New Wunderkammer Wave – Birds

© Petrit Halilaj

© Petrit Halilaj

When I met Annika Kahrs at Peter Amby Gallery in occasion of her first solo exhibition in Scandinavia, I started to realize the presence of a new Wunderkammer wave. The exhibition presented two videoworks by the artist: “Playing to the birds”, 2013 and “Sunset – Sunrise”, 2011. Annika Kahrs’ film “Playing to the birds” shows a performance of Franz Liszt’s piano piece Legende Nr. 1. St. Francis of Assisi preaching to the birds. The audience is, however, not comprised of people, but rather of domesticated birds. Liszt translated this narrative into the language of music, in this process, the mimicry of the sounds and noises also plays a role, so that the high notes of the pianist are suggestive of the trills of the birds.

Courtesy of Peter Amby Gallery

Courtesy of Peter Amby Gallery

Kahrs sets this dual translation – first in words and subsequently in tones – against a form of feedback with reality.  The birds, protagonists in the original narrative, appear here as those ‘actually’ addressed in the concert hall, which for the viewer of the film, in turn, forms a part of Kahrs’ narrative fiction. The setting of the bird cages in relation to the grand-piano, at which the pianist impassively and with high concentration gives his all in the demonstration of his abilities, is tightly arranged. The result is that the bird concert comes across as a form of experiment. The outcome of the experiment is something that the viewer must decide for themselves, since any significant shift or conclusion remains evasive. After the last notes have faded away, the musician stands up, takes a bow, and leaves the room.

Courtesy of Peter Amby Gallery

Courtesy of Peter Amby Gallery

Few hours later in Beverly Hills, Gagosian presented another Wunderkammer interpretation: “Birds of the West Indies,” an exhibition of new work by Taryn Simon. The story behind the title says that in 1936, American ornithologist James Bond published the definitive taxonomy Birds of the West Indies. Writer Ian Fleming, an active bird watcher, appropriated the author’s name for his own now famous novels. He found the name “flat and colorless,” perfectly suited for a character intended to be “anonymous…a blunt instrument in the hands of the government.” This co-opting of a name was the first in a series of substitutions and replacements that would become central to the development of the Bond narrative.

© 2014 Taryn Simon. Courtesy of Gagosian Gallery

© 2014 Taryn Simon. Courtesy of Gagosian Gallery

Conflating Bond the ornithologist with Bond the secret agent, Taryn Simon uses the title and format of the ornithologist’s taxonomy for her own two-part body of work, Birds of the West Indies (2013–14). The first element of the work is a photographic inventory of the women, innovative weaponry and luxury cars of Bond films made over the past fifty years.  In the second element of the work, Simon casts herself as the ornithologist James Bond, identifying, photographing, and classifying all the birds that appear within the 24 films comprising the James Bond franchise. The result is a taxonomy of birds not unlike the original Birds of the West Indies.

© 2014 Taryn Simon. Courtesy of Gagosian Gallery

© 2014 Taryn Simon. Courtesy of Gagosian Gallery

In this case, the birds are categorized by locations both actual and fictional: Switzerland, Afghanistan, North Korea, as well as the mythical settings of Bond’s missions, such as the Republic of Isthmus and SPECTRE Island. Simon also collected papers, correspondence, awards, study skins, and personal effects of James Bond the ornithologist, displaying them in vitrines alongside the photographic works. The character James Bond is so embedded in public consciousness that it is difficult to disengage from the fiction and view the ornithologist’s letters and effects independent of the cinema persona. In Birds of the West Indies, Simon creates a space in which fiction and reality collide and disappear, opening up a black hole that belongs to neither realm.

Courtesy of Chert Publication

Courtesy of Chert

The fully illustrated publication Taryn Simon: Birds of the West Indies, which includes an essay by Daniel Baumann, was published by Hatje Cantz in 2013. But at the same time I found another bird-related publication: Petrit Halilaj: Poisoned by men in need of some love, including an essay by Elena Filipovic. The book presents displays, inventories, specimens and tablets from the Nature Sector of Museum of Kosovo, and afterwards, from the Museum of Natural History of Pristina, as you can see from Chert Publication’s blog. At Wiels, for the exhibition “Poisoned by men in need of some love,”  in november, curated by Elena Filipovic, Halilaj has filled the museum with sculptures of birds and other animals, made from a mixture of dirt, straw, excrement, glue, and wire.

Courtesy of Chert

Courtesy of Chert

Moreover on March 4th Flash Art NY Desk will open the doors of an exhibition conceived as a tribute to Frank Stella’s late 1970s series of paintings, called “Indian Birds,” and in particular to Khar Pidda (1978), published on the cover of Flash Art International no. 92-93 in 1979. Stella began the series during his 1977 stay in Ahmedabad, naming the individual works after birds found on the Indian subcontinent. The exhibition will bring together contemporary artworks which could be visually related to “fragments” of the “Indian Birds”, in order to inquire Stella’s shifting compositional process, visual references and sculptural approach to painting. The exhibition display will play with the deconstruction, dismantling and subverting of Khar Pidda.

From the exhibition Khar Pidda - A tribute at Flash Art NY Desk. Courtesy of Flash Art

From the exhibition Khar Pidda – A tribute at Flash Art NY Desk. Courtesy of Flash Art

From a collaboration of Bortolami, Gabe Catone, Alessio Cancellieri, Lisa Cooley, Michele D’Aurizio, Hannah Hoffmann, Hotel Americano, Gea Politi, Project Native Informant, Overduin & Co., Maciej Tajber, and Andre Sakhai, artists like Lupo Borgonovo will be presented to America.

Peter Amby Gallery 

Gagosian Gallery 

Wiels

Flash Art

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Suds – Jack Vickridge

Courtesy of Supplement

Courtesy of Supplement

Last week to see the selection of recent works by Jack Vickridge at Supplement. The exhibition is centred around his new video installation which is his first exploration into moving image. Taking elements of his sculptural and printmaking practice and enacting them within moving image Vickridge continues his on-going concern with the tactile and various physical qualities of materials, residues of actions, and sensitivity to abstract form. Vickridge’s practice often deals with the transferal of material across mediums, devising techniques which aid in the exchange of one visual language for another.

Courtesy of Supplement

Courtesy of Supplement

Courtesy of Supplement

Courtesy of Supplement

The video consists of a series of manipulations of objects in the artist’s studio. Using Chroma key post-production techniques Vickridge has combined and layered different actions, textures and shapes to create an elaborate interplay of materials accompanied by a soundtrack of physical and atmospheric sounds. The composition rhythmically ebbs and shifts pace and intensities. Here the process of Chroma Key post-production; the application of a green screen paint onto surfaces and objects to be digitally extracted, relates to the negative space utilised in printmaking, where objects form a sort of intaglio on the prepared ground of the green screened surfaces.

Courtesy of Supplement

Courtesy of Supplement

Courtesy of Supplement

Courtesy of Supplement

Jack Vickridge (b. 1984 Singapore) lives and works in London. Suds is his third solo exhibition with Supplement. Past exhibitions at the gallery include Receiver, 2011 and Fair Play 2008. Vickridge studied sculpture at the Royal College of Art graduating in 2008. Recent exhibitions include: Every bird brings a different melody to the garden at No Format, London (2013); A man is walking down the street… Cristina Guerra, Lisbon; Jack Vickridge & Lizzie Wright, Nicelle Beauchene NY, The Cuckoo’s Underbelly, Bendixen, Copenhagen; James Iveson, Neil Rumming & Jack Vickridge – Christopher Crescent, London (all 2012); 5s, Outpost, Norwich (solo, 2011). He was awarded the SSW 2014 Residency in Aberdeenshire.

Courtesy of Supplement

Courtesy of Supplement

Courtesy of Supplement

Courtesy of Supplement

 

Supplement 

Un ticket pour la suite – Camille Blatrix

At Balice Hertling gallery, Paris, the new exhibition of Camille Blatrix proposes visitors a guided tour to the artist’s curious world. This voyage already started last summer at Gasconade gallery in Milan. However, this notion of spatiality doesn’t finally matter, it is a continuous trip: this exhibition is based on the idea of departure, a departure into a world which can be modified to serve multiple purposes, where functions can be assigned and determined as we want.

Courtesy Balice Hertling gallery

Courtesy Balice Hertling gallery

A public transportation strike has halted traffic in all directions. The traffic will be discontinued until 2015. Whilst rushing to the terminal to take the first bus headed to Etretat, Ccb learns that all departures are cancelled. His path to reach Alison will be done on foot.

Courtesy Balice Hertling gallery

Courtesy Balice Hertling gallery

Let’s put aside Ccb for a moment. We find ourselves at the Balice Hertling Gallery, which has been slightly modified from its normal state. It is opening night; there are bus tickets for sale. The departure date is unknown and the destination as yet unclear. The ticket booth of the « N » transport company is all we see. « H » for Hotel, « B » for Bank, these other symbols have appeared in previous exhibitions. The « N » for Navette (Shuttle) following them adds a new site to this alphabet of services, of territories.

Courtesy Balice Hertling gallery

Courtesy Balice Hertling gallery

For the moment, that far off place towards which we have been offered a one-way trip does not yet exist. Something will happen there, or perhaps something will not. It must be put out of mind so as to concentrate on the present. Let us focus on the incongruous nature of this moment. In these few seconds is contained an electricity that we are invited to activate. We can leave. Momentarily distracted from our habitual moorings in time and space, we can think in different terms. The potential for escape, without regard for the duration or the distance of the journey that stands between here and our unknown destination. From this point forward, it is plausible to travel far off all the while staying close by, to laze about while savoring the speed with which we are borne away.

Courtesy Balice Hertling gallery

Courtesy Balice Hertling gallery

Despite appearances, Camille Blatrix does not linger on specific objects. This continual race allows him to create an ever-renewing impetus. The energy that results is not subject to representation; it is activated, harnessed. The refinement of the works functions as a smokescreen. What appears leaps and bounds. Not as leaps in time, because time doesn’t count here, but towards a constant mobility, both internal and without limits.

Courtesy Balice Hertling gallery

Courtesy Balice Hertling gallery

Through this conditioning, the gallery space becomes an interface in flux. It can be transformed into a bar, a vending machine, a multi-service kiosk…those places we pass through momentarily on our way to somewhere else or that we pass by altogether. It’s not a matter of being in a hurry; it’s about taking the time to get away.

– Julie Beaufils

Camille Blatrix at Balice Hertling gallery, Paris, 13.02 – 29.03.2014.

Galerie Balice Hertling

Fine and Dandy Symposium

Courtesy Peter Amby Gallery

Courtesy Peter Amby Gallery

Peter Amby’s birthday couldn’t be just a normal party, it was a symposium. In ancient Greece, the symposium (from συμπόσιον symposion, and συμπίνειν sympinein, “to drink together”) was a drinking party. The Greek symposium was a key Hellenic social institution. It was a forum for men of good family to debate, plot, boast, or simply to revel with others. Symposia were frequently held to celebrate the introduction of young men into aristocratic society. They were also held by aristocrats to celebrate other special occasions, such as victories in athletic and poetic contests.

Courtesy Peter Amby Gallery

Courtesy Peter Amby Gallery

Courtesy Peter Amby Gallery

Courtesy Peter Amby Gallery

For that special occasion, entitled: “Fine and Dandy Symposium” Danish artists Mathias&Mathias (Mathias Toubro, b. 1986, DK & Mathias Dyhr, b. 1991, DK, both live and work in Copenhagen) reworked the installations of their gallerist’s private collection, which includes names like Ugo Rondinone, Olafur Eliasson and Sophie Calle. Mathias&Mathias’s intervention consisted in conceptualizing the collection through a new thematic approach: changing place to many of the works, adding a 25 m plaster ornamentation running along the walls, wall painting the rooms in tan and dark red and handmade stucco. The Danish duo created in this way a physical space for their work, but also an organic exhibition where the boundaries between their pieces and the rest of the collection melt, in a unique, intimate setting.

Courtesy Peter Amby Gallery

Courtesy Peter Amby Gallery

Courtesy Peter Amby Gallery

Courtesy Peter Amby Gallery

The result is a three room exhibition: the first one is a bright space to chat and eat together looking at some good pieces hanged on the walls. Guests could sit on chairs designed by the Dutch Gerrit Rietveld, who also designed the tube chandelier in the studio, or on vintage Danish school chairs. The second one is a frivolous living room with rainbow themed works and flower printed sofas, for social and cultural gatherings.The last one is the studio, a vigorous room for the power talks, with a lot of relevant pieces, illuminated with lamps made by Danish artist FOS, who also made the table by the sofa as well as the work Keys to the Future. And who can inhabit and maintain such an environment other than the dandy? “Fine and Dandy Symposium” is at the same time an installation and an event, incorporating both the group and the party’s vibe as a mannered mass ornament.

Courtesy Peter Amby Gallery

Courtesy Peter Amby Gallery

Courtesy Peter Amby Gallery

Courtesy Peter Amby Gallery

Mathias&Mathias are not new to the Greek tragicomedy, having worked, on a satyr play in “Tale to Tale” exhibition for KBH Kunsthal, Krabbesholm. During the opening ceremony a 60 cm crystal was broken in small pieces and special drinks with amethyst were offered to the guests. Used by the Ancient Greeks and Romans as a way to ward off drunkennes, that meant less alcohol, and thus, less intoxication. Both the Greeks and Romans made drinking cups of amethyst and wore talismans of amethyst to prevent euphoria. According to the ancient custom, the intoxication was determined by a symposiarch, the host and center of the event who had to secure that a balanced squandering was maintained by amethyst and myrra shards in the glass.

Courtesy Peter Amby Gallery

Courtesy Peter Amby Gallery

Courtesy Peter Amby Gallery

Courtesy Peter Amby Gallery

A tragic masked doorwoman, opened the door in theatrical ancient Greek style, together (in the original project) with a comic masked guard dog. Our visit to the off space apartment thus became a way to have a dialogue with the gallerist, to exercise the art of discourse. A dynamic work of rhetoric, of capability to inform, persuade, or motivate particular arguments. Peter Amby’s private exhibition, until February 22nd, is the place where the aristocracy and the cultural elite can mingle, discuss and enjoy each other.

Peter Amby Gallery

Video Interferences – Lucky PDF

This is a  fast and direct interference on The Art Markets by Lucky PDF, the London based collective created in 2008. LuckyPDF is composed by the artists James Early, John Hill, Ollie Hogan and Yuri Pattison. Lucky PDF range from video art, performance art, to digital art or new media art; aimed at creations of a massive output of Internet interventions, live events and online television programmes. Getting and overseeing new media and digital pop-culture sensationalisms.

In addition to their videos, you can watch above Man by Hamishi Farah (b.1991, Melbourne). LuckyPDF were commissioned as part of Frieze Projects at the Frieze Art Fair, 2011; they exhibited at the Internet Pavilion at the Venice Biennale, 2011; Nottingham Contemporary ,2011; Arcadia Missa, London 2011; Auto Italia, London 2010.

Lucky PDF

New Tropical – Gary Webb

Courtesy of Bloomberg Space

Courtesy of Bloomberg Space

Another good exhibition for those who like new tropical aesthetics. For his Bloomberg Space exhibition, British artist Gary Webb created an installation of new sculpture which draws on the formality of his past bodies of work. Mirrored palm trees tower from the walls, while a variety of customised power tools are suspended from the ceiling, ‘fighting’ inside a series of coloured glass and mirrored boxes all set against the airbrushed kitsch background of a fictional solar system. Recent commissions include: Frieze Projects East, London 2012 Festival, London, UK (2012); Cambridge City Council, Cambridge, UK (2011); Paddington Central, London, UK (2009).

Courtesy of Bloomberg Space

Courtesy of Bloomberg Space

Gary Webb produces colourful and glossy works made from a plethora of industrial and prefabricated materials such as glass, Plexiglas, neon, wood, sand, cut metal, rubber, and marble. The work sometimes appears to parody modernist sculpture while frequently making reference to popular culture. Applying traditional craft techniques to man-made or organic materials he combines elements to create juxtapositions that enable materials to be spontaneously playful and poetic. In many ways the works act as an investigation into the artificial while adopting the materials of the artificial themselves, creating an inconclusive narrative characterized by the tension between surface and sincerity, seduction and rejection, creating surfaces which refuse to be read and consumed by the viewer.

Courtesy of Bloomberg Space

Courtesy of Bloomberg Space

Gary Webb (b. 1973) is a British artist based in London. Recent exhibitions include: Mr. Jeans, deCordova Sculpture Park and Museum, Lincoln, MA, USA (2012); The Shape We’re In, Zabludowicz Collection, London, UK (2011); Modern British Sculpture, Royal Academy, London, UK (2011); Key largo, The Approach, London (2010); Diamond Standard, Bortolami Gallery, New York, USA (2009); EAT ME –DRINK ME, The Goss-Michael Foundation, Dallas, Texas, USA (2009); Kaleidoscopic Revolver, Total Museum, Seoul, Korea (2009); Natural Wonders: New Art from London, Baibakov Art Projects, Moscow, Russia (2009); Euro Bobber, Galeria Parra-Romero, Madrid, Spain (2008); Revolution Oil, The Approach W1, London, UK (2008); Export, Atelier Hermes, Seoul, Korea.

Courtesy of Bloomberg Space

Courtesy of Bloomberg Space

Bloomberg Space