In ‘This Dust’, together with TSA New York, Suvi Lehtinen and Alana Lake have put together a beautifully multilayered exhibition. Fourteen artworks by nine artists come together to create a unique ‘laboratory of images’ that takes the viewer on a journey, interrogating the systems and logics that they use to structure the world.
The artworks selected in ‘This Dust’ deal with pressing questions of contemporary philosophy, mostly originating from the field of New Materialism. The strong influences of such thinkers as Karen Barad and Gilles Deleuze are clearly visible, worked through in innovative and engaging forms. The artists guide viewers to ask critical questions about what they see, do, and think, while the works drive them towards realising how they (inter)relate with, and create the world around them and the objects in it - shifting the focus of the questions from what one is to how one is.
The exhibition starts with an ‘Untitled’ (2012) video work by John Lawrence, which features looped stock footage of the seaside. Affected by a sudden moment of distortion, the scenery fractures and a complex layering of images is created. Like the sea shown, new layers of distorted images wash over, leaving behind artefacts and creating new sceneries for decoding.
What starts as a questioning of layers and surfaces (also through Lawrence’s second work, ‘Grave with Coffin and Owl’, 2012), gains depth and form with Yin Ho’s ‘Retable’ (2015). Poking out of the wall mid-air, its unusual shape and sheen prompt the viewer to think about where objects are located and connected to their uses.
Hanna Ljungh’s freestanding sculptures ‘Untitled’ (2014) resemble drilled cores. Their sedimentary, layered textures form a cross section of a history of experiences, there for revisiting.
Marie von Heyl’s ‘Ouroboros’ (2014), consists of a slide show displayed on a carousel projector that tracks down the symbol of the Ouroboros (the ancient icon of a serpent eating its own tail) in our world. It observes it in personalised experiences, for instance inscribed on bodies through tattoos, and in culturally coded systems. It also picks it up in the sciences and the symbol’s compositional similarity to the chemical structure of certain molecules, which sets the stage for the next part of the exhibition.
In ‘OTB’ (2015), Andrew Payzner disrupts the neat order of a black and white chessboard with colour. As a three-dimensional piece, it denotes coming alive and its cosmology, which is subsequently developed further in works by by Naomi Reis and Alana Lake. ‘Geodesics’ (2011), and ‘Dark Matter’ (2012) can be seen as efforts towards a localisation of the human in space through the orderly systems of science, that are still eclipsed (literally!) by the uncontrollable forces of space itself in Alana Lake’s ‘The Flag of Bonnie Tyler’ (2014).
Those systems and their alternatives are discussed in Rita Macedo’s short film ‘Implausible things’ (2014), which narrates a chance discovery of a box containing 16mm films that gives rise to the various parts that follow. It deals with the topics of mortality and fear of the loss of the self. It is also a critical engagement with human efforts of ‘world-making’ and demonstrates the potentials in random systems through their internal logics to distort linear temporality by reassembling us and our surrounding objects and environment.
In the following work, Joey Holder considers the im/possibilities of cyber-nature in ‘Strombus Gigas’, ‘Next is the E’ and ‘BH-55’ (all 2012). Nature, culture and their connections are deconstructed to create new ecosystems in the digital realm, allowing life to take on alternative contours in the beautiful prints.
Marie von Heyl’s looped video ‘L.M.F.A.O.’ (2014) and inkjet print ‘Cabinet(Nippes)’ (2013), invite us to play with the tools of de/re-construction that ‘This Dust’ has handed the viewer so far. It explores the opportunities of angle and contour, giving up shape and form. Closing the exhibition full circle is Alana Lake’s ‘Untitled’ (2015) work of a plate with crystals printed on it, precariously balanced on a breezeblock wrapped in cellophane. It highlights the complexity of the world around us, already visible for instance, in such organic crystalline forms, which grow in all directions. They are coming from solid stone, yet unimpressed by their unsteady foundation (the breezeblock), inspiring a kind of (re)working of our world.
‘This Dust’ forms a mobile ethnography of efforts to systematise experiences and thoughts, time and space. Like a myriad of pieces of dust dancing in sunlight, it invites viewers to consider alternative, innovative systems with new chaotic internal logics - a multiverse of potential besides and beyond immediate reality.