s isolated focus on sight directly. An upholstered seating unit carries tactility and softness, offering visitors the possibility to rest, converse, and observe.

A series of discursive events informed by Condorelli’s research unfold over the course of the exhibition. David Scott’s newly commissioned text, ‘Intellectual Friendship’, appeared as part of the gallery’s anniversary mailout in September 2017, framing the concerns of dialogue, development, and interchange embedded within the the entire project.

Céline Condorelli (CH, FR, IT, UK) is an artist based in London. Recent exhibitions include Proposals for a Qualitative Society (Spinning), Stroom Den Haag, NL, Corps á Corps, IMA Brisbane, Australia in 2017; 11th Gwangju Biennale, Liverpool Biennial 2016, 20th Biennale of Sydney, and Concrete Distractions, Kunsthalle Lissabon in 2016; bau bau, HangarBicocca, Milan in 2015; as well as Céline Condorelli, Chisenhale Gallery, London, Positions, Van Abbemuseum, Eindhoven, and the publication The Company She Keeps with Bookworks in 2014. Previous exhibitions include Puppet Show (various venues, 2014), Additionals, Project Art Centre, Dublin, as well as exhibitions at venues ranging from the Grazer Kunstverein, Hessel Museum, Castello di Rivoli, SALT Istanbul, LUMA Arles, and others. She is currently Professor at NABA (Nuova Accademia di Belle Arti) Milan, and one of the founding directors of Eastside Projects, Birmingham, UK, as well as the author and editor of Support Structures, published by Sternberg Press (2009/2014).

Prem Krishnamurthy (b. 1977) works between design, curating, writing, and teaching. As Founding Principal of Project Projects, he received the Cooper Hewitt’s 2015 National Design Award for Communication Design, the USA’s highest recognition in the field, for his work with museums, artists, architects, and educational institutions. From 2012–2017, Prem established and curated the multidisciplinary exhibition space P! in New York City’s Chinatown, and has independently organized shows and programs at Para Site (Hong Kong), SALT Beyoglu (Istanbul), and Austrian Cultural Forum New York. His writing on exhibition histories has appeared in journals such as The Exhibitionist and in catalogues for the Art Institute of Chicago and CCA Watts. Recent books as co-editor include MATRIX/Berkeley: A Changing Exhibition of Contemporary Art and Draw It With Your Eyes Closed: The Art of the Art Assignment. Prem is on faculty at the Bard College Center for Curatorial Studies and Barnard College. His experimental, interactive monograph/memoir/manifesto, P!DF, was published by O-R-G in September 2017. http://o-r-g.com/apps/p-df

P!CKER, PART I Elaine Lustig Cohen

P!CKER Full programme breakdown:

PART I: Elaine Lustig Cohen Looking Backward to Look Forward
28 September – 11 November 2017
Launch: Wednesday 27 September, 6-8.30pm / All welcome

Exhibition changeover
14 – 18 November 2017
During the changeover, the show will stay open to the public

PART II Céline Condorelli Prologue
23 November 2017 – 27 January 2018
Launch: Wednesday 22 November, 6-8.30pm. Conversation between Condorelli and Krishnamurthy 5.30pm / All welcome

P!CKER proffers a particular proposition: that curating, design, and other artistic pursuits in our present times must eschew the promotion of perfect products, instead presenting the creative process itself, with its plurality of positive outcomes and periodic faux pas.

This peculiar statement connects the activities of Stanley Picker Gallery, whose programme embraces the intersections of art and design within a university context, with that of P!, a hybrid exhibition space and ‘Mom-and-Pop-Kunsthalle’ that existed in New York City from 2012–2017. Founded by designer, curator, and educator Prem Krishnamurthy, P! operated with a quixotic drive to remake conventions 
of exhibition display, reexamine the relationship between aesthetics and political agendas, and reconsider accepted boundaries of contemporary creative practice.

With this collaborative context, P!CKER emerges as a series of two solo exhibitions – presenting polymathic practitioners Elaine Lustig Cohen and Céline Condorelli – alongside a programme of activities. Building off P!’s five year exhibition history while pointing towards future pursuits, the exhibition offers alternative models for considering interdisciplinary pedagogy and ways to work within the world.

P!CKER, PART I


Elaine Lustig Cohen Looking Backward to Look Forward

How do we take stock of a multifaceted creative life that never stood still? Over six decades of practice, Elaine Lustig Cohen (1927–2016) moved between diverse activities including design, art-making, art dealing, archiving, collecting, and researching. While she is known most widely for her groundbreaking graphic design work from the 1950s and 1960s, which extended the vocabulary
of European modernism to an American context, the visibility of her rigorous body of artwork has grown substantially over the past years. Always changing, Lustig Cohen shifted from hard-edged abstraction in the 1960s and 1970s into photographic collage, work on paper, sculptural assemblage, and alphabetical experimentation in her later decades. Her visual output developed in close ‘intellectual friendship’ with leading writers, architects, designers, and artists of her time.

Reflecting this open spirit, P!CKER, Part I – Lustig Cohen’s first solo exhibition in Great Britain – positions her practice within an experimental framework. Conceived and designed by Prem Krishnamurthy of P!, who worked closely with the artist during her last years, the exhibition focuses on a small selection from Lustig Cohen’s prodigious production alongside other objects, documents, and displays from her final exhibitions and collaborations. Presented subjectively 
and acknowledging its own gaps, the show aims to be generative rather than definitive – asking questions about the work on
view and suggesting pathways for further research.

A series of reading groups, informed by Lustig Cohen’s work, her literary interests, and other theoretical and philosophical strands, take place over the course of the exhibition. In November, the show transforms into Prologue: a solo presentation by Céline Condorelli, which overlaps in content and concerns with Epilogue, the closing exhibition at P! from Spring 2017.

It seems sometimes the future arrives before the past.

Elaine Lustig Cohen (1927–2016) was widely celebrated in her life as a graphic designer, artist, art dealer, and archivist. Her multifaceted accomplishments encompass pioneering design projects that extended the aesthetic vocabulary of European modernism into an American context, including commissions with clients such as the Whitney Museum of American Art and the Jewish Museum, and architects Eero Saarinen, Philip Johnson, and Richard Meier; to exhibitions as an artist at Bard College, Exit Art, Cooper Hewitt National Design Museum, Mary Boone Gallery (first solo show by a female artist); to founding the influential Upper East Side bookstore Ex Libris, specialized in avant-garde publications and ephemera. She enjoyed a renewed interest in her practice in later years, including receiving the 2011 AIGA Medal for her life’s work in design, as well as mounting exhibitions at LACMA, Los Angeles (2016); The Glass House, New Canaan (2015), and P!, New York (2014). In 2018–2019, her interdisciplinary work will be the subject of a multi-venue ‘constellation of exhibitions’ at The Jewish Museum, NYU’s Institute of Fine Arts Great Hall, and other New York institutions.

Prem Krishnamurthy (b. 1977) works between design, curating, writing, and teaching. As Founding Principal of Project Projects, he received the Cooper Hewitt’s 2015 National Design Award for Communication Design, the USA’s highest recognition in the field, for his work with museums, artists, architects, and educational institutions. From 2012–2017, Prem established and curated the multidisciplinary exhibition space P! in New York City’s Chinatown, and has independently organized shows and programs at Para Site (Hong Kong), SALT Beyoglu (Istanbul), and Austrian Cultural Forum New York. His writing on exhibition histories has appeared in journals such as The Exhibitionist and in catalogues for the Art Institute of Chicago and CCA Watts. Recent books as co-editor include MATRIX/Berkeley: A Changing Exhibition of Contemporary Art and Draw It With Your Eyes Closed: The Art of the Art Assignment. Prem is on faculty at the Bard College Center for Curatorial Studies and Barnard College. His experimental, interactive monograph/memoir/manifesto, P!DF, was published by O-R-G in September 2017. http://o-r-g.com/apps/p-df

Jessi Reaves

31 Candles is an exhibition by American artists Jessi Reaves (b.1986) and Bradley Kronz (b.1986). Commissioned by Stanley Picker Gallery, this new body of work is conceived site-specifically for Dorich House Museum, the Gallery’s partner venue and former studio home of the Russian sculptor, artist and designer Dora Gordine and her husband the Hon. Richard Hare, a scholar of Russian art and literature. The exhibition features new works by Reaves as well as new collaborative sculptures by Reaves & Kronz (Waiting for Boots), presented across four rooms in which the displays of furniture and items from the Museum collection have been partially reconfigured as part of the artists’ intervention.

Jessi Reaves’s sculptures, exhibited in the bright, Richmond Park-facing Modeling Studio, disregard divisions between the functional and the aesthetic. Padded Cabinet (2017) takes a twentieth-century modular shelf unit, which may have been designed by Gordine, as a substrate to be undermined and layered with new meaning as classic craftsmanship and fabrication techniques are challenged and bent towards unintended purposes. At the centre of the room, the three elements forming Java Haunt Ottoman w/ Parked Chair (2017) create a parallel stage to the existing one, upon which a series of bronze heads are lined up, right to the edge. Partly due to their positioning in this room, which indirectly echoes gestures and habits from the House’s past, Reaves’ works are endowed with a sympathetic and welcoming attitude towards the actions they seemingly invite in, whether it be resting or touching the textured finish.

Informed by the tendency to imbue objects with personal meaning, Kronz and Reaves’ artworks populate the Museum with a performative and menacing energy. A new ‘boots’ series sit among Gordine’s figurative bronzes, in the first floor Gallery. Comprising of re-purposed materials, such as stacked flight cases and vintage fur boots, these visual compositions mimic the forms and proportions of the historical statues and their elegant display-plinths. Held together by fabric corsets, the pairs of boots result in collapsed, headless bodies that complement and contrast, equally, with Gordine’s head-portraits. Around the corner, a few battered shoeboxes casually rest on the antique Russian sofa, exposing a sense of relaxed informality in the artist’s use of these once-domestic precious objects.

Ascending to the private and more intimate rooms of the top floor flat, a dramatic shift in atmosphere comes into effect as Reaves and Kronz involve house features, such as curtains and lighting, in the presentation of their works. In the background, Baby (2017), a looped-sound piece, overlays the persistent cry of a small child – a recording taken by Reaves several years ago during a long plane journey – with the seemingly soothing, or perhaps rather exasperating, major chords played by a piano. Five new sculptures orbit Dora Gordine’s Seated Baby (1937-38) in the Living room, one of her early public commission, accompanied by its original plinth. Originally created for the Westminster Council Maternity and Child Welfare Centre and Day Nursery, Pimlico, this work had been in private hands for a number of years until the Museum acquired it in 2016.

Facing the Dining room, Seated Baby is in eye contact with Kronz and Reaves’ Mother Figure (2017), placed on top of the dining table to achieve adult-like height. Making use of the building and its objects as a total display system, Kronz and Reaves’ improvised methods bring an alternative, playful perspective to the scale and nature of the House and its evolution through periods of domesticity, professional work, abandonment and academic use. This is the second iteration of their collaborative project, the first one in the UK.

Jessi Reaves (b. 1986, Portland, Oregon; lives in New York) received her BFA from the Rhode Island School of Design in Providence. Her work has been included in group exhibitions nationally and internationally, in venues including Team Gallery, New York; Swiss Institute, New York; Herald St, London; and A Palazzo Gallery, Brescia, Italy. In 2016, Reaves presented her first solo exhibition with Bridget Donahue, New York, and was most recently included in the 2017 Whitney Biennial.

Bradley Kronz (b. 1986, San Diego, California; lives in New York) received his BFA from The School of The Art Institute of Chicago in Chicago. His work has been included in solo and group exhibitions nationally and internationally, in venues including Matthew Gallery, Berlin; High Art, Paris; A Palazzo Gallery, Brescia, Italy; Essex Street, New York.

Located a ‘Deer’s Leap’ from Richmond Park, Dorich House Museum, one of London hidden gems, is the former studio home of the Russian sculptor, artist and designer Dora Gordine and her husband the Hon. Richard Hare, a scholar of Russian art and literature. Now Grade II listed, the building was completed in 1936, to Gordine’s design, and is an exceptional example of a modern studio house created by a female artist as a space in which to live and work. Following Gordine’s death in 1991, Dorich House was acquired and renovated by Kingston University and is now open to the public as a museum, operating as an international centre to promote and support women creative practitioners. Artist Hilary Lloyd was appointed the inaugural Dorich House Fellow in autumn 2015, with her solo exhibition, Awful Girls presented 8 March – 29 April 2017.

Yemi Awosile

Stanley Picker Gallery is pleased to announce Yemi Awosile’s first solo exhibition, Orishirishi. Appointed Stanley Picker Design Fellow in 2015, Awosile has developed a new body of research that casts a lens on the insatiable desire to maintain a sense of place and ownership over one’s identity through outward public personas. The title of the show is a Nigerian (Yoruba) word taken from Awosile’s family tribe’s vocabulary, loosely meaning ‘an assortment of different things’. Her new collection of textiles classifies materials as an arrangement of experiences and comprises of both fabrics and, for the first time, garments created through the combination of various techniques, such as multi-media printing and acoustic textiles.

Responding to the architectural layout of the Gallery, Awosile stages a very specific moment of the experience of a clothes shop by introducing a series of changing rooms accompanied by large mirrors, a seating area with African fashion magazines, and furniture pieces displaying clothing and blocks made of iroko – a large hardwood tree from the west coast of Africa that can live up to 500 years and is believed to have supernatural properties – employed by the artist to block-print patterns. As socially-coded, designated areas for changing one’s clothes away from other people’s eyes, dressing rooms provide opportunities for engaging with and and styling one’s public image in private; changing persona through choices of clothing.

Reflecting on fashion, textiles and the built environment, Orishirishi looks at unexpected parallels between different social groups. Interested in the social implications of cross-cultural identities, during her Fellowship research Awosile travelled to Delhi to work with a group of young people and Indian artist Aastha Chauhan from Khirkee – an urban village within the larger metropolis, whose community is built around enterprising ventures and a culturally fluid neighbourhood. In amongst the cheap homes and a multitude of Indian migrate workers, a large African community resides and a new sub-culture is emerging based on a rich fusion of African and Indian influences. Awosile ran a number of workshops with Chauhan and activities to help the young people elaborate an identity for their music band Khirkee17 and design their logos, prints and branded merchandise. In exchange, the boys, who spoke a little bit of English, guided Awosile through the challenges of being new to Delhi and not speaking Hindi, and helped her gather research material, including sound recordings which are played as soundscapes through the acoustic textiles.

Awosile’s work highlights unexpected, cross-cultural parallels and builds an enquiry into the migratory movement of people. Working with textiles becomes instrumental in understanding the social significance of clothing as a tool for building and expressing collective narratives. In both Indian and Nigerian cultures, print is a primary medium to facilitate storytelling through image and process. Over the past months Awosile experimented with and subverted traditional Indian and Nigerian block-printing techniques to create new patterns that play with historical and contemporary representations in popular culture.

Historically, it was far easier to identify a piece of textile by region, on the basis of pattern or techniques applied. This custom sits in sharp contrast with today’s large scale, industrial productions of clothing, whereby it is hardly possible to determine roots and cultural identity of any given material. As we live in a world where the notion of ‘Made in’ becomes increasingly blurred, Orishirishi raises questions on what impact this process might have on how people create and perceive their own identity within society.
During the course of the exhibition, Khirkee17 merchandise will be available to purchase in support of their future activities.

Yemi Awosile is a multi-disciplinary designer living and working in London. Her work is informed by cultural insights expressed primarily through textiles and printed matter. The broader scope of her practice bridges design and visual arts through social interventions. Recent projects include collaborations with Tent Rotterdam, Tate Gallery and Contemporary And (C&) magazine. She trained as a textile designer at the Royal College of Art and Chelsea College of Art. She is a visiting tutor at Loughborough University and Chelsea College of Art.