‘The Hive Mind’ is a group exhibition consisting of sculpture, painting, video and print work by new and established artists, that probes the question of connectivity in an increasingly dysfunctional and meaningless reality.
The Koppel Project Hive provides an intriguing setting for this show as part of Koppel Project, a cultural centre and charity that has a focus on social engagement and intercultural exchanges. Ella Fleck and Tabitha Steinberg, the curators of ‘The Hive Mind’, cleverly play with the project’s mission through the title of their exhibition and the curious interactivity between the works in the space they’re exhibited in. The upstairs gallery, for instance, looks out onto the transitional historical/commercial/financial district of Holborn Viaduct. Fleck comments that the works in this space reflect the environment of a foyer in Holborn with an underlying abnormality.
In this upstairs exposed space, the two large concrete-coated bodies in Andrew Mealor’s piece ‘SWOC-Matrix/Acid-Reflux’ (2017) embrace, hold each other up, lean into and support one another. This lover-like pair of forms are reliant on one another: their concrete skins provide an armour against their surroundings but the skin cracks and crumbles to reveal their vulnerable towelling-inside and a dusty trail around themselves.
Mealor’s dense work stands next to Yuri Pattison’s live composited video ‘context collapse surveys’ (2017) that entrances and hypnotises: we are transported into an absurd reality of a global model city and ‘fake news’ altered newsreel ticker tape scrolls across the screen. This movement of reeling and spreading-out also correlates with Claudia Pages’ scroll of poetry in ‘Throat & Column’ (2016) that has begun unwinding on the floor opposite, and which the viewer can tear parts off of.
These seemingly dissimilar works that trail and interact with one another connect to what Steinberg says about wanting to ‘stage some sort of narrative environment’ in the exhibition ‘that acknowledges the different types of networks (social, professional, global, local etc) that exist and to play with an idea of connectivity and isolation’.
The definition of a ‘hive mind’ is a ‘notional entity consisting of a large number of people who share their knowledge or opinions with one another, regarded as producing either uncritical conformity or collective intelligence’ and ‘a unified consciousness or intelligence formed by a number of alien individuals’.
In response to these definitions, the works in the show together simulate an alternative reality of mutated forms, testing technologies of communication between each other. When first entering the downstairs gallery, the viewer sees Frances Drayson’s ‘Iterare! Iterare! II ’ (2017) creeping out of the corner of the gallery towards Bryan Dooley’s ‘The last self help book’ (2014), Eloïse Bonneviot’s ‘Astral Maps’ (2017) and Das Balloon’s ‘Metro’ (2017). Drayson’s work, consisting of disintegrating magazine scraps beneath a grid of glistening wooden rafts, seems to float out from the corner of the space towards the other works, while equally dealing with it’s own disruptive systems of a degraded circuitous magazine culture and corrupted minimalist grid formation.
The networks between Dooley, Bonneviot and Das Balloon’s work that are first seen in the downstairs gallery become increasingly intricate and intriguing: Bonneviot’s monolithic hanging sculptures that represent site-specific hiking accidents in the UK are lit up by Dooley’s plastic water container lamps that fade and light in unison. The lamps are simultaneously reflected in the screen of Das Balloon’s film documenting international consumer culture. Footage of trains moving through underground tunnels turns the screen mostly black and the pattern of the lamps exist as a spectre here.
The thoughtful curating of the exhibition provides a space in which the artworks intertwine and become part of a ‘nonlinear narrative scene’. This occurs most intriguingly when facing the mixed media installation by Dutch artist Anne de Boer’s piece ‘So here I am now’ (2017) that consists of a metal framework, in which a screen shows a meandering video of idyllic natural landscapes. When looking between the beams of the metal structure surrounding the screen, the viewer’s focus is drawn to Jala Wahid’s enticing prints of oozing sliced silicon in ‘Mallow I & II’ (2015), Asli Ozdemir’s untitled pencil wall drawings (2017) of abstract dancing forms and Eva Papamargariti’s draped printed fabrics and acrylic webbed cut-outs in ‘Soft Bodies, Invisible Critters’ (2017). This careful system of interactivity reliant on the viewer’s presence concretises the curators’ aims of facilitating a critical dialogue between the works, and questions various modes of connectivity and technologies of communication that come into play through the viewer’s unique experience.