Arena /

Office Baroque / Brussels

Office Baroque was founded by Marie Denkens and Wim Peeters in Antwerp in 2007.
The gallery moved to Brussels in the fall of 2013, and last September it opened a second exhibition space in the midtown area of the city — a testament to its ongoing commitment to the flourishing local art scene. Flash Art asked Peeters about the ethos and scope of the gallery program.

How is the new space going to function along with the downtown location?

The midtown space will serve as a continuation of the downtown one. It will allow us to curate exhibitions in a more flexible way and offer the ideal platform and scale for each project we embark on. Thanks to the space’s proximity to the Bozar and Etablissement d’en Face, we will be able to reach a wider audience. So the space is both a particular location in the city we decided to engage with as well as a new horizon we have set in developing the gallery program.

The gallery program is almost a decade old. On the one hand, it highlights a consistent exploration of the legacy of color field and hard edge in contemporary painting — the gallery shows both David Diao, among the first “commentators” on those styles, and younger representatives such as Davis Rhodes, Neil Campbell and Aaron Bobrow. On the other hand, it includes artistic figures renown for the singularity and radicalness of their practices; I think here about Michel Auder, Kirsten Pieroth and B. Wurtz, for example. What is the ethos behind such an eclectic roster of artists?

All of the artists we represent relate to different traditions or genres in a highly idiosyncratic way. We see the gallery as a platform that can communicate across media and disciplines, as well as between different generations. Since our inception we have had an equal interest in minimalism, conceptualism, painting, video and photography. It’s an eclectic take at first inspection, but over the long run a pattern emerges, connecting people apparently working in isolated media but operating them with the logic of other media. I believe that is how we make apparently incompatible positions come together.

Office Baroque was born in the wake of a “renaissance” within the Belgian art industry, and certainly contributed to the emergence of the myth of Brussels as a new mecca for a younger generation of artists. The gallery, however, represents only one Belgian, Brussels-based Jan De Cock, whose first show with Office Baroque was last winter. What are your thoughts regarding local art production?

We have always taken an international stance, even if you look at the institutional work we did at Extra City, before running the gallery and before moving to Brussels. From that history we carry along a strong connection with the Belgian art scene. Jan De Cock is an amazingly exciting artist whom we are happy to represent, once more expanding the scope of the gallery program. I do see more Belgian artists showing at Office Baroque — it’s not a matter of aesthetics. We adore the work of people like Guillaume Bijl or Jan Vercruysse or Ria Pacquée. Looking at the emerging generation, Thomas Gilissen is a tremendous artist.

Liam Everett and Anke Weyer are the last two artists who joined the gallery’s roster. The art of both can be labeled as gestural abstraction, suggesting a shift in the gallery’s program toward more market-oriented art. What is your position regarding the art market’s speculative bubble, which gestural abstract painting specifically seems to fuel?

Weyer and Everett are artists whose work originates in a deep and fundamental studio practice based not on the findings of an analysis of the contemporary art world, but on questioning and revisiting fundamental notions of art. It’s biased to say that gestural abstract art is commercial while figurative art, on the contrary, is critical and anti-commercial. Alliances between genres and markets are contextual and historical, and I believe, in the case of Weyer and Everett, their work has a complexity that reveals itself only over time, which is a quality we have to work hard to preserve in the current market.

Office Baroque represents the estate of American experimental filmmaker Owen Land. Land was also among the first to show at the gallery, in 2008, three years before he died suddenly. Can you tell us more about your encounter with Land and his work? And can you share some insight about the estate’s future projects?

The Estate is a collaboration between the gallery and the Filmmuseum Austria in Vienna. During Owen’s life, we were able to edition all of his work and secure reproduction rights. Land’s seminal Film in Which There Appear Edge Lettering, Dirt Particles, Sprocket Holes, etc. (1965) will be one of the centerpieces in the exhibition “Ordinary Pictures” at the Walker in Minneapolis starting on October 9. As for plans with Land at the gallery, we will be inviting curators to make a selection of Owen Land’s films for screenings in the midtown gallery in early spring 2016. Encountering Land and being able to work with Kunsthalle Bern to complete “Dialogues” in 2009, his first new work in twenty-five years, has left a deep impact on us and is an important milestone in how we run the gallery — an example of the commitments we like to make.

by Michele D’Aurizio

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Flash Art International no. 304 October 2015

We are pleased to announce that the October issue of Flash Art International is out now.

Coinciding with the opening of “UH-OH,” Frances Stark’s midcareer retrospective at the Hammer Museum in Los Angeles, the new issue of Flash Art features a cover designed by the artist. Known from the start of her career for text-based work, Stark has increasingly employed typefaces to innovative and idiosyncratic effect, in pursuit of what has sometimes been identified as writing in space. The font Airsoft, developed together with her longtime collaborator Chris Svensson, appears here in a reworking of Robert Indiana’s iconic LOVE image of 1965, which itself made the leap from a MoMA Christmas card to a case of writing in space, rendered as sculpture at sites around the world.

In a featured essay Flash Art US Editor Eli Diner highlights the depictive qualities, the cleverness and invention of Stark’s processes of self-figuring and self-portrait:“She has set an ongoing narration of the process and the travails of making art and living as an artist and making a living as an artist in a perpetual present tense: depictions of what’s going on right now — personally, professionally and in the world as glimpsed from her studio or home.”
— Eli Diner

In this issue:

Beau Rutland describes the skillful facture, playful wit and unassuming topicality of Rachel Rose’s videos.
“Rose creates spaces that look so much like our everyday lives, yet have been slightly augmented, perhaps with an unexpected jump cut to seemingly unrelated found footage.”
— Beau Rutland

Two recent exhibitions have invited a reconsideration of the institutional narratives associated with the scientific discipline of archaeology: Christodoulos Panayiotou’s “Two Days after Forever,” hosted by the Cyprus Pavilion at the 56th Biennale di Venezia; and the “twin” exhibitions “Serial Classic” and “Portable Classic,” co-curated by Salvatore Settis and held at the Milan and Venice venues of the Fondazione Prada. In conversation, Panayiotou and Settis contemplate the authority of ancient art and the many challenges that a political understanding of archaeology can pose.

Carlos Fonseca digs into the spectral echoes of the avant-gardes that populates Valeria Luiselli’s novels.
“Luiselli is a writer who has undertaken the project of rewriting the Latin American literary tradition purged of the ambitions — or pretensions — of representing the histories, moods and pathologies of an entire continent.”
— Carlos Fonseca

Ruba Katrib surveys the art of Heman Chong who questions the conventions of contemporary art reception, combining them with popular narrative forms like film and novels.
“Chong carefully dissects and aggregates information, letting associations run wild. He presents partial threads of communication, disperses authorship and creates situations.”
— Ruba Katrib

Veeranganakumari Solanki introduces the Indian emerging artists Nandan Ghiya, Sahej Rahal, Prabhakar Pachpute, Tanmoy Samanta, Rathin Barman, Prajakta Potnis, Hemali Bhuta, and Shreyas Karle.

Kari Rittenbach discusses the authorial non-production in the work of Cameron Rowland.
“Rowland’s examination of received standards stresses the deeply rooted injustice of American exceptionalism, drawing attention to the structural artifice of the white cube and the system of white-supremacist patriarchy in which the whole of high cultural production is circumscribed.”
— Kari Rittenbach

In Arena:

Sadie Coles, London; Eugene Tan on the National Gallery, Singapore; Robert Walser’s Looking at Pictures by New Directions; Charles Esche on the 2015 Jakarta Biennale; Angel Haze; Wim Peeters on Office Baroque, Brussels; Melanie Bühler on Lunch Bytes; Elysia Crampton.

In Reviews:

Sarah Charlesworth at the New Museum, New York; Sarah Ortmeyer at Bodega, New York; Karen Cytter at the Museum of Contemporary Art, Chicago; “Theories on Forgetting” at Gagosian Gallery, Los Angeles; A.L. Steiner at Blum & Poe, Los Angeles; Teresa Burga at the Museo de Arte Latinoamericano, Buenos Aires; Eloise Hawser at the ICA, London; “The Boys, the Girls and the Political” at Lisson Gallery, London; “After Babel” at Moderna Museet, Stockholm; Mathieu Malouf at Lars Friedrich, Berlin; Bill Lynch at Tanya Leighton, Berlin; Lawrence Abu Hamdan at the Kunst Halle Sankt Gallen; Tony Oursler at Luma Foundation, Arles; Fausto Melotti at the NMNM, Monaco; “La Grande Madre” at Palazzo Reale, Milan; “Bartered Collection” at Mumbai Art Room; Ming Wong the Ullens Center for Contemporary Art, Beijing; Dinh Q. Lê at the Mori Art Museum, Tokyo.

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Spotlight /

Jon Rafman Erysichthon

An obvious circularity is at the center of Jon Rafman’s Erysichthon (2015), presented at the 13th Biennale de Lyon, the final element in a trilogy of videos including Still Life (Betamale) (2013) and Mainsqueeze (2014).

Each takes as its base an exploration of subcultures through internet-user-created content and a literally mediated eye. Whereas Still Life (Betamale) begins exploring the erotica of the deeper internet and Mainsqueeze is anchored by the seeming aggression within this, Erysichthon cuts a broader path. The “Scream” films taught us that “true trilogies are all about going back to the beginning and discovering something that wasn’t true from the get go,” and here this happens as well.

Named for the mythological Greek king cursed with insatiable hunger, the video approaches subjects with both critique and reverence. The snake eating its own tail, appearing early and often in the film, is as mesmerizing as it is banal, referencing the film’s namesake’s demise and Rafman’s view of cultural intake. This symbolism is repeated with the likes of a drone circling its creator and someone on a swing set making a continuous loop. Different voices, once again, tie it together. A video of a child upset with other fans of the videogame character Sonic the Hedgehog becomes a universal indictment when pulled from its original source: “Your fantasies can never be quenched,” and “When will you learn that your actions have consequences.” Other times it sounds identical to Rosamund Pike’s slow voiceover in the film Gone Girl.

Rafman’s skill is taking the bizarre and normalizing it, meanwhile forcing the mundane to become mystical. In the finale of his trilogy he levels subcultures and forces the viewer to reassess the difference between the general and the specific. On the internet, any culture we mass consume becomes our own.

by Mitchell Anderson

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Report /

Toronto International Film Festival 2015

Nose down, night buses carry them through Toronto, zero dark whomever with a press pass. Across the street from a government housing project I check into my Airbnb; I’m asleep before I can even check whether Putlocker works beyond the American border.

Nine a.m. at “the Scotiabank”. I’m brushing my teeth before my first press screening, Apichatpong Weerasethakul’s Cemetery of Splendour, his first since Uncle Boonmee Who Can Recall His Past Lives. Anywhere else in North America, movies wake up around 11 am, the festival life is unreal to them, fleshless. The movies of TIFF need more than a pin-prick to discern their dreaming, revolving in the drowsy orbit of summer’s wake; and then early autumn, the prelude to awards season, an undertow flexes. In the multiplex bathroom I raise the toothbrush to my tender gums and think, If I see blood, I share it with Boonmee.

Cemetery of Splendour is an immediate highlight, a gracious host that leaves all its rooms unlocked while it runs a bath somewhere out of sight. It serves as a festival-city experience in microcosm: rangily spiritual, smiling weakly on an empty stomach, reassuring us that the great mysteries are soluble.

The top films at the box office over the festival weekend are The Visit and The Perfect Guy, both breakout hits. Toronto teems beside them, keeping its own shoptalk sequestered to the Ritz. There’s Paolo Sorrentino’s Youth, whose maximalist art trash suggests Matthew Barney visiting the Grand Budapest Hotel; Joachim Trier’s Louder than Bombs, a sharp reboot of mid-2000s preciousness; Lace Crater and The Witch, two isotopes of slavishly authentic Brooklyn horror that, in the post-video wasteland of 2015, we can only imagine kids trying to sneak out of Blockbuster on sleepover night; Gaspar Noé’s Love, whose protagonists seek connection and find double penetration.

A friend in New York asks me what I think of the Oscar contenders: “Do you feel like you’ve seen Best Picture?” he clarifies. I consider the rolodex of awards movies at this festival, the known-unknowns. Spotlight has the righteousness; Room, the intimacy; 45 Years has Charlotte Rampling and Tom Courtenay, both great, and an attention to bourgeois texture that rivals James Salter; The Martian finds ecstasy in the labor of nerds. The Danish Girl is impressive, too: Tom Hooper finally gets a story with two long-suffering wives.

But Sicario is the best of them, a convoy of fixed personalities trucking through liminal horrors along the US/Mexico border. Afterward, I glance around Toronto’s festival street and feel dust in the breeze. A giant Netflix logo is projected against a brick wall like the Bat-signal, a distress call whose damsel is anyone with a monthly subscription.

At a bar in Kensington Market, I watch clips from Freeheld, another supposed Oscar contender in which Julianne Moore portrays a famous lesbian activist and wears a blonde wig. A drag queen sashays in front of the screen, stoic and wearing a blonde wig, too. I wonder whether red carpet at the Oscars gets cleaned every year before they roll it back out.

In the second season of True Detective, a prostitute stares at Rachel McAdams and grimly tells her: “Everything is fucking.” But they forgot the second part: everything is fucking and everything is sleeping. Similarly, TIFF rafts along between brutality and peace, the demands of a far-off desert industry overlaid with the city’s expansive pleasantness: the pin-quiet subway cars, the walkability and no one jaywalking; the casually diverse neighborhoods and their unexpected silences.

I dump my 3-D glasses in the bucket outside The Martian and float to the AGO, where Apichatpong is showing an audience screengrabs from a recent bedtime Skype session with his boyfriend. His installation Fireworks (Archive) is playing in a room nearby; inside it smells like piped-in eucalyptus, but the sound of fireworks detonating pierces the scent. At the press conference for Room, seven-year-old actor Jacob Tremblay sheepishly says that he likes being at this festival because it reminds him of Disneyland. “But there are no rides,” co-star Brie Larson corrects him. He shrugs: “There are a lot of people.”

Seated at an izakaya around the corner from the Ryerson, my friend gestures across the street to a vacant lot: “That’s where my condo will be,” she says. “The thirty-second floor. But it won’t be built until 2018.” 2018, the year of the Jurassic World sequel, Godzilla 2, the final Fifty Shades. It’s just been announced that Sicario will get a sequel from Lionsgate. Will it play here, too?

That evening I mill around the Princess of Wales auditorium before Jia Zhang-ke’s Mountains May Depart. The crowd is largely twenty-something Chinese fans; they convene from everywhere and form an endless line that snakes beyond coffee shops and Irish pubs, beyond the billboards for Kinky Boots the musical. Inside Jia appears onstage and his reception is Taylor Swiftian, cheering from the nosebleeds at the slightest mention of hometown Fenyang.

His movie, the best of the festival, unfolds in three discrete parts: 1999, 2014 and 2025, the year my friend’s condo turns seven. The final segment is the key: Jia’s self-acknowledged nod to youth culture, it experimentally relocates us from mainland China to the gold coast of Australia, dropping the mic on any critic’s attempt to petrify him within the Eurozone canon. Deliberately tasteless and full of wet life, it’s the craziest cinema this side of Furious Seven.

Seven again: day seven, my last, writing postcards in the lobby of the Chelsea Hotel. I spent a few weekends at this hotel as a kid. Mom got tickets for The Phantom of the Opera; I remember it was at the Princess of Wales then, too, and that I had been in almost the same seat as I was for Mountains May Depart, twenty years removed.

In Toronto people speak of time as circular, the annual Main Slates and their open bars gone blurry, unforming, now visible. The festival and its Festival People, marching route-step with the foreign legion of auteurs, alternately ancient and larval; everywhere Time, and the denial of it. Sitting in a lobby I think that some things do go away, and stay gone, at least relative to one lifetime. The best that I’ve seen here — Mountains, Cemetery of Splendour, 45 Years — might agree.

by Mike Spreter (Film Fun)

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Arena /

Alessio Antoniolli on Gasworks / London

Having supported artists within the London scene for over two decades, Gasworks has recently undergone a major redevelopment by architects HAT Projects and reopened to the public on September 24.

With more studio space alongside a program of exhibitions, educational events and residencies, the expansion further enhances the organization’s role as a hub for the exchange of ideas between international and local practitioners. Director Alessio Antoniolli describes the challenges that Gasworks has faced within the rapid urban regeneration of London, and how its raison d’être as an organization primarily supporting emerging artists will remain the same.

What role has Gasworks played in the arts ecology of London — a scene that ranges from large-scale institutions to commercial galleries and then smaller-scale grassroots organizations?

For over twenty years Gasworks has played a unique role in London, working at the intersection between UK and international practices and debates. Process and development are fundamental to us, which is why most of our building houses workspaces. Through our programs we establish long-term relationships with emerging artists so they can confidently make a significant new step in their professional career, whether the outcome is a work-in-progress, an event or an exhibition. In a city that has such a strong commercial presence, Gasworks’ role as an experimental and process-based space adds significantly to the richness of the local scene. This is often highlighted through our partnerships and collaborations with peers that include other members of Common Practice, Open School East, Tate Modern, University of the Arts and many others.

How has the redevelopment of Gasworks broadened the scope of your programming?

We will continue to deliver our programs of residencies, exhibitions, outreach activities and events. Our architects, HAT Projects, have found fantastic solutions for reorganizing the layout of the building, carving out two extra studios for London-based artists, doubling the size of the gallery, creating a purpose-built events space and adding a much needed kitchen and a terrace to enhance the feeling of “home.” The building is also going to have a better presence on the street, making us a lot more visible and inviting to audiences. Renovating Gasworks is allowing us to think more ambitiously about our programs, focusing on the distinct role of each, but also considering how they may be integrated and where they intersect. Ultimately we will continue to be a space that serves emerging artists’ needs to research, make and show their work.

Located in the South East of London, will the redevelopment change the role and influence of Gasworks within this area specifically?

With the progressive closure of studio spaces in London to make room for regeneration projects, our main concern was first to purchase and then make the building that has been our home since the beginning fit for purpose. Achieving that means that we secured our future in this rapidly changing area of London and can continue to provide studios for locally based artists, as well as build on our longstanding outreach work with the local community. As the area changes we are going to be joined by Damien Hirst’s new space and Cabinet Gallery, which are both opening soon in our neighborhood. This is going to make Vauxhall an exciting destination for a variety of audiences and attract new people to the area.

Gasworks is a networked organization that connects with partners globally; how important is this network in terms of the opportunities that Gasworks can offer artists?

Gasworks is the hub of the Triangle Network, an international network of grass-roots organizations and projects worldwide. As such, partnerships are at the core of our exchange projects, both for international artists coming to do residencies in the UK as well as for UK-based artists doing residencies with our partners abroad. Our partners also guide our research and offer unparalleled access to emerging scenes in Latin America, Africa, Asia, etc. This means that we can reach artists at early stages of their careers and really make a difference to their professional development through residencies, commissions and other projects that give them opportunities to make new work and disseminate their ideas.

With the unveiling of the new space, there’s an exhibition of newly commissioned work by emerging South African artist Kemang Wa Lehulere. What interested you in working with this artist for the reopening?

We’ve been interested in his work for a while. Although he is in many ways more established than most of the artists that contribute to Gasworks’ exhibitions program, he has not yet presented a solo exhibition in the UK. His interests in history and site-specificity also coincide with issues that have been relevant to Gasworks for many years. Wa Lehulere creates works, events and environments that explore the history and present-day realities of South Africa while at the same time engaging with the architecture of the places in which he works. We have therefore given him the gallery over the summer and are excited to work closely with him over this period to realize a whole new body of work for Gasworks’ reopening.

by Louisa Elderton

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Shop /

Sam Falls / The Four Seasons Forever

Published by Flash Art Books, a limited edition portfolio on the work of Sam Falls, The Four Seasons Forever, depicts 13 photogram works made by the artist, each pictured before and after its exposure to natural elements, such as sun, wind and rain.

The first section of the book shows Falls’s collection of classical music on vinyl, photographed lying on shimmery, silk material. Each record, accompanied by its original cover, serves as “elief” or “sun catalyst”, in order to create an impression of two geometric shapes (a circle and a square) on silk. Time, chance and accident combine in this series of works, which the artist created on the occasion of a year-long exhibition at Galleria Franco Noero, Turin. The publication includes an extended conversation between the artist and Nicolas Trembley.

Order here

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