Jun 012024

Wealthy figures gaze into the distance while holding strange pets in AES+F’s exhibition of paintings Inverso Mundus: Chimeras at Sargent’s Daughters. The Russian artist collective’s creations act as a commentary on the excesses of the privileged class.

From the press release-

Inverso Mundus: Chimeras, will present a series of never before seen paintings, correlated to images and themes from Inverso Mundus, their video installation and performance work that premiered at the 56th Biennale di Venezia in 2015.  This marks the first presentation of the group’s work to feature exclusively paintings. Produced in the style of the Old Masters, these works present the groundbreaking and challenging work of AES+F in a new medium for a new audience.

AES+F works in photography, video production, sculpture, and painting with the goal of creating large-scale narratives that explore our contemporary global landscape and its culture, vices, and values.  First founded in the former Soviet Union in 1987, they have shown at major institutions across Europe, Asia, and the United States.  Their painting practice, produced collectively in the group’s Berlin studio, employs hyper-realistic oil painting techniques to mimic the digital glossiness of their video and digital work, tethering their complex renderings to the two-dimensional and the handmade.

Inverso Mundus takes as its initial reference point the sixteenth-century Carnivalesque engravings in the genre of “world upside down,” an early form of populist social critique that emerged with the advent of the Gutenberg press. This body of work presents contemporary life turned “upside down,” depicting a tragi-comic apocalypse where social conventions are inverted to highlight the unspoken premises of our social contract.  In the Chimeras series, various archetypes of contemporary life are portrayed cradling uncanny monsters on their laps like cherished pets. The series asks viewers to confront the monstrous contradictions we all hold dear in contemporary society.

In the wake of Putin’s re-election, the violence against dissidents such as Aleksei Navalny, and the recent amplified persecution of artists across Russia, AES+F’s critiques of the oligarchy, power, and military aggression are particularly pointed. Their public stance against the war in Ukraine has made them a target, and informed their decision to leave Moscow and relocate to Berlin in 2022.  This exhibition brings AES+F’s groundbreaking and urgent work to New York, adding new context to the international conversation.

This exhibition closes 6/1/24.

Nov 152023

The images above are from SUPERFLEX: This Is The Tip Of The Iceberg, GENERATOR: USF Contemporary Art Museum’s inaugural exhibition. The two part exhibition includes a sculptural installation and the mesmerizing interactive animation Vertical Migration, in which viewers encounter a siphonophore that reacts to their movements.

From the gallery about the exhibition-

This Is The Tip Of The Iceberg emerges from SUPERFLEX’s in-depth research into the deep sea, biodiversity, and the climate. The exhibition immerses viewers in two parallel and interconnected realms, separated by a curtain which acts as an imaginary filter between land and sea. Passing through the curtain brings visitors from a terrestrial space unsettled by rising water to the ocean’s dark depths, to meet one of the most important cleaners of the ocean, the siphonophore. Relatives of the jellyfish, siphonophores bring between two and six billion tons of carbon a year from the surface down to the seabed, where it is stored. This Is The Tip Of The Iceberg offers an opportunity to encounter this unfamiliar species, prompting reflection on the impacts and consequences of climate change, especially relevant to Florida and its coastal communities, and encouraging humans to imagine a future defined by interspecies living and ecological coexistence.

For a more detailed discussion of the work, the gallery has created an exhibition catalogue that can be viewed online or downloaded as a pdf.

Vertical Migration was originally created in 2021 by SUPERFLEX for ART 2030  and was projected on the United Nations Secretariat Building in NYC during the 76th United Nations General Assembly.

SUPERFLEX’s statement on the project-

The sea is not an abyss. It teems with an almost unimaginable array of life. Every night, the largest biological migration on Earth takes place, as trillions of creatures travel closer to the surface to feed. Some of these animals, like shrimp, are well-known. Others, like siphonophores—relatives of jellyfish—are unfamiliar: varying wildly in size, from the slightness of a fingernail to the length of a whale, they look like nothing that we find on land.

How does it feel to be one of these creatures? To explore this question, SUPERFLEX designed a computer-generated siphonophore and created an animated film, Vertical Migration, depicting its ascent. At first, the film mechanically circles the creature, getting closer and closer while giving the audience a view of it from all angles. But eventually the perspective shifts, the camera’s movements become more fluid, and the viewer sees the world from the perspective of the siphonophore.

Unsettling our perceptions of scale and otherness, Vertical Migration is an intimate encounter with a life form that bears no resemblance to human beings, though we share a planet, an ecosystem, and a future. Because of sea-level rise, humans will also be migrating vertically in the coming centuries, to higher elevations and raised buildings. The siphonophore’s story is our story. Though we can never experience its journey through the pitch-black ocean depths, we can shift our perspective to recognize that we’re connected, that our actions affect each other, and that we share a common fate.

For a look at the work in motion, below is the trailer from ART 2030.

About SUPERFLEX from their website-

SUPERFLEX was founded in 1993 by Jakob Fenger, Bjørnstjerne Christiansen, and Rasmus Rosengren Nielsen. Conceived as an expanded collective, SUPERFLEX has consistently worked with a wide variety of collaborators, from gardeners to engineers to audience members. Engaging with alternative models for the creation of social and economic organisation, works have taken the form of energy systems, beverages, sculptures, copies, hypnosis sessions, infrastructure, paintings, plant nurseries, contracts, and public spaces.

Working in and outside the physical location of the exhibition space, SUPERFLEX has been engaged in major public space projects since their award-winning Superkilen opened in 2011. These projects often involve participation, involving the input of local communities, specialists, and children. Taking the idea of collaboration even further, recent works have involved soliciting the participation of other species. SUPERFLEX has been developing a new kind of urbanism that includes the perspectives of plants and animals, aiming to move society towards interspecies living. For SUPERFLEX, the best idea might come from a fish.

This exhibition closes 11/22/23.

Oct 122023

Above is “A very anxious feeling”, 2007, by assume vivid astro focus, part of Tampa Museum of Art’s 2022/3 exhibition All in Favor: New Works in the Permanent Collection.

From the museum about the artist collective and the work-

A very anxious feeling by the collective assume vivid astro focus (avaf) conjures both sense of worry and whimsy. In this vibrant neon artwork each letter is rendered in a different color-ranging from pastel pinks and blues to bright primary colors. The final letter, a yellow capital “G,” appears to fall away from the text.

Eli Sudbrack founded the collective assume vivid astro focus in 2001 and works collaboratively with fellow artist Christophe Hamaide-Pierson. A very anxious feeling represents a prime example of their art, as they are known for their colorful, kaleidoscopic paintings, drawings, sculptures, and light installations. assume astro vivid focus explores notions of free speech, gender identity, and civil rights in their artworks and projects. The collective often partners with other creative types, including musicians, dancers, and designers.