Aurora Biennal 2018
Dallas City Hall & surroundings, Dallas, 3 November, 2018
Fabian Knecht, Simon Mullan, Magnús Siguardason with Danielle Georgiou Dance Group (DGDG), Simon Steen-Andersen, So-So Topic


Samman’s program for AURORA 2018 and the theme ‘Future Worlds’ recast the streets and plaza around Dallas City Hall as an urban theatre—a theater whose play follows a simple script, first written in May 1968 and graffitied on city walls in Paris: “Under the paving stones, the beach.” It is an invocation that retains its power today, half a century later, through its invitation to discover another world, right here, where we least expect it. It is a spell (or a little bit of alchemy) that wills things to be different. In this spirit, the program consists of four distortions of everyday downtown moments—marshaling smoke, soap suds, speech, sirens, cars and killer whales. For one night only, City Hall billows smoke; the Kay Bailey Convention Center is transported to the freezing North Atlantic; errors and car exhausts are redeemed in music; and someone, finally, tells it like it is.

Fabian Knecht – Contemplation
Contemplation (2018) is an ephemeral sculpture made of dense white smoke that emerges from the top of a building. The smoke billows, freely, for some time before dissipating. For AURORA, this occured on the roof of the Dallas City Hall, restaging a piece that was previously realized by the artist at the New National Gallery in Berlin, Germany. The installation uses the building not so much as a (protective) shell but as a podium, springboard, platform and pedestal for this fleeting, temporal smoke sculpture, uncontrollable in its dispersal through space. Immateriality becomes an object that reacts in terms of orientation and color to the given atmospheric conditions, i.e. wind velocity, temperature and humidity. Smoke signals have always been used to transmit messages. What is the message of Contemplation? “Maybe it is a kind of monumental anti-monument monument to what remains of the shrinking cultural area in art—to a space that seems dissolve into vapor, given that today only values what is useful and denies the intoxicating excess of imagery, which is the true place of art, its right to exist,” the artist says. His portrait of the fleeting uses the sky as an image carrier and turned the Dallas City Hall into a cloud factory, a site for ideas, illusion machine, power station—the embodiment of intellectual freedom beyond sociopolitical constraints. Text by Ursula Ströbele

Simon Mullan – Continuous Power
(Sounds created by Bernhard Rehn, Julian Hruza and Simon Mullan)
In continuous power (2011–ongoing), “high” culture and “street” culture come together in a sculpture-as-concert: Eight custom automobiles projecting sound from powerful, ridiculous hi-fi systems are arranged in a circular formation. This temporary space functions as a surround-sound listening environment for the audience, who may come and go as they please.

Magnús Siguardason with Danielle Georgiou Dance Group (DGDG)

Simon Steen-Andersen – Run Time Error
Run Time Error (2009) is an audio-visual performance that is both accessible and intelligent. The image and sound content of two video files are mixed live by the artist, who controls them with two computer-game joysticks. The video content itself is pre-recorded and documents the artist as he generates and plays sounds from the immediate environment of the theater or concert venue (banging on lampposts, for instance), which he captures through a hi-definition microphone. The joysticks run the videos at different speeds, forwards and backwards, warping the visual and sonic playback, turning the video file itself into an improvised “instrument.”

So-So Topic – SO-High
In light of today's (fake) news headlines, twisted perspectives forced on open minds by friends and family members, and the countless, foundation-less arguments floating around social media platforms, So-So Topic combined visual and performance art to give a spoken word performance. On a platform roughly 40 feet in the air, So-So Topic addressed the intense sociopolitical climate faced not only  in the United States but all around the globe.

AURORA 2018 Website