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An exhibition in a garage in Stockholm. It’s Ed Atkins. Good, we head in. A video projector installed in the middle of the garage, a sound system with room for improvement, and some chairs. For the time being, they’ve got problems with the video, the usual fun and games when machines decide not to work together. Somewhat nervous people and a change of plans: we move to the floor above, an open office – with beers- and a leap from the patio where food will be served. We’re with Camilla, a curator, Carl, an artist, and Britta, a dancer in Tino Sehgal’s piece for Documenta. We’re waiting for Ed Atkins. There’s a storm in London, which means air traffic chaos in Europe and delayed flights; Ed Atkin’s amongst them. Time to kill commenting on the game in hand. Carl set up a rave during the opening of the Biennale. Things got out of control and it almost ended up in a total free-for-all. There’s always a dark side; someone always goes that bit too far it’s all more complex than this need to seek out a journalistic coup or a rapid response from the media. There are always more layers, more information, there are always more things going on, there are always more tones, other grammars, other rhythms and other movements. To set up a rave during an opening is to change the mental status of the visitors of the macro-event so that they become both part and not part of it. To be or not be a virus; to be the corpus during that moment of the fascination with discovery (or boredom) within the international art scene. Simplification we leave for those who need to understand, those who don’t want to accept that a large part of the potential of art, the corpus of art, lies in contradictions and multiplicity.
An exhibition in a garage ends up becoming not just a local so much as an international gathering. An independent space that opens for a video and which afterwards perhaps won’t continue. It’s all the same, it’s a gathering, generating emotion and providing an early meal. The empathy or sensuality of this encounter, typical of independent spaces, becomes just one more point in a corpus of relations where the level or the scale no longer matters. It’s Ed Atkins, it’s in a garage, but it could be in a museum. It doesn’t matter. But it affects the museum and affects the independent space, it affects all of us, and we’re just that little bit more lost. The video is already working. The fascination with physical detail in a digital creation. Skin, pores, respiration. The body that smacks of the fake, the perfect representation of the imperfect. And grammatical alteration: the digital permits the leaps, the repetition of gestures and an overcoming of “standard” time. The body as a mass gestures as choreography, repetition as structure. We could leap directly to Gary Hill as well as Laure Prouvost and there we would be amidst, amidst this free-for-all of the permanent redefinition of how to construct through modification.
A few days later we talked to Kate Cooper. She is the Kate, “you’re Kate!” the same Kate who participated in Looking for Headless by Goldin + Senneby. Headless, without head, recuperating a tradition in which thinking is decapitated, in the same way that the current economy is simply a senseless morass of addresses, figures and body. The body, once again. Kate Cooper, who also seeks this physical perfection of the digital body, this saturation no longer of fat but of pixels. She filled KW in Berlin with beauty, with gestures, with a gym rat body but already one without flesh. The objectification of beauty, the competition as a point of departure, desire as something parallel to repugnance. Almost interchangeable material. The body as code, assuming that everything is code and the code is modifiable. And we all have our referents, and I can’t help but turn to Gaddis. Gaddis, who converts the text into a mass, into something almost incomprehensible. Gaddis, who separates the text from the logic of its consumption, who carries you along emotionally without you being quite sure where you are headed, and once again it also doesn’t matter as it is taking place in front and with you amidst this hurricane. There it is, in front of you, there it is, inside you. The text as alien, as a being that decides, like a thing that through its own body acts within another, in yours. From darkness, from the complex. The gazes of digital bodies, those lost gazes in Ed Atkins, in Kate Cooper and those parallel worlds of Ian Cheng.
Digital bodies with their digital gazes; cool tempered fields of relations. Words then become containers of heat, the means for a possibility of contact. The performativity of the bodies in this way passes for communication in a broken language, through the glitches and decomposition of the image, its transmission and composition. Ultimately everything ends up becoming definition and posing for definition. Body, gesture, sweat, and desire. Alteration, repetition, repositioning, and change. Sweat this out, Aimar. And we remain anchored when it’s no longer necessary we carry on with the same patterns when everything has fallen. Perhaps out of inertia, perhaps out of fear, or perhaps because there is nothing else to do. Instead of allowing everything (and everyone) to blast into smithereens, here we stay, seeking enclaves that return us to our reality. The “truly” physical, the names that indicate everything is under control. That there is success and failure, that there is stability, and everything is okay, correct, in place. The writing of code also implies accepting that like writing it can vary. The result can be finite, but in the mass of digits, there will also be the possibility of distinct or parallel conceptual paths, fractions of alternative worlds and gazes directed at all of this.
The perfect digital body, full of perfect imperfections, is nothing more than a result of an already trajectory, it is nothing more than an image of the need for flight and the generation of characters, of alterations of “the truth”. The narrative character is present, the construction as well, to assume the possibility of being one of them (amongst other possibilities) indicates that the stable is simply something else. And the leap into fiction as a field for investigation, one in which to formulate questions, insecurity in which to construct together. It is no longer a cyborg body, but it does incorporate, by the very logic of code, the feminist reformulation made possible since Haraway. It is no longer a technical, mechanical body, so much as something more textual and critical, within a nexus. A nexus to be redefined through its characters.
Mass and body, digits and words. Random caresses the desire for contact, linguistic alterations and a field of action. Bodies in movement within a programmed lack of control, logarithms outwith their usual functionality, gestures with no apparent sense that make it possible to feel, to know, and to be. The exhibition as this possible meeting zone for bodies, in which a lack of definition is possible, where contradiction is positioned against normativity, where construction returns to be a commons, its own, open and without the meaning there is a desire to force upon it. Amidst desire, amidst the construction of pathways, tones, messages, and emotions.
Body, text, sweat, pixel
New New New Institutionalism
“There are no top and second tiers, only coexistence and possibility”. Interview with Chus Martínez
“The body of the institution is a body with a choral voice”. Interview with Manuel Segade
“There are political forces that aim to dismantle public arts funding”. Interview with Theodor Ringborg
“Building an institution means to rethink the way it operates in the world”. Interview with Stefanie Hessler
"A desk is a dangerous place from which to watch the world" (John Le Carré)