Dani Smith I’m Not Happy and I’m Not Sad (2017) (video still). Courtesy the artist

One Way or Another: Dani Smith with Panicattack Duo

On view: 2–16 June 2018


One Way or Another is the first solo exhibition by recent Kingston School of Art graduate Dani Smith. Taking its title from Blondie’s 1978 song of the same name, this new body of work expands on Smith’s previous explorations of the use of digital sampling and low-cost outsourced production. Evoking a sense of melancholic humour within everyday situations, the objects on show are commonplace: a pair of hi-vis jackets, a looped image, an illuminated shop sign. The artist employs phrases to adorn and accompany these objects, and thus undermine their immediate use and the semantics attached to their expected functionality.

In Double Act (2018), two work uniforms are hung up as if left behind. On their backs, they bear onomatopoeic spellings of traffic noises and sounds that commonly populate the urban landscapes of congested metropolis, such as London, where rapid development and building works have made the presence of this clothing a ubiquitous element.

Filmed by Smith at a trailer park in British Columbia, I’m Not Happy and I’m Not Sad (2017) sits in between a looped gif file and a short video clip, in the vein of the popular six-second-video platform Vine. Two dogs are seen in the ambiguous act of play-fighting to the overly emotive soundtrack of The Smiths’ iconic song This Night Has Opened My Eyes (1985), whose lyrics repeatedly announce ‘I’m not happy and I’m not sad’.

Seemingly a found object, Yesterday’s News (2018) appropriates the aesthetics of corner-shop lightbox signs to advertise its own obsolescence in a counterintuitive act of self-erasure. ‘Yesterday’s news’ is a colloquial form to indicate content – whether it be a person or thing – which has lost its cultural or social relevance and is no longer worthy of any public interest. For Smith, this sentence speaks directly of the anxieties of the artist striving to achieve long-term value and relevance, given the ever-accelerating search for novelty in the contemporary cultural landscape.

As part of One Way or Another, Smith has invited Panicattack Duo (Emily Demetriou and Naz Balkaya) to present a new performance and sound work Panic Bugs (2018) which takes the form of a contemporary reimagining of Franz Kafka’s short story Metamorphosis. Performed live on the first day of the exhibition, Panic Bugs will then exist as a timetabled sound work, presented in the space on a single loudspeaker.

Dani Smith (b.1995 UK,CH) is an artist based in London. Working with sound, moving image and outsourced manufacturing, he is developing a practice that examines the physical, lived experience through the lens of internet commerce and broadcasting. Often recontextualising ebay ephemera and digitally degraded online media, he is interested in the low-budget images and materials that increasingly populate our world. Recent exhibitions include
Turducken at Centrespace Gallery, Bristol; Fully Awake at House for an Art Lover, Glasgow; and Super Sunday at Art Hub Studios, London.

Panicattack Duo is a performance art collective, Emily Demetriou (Nicosia, Cyprus) and Naz Balkaya (Istanbul, Turkey), currently based in London. Both experiencing the embodiment of migration and exchanging ideas consistently with excitement, as well as a common social feminist understanding was what evoked the beginning of their collaboration. Their nations, religions and societies would say that they are meant to be enemies. Their ideas, beliefs, habits and views state the opposite; therefore, they embrace the concept of separation through their collaborative efforts.