PITCH DROP
Sies+Hoeke, 2016


A Great Acceleration, first exalted by the avant-gardes; lauded as the ‘racer’s stride’ and the ‘new beauty’ of ‘eternal, omnipresent speed’. ‘Hymn to the man at the wheel and the sleek flight of planes’ – where, today, instant coffee is already hot and being served. Burning jet fuel. Instant messaging. A ‘flash’ crash in the market. Moore’s Law. Server farm CO2 emissions in millions of kilos per second…
DEEP INSIDE
5th Moscow International Biennale for Young Art, 2016


The old creed of discrete entities and fixed borders stands mortified. Like the unhappy martyr Saint Sebastian it is shot through. No longer self-contained, its human form is invaded by synthetic genes and psychotropic drugs, or recast as a flow of data staked out by alienating economic functions. As a body of state, or ‘local’ domain, it is punctured by extra-territorial currents. If we discard the anthropomorphic lens, it is a Pacific Ocean tide receiving an influx of radioactive particles and petroleum based polymers, or a mountain unsettled by some violent injection of pressurized water and sand. Everything is touched; everything is probed. This is the broken ground upon which our contemporary cultural life treads, beset by all too frequent encounters with yawning chasms – denaturing sinkholes that threaten to swallow not only established values and concepts, but ecosystems, species and perhaps the whole world.
MARGUERITE HUMEAU: ELEPHANT DEATH RITUALS
Kaleidoscope, 2016


Marguerite Humeau’s new body of work is a witches brew of contemporary pharmacology and synthetic industrial materials. Through unnatural conjunctions and sculptural effect, the artist endeavours to cast a spell over the apparent origins of sentient life – to conjure a world without mankind. This is a world in which, following evolutionary mutations affecting anatomy, elephants possess the capacity for complex spoken language. This is a world in which every human who has ever lived is but a background soundtrack, a ghostly chorus from who knows where. This is FOXP2: Showroom Biologique, the artist’s latest installation-cum-opera, fusing the visual language of design boutiques, natural history displays, CGI renders and biotech.
RECOMBINATRIX
DITTRICH & SCHLECHTRIEM


The Minimalist-inspired surface design of today’s consumer electronics represses the issue of complexity, offering the general public a material/spatial ideology of resolution and containment. And yet, today, boundaries between synthetic and living flesh, code and creature, social and virtual bodies, are highly unstable. As ever more objects are drawn into networks, what once might have been an individual object is, instead, a node; closed systems are cracked, and weird new conjunctions obtain. For artists attuned to this condition, such as Martin Roth and Dorian Gaudin, a pressing task presents itself: to explore emerging travesties of spatial organization and material identity. Furthermore, while doing so, to investigate agency, authorship, and – ultimately – control.
FIRST LIGHT
Galerie Tschudi


Between 1946 and 1958, at a remote Pacific Atoll, 23 of the most powerful manmade explosions in history occurred. During this period, bombs delivering a combined fission yield of 42.2 megatons were detonated. The force of one of these, Castle Bravo, was enough to vaporize two islands and gouge a massive crater – measuring 800 metres in diameter – out of the primordial reef. Another threw a fleet of 70 captured and decommissioned WW2 battleships – some of them up to 250 metres long – up into the air. A few were ripped to shreds. Others, like the USS Saratoga and the HIJMS Nagato – storied flagships of the US and Japanese navies – eventually sank to the bottom, where their rusting hulks remain today.
RARE EARTH
Rare Earth Catalogue, Sternberg Press / Thyssen-Bornemisza Art Contemporary


The question of periodization is a key aspect of the historical enterprise. What separates one moment in human endeavor from another? How do we knit past events together into narratives that account for why one thing happened and not something completely different altogether? What things or objects should we analyze in order draw conclusions about the spirit of an age? These are not new questions, but prioritizing one periodic frame above others can feel rather arbitrary, given the complexity of prevailing techno-cultural conditions. How, then, might we approach the issue of what is contemporary through an exhibition? Can we ground our attempts to represent this period in something more tangible than references to the immaterial or virtual—figures whose ubiquity seems to stem from their ethereal and thus all enveloping resonance? Can we appeal, instead, to something elemental?
A BURIED EXHIBITION
Treasure of Lima: A Buried Exhibition, Thyssen-Bornemisza Art Contemporary


Can you keep a secret? This is an exhibition that might only ever be virtually accessed but which could—though not without a great deal of effort and luck—be experienced first hand. Whether it should be is a different matter altogether. “Treasure of Lima: A Buried Exhibition” hijacks the maritime dimensions of Central American history (in its pirate element) in order to compare modes of value and methods of identification in the present. At a time when many people are concerned with privacy, surveillance and data protection it also highlights secrecy as a matter of performance—subject to the rule of desire and the politics of access and exclusion. It does so by engaging the narrative and legal identity of Isla del Coco, contrasting historical legends of buried treasure with the island’s real status a natural treasure worthy of protection, embellishing the ‘treasure island’ imaginary while venturing the question ‘How can an exhibition create its own legend?’
THE END OF THE WORLD, AGAIN
Julian Charriere: Future Fossil Spaces, Mousse Publishing


The shores of Lake Geneva are fringed with some of the most expensive private homes on the planet. At its easternmost point the city reposes, gentile, orderly and static. Business is done with discretion and the clocks keep good time. Untroubled by invasion despite two world wars, and with excellent health care, the Swiss can expect to live longer than almost everyone else on earth. Per capita, they are also the wealthiest and – on average – consume eleven kilograms of chocolate each year. Good reasons, then, to fantasize about the country being swallowed up by a black hole – so many precision chronographs voiding their warranties as they cross the event horizon, and time – even Swiss timekeeping – coming to a yawning, cosmic standstill.
OTHER ANTARCTICA
Antarctic Pavilion, 14th Venice Biennale of Architecture


Antarctica is the geographical end of the world. Yet, more than a century after man first set foot there it sustains a population of 1162 throughout the sunless winter and 4000 in the summer months. Given the time that has elapsed and the amount of human activity, can we speak of culture (beyond official mission structures) peculiar to Antarctica? How does this culture relate to the public face of the continent? Does paying attention to life as lived in Antarctica bring our priorities into focus? Our vanities? Subterfuges? How do we – who will never go – also claim our stake in the Antarctic imaginary?
TOWARDS THE ANTARCTIC BIENNALE
Antarctic Pavilion, 14th Venice Biennale of Architecture


The ultimate antipode, where all longitudes lead: Where south cannot be found on a compass – its needle unsteady like a sailor in the wind. The frozen end of the world and the outermost reach of geographical thought. The very end of it all. The last continent is not somewhere one associates with contemporary art. Doesn’t the latter term ring sweaty when mentioned in the same breath as the Ross Ice Shelf? Something other than miles separates our art world from the polar one. We who walk the baking flagstones of San Marco, who press flesh at the prosecco intermezzo – where chatter flits from the surface of the artwork to the decoration of the palazzo and the cut of dresses – we are very far removed. Perhaps this is a good thing. Antarctica is a place that does not forgive hubris easily; a place where people sometimes eat their boots to avoid starving. How was your canapé?
THE OCCULT CONTEMPORARY
1:1 Talk, Import Projects


Today’s incredible systems of description shape the ‘real’ world as much as reflect it. In so doing, they both enable and circumscribe our existential possibilities. It is a simple fact, however, that it is impossible for anyone to be fluent in every language that orders our experience. Obscure functions, principles and vocabularies govern the everyday lives of rocket scientists and street cleaners alike. This is to say - The contemporary phenomenology of techno-capitalist-science is, for most people, occult; a paradoxical condition that drives much cultural production today.
STRATA
Renata Kaminska, Luxembourg Pavilion, 55th Venice Biennale of Art


The founding of the Venice Biennale was perhaps the first cultural regeneration project – and it is a model that continues to inspire copycats from Sharjah to Guangzhou. Founded in 1895, taking its cue from the Great Exhibition of 1851, it emerged from the century of upheaval and ignominy that followed Napoleon’s crushing of the Venetian Republic in 1797. No longer a maritime power with imperial dominions – its strategic importance eclipsed by alternative systems of control – the city was depressed until it was cannily rebranded as a realm devoted to the festive business.
MOROCCO AND A HARD PLACE
Near East


You spend a year planning an art festival in a 16th century ruin. You invite artists, distribute press releases, appear on panels in Switzerland and Italy, host parties in London, Berlin and Morocco, and begin to edit a book about site-specific exhibition making that will focus on the particular historical identity of your venue.
THE SCULPTURAL CONTINUUM
Sculpture Network


Today’s sculptural practice takes on the expanded technical range of representation in the digital era. These newfound capabilities have endowed us with increasingly precise control of materials, from the visible field to the particulate and the molecular. Associated with such mastery, analogues of real space – alterable to degrees unlimited by physical conditions (except processor speed) – facilitate transitions from index to remix, single to multiple, copy to version. Advances at the intersection of mechanics and chemistry mean that such virtual items can then make the move (back) into material by 3d printing, nano-technology etc.
ANOTHER DAY AT THE ORIFICE: ATELIER VAN LIESHOUT
Art & Australia


The present ecological crisis seems to demand a radical response; a paradigm shift in patterns of consumption and the methods by which we handle the mess we’ve already made. But how uncompromising should our strategies be? The Dutch artist Joep van Lieshout, working under the name Atelier Van Lieshout, asks this question by proposing numerous solutions, some more capable of being realised than others, almost all of them unsettling.
THE ISLAND WORLD
Dispatch: The Possibility of an Island


For millennia people have taken to islands, caves, far-flung mountains and cloisters to be apart from profane reality. But the urge to create a sanctuary in which to pursue human flourishing dovetails all to easily with the cowardly impulse to avoid facing challenges head-on. The self-sufficient life is, frequently, one apart. What could be more self-sufficient, more sustainable, than death? The morbid luxury of not having to think or lift a finger for other people makes bedfellows of the corpse, the ascetic and voluptuary alike.
IS PUNK ROCK THE CRIME? PUSSY RIOT AND PUTIN'S CHURCH
Art & Australia


‘Punk Rock is Not a Crime!’ was Amnesty International’s slogan in support of Pussy Riot. But Western assertions of the sanctity of free expression have been as unhelpful as the Orthodox Church and Russian state’s putative defense of religious beliefs. The general tone of the debate surrounding the group’s action has served to obscure the concrete politics of the gesture. To better understand Pussy Riot’s intervention one must examine the wider context – including the site, Russia’s ongoing culture wars, and the relationship between the Orthodox Church and Putin’s government.
OCCULT, ESOTERIC ART OF CYBERNETIC CAPITALISM
Lecture delivered at DUVE Berlin


In this age of cybernetic capitalism we are witnessing and explosion of cults, secret doctrines, totems, and magical thinking. This is not merely a nostalgic phenomenon. It is a symptom of a dawn of a new world and attempts to live with the passing of the previous one. Magic is back.
JULIANA CERQUEIRA LIETE - PORTMANTEAU
Third Text, Routledge


‘Time does not change us. It just unfolds us’ wrote the playwright Max Frisch. Juliana Leite’s artistic concerns seem to accord with this sentiment. In Portmanteau – her exhibition at London’s TJ Boulting gallery – the unfurling is corporeal. The sculptures and photos on show are all self-portraits that record her past physical activity while – she asserts – pointing towards a new and more general vision of embodiment.
FUTURE ISLANDS
Essay: No Island is a Man


Just as John Donne reported his discovery – that ‘no man is an island, entire of itself’, but ‘a piece of the continent, a part of the main’ – so Thoreau could announce that “the smallest stream is a Mediterranean sea”.1 In the particular, macro potential is revealed. Comprising just 90 acres of undeveloped land surrounded by 31,700 square miles of water in Lake Superior, Rabbit Island is a utopian attempt to colonize our imaginations.
TECHNICOLOUR YAWN
Essay: Technicolour Yawn


The title Technicolour Yawn sets the (multicoloured) tone for a group exhibition featuring four young artists working in the United States of America and United Kingdom. Most obviously, the term links sensorial overload (associated with technologies of representation) to boredom. However, beyond this well-known relationship it also highlights the themes of compulsion and distaste: a colloquial term, ‘technicolour yawn’ is a euphemistic expression for a forceful bout of projectile vomit.
STUART BAILES: TRUE LIES
Edel Assanti


Photography seems to have a spilt personality; either a truth teller or a fabulist, matter of fact or dissembling. But this is just a pose. If the lies of the latter are plain – a spectrum that begins with pictorialism and ends with photoshopped thighs – this makes them a bit more honest. Documentary claims are the method by which the greatest falsehoods are advanced: the airbrushing of purged apparatchiks from Stalin-era photographs being just one example. But what about the moon landings? The litany of doubt could go on and on. I may be paranoid but this doesn’t mean photography’s not out to deceive me.
THE SHIFTING SITE
Sternberg Press


What are biennales for? Another contributor to this volume has outlined the historic national, governmental and diplomatic motivations for establishing events of this kind.1 The efficacy of such undertakings as prestige-enhancing, tourist-enticing strategies is also understood by politicians worldwide. Proof of this is the profusion of biennales and triennales — more than two hundred and counting. Given this large field, it is worth commenting on the operational conditions that underpin the Marrakech Biennale. Such observations contextualize its fourth edition, both in terms of the festival’s institutional development and its visual artistic program for 2012.
PERSONAL FILE: HANS ULRICH OBRIST
Artchronika


В октябре Ханс-Ульрих Обрист выступил на лондонской конференции журнала Wired, посвященной влиянию компьютерных технологий на культуру, экономику и политику. Обрист как никто другой вписывается в этот контекст. Ведь он – совершенный продукт опутанной глобальной сетью реальности гиперсовременного мира. Если цитировать философов Юджина Такера и Александра Гэллоуэя («Эксплуатация: теория сетей»), в этой реальности «все оказывается везде, и расстояние между полюсами глобального и локального невелико. Биологические вирусы переносятся благодаря авиасообщению из провинции Гуандонг в Торонто всего за несколько часов, а компьютерные вирусы распространяются по информационным линиям от Сиэтла до Сайгона всего за несколько секунд».
GERHARD RICHTER: PANORAMA

It has been two decades since the Tate Gallery hosted Richter’s first UK retrospective, in 1979. At the time Nicholas Serota – now Director of the museum group – curated it. Today he shares the task with the British academic Mark Godfrey, author of Abstraction and the Holocaust. The result is a significant overview of the career of this eighty year old artist who, in 1961, left East Germany for Dusseldorf and subsequently established himself as one of the most important artists of his generation. The exhibition highlights the willful stylistic heterogeneity of Richter’s oeuvre and the intellectual continuity that runs throughout its various facets, showcasing his role as painter of history, still lives, portraits, landscapes, genre and gestural abstract works
DIGITAL LONDON RIOTS
Digital pathology & the London riots


What has been consistently overlooked in discussions about the riots is the connection between ostensibly ‘mindless’ displays of unlawful acquisition – the grabbing of flat-screen tvs – and the techonological conditions that allowed such events to happen. We all know that the rioters coordinated their gatherings and encouraged acts of looting through use of a specific make of mobile phone – Blackberry (via its BBM application which allows messaging between with other blackberry-owning contacts without recourse to the easily interceptable and more widespread technology of text messaging). We also know that the state lacked a mechanism to control this technology once it had become, for all intents and purposes, ‘weaponized’ by its users. However, the use of BBM necessitates more than a future agenda for the government’s security apparatus. It is a phenomenon that helps us to understand what the looting actually was (about).
THE PAINTED GROUND
Akhmedov Art Projects


Farkhad Khalilov’s son tells me that if I want to understand his father’s work then I just need to spend time in his garden. So I do. I’m standing on the terrace of his studio looking over grape vines and tomatoes, above a pool that once contained fish, listening to the call of the village muezzin. Above my head is sky, blue like paint I’ve seen before, and below the horizon is a pewter swathe – the Caspian – interrupted just twice by darkening trees. There is a headland to the left, indistinct but for pricks of light emanating from country houses and, below, textured botanical greens. At this point my eyes become unfocused, detail recedes, and I’m left with bands of colour. Below his domestic crop lies a scrag of scrubby ending. Grass has given way to golden mineral – sand catching sun, tempered by country dust. I think this is what he sees.
SHIP SHAPES
Courtauld Institute of Art & AVC Charity Foundation


This exhibition is a metaphorical current flowing from one related image to another. The tide is such – death to entropy, entropy to water, islands to cities, cities to ships, ships to men, men to death. Its mimetic drift traces the dynamic process central to the concept of entropy itself, a transition unto static oblivion. Since this physical law cannot be escaped it must be surfed.
THE EXPERIMENTAL GROUP: ILYA KABAKOV, MOSCOW CONCEPTUALISM, SOVIET AVANT-GARDES
Third Text


English‐language writing about Soviet conceptualism has ping‐ponged between journalistic efforts and charismatic offerings by insider theorists for some time. The shortcomings of these polar modes are keenly felt by the reader in different ways, but both issue from methodological oversight on the part of writers. The first group – to say the least – do not engage with theory or philosophical questions, while the latter do so with much flair but pay only cursory attention to Western academic approaches to art historical methodology/historiography.
ALEXANDER PONOMAREV: MACROSCOPIA
Barbarian Art Gallery


It may be a poetic exaggeration to characterize the vision enabled by this apparatus as voyeurism – with all its attendant sexual overtones. And, doubtless, emphasizing the phallic nature of the periscope’s ‘erection’ is a banality. Yet, the issue of desire cannot be dismissed. Often the periscope operator wants to – visually – seize the scrutinized object in order to facilitate capture in a more comprehensive sense. In war this often entails physical destruction. In such a manner the act of looking is a prelude to violent assault – having a ‘wicked way’ with the object. Art theory is replete with feminist accounts of ‘the violence of the male gaze’ and – for every banality must be repeated – the rising periscope is well-known preface to unwanted penetration (of a hull by a torpedo).
SEA OF METAPHOR
Calvert 22 Foundation


The works in this exhibition issue from journeys undertaken by Ponomarev: to the Arctic, to the bottom of the ocean, and while tracking the 60th latitude of the Atlantic onboard a scientific research ship. All of these voyages imply unbelievable stories: about how the artist managed to persuade an admiral to allow him to paint an operational nuclear submarine with colourful markings. Or, how he convinced the commander of Russia’s Northern Fleet to marshal ships and a smoke screen in order to make a real island disappear. Such tales raise the question – Why?
GLASNOST: SOVIET NON-CONFORMIST ART
Third Text


London's biggest football club was bought by a Russian oligarch in 2003. The same man paid the highest price ever for a work by a living artist (Lucian Freud) in 2008. The next year, a former KGB agent acquired one of the capital's most influential newspapers. 1 Shortly thereafter, a non‐profit space and three commercial galleries specialising in contemporary Russian art opened in central London. 2 Haunch of Venison's ‘The Art of Glasnost’ is the most recent manifestation of this Russification process, and its catalogue pays tribute to the phenomenon. Indeed, Josef Backstein's essay in the catalogue associates the collapse of Soviet modernity with the author's inaugural visit to the UK. The end of Perestroika was, he recounts, announced by ‘the sight of the real Waterloo Bridge’. 3 He – the commissioner of the Moscow Biennale – currently resides in London.
ANDREI MOLODKIN: RAISING OUR BANNER
Take


Black absorbs all frequencies in the visible spectrum. Colour gives to the eye – by reflecting – while black takes from it. This optical phenomenon has acquired analogous cultural associations. In the West black is often a symbol for death; loss or absence.
THERE AND HERE
Andrew Ranville: Roots Radical


On the uppermost branches of a Catalan conifer, some twenty metres above ground, there is a viewing platform. From there the green and rocky peaks of Montserrat stretch into the Spanish horizon. A wonderful place for hikers or local farmers to indulge in picturesque repose. A spot for solitary meditation, picnics or romance – so it seems. But there is a little problem. Without a ladder, stairs or lift, the platform – Perch (2008) – is all but unreachable.
OF MUSHROOMS & MALEVICH
Makarevich & Elagina: Mushrooms of the Russian Avant-Garde


In 2000 rogue mushroom-pickers from the small northern town of Krasnoselkup, intent on gathering the finest specimens, persistently strayed onto the busy runway of a nearby airport, ‘causing havoc, preventing flights from landing and creating a major security risk’. The mycophiliac menace was only contained after local authorities hurriedly issued strict new laws. Mushrooms – even the non-psychoactive kind – often cause Russians to lose themselves: In a single month during the summer of 2003, over one hundred and twenty-one persons went missing while foraging for fungi in the forests outside St Petersburg. The same year, a bumper crop was responsible for thirty-four reported deaths and four-hundred and fifty-seven cases of poisoning.
ON WORK EXPERIENCE
Naked Punch


An intern is someone who is undergoing internment. She is a detainee. But if the role is voluntary then how is she being confined? ‘[A]ll pragmatic purposes are simply symbols of the fact that a will to power has implanted its own sense of function in those less powerful’. The ‘pragmatic purpose’ is voluntary internment. The ‘sense of function’ manifest in the edifice of work experience is such: The intern occupies the position of debtor in relation to the pseudo-employer’s creditor. The latter extracts time, energy and enthusiasm from the former, which he deploys towards his own ends. And what is to his credit? Simply, establishment in a professional firmament; a status deployed as collateral underpinning – and concealing – wooly exhortations that imply benefit where there may be none. These suggestions are calculated to stoke the flames of the intern’s ambition while, at the same time, quietly neutralizing the potential threat they pose to the status quo. The snake-oil is well known and vague: “It’ll be good experience” and, only a little more specific, “it’ll be good for your CV”.