In this issue: Dean Daderko, Arthur Jafa and Sondra Perry on Blackness, technology and alien ontologies; Stefanie Hessler exchanges oceanic ideas with Heidi Ballet; Forrest (husband of Puppies Puppies) talks to Tenzing Barshee; Hannah Black as seen by Rahel Aima; essays by Alexander Provan, Orit Gat and Jens Hoffmann; Pope.L and Mia Locks; Sam Thorne with Marianna Simnett; Anna Gritz and Eric Baudelaire; Luke Willis Thompson; Raúl de Nieves, and more.
Dean Daderko talks with Arthur Jafa and Sondra Perry their recent shows in New York: Jafa’s short video Love Is the Message, The Message Is Death, presented at the new Gavin Brown’s enterprise space in Harlem, and Sondra Perry’s intense Resident Evil at The Kitchen. Both are deeply affecting on the strength of their shared interests in Blackness.
Curators Heidi Ballet and Stefanie Hessler have both been researching oceans in recent years. Together they discuss how the recurring theme of water and oceans in today’s exhibitions could be indicative of new ways of thinking that emphasize formlessness and fluctuation as part of new readings of the world that escape rigid classification.
John Polk Allen is a systems ecologist, engineer, metallurgist, and writer. He is known as the inventor of Biosphere 2, a research facility conceived to demonstrate the possibility of closed ecological systems to support and maintain human life in the eventuality of space colonization. Here he converses about his findings with Hans Ulrich Obrist and the director, writer, curator, and artist Kathelin Gray.
“Are we having a good time? Are we having the right kind of bad time?” Hannah Black asks in “Atlantis,” a piece in her recently published book Dark Pool Party. In this text, writer Rahel Aima discusses the Berlin-based British artist, writer, and theorist’s multidirectional practice, which touches on transnational circuits of capital, power differentials, and radical race and feminist theory.
Late last year, following Donald Trump’s promotion to the White House, the artist Paul Chan published “New No’s,” a post-election free-verse protest against the drift of American society toward what is most un-American. He wrote: “No to clickbait as culture / No to news as truths / No to art as untruths / … No meaning without meaning / No means no.” To Alexander Provan, this signaled a tectonic shift in culture as a response—perhaps the only viable response—to the desecration of language and disregard for empiricism that are Trump’s hallmarks.
Pope.L is an artist based in Chicago whose provocative, boundary-bending work spans performance, drawing, painting, video, photography, and installation, addressing binaries, contraries, and preconceived notions embedded within contemporary culture. His upcoming projects include the 2017 Whitney Biennial and documenta 14. Here he talks with the curator Mia Locks about America, identification, and “where the shit comes out.”
The work of Puppies Puppies often involves a certain push-and-pull dynamic between that which is intimately close and that which is far away, removed: their works are usually readymade, sourced from the Internet, referencing the personal ideas and experiences of the artist, and tied to cultural and industrial production. Here, Tenzing Barshee talks to Puppies Puppies’ husband, Forrest.
The London-based artist Marianna Simnett—whose work spans video, performance, installation, and drawing, with a focus on bodies and their limits—and the director of Nottingham Contemporary, Sam Thorne, discuss chaos, performance, the Botox industry, fables, and disappearing acts: “It’s related to inertia, or stasis, or not being able to do.”
Tobi Haslett saw Cemetery of Uniforms and Liveries a new work by Luke Willis Thompson: two reels of film, each a portrait of a young Londoner with a maternal relative who was killed by police. The slain or wounded matriarch seems to float above the image, coyly fiddling with the directness that the faces promised. This is the conversation that ensued.
The first visual artifact by Karel Martens to catch Nick Currie‘s eyes was the cover of the Dutch architecture journal Oase: two overlapping pieces of what look like transparent Meccano—one red, one green—creating a bold argyll diamond against a white background: a bold, optimistic design for schismatic, isolationist times, with a sense of yin and yang, of possible futures.
Color is an obvious aspect of the world, and yet so elusive. Surfaces absorb electromagnetic waves, except those that bounce back from them. The waves then hit our trichromatic retinas and through some form of alchemy, unknown even to the finest neurologists, are processed as hues of particular saturation or brightness. Carolyn Christov-Bakargiev discusses colors and art.
What is the history of the limited edition? Are artists’ editions, printed in large numbers and sold by nonprofits to support their activities, the indisputable endpoint of technologies that allow for infinite reproduction? Or are they a sign of an interest in new models of ownership that make art accessible for people who could never afford an original work? A survey by Orit Gat.
On the occasion of Eric Baudelaire‘s first institutional survey exhibition The Music of Ramón Raquello and His Orchestra at Witte de With in Rotterdam, the artist and filmmaker speaks to Anna Gritz about the transient materiality of his practice, cross-temporal artistic collaboration, and the importance of “exploring a space in between understanding and the impossibility of understanding.”
Basel Abbas and Ruanne Abou-Rahme are an artist duo based in New York and Ramallah. Over the last ten years, they have created sound and video works as well as complex installations. Rather than talk about specific works, this conversation with Fabian Schöneich examines some of the essential elements recurring in their artistic practice: the archive, sonic language, and poetry.
Chris Sharp postulates the minor as mode of art making that is characterized by resistance—not as a political position, but as a natural consequence of the practice itself. Irreducible and irrecuperable, the minor is intrinsically resistant to being coopted or put into the service of allegory, nor can it be made to speak for, be deployed toward, or even assigned a function.
“Bacher, Spooner, and Stockholder address subjectivity with a giddiness that doesn’t take itself too seriously, the uptightness of contemporary art released in favor of more exciting tensions. I am tempted to argue that it comes from positioning oneself on the sidelines, like Chloë Sevigny and her friends in The Last Days of Disco (1998).” A narrative essay by Sabrina Tarasoff.
Jens Hoffmann writes on the history of biennial exhibitions. Emerging during the nineteenth century, at the height of the Industrial Revolution and Europe’s colonial rule over large parts of the world, universal exhibitions, also known as world’s fairs, became showcases for countries to present their latest technological, cultural, and industrial achievements.
In November 2016, Elvia Wilk saw a dance piece by the choreographer Ligia Lewis called minor matter. By the end of the hour-long performance, she felt she had gone through a profound catharsis along with the hundred other people in the theater. Celebration and death, futility and passion, health and pain are inseparable in minor matter. So are togetherness and individuation.
David Everitt Howe visits Raúl De Nieves, a fixture of Brooklyn Bushwick’s queer nightlife and performance-art scenes for several years, both as a front man in the bands HARIBO and Somos Monstros and in his own capacity as a performer. The impossibly intricate and fantastical creations that populate his studio are destined for the 2017 Whitney Biennial.
A poster by the artist Frances Stark. The work first appeared on her Instagram on January 6, 2017. This poster is the second in a series curated by Stefan Kalmár for free distribution in Mousse.