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Okey Dokey / Düsseldorf, Cologne

Okey Dokey is a new gallery initiative that takes place September 8–30, 2017, in the Rhineland cities of Düsseldorf and Cologne. Started by three relatively new galleries, Jan Kaps, Ginerva Gambino and Max Mayer, nine spaces across the two cities have been invited to host exhibitions by international galleries that will enact a takeover during this period.

Within this collaboratively minded process, incomers neither pay rent nor engage in a percentage split with the hosting galleries. Instead, supportive relationships are fostered with the aim of solidifying preexisting links between local and international galleries, which are then opened up to the public.

Participants will gather from around the globe, most notably Tokyo gallery Misako & Rosen, who will celebrate their ten-year anniversary while being hosted by Max Meyer in Düsseldorf. Delmes & Zander in Cologne will host Paris-based Galerie 1900–2000, who specialize in avant-garde Dada and Surrealist art, as well as Frankfurt-based Neue Alte Brücke, whose exhibition “Mystification of the Everyday” takes quotidian objects as its subject.

Rob Tufnell in Cologne will host the usually Berlin-based gallerist Tanya Leighton, whose amusingly titled group exhibition, “Pharmacy for Idiots,” will feature artists such as Ansel Krut, Josh Smith, Issy Wood and Ann Craven. Not taking part in this year’s “art berlin” fair — the first collaboration between the former “abc” (art berlin contemporary) and Art Cologne fairs, which will take place concurrently on September 14–17 — Leighton has opted instead for this alternative exhibition model. Not the first of it’s kind, it echoes the collaborative Condo exhibition project, which led the way as spaces throughout London and New York hosted international galleries in 2016 and 2017.

Fair co-organizer and Ginerva Gambino–founder Laura Henseler highlights that Okey Dokey has been organized with further historical precedents in mind: “We see Okey Dokey in a tradition of many collaborative projects that date back to Rhineland exhibitions like “Prospect” in the 1970s and the “Köln Show” thirty years later. The latter was [also] organized by nine galleries without institutional help.”

With Cologne and Düsseldorf having reputations as bustling cities for contemporary art, fueled by the swell of collectors who emerged following the cities’ industrial successes and underpinned by their world-class museums, Okey Dokey adds another variable to this arts ecology.

by Louisa Elderton

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Matias Faldbakken Reena Spaulings Fine Art / Los Angeles

Matias Faldbakken’s exhibitions are usually initiated with a gesture of violence, perhaps ratchet-strapping a bank of lockers until they bloat, or cutting household appliances with an angle grinder. More subtly, he utilizes the ubiquitous craft of a tradesman by tiling, wheat pasting or taping gestures on walls and panels, in the process only flirting with any assertion of authorship.

Yet, at first glance, his recent exhibition at Reena Spaulings Fine Art in Los Angeles, “Why New French Art is Lousy,” seems like a departure. Here Faldbakken remakes portions of a charcoal drawing he found in the background of a photograph of his favorite Norwegian author, Dag Solstad. The original drawing is a seascape featuring a two-faced, pipe-smoking man lying with a nude mermaid who holds a bird. A sailboat floats in the distance. The work is made in a crude surrealist style, and it’s the type of drawing you might find at a rummage sale or hanging in your uncle’s basement.

The artist intimately retraces the unknown artist’s gestures in twenty-one individual works, and the viewer is primarily asked to reconcile Faldbakken’s relationship to the Norwegian author in the photograph. Move a layer deeper, however, and notice that several of the works feature a blue and red motif; this, combined with the exhibition’s and each work’s title, Why New French Art is Lousy, suggests an engagement with sociopolitical critique. Finally, his decision to use ubiquitous aluminum frames for some works but panels made of rebar and plaster for others, asks the viewer to evaluate the hierarchy of each work.

Set inside the context of Faldbakken’s practice these layers of content seem like false flags; what at first seems like an intimate exploration is a game designed to reveal our uneasy relationship with identity and craft, appropriation and authorship. Ultimately, we are asked if the gestures of a drawing can be treated like a found object and if the act of appropriation is truly a nonviolent one.

by Andrew J. Greene

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Flash Art International no. 316 September – October 2017

We are pleased to announce that the September – October issue of Flash Art International is out now. This issue serves as a window on developments in the field of artificial intelligence. It therefore sits at the intersection of several contiguous discourses, among them contemporary art and new media studies, as well as computer and social science. Our ongoing cession of identity to nonhuman agents and intelligence demands new structures of analysis.

This edition divides its treatment of AI according to theories of utopia and dystopia, of existence and consciousness, and of gender and identity. For each of our featured artists (Ian Cheng by Sandro Weilenmann; Mario Klingemann by Luba Elliott; Sondra Perry by Nora N. Khan; Sam Lavigne; Harold Cohen’s AARON by Alex Estorick; Lawrence Lek by Anya Harrison; Jenna Sutela; Lynn Hershman Leeson by Elvia Wilk; and Cécile B. Evans by Katharina Weinstock) AI serves as a problematic –– oscillating between visibility and invisibility –– that articulates the struggle to represent our changing selves through often hybrid approaches to new technologies.

How does art reveal the cyborgian condition? How might automation reduce cultural diversity? Will AI render artists and curators jobless? And what happens when robots get tired of our oppression? Contributors to this issue — scholars, writers and researchers from the fields of data analysis, systems theory and digital culture — seek to address these and many other questions.

Edward A. Shanken triangulates the work of artists Leonel Moura and Stelarc with insights on human-robot interaction. Katherine Cross exposes the racially and gender-motivated bigotry hardwired into the nascent AI “service industry.” Eli Diner explores scenarios of automating the looking at and the making of art. Steve Kado questions whether, by fueling the AI project, we are really asking machines to change our minds. Lev Manovich sheds light on AI’s role in our cultural lives through his ongoing analysis of big cultural data and global cultural trends.

Against a backdrop in which AI’s implications are being contested by Elon Musk and Mark Zuckerberg, our final word, with Ars Electronica’s artistic director Gerfried Stocker, cautions against leaving developments in machine learning up to engineers and private companies, instead suggesting that AI be considered in relation to society as a whole.

In “Reviews”:

Louise Lawler at MoMA, New York; Sidsel Meineche Hansen at Ludlow 38, New York; “In Search of Expo 67” at the Musée d’art contemporain, Montreal; Marisa Merz at the Hammer Museum, Los Angeles; Camille Blatrix at Bad Reputation, Los Angeles; Manuel Solano at Karen Huber, Mexico City; Mathis Gasser at Chewday’s, London; Richard Serra at Museum Boijmans, Rotterdam; Win McCarthy at Silberkuppe, Berlin; Jenny Holzer at Hauser & Wirth, Zurich; Beatriz González at Peter Kilchmann, Zurich; Cerith Wyn Evans at Marian Goodman, Paris; Haroon Mirza at LiFE, Saint-Nazaire; Nick Mauss at the Serralves Museum, Porto; “TV 70” at the Fondazione Prada, Milan; “Moscow Diaries” at MMOMA, Moscow; “Canton Express” at the M+ Pavilion, Hong Kong; and Patty Chang at Bank, Shanghai.

Finally, we are pleased to announce Flash Art’s participation in the 2017 editions of Contemporary Istanbul; Art Berlin; Vienna Contemporary; Frieze London; Fiac, Paris; and Paris Internationale.

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Amalia Del Ponte Museo del Novecento & Studio Museo Francesco Messina / Milan

The intuition underlying “Onde lunghe e brevissime,” a two-part exhibition at Museo del Novecento and Studio Museo Francesco Messina, consists not only in the presentation of two different decades of Amalia Del Ponte’s production, but also in the connection of two formats often considered antithetical: the philological and the sensorial.

At Museo del Novecento the curator Iolanda Ratti adopts an approach calibrated both critically and historically. Revisiting the artist’s research between 1964 and 1973, this section is focused on scientific and perceptual studies of light refraction on Plexiglas prisms, defined by Vittorio Fagone as “Tropi.” It concludes with How do you feel? (1971), a sculpture whose white concrete manifests the atemporal dignity of marble as filtered light is refracted and reflected onto it. This work was presented in 1973 at the twelfth São Paulo Bienal, together with Area Percettiva, the installation piece that won the sculpture prize.

The second part of the exhibition, curated by Eleonora Fiorani at the Studio Museo Francesco Messina, shows Del Ponte’s research on sound. Betweeen 1985 and 1995 the artist worked on sound sculptures called “Litofoni” –– sheets of tuned stone harmonized through careful choreography and activated by percussive performers. The selection here is articulated through video-documented performances with drawings and a number of “Litofoni.” The core of this section is Aria della freccia (1994), a stone triptych played at the opening as part of a new performance by Elio Marchesini. Although the presence of a permanent collection here precludes total sonic immersion, Marchesini’s agitated performance nonetheless revived the endless lyricism through which Del Ponte sought a balance between form and material, between science and Eastern philosophy, and between the visible and the sensual.

by Bernardo Follini

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Twink Bodies / Davide Stucchi

What remains of bodies after the necrosis of capitalism? Skin and bones. Dust. And clothes, the contours of bodies that were. All are materials that recur in Davide Stucchi’s work, shaping our interpretation of a project that seeks to reaffirm the body, its mechanisms and its social function.

Stucchi calls himself a sculptor, but most of his pieces involve only minimal material interventions: subtractions, deteriorations, alterations of chemical states, subtle manipulations of existing forms. On the other hand, what can a sculptor sculpt when his human subject matter is reduced to fragments — transformed, transfigured and zombified? Relics. Which is what Stucchi’s works may, at first glance, appear to be. And yet they provoke a tension between the inert material and the spectator’s gaze that immediately refers back to life.

The piece Mattia (2015), for example, is a tan leather scrap etched with human teeth marks, as though the surface had been bitten repeatedly. The work’s title invokes the artist’s partner, a figure who relates to Stucchi’s work the way that Ross stood in relation to Felix Gonzalez-Torres’s. Yet where Ross’s body is always implied in absence, Mattia’s acts and is, in turn, acted upon. Whether, within the couple’s intimate encounters, it is Mattia’s teeth that sink into Davide’s flesh or vice versa matters little; the bite marks are an index of one person’s vivifying desire for the body of another.

The crude corporeality of some of Stucchi’s output might suggest correspondences with the works of Alina Szapocznikow: excrescences of decadent and libidinous female bodies. But Stucchi doesn’t participate in Szapocznikow’s trauma — the spiral of “glamour and sickness and death”¹ that the Polish artist activates in works like Tumors Personified (1971) — and instead resorts to more sanitized images. His works may thus be deemed closer to Ull Hohn’s idealization of an immaculate epithelial surface in “Tan Enamel,” his 1993 cycle of paintings in enameled modeling paste. Yet Stucchi does not operate quite like Hohn, haunted by the ghosts of AIDS. In Stucchi’s works, the reaffirmation of the body does not pass through the exorcism of pathology so much as through the deconstruction of the corporeal ideal as expressed by advertising, fashion, consumerism: a hyper-defined and undeniably heterosexualized body that, for Stucchi, is no longer either the object of desire or the desiring subject. The artist therefore does not intervene into strategies of the body’s representation, but rather subjects “the body, its organs and fluids … to a plastic recovery.”² That is to say, he invents new ways of sculpting the body.

The masculine bodies represented in Stucchi’s work are always subtle — and not only because the artist forces processes of material reduction. Rather, he seems to want to free these bodies of any element that would transfigure them into the realm of machismo, thus rediscovering the features of a masculinity that is stripped down to the essential and therefore genuine; Pasolinian, we might say. The challenge posed here is against advertising’s image of masculinity, according to which the masculine body “is all sex organ, or aspires to be … but it’s a sex that is neither chaste nor indecent, neither natural nor conventional, because it is situated beyond such partitions. Situated, that is, in fashion,”³ where strapping bodies are, in reality, dephysicalized and decarnalized.

For his show at Deborah Schamoni in Munich, Stucchi produced an invite on which, alongside a photographic portrait of himself, he noted his measurements and facial characteristics, like on a model’s composite card.

Badly stuck to the gallery window was a copy of the invite addressed (and never delivered) to Eva Gödel, founder of the Tomorrow is Another Day modeling agency. Established in 2010, Tomorrow is Another Day is among the platforms responsible for introducing into the fashion industry a new visual paradigm of masculinity, an aesthetic traceable to the ragazzo di vita, the Pasolinian “boy of life” or hustler, abruptly transplanted from the lumpenproletariat to the catwalk — a readymade exempt from any real process of corporeal hyperdefinition.

Stucchi invokes the Tomorrow is Another Day phenomenon to show that visual culture is, indeed, increasingly supportive of the anti-macho image; at the same time, by forcing a confrontation between his own body and that of the agency’s models, he stresses that expressions of a living masculinity cannot be sought in fashion — where “indecency [is] chaste, and chastity indecent,”4 to echo Pasolini. That is, we find gender but not sexuality.

Stucchi’s exhibition in Munich is punctuated by sculptures from the series “Naso (pisello)” (Nose [penis], 2017). Made through the simple gesture of reshaping metal hangers, these are “spatial drawings” that, depending on how they are attached to the wall, evoke either the silhouette of a nose or a penis. Their stylization recalls the “‘divine’ shadows” that Professor Giubileo, in Pasolini’s homonymous story, sees cast on Moro’s pant legs by his “bas-relief”5 — while Riccetto’s “lap,” packed into his Sunday trousers in “young bourgeois” style, is immediately “chaste”6

In Munich, the artist also invited Corrado Levi (Italian artist, architect and poet) to exhibit an old work, Cinture (Belts, 1992), here retitled to Desiderando gli amici (Desiring One’s Friends). The work is a diagonally stretched steel cable with dozens of men’s belts hanging from it. The irony of Desiderando gli amici opens the way for that of Naso (pisello) — as if to say, once the belts are confiscated, the pants have a hard time staying up. Both of these works inscribe sexuality within a framework of frivolity, play and jouissance. They trace a masculine body that might be made of signifiers but is nonetheless alive. So alive that it invites and challenges because it knows neither indecency nor chastity. It is finally a sexual body.

Subjecting the masculine body to a process that is reductive both of its substance and symbolic weight means depriving it of muscles. This is the path that Stucchi pursues: stripping masculine bodies not of the muscle mass proper to a healthy physique, but of unnatural, constructed, aestheticized muscles.

In homosexual slang, the masculine body without muscles is that of the twink. A twink is the opposite of a bear, beefy and hairy. The bear is markedly masculine, the twink effeminate. Last year, Stucchi made a piece titled Heat Dispersion (Mattia e Davide)(2016), two soap casts of the bodies of the artist and his partner, Mattia. In the piece the two naked bodies lie belly down; you can’t see their physiognomy, but they appear long-limbed and slight — two twink bodies.

Heat Dispersion is an elegy to “effeminate masculine” love, twink love. Here, the simple act of cleaning the imperfections left over from the casting process is akin to caring for the body: one’s own but above all that of the other. It replicates the amorous gesture of bathing someone. At the same time, the perishability of the soap implies that such care, if excessive, can cause the sculpture itself to perish. Before making Heat Dispersion, Stucchi confided that he would have liked to “wash” the casts in the sea once they were finished, to the point of reducing the bodies to formless masses. With this gesture, he would have used ceremony to transcend any representation; but by way of such ceremony, he would have subordinated the reality of the couple to the birth of the work. Heat Dispersion instead exists to testify that the creative act is not always or necessarily “productive” — just as the sexual act, in gay sex, is not procreative.

In this work, the material instability of soap translates into a tension that resides in the physicality of the two bodies. They sleep, but we know that they desire each other. Just like we ourselves desire to touch them, because soap engages our sense of touch. How should we act, then, when faced with their “nudity”? In an era in which the average gay, in order to individuate a sexual partner, communicates his identity as a masc-4-masc — is, in other words, a “male” looking for another “male” — the physicality of these two twink lovers reaffirms the extent to which gay subjectivity is legitimately the result of a dialectics of masculine and feminine. Embracing this equivocation is what allows us to abandon normative representations of sexuality. And thus evolve our ways of living the body, of feeling and representing it.

by Michele D’Aurizio

(Translated from Italian by Tijana Mamula)

Peninsula is a new column dedicated to Italian contemporary culture, featuring an article published in the Italian edition of Flash Art.

Notes:

  1. Quinn Latimer, “The body as body or body politics,” in Quinn Latimer, Adam Szymczyk, ed., The documenta 14 Reader. Munich/London/New York: Prestel Verlag, 2017, p. 135.
  2. Paul B. Preciado, “Il membro fantasma: Carol Rama e la storia dell’arte”, in Teresa Grandas, Paul B. Preciado, ed., La passione secondo Carol Rama. Milan: Silvana Editoriale, 2016, p. 19.
  3. Paola Colaiacomo, L’eleganza faziosa. Pasolini e l’abito maschile. Venice: Marsilio Editori, 2007, p. 115.
  4. Pier Paolo Pasolini, “Petrolio”, 1972–75, in Romanzi e racconti, vol. II, 1962-1975. Milan: Mondadori, 1998, p. 1475.
  5. Pier Paolo Pasolini, “Giubileo”, 1950, in Romanzi e racconti, vol. II, 1962-1975. Milan: Mondadori, 1998, p. 421.
  6. Pier Paolo Pasolini, “Appunti per un poema popolare”, 1951–52, in Romanzi e racconti, vol. II, 1962-1975. Milan: Mondadori, 1998, p. 391.
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Tori Wrånes National Museum of Norway / Oslo

Tori Wrånes’s survey exhibition presents evidence that the Norwegian artist’s outlandish dreamscapes were once real — their remnants are on view in the National Museum of Norway, placed amid classically detailed sconces and grand marble arches.

There is Rickshaw Ballet (2015), a harmonious collision of Bangladeshi rickshaw drivers transporting local singers in a chaotic chorus-in-motion; TRACK OF HORNS (2015), in which the ascending cars of a ski lift carry a line of singing, aged trolls high up into the Italian Alps; and an aerial recital in The opposite is also true 2 (2011), in which both the artist and a piano are suspended perpendicularly from a wall, playing a descending scale while singing an ascending one.

The survey also includes the debut of a new performance, Sirkling. Inverting the theater’s traditional relationship of spectacle and audience, guests are invited to take a seat on a structure resembling a seven-layer wedding cake frosted in industrial carpeting, situated in the center of the exhibition. Changes are so finely calibrated as to make one doubt any information delivered by one’s own senses: the rafters spin so slowly that the movement is nearly undetectable; the lights dim so subtly that the performers prancing in furry costumes — a species of fluffy white troll that often finds solace in Wrånes’s world, as in her previous work Shapeshifters (2014) — seem to have been there the entire time. Frolicking, pausing, hiding, catching up to each other, the band of trolls circumambulate the audience, while a menacing score of wobbling metal and softly harmonizing creatures fills the hall. Once the circling ends, viewers exit the scene, only to encounter a startling chorus of these wondrous creatures filling the museum’s foyer.

The artist is an advocate for the figure of the troll, who is feared or maligned for characteristics shared by all — aspects that only come to light once we are alone. While many of her daredevil performances operate on a theatrical scale, her many sculptures of purposeful misalignment and repetitive limbs and appendages — Mom, don’t you miss the real me? (2015), The Singer (2015) — embody this suspicion of our wild sides most accurately: they have evolved to thrive in a future we have yet to imagine.

by Jennifer Piejko

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