Featured image: Still from “Colonize the Cloud”, Animated GIFs by Gretta Louw
Curated by Eva Davidova and Meredith Drum
Thursday October 1st, 2020 from 2-10pm
About the show:
“Is there a place we can be, exist, thrive without fear, without pain?” a character asks in Tabita Rezaire’s SENEB. Capitalism is killing too many of us, human and nonhuman. Histories and knowledges are erased, and the tyrants cover their greed with toxic lies. Another world is not only needed, it is possible but just barely. This screening champions artists who may have the sly wit, the new and ancient imaginaries, the hard methods to push the mass that proclaims itself to be the world through the cloaca and into the live-able. A canoe, a sorceress, recycled gold, a knife, an alligator smile, a knitted cloud of jellyfish, and secret messages hidden in chunks of DNA: tools to collaboratively unmake the darkness of global capitalism, and brave new practices to tell big-enough stories into the unknown. Another world is not only needed, it is possible.
Video Descriptions, in order of appearance:
Jessica Segall, Un-common Intimacy, 2018, 7:40min.
There are more tigers alive in captivity in the United States than currently living in the wild. These preserved wilderness sites reinforce ideals of private property and reproduce colonial attitudes in conservation, producing capital from both the conservation and entertainment economies.
Un-common Intimacy was shot in private wildlife reserves in the six states that allow private ownership of large predators. I trained to handle the wildlife in order to embed myself in the ready-made sites. During these sessions, I learned that the masculine theater performed in wildlife handling entertainment is not a prerequisite for approaching predators.
Jen Liu, Pink Slime Cesar Shift: Gold Loop, 2020, 6:21min. excerpt from work-in-progress.
Pink Slime Caesar Shift is a multi-year, multi-media body of work, whose premise is four methods of altering the DNA of mass-produced in-vitro hamburgers. Synthetically produced DNA is encrypted and added to beef muscle cells, when they are decrypted they reveal secret messages of vital use for labor activists / factory workers in China. Overall, this body of work explores themes of alternative and expanded networks, grassroots biotech, and an aesthetic of synthetic, toxic femininity.
Gold Loop explores their relationship as a dreamlike paradigm of global interconnectedness, exposing lines of material consequence, looped together through circulations of resources, labor, and toxicity – specifically, via e-waste recycling, and the Circular Economy model. This piece originated with the method of genetic modification called gold biolistics. In this method, gold microparticles insert altered DNA into living cells by being shot at the cells with an air gun. We used this method to make fluorescent yellow beef cells with encrypted data listing various methods of nonviolent protest. The lab gold we used had been recycled multiple times, many of its former lifetimes in consumer electronics, recovered through recycling.
I have often used firsthand accounts of female electronics workers in South China, to speak about the physical, legal, and chemical realities of labor. Here I was delivered back to this sector/geography of workers via the materials of genetic engineering. This is no coincidence: these women’s bodies are the invisible source and endpoint of much that we consume. The circular economic model – a techno-utopian model – shields a circular nightmare of biopolitical toxicity from view. The aesthetics of corporate hygiene result from the ability to export resource deplenishment, effectively locking humans into a zone of invisibility.
Gretta Louw, Colonise the Cloud, Animated GIFs and video, 2015-2018, 2:46min. excerpt.
This body of work is focused on a series of evolving animated GIFs but extends into prints, graphics, textiles, and video. The animated loops are created painstakingly frame by frame using found imagery in a very slow, low-fi digital process; the pieces are an attempt to find a new visual language, new metaphors, for the digital. It’s the tech interests themselves who have primarily been defining both the language and iconography that we use to describe the digital —- and that means the discourse, no matter how critical it intends to be, ends up being circumscribed.
Earlier works such as The Cloud (2014) lightbox had been focused on deconstructing so-called ‘cloud’ marketing imagery to highlight the absurdity of these cynically misleading campaigns — the way that the language and images used to describe the service imply an ethereal data-heaven – disembodied, pure, and safe. Around 2015, I started combining these works with glitch, underwater cables, and jellyfish. I was thinking about swarms as networks; how these ancient life forms are flourishing in acidifying oceans; and reports of millions of jellyfish swimming en masse into the plumbing of coastal nuclear power plants and causing shutdowns. In this series, the jellyfish becomes symbolic of the amorphous, inscrutable network, the cloud that seems to be one thing but reveals itself, upon closer inspection, to be another. It’s an exploitative cycle between us and technology and the natural surroundings that is leading us ever further down a dystopian rabbit-hole.
Tabita Rezaire, SENEB, 2017, 7:31min.
SENEB comes from the ancient Kemetic word/symbol meaning health, but it also means sound or rather ‘to be sound’ or ‘to have soundness.’ The power of sound to heal is deep, and it lies in its actual physics, as the vibration of energy patterns at the most subtle level can have immense transformational effects. SENEB is about harnessing the power of vibration to heal our wounds — may they be physical, emotional, technological, historical or spiritual. The world most of us live in (aka racist-cis-het-capitalist-patriarchy) is designed to break us down and keep us in a state of lower vibration which makes us emotionally, mentally, politically and spiritually unbalanced. We are not living according to divine laws, that’s why we feel like shit. Health is obviously tied to politics as the pharmaceutical-medico-legal complex directly benefit from our energetic imbalances. How can we sustain our health outside of this exploitative machine that keeps us vulnerable and dis-eased for profit? Especially for Queer/Trans/Femme/Black/Brown/Indigenous/Poor people as targets of racialised and gendered capitalist violence(s). This is the continuing legacy of a colonial history, the same bodies are denied humanity and exploited, the same people whose knowledge(s) are being erased, or capitalized on while made shameful, the same people hurting and the same people living it. Reclaiming our agency in taking care of ourselves, in healing ourselves is an urgent necessity. We need tools to protect ourselves from energetic and biological warfare. Understanding health more holistically and outside of western obsession with pathologies and symptom-solving is also part of decolonization. Health is about awakening spiritually for a more efficient struggle. Whatever way helps you to connect to yourself and everything around you, the possibilities are infinite, but it always comes down to the mechanics of vibration.
Kaya Joan, Part Three, 2019, 4:14min.
Part Three is the third part of an ongoing series of poems that journey into a dreamscape world that exists parallel to our own. A being enters this world after nuclear apocalypse sends them into a transformative recluse state under ground. They seem to be the only human form in this dreamscape, and have little recollection of their past life. They bond with a fox (otsíhkwes), and the two navigate this world of spirits together. This work explores what healing might look like in an otherworld
an alternate timeline
a paralleled present
and how environment affects healing processes involving ritual, grief, and blood memory.
Jessica Segall is a multidisciplinary artist based in Brooklyn, NY. Her work is screened and exhibited internationally including The Fries Museum, the Havana Bienal, The National Gallery of Indonesia, The Queens Museum of Art, The Aldrich Contemporary Art Museum, The Inside Out Museum, The Museum of Contemporary Art, Vojvodina, The Mongolian National Modern Art Gallery, The National Museum of Jewish American History and The National Symposium for Electronic Art. Jessica received grants from The Pollock Krasner Foundation, The Rema Hort Mann Foundation, New York Foundation for the Arts, New York State Council on the Arts, The Harpo Foundation and Art Matters and attended residencies at Princeton University, The Van Eyck Academie, The MacDowell Colony and Skowhegan. Her work has been featured in Cabinet Magazine, The New York Times, Sculpture Magazine, Mousse Magazine and Art in America. Jessica received her BA from Bard College and her MFA from Columbia University.
Jen Liu is a visual artist based in New York and Vermont, working in video/animation, choreography, biomaterial, and painting to explore national identity, gendered economies, neoliberal industrial labor, and the re-motivating of archival artifacts. She is a 2019 recipient of the Creative Capital Award, 2018 LACMA Art + Technology Lab grant, and 2017 Guggenheim Fellowship in Film/Video. She has presented work at The Whitney Museum, MoMA, and The New Museum, New York; Smithsonian American Art Museum, DC; Royal Academy and ICA, London; Kunsthaus Zurich; Kunsthalle Wien; the Aspen Museum of Art; Henry Art Gallery, Seattle; MUSAC, Leon; UCCA and A07 @ 798, Beijing; and the 2014 Shanghai Biennale and 2019 Singapore Biennale.
Gretta Louw was born in South Africa in 1981 but grew up in Australia. Her work has been exhibited widely in institutions such as the Kunstmuseum Solothurn (CH), Münchner Stadtmuseum (DE), National Portrait Gallery (AUS), LABoral (ESP), and Galeri Nasional Indonesia (IDN). She has received numerous awards including an Australia Council Career Development Grant (2019), a Visual Art Prize from the Cultural Department of the City of Munich (2019), the Bahnwärter Stipendium by the City of Esslingen am Neckar (2017), and the Heinrich Vetter Preis of the City of Mannheim (2014), amongst others. In 2017, Louw was an artist in residence at MozFest in London at the invitation of the Tate and the V&A museums in collaboration with the Mozilla Foundation. Louw has also curated thematic exhibitions at museums including the Villa Merkel (DE), Furtherfield Gallery (UK), and Paul W. Zuccaire Gallery (US) and contributed essays to numerous catalogues and publications. In 2012 she released her first book, Controlling_Connectivity: Art, Psychology, and the Internet, followed in 2013 by Warnayaka Art Centre: Art in the Digital Desert, and in 2014 her first catalogue Works 2011-2014 / Arbeiten 2011-2014. Her artwork and curatorial projects have been covered by press outlets including Hyperallergic, Kunstforum, Motherboard, AQNB Magazine, Süddeutsche Zeitung.
French Guiana-based new media artist and energy worker Tabita Rezaire navigates power structures on and offline to pursue decolonial healing. Rezaire’s cross-dimensional practice envisions network sciences—organic, electronic and spiritual—as healing technologies. Inspired by quantum and cosmic mechanics, Rezaire’s work is rooted in time-spaces where technology and spirituality intersect as fertile ground to nourish visions for connection and emancipation. She holds a Bachelor in Economics and a Master of Research in Moving Image from Central Saint Martins College (London). Rezaire is a founding member of NTU, half of the duo Malaxa, and mother of the energy house SENEB. Rezaire has shown her work internationally, including at the Museum of Modern Art, New York; the New Museum, New York; Gropius Bau, Berlin; Museum of Contemporary Art, Chicago; Institute of Contemporary Arts, London; National Gallery Denmark, Copenhagen; Tate Modern, London; Musée d’Art Moderne de la Ville de Paris; Museum of Contemporary African Diasporan Arts, New York; The Broad, Los Angeles; as well as the Guangzhou Triennial; Athens Biennale; Kochi-Muziris Biennale; Performa, New York; Karachi Biennale; and Berlin Biennale.
Kaya Joan is a multi-disciplinary Afro Caribbean (Jamaican/ Vincentian)-Indigenous (Kanien’kehá:ka) artist living in T’karonto (Dish with One Spoon treaty territory). Kaya’s work focuses on healing, transcending ancestral knowledge and creating dreamscapes rooted in spiritualism from the lands of their ancestors (Turtle Island and the Caribbean). Afro and Indigenous futurity and pedagogy are also centred in Kaya’s practice-working through buried truths to explore how creation can heal 7 generations into the past and future. Kaya has been working in community arts for 5 years as a facilitator and artist. They are a core member of Weave and Mend, an Indigenous femme/non binary collective. Kaya recently completed a BFA through the Indigenous Visual Culture program at OCAD. To view more of Kaya’s work: kayajoan.com @kayajoan on instagram