Review /

Korakrit Arunanondchai UCCA / Beijing

Korakrit Arunanondchai’s first exhibition in Asia, titled “2558” (that is, the year 2015 according to the Buddhist calendar), occupies two major gallery spaces at the Ullens Center for Contemporary Art (UCCA).

In one, he has constructed an immersive, cyber-jungle environment in which artworks also function as a means of spatial separation and diversification: signature “denim paintings” comprised of collaged denim with paint applied by physically rolling on the surface; prints of various images found on internet; videos; personal photographs; screenshots from Instagram; quotes from his previous video works on the wall and on overhead banners; mannequins wearing various garments; drones; and even a tank with a beautiful fish in it. Evidently, the artist intends his work to be overwhelming, arbitrary, massive, disorienting.

The other half of the exhibition, far more ordered but no less varied, is a collection of four video works, considered the core of the artist’s practice. The videos combine documentation of the life of the artist, including his family and his friends (frequently appearing are his grandfather, who was an ambassador and is now suffering from memory loss), with pop culture — a performance by a Thai band, footage from Thai TV news and the program “Thailand’s Got Talent” — as well as Korakrit’s own performances and narrations. Significantly, the room is filled with comfortable cushions made by the artist — apparently everyone’s favorite part of the exhibition.

Arunanondchai’s version of Gesamtkunstwerk is not always received positively. Internationally, critics describe his aesthetic and appropriation of pop culture as mere novelty and even his sincerity is, to some, questionable. Nevertheless, this orchestration of numerous contemporary cultural and mythological motifs — Garuda and Naga, for instance — is as meticulous and fascinating as it is difficult to meaningfully decode.

by Li Bowen

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Arena /

Melanie Bühler on Lunch Bytes

Lunch Bytes was initiated in 2011 by Melanie Bühler as a series of lunchtime art conversations that would reflect on the cultural changes brought about by digital technologies.

The project has grown into an online platform and international series that examines the consequences of the increasing ubiquity of digital tools in global and local art contexts, as well as the role of the internet in a wide range of artistic practices. Flash Art talked to Bühler about how the uneasy relationship between art and digital technologies has changed since the project started.

What moved you to start Lunch Bytes?

Lunch Bytes started in 2010 when the then Goethe-Institut director in Washington, DC, Ulrich Braess, asked me to come up with an event format that could take place at lunchtime and would reflect on digital technologies within the cultural field. I had been very intrigued by artistic practices that I had seen evolving online, but I was struck by how little discourse was yet present. Lunch Bytes generated a response to this situation: a format that aims to contextualize artistic practices in the fields of digital culture for a broad audience.

What has changed since you started this discussion in 2010?

Perhaps the most obvious observation is that internet art, mostly labeled “post-internet,” at one point became fashionable. Initially discussed primarily by a few New York-based curators and artists — Gene McHugh’s blog Post Internet was important here, Artie Vierkant’s text “The Image Object Post-Internet” and also Marisa Olson’s interviews and texts — internet-related art was brought up increasingly, mostly in reference to the post-internet phenomenon.

Over the next two years the interest in internet-related art grew significantly, culminating in 2014. This was the year in which the term “art flipping” entered common parlance and post-internet was discovered as a marketable label. Both developments can be seen as symptoms of an art market whose rate of commodification has been accelerated by the implementation of social media platforms (as seen, for instance, in the ferocious use of Instagram by art collector/flipper Stefan Simchowitz, art auctioneer Simon de Pury, but also curators like Klaus Biesenbach). Unsurprisingly, the market success also correlated with a growing number of panel discussions, exhibitions and publications, of which Lunch Bytes was a part. The goal of Lunch Bytes was to facilitate reflection amid these accelerated and much-hyped developments, and open up an often narrowly defined field by examining positions thematically within the larger context of digital culture.

Lunch Bytes evolved mainly as a series of events in the United States and Europe, featuring a wide range of experts from various disciplines. Each conversation explored topics related to a broader digital field but also specific to local audiences. What is the relationship between local and global discourse?

Each event brought together local as well as international speakers. Working with local institutions ensured a connection to the discourses relevant to specific contexts. Each discussion was informed by the specific context of the city, its resources as well as its funding structures, all of which are obviously very different. At the same time, networked technologies still continue to allow people to connect over the most specific and unique things. Look for instance at the Surfing Clubs, an artist phenomenon that surfaced around 2006 and consisted of groups of artists who shared and commented on their online findings. While it provided a chance for artists to connect and share enthusiastically, artists were also astonished by cultural codes that weren’t understood or easily shared. Even though the world is getting increasingly networked, cultural differences are still present and continue to inform what is produced, viewed and commented on.

What is next in the program?

The publication No Internet, No Art: A Lunch Bytes Anthology was released last August with the Dutch publisher Onomatopee, and I am organizing a couple of events to present the anthology. It chronicles the trajectory of the series and provides an overview of some of the most important themes, as well as artistic practices that have shaped the discourse at the intersection of digital culture and art in recent years. The book reflects on the first series of events, which took place in Washington, DC. I asked the experts and artists involved to contribute texts and images based on their presentations. Supplementing these main contributions, the publication includes fourteen interviews that I conducted two years after the series, in the fall of 2014, with additional artists, curators and academics. These interviews reflect on one or more thematically related contributions and aim to contextualize important concepts and key statements.

You recently initiated a project called “Inflected Objects” encompassing a series of exhibitions, texts and commissions. The first exhibition, “Inflected Objects #1 Abstraction Rising Automated Reasoning,” was shown from May until June at the Istituto Svizzero in Milan. What’s the relationship to the Lunch Bytes project?

Over the course of the Lunch Bytes series it has become increasingly clear to me that the “digital” as such is too broad of an umbrella and has become too loose of a concept to function as an overarching theme to denote a field of artistic practices. With “Inflected Objects” I wish to address the question of what the distinct features of the present environment, permeated by the logics of informational capital and ubiquitous connectivity, look and feel like. Having addressed the theme of abstraction in a first exhibition at the Istituto Svizzero in Milano, also including two online commissions by Sophie Jung and Jenna Sutela, the project will continue to unfold over the course of the next two years.

by Attilia Fattori Franchini

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LA Talks /

Controlled Disruption / Jeremy Everett

Born in Colorado in 1979, artist Jeremy Everett lived in Paris and recently moved to Los Angeles. Darren Flook talks with him about the greatest American monuments, Land Art and construction sites.

Overturned trucks spilling milk across a highway, smoke blown onto a canvas by the wind, soil-eroded photographs of cheer leaders… There is a love of chance here, and also a feeling for American imagery, decay and impermanence. I wonder where this comes from in your practice? Can you fill me in a little on the connecting threads of your interests? What are the central motivating drives of this character called Jeremy Everett?

The greatest American monument is the highway; to wreck a truck full of milk is a very specific and important gesture that was absolutely necessary to me. While growing up in the US I was surrounded by subjects like the American cheerleader; I buried these photographs as a way of finding visual meaning, vital meaning. The paintings made with colored smoke began with chance but eventually developed into something more factual, revealing the painting structure as surface and as something to see. The painting became a photocopy of itself. All of the work is connected by a visual truth or fact, a reduction towards the absolute.

There seems to be a relationship to action. To overturn a truck — the act of finding it, filling it with milk, getting someone to flip the thing and then getting in a helicopter to film the result. The same with the smoke paintings — you build a box of canvases, let off the smoke bomb… All are actions, or at least active approaches to image making, which is a roundabout way of asking if there is a conversation with Land Art and monumental sculpture?

It’s important these images have the visual charge of an action. I want to perform this work whether it’s monumental or unmonumental and get the visual results through direct production. Michael Heizer’s Double Negative had a big influence on me early on and also a lot of Smithson’s temporary works that only exist now through photographs. Beyond using similar methods of documentation, I don’t feel my work has a connection to Land Art. I am producing works that participate inside of life, not isolated outside of it. I closed the highway so I could wreck the truck. I wanted the sculpture to temporarily stop the system.

I never thought of the closing of the highway as a part of the work. Do you think of the disruption caused by the smoke works in a similar vein? 

Initially I was imagining a disruption in the city, like a badly timed firework, leaving a cloud of red pigment in the sky. I did my first smoke piece on a rooftop in the center of Paris.  It is a very uniform, horizontal city, so you could see the color hanging just above the buildings for about ten minutes. I asked a photographer to document the duration of the piece from the roof of the Pompidou. After setting it off things turned hectic quickly. The neighbors called the cops and I ended up running through the streets to get away just in time before getting caught.

The next development of these works is using the smoke pigment to expose pieces of architecture, leaving a monochromatic photocopy of the exhibition space.  With the smoke works it’s more interesting if the disruption happens inside of a gallery.

I also used these ideas of disruption and intervention in my works in situ. One example was when I found a construction site in south of France with a front end loader completely stranded in a body of water. It is the perfect sculpture. I convinced them to stop working for the rest of the day, so I could photograph it.

I’d like to ask you about location. You now live and work in LA — a city very different from Paris and one currently very much in the art press. Do you think that move has affected your work? 

Yes, there is a freedom in LA that has changed my work — the availability of material and an opportunity to work at a larger scale that I didn’t have in New York or Paris. The foundation of the city is Hollywood, and all of the production material, printers, fabricators, etc., can be used for art making. Visually the light is unrelenting and incredible. I am always surrounded by a questionable reality. My studio is located on Broadway downtown, above Elvira’s Wedding Chapel. On one side is the building where Blade Runner was filmed, and on the other side is the shop where OJ Simpson bought the knife that was used in the murder of Nicole Brown Simpson.

* * *

As I leave the conversation, I’m left with a sense of Everett as a kind of filmmaker — not in the literal sense of shooting films, but as Hitchcock said: “Film is collage.” It’s this sense of image following image, object from action and image again that stays with me. That and the fact/fiction crossover that is Los Angeles.

by Darren Flook

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Review /

Aleksandra Domanović Art Space Pythagorion / Samos

A former island hotel, Samos’s Art Space Pythagorion, converted in 2012, now hosts one exhibition yearly. In 2015, it’s that of Aleksandra Domanović, whose show uses the gallery space’s one-time hotel lobby to stage a sort of historical LARP of another: the Hotel Marina Lučica, built in 1971 on the Dalmatian coast, once a symbol of socialist modernity.

Domanović holidayed there with her family in 1990, shortly before the outbreak of civil war in the former Yugoslavia. After having been appropriated as a Croatian army base, then as accommodation for Croat refugees, the hotel now sits in ruins.

As in the superimposition of two photographs that don’t wholly line up, certain differences are obscured, while other details seem to have undergone phantasmagoric shifts. A replica of the Marina Lučica’s sign, Signboard (2015), graces the gallery’s entrance onto a seaside courtyard and pier; the original seems to have disappeared around the early 2000s. Underneath the signboard, installed outdoors, is an oversized chess set, Outdoor Chess (2015), such as the one Domanović first came across at Marina Lučica. Here, the pieces are produced in the likeness of the Dubrovnik chess set, designed on the occasion of the 9th Chess Olympiad in 1950. Domanović takes liberties in her re-enactment, and the exhibition’s loose blend of truths and departures creates a rich historical layering animated by contextual anachronisms. Inside the gallery, an original hotel door from the unrenovated second floor of the art space is installed inconspicuously in a doorway (Room 207, 2015).

Domanović speaks to the lived experience of political historical narratives in three videos: Turbo Sculpture (2010–2013), 19:30 (2010–2011), and From yu to me (2013–2014). At 35 minutes long, From yu to me follows its protagonist — the domain name .yu, the national country code for Yugoslavia established in 1989 and deleted in 2010 — over the course of two simultaneous trajectories: the material development of an international internet in the Balkans, and the political dissolution of the idea of Yugoslavia.

by Tess Edmonson

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News /

Inspired by Capitalism 3hd Festival / Berlin

“It’s all in the internet,” says Daniela Seitz, one half of Berlin-based party organizers, now festival curators, Creamcake. “It’s like an underground new music scene inspired by pop culture, capitalism, all this crazy excess and image-making.”

Meticulously constructing their own image across parties for the last four years, the duo, which includes co-founder Anja Weigl, have been putting on an impressive and progressive program of Creamcake nights with names like Lil B, DJ Paypal, Kelela, Yen Tech and Hannah Diamond.

Their visual identity is unmistakable, their taste in underground sounds impeccable, and they’re taking it to the next level with their first 3hd Festival, running online and off from October and culminating in an IRL events program in Berlin, December 2 to 5. This year’s theme is “The Labor of Sound in a World of Debt.” Internationalization, hybridization, precarity and constant change — these are the things that come with the internet. “Capitalism opens a bunch of doors,” adds Seitz. “Globalization and technology made this happen, but now we also have to deal with the consequences.”

These concepts you’re working with for 3hd Festival — are they things that you applied as you programmed the Creamcake parties? Or did they reveal themselves in the process?

Daniela Seitz: Because we are so fascinated by these cross-shore styles in underground music culture, which are not so represented in any type of Berlin festival, we really wanted to just do one like the Creamcake parties: with a lot of love and adventurous sounds. We wanted to talk about and reflect on what we think is most important for people in our community. Everyone is a hybrid character — working as artists and composers, and with so many types of different media. That’s something we really would like to debate in a more significant format.

Having seen the program, it’s not exactly what I expected. Because it’s open to more academic ideas and also going beyond what’s fashionable right now in terms of post-internet.

DS: That’s the funny thing — it’s always a mix of everything. It’s between people who have an academic degree, or don’t need or want one, or have just started. We accidentally remixed a piece of a movie soundtrack for Hannah Lippard’s performance at “Fragments of a Scene” back in April. The song was written by one of the composers in the program. It’s very exciting to work with him now. He loves to play around with technology — as much as he loves classical instruments. We are really excited about the different people who are coming together for 3hd.

Anja Weigl: We wanted to organize an ambitious platform: a festival environment with a varied daytime program including discussions and an exhibition to compliment the familiar Creamcake party concept. Our aim with 3hd is to bring people into a different context, introducing them to different surroundings, like HAU Hebbel am Ufer and Vierte Welt.

It’s interesting to think about Creamcake taking mainstream culture as its core inspiration.

DS: Yes. I wouldn’t even say just “inspired.” We reflect it because we are also part of it, you know? You cannot not be influenced by pop culture. But the vibe is aggressive, deconstructive, and really more disturbed in that sense. You will see.

by Steph Kretowicz

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Rachel Rose in conversation with Laura McLean-Ferris
Frieze London / Reading Room

Rachel Rose, known for her haptic installations and videos that consider the limits of perception and certain qualities of feeling and comprehension, is the subject of a feature by Beau Rutland in Flash Art’s October issue.

Rose, who will have her first major institutional solo shows this fall, and is the winner of the Frieze Artist Award 2015, sits with Laura McLean-Ferris, Flash Art US Editor, to discuss various perceptual universes, and in particular her new video work, Everything and More, which will be premiered at the Whitney Museum of American Art, New York, on October 30.

October 14, 2015
3:30 pm
Frieze London
Reading Room

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