An Inoperative Mythology
15 Jan 2014 to 30 Jan 2014
Artists in this exhibition: Lauren Cohen, Abraham Kritzman, Marlene Steyn, Isobel Wohl, Zadie Xa
With the rise of a global art culture we are confronted by the problem of how to distinguish the self from the mass, and conversely, how to participate in the mass from the relatively minute self. Not only has the space which we co-inhabit increased to a global scale, but information has increased so as to include generations separate in time. How do we inhabit a world of symbols and structures built by distant architects? The language we use, cities we inhabit, and code of symbols by which we think were created not by us, but by others with whom dialogue is impossible. History is both a burden and a legacy to protect.
The problems of the Singular Plural, The Other, Exteriority and Interiority, Mythology, and History have been under critical scrutiny for years. The curation of this exhibition was not based around a chosen theme from which works were chosen, but rather extracted from a series of works presented as a group. Using this method, a theme was chosen which reflects the active general preoccupations of our generation as seen through the lens of visual production. Using the theories of Jean-Luc Nancy, Jacques Derrida, and Roland Barthes the problematic has been set in place. The phenomenon of the creation of culture starts from a weight of culture which is already present, passed on through history as cultural heritage. Singularities look in and build the new from this pre-existing vocabulary.
Xa deals heavily with perceptions of otherness and hip-hop culture, which situates itself as a global event. Hip-hop embodies the spread of a single world culture with its allusions to pop, blatant commercialism, and the focus of the Other without the dissolution of the Oth¬er. Xa combines Art Historical references and contemporary iconography to expose a continued culture of exoticism and stereotyping. Cohen similarly explores themes of a global media rhetoric but exposes the emotional sedation created by our image culture. In constructed sets which allude to television or film, an unknown subject is afflicted by violence – the character and narrative remain unknown to us but the set is filled with personal imagination or concern, illustrating a condition in which the empty and the unknown is quickly substituted by the singular.
On the other hand, the individual and the connection of the interior and exterior is visualised in the work of Wohl and Steyn. Wohl creates works from memory and paints layers over layers creating small aporias of time and personal fragments. The paint covers moments of trauma creating the impossibility of communication across disparate entities. Steyn creates large works that play with the exteriority of the individual, a human miscellany with nature, impossible utopic landscapes braid themselves in and outside of the human form. Both paint¬ers speak to the impossibility of saying “I,” in the trench of human experience that extends beyond the self – Psyche’.
The impossibility of saying “I” is contradicted by the impossibility of saying “we.” Kritzman presents the aporia of language through his investigations of translation and the mutation of images. Using images whose content has been partially erased or hidden, combined with causal free-form translations of poetry, an inaccessible utopia begins to emerge in which ele¬ments connect together to create an unknowable landscape. Meaning collapses but is transformed into a new code of signification.
This project works on the notion of internal contradictions and the impossible-possible. We can reflect on what communication seems to emerge from the visual and the written, and how personal identity relates to human identity at large.
Curation and text by Àngels Miralda Ten