One need not be a chamber
Our inaugural exhibition – ONE NEED NOT BE A CHAMBER – opens on 25/01, and will run until 10/03 2018. The project takes form of an on-site research, conducted by a film-maker Lara Smithson, a place-maker Simona Sharafudinov, an image-maker Rhona Eve Clews, and an object-maker Maria Positano – together with a curator Sasha Burkhanova-Khabadze.
This experiment started with a belief, shared by the art practitioners: buildings inscribe themselves with their occupants; so do the exhibition spaces. They socialise and structure the relations with their exhibitors, providing room for expression and realisation of a complex interactive relationship. An art gallery built from the scratch, for the purpose of showing art, has a complex ecology of past and present, interior and exterior; it configures a certain kind of relations between the concrete structure and those who inhabit it. But a “haunted” gallery is a scenario of confrontation between the two narratives — of the building, and of its new inhabitants: artists, artworks, audiences, curators. In this sense “haunting” implies a temporal disruption of the narratives that alters the perception, attitude and physical appearance of the place. In order to trace and locate the source of this disturbance, the haunted gallery must be explored — although the exploration suggests an entry into other than purely spatial dimension.
In ONE NEED NOT BE A CHAMBER, the process of artistic exploration will operate on the technologies of co-presence, seizure, edit, mimicking, repurposing, replacement and installation of the (often discontinuous) objects and relations in the space. The exhibition will take shape of an “exorcism” of a kind: on the one hand, it will be employed by the artists as a means of communicating with the spirit of the building, introducing themselves and the new agenda to it; on the other hand, it will help the artists to identify the ways in which the old physiological and symbolic meanings (“the ghosts”) were assigned to this location, so the new ones — the ones that represent the art space we are aspiring to set up here — can be added. For the duration of the exhibition, the mechanics of both processes will be revealed to public.
In her work Lara Smithson is concerned with the relationship between cinema and painting, the concept of a poetic, still time and the infinite creation of the image within this juxtaposition. Spitting is a language in itself she said (2017) is a series of films made following her research trip to the Karst region of Southwest China while also looking at the history Chinese mural painting. With the experience of being an outsider within the highly coded culture of China, she examines how myths and magic are simultaneously eroded and embellished throughout history. The visions of red feet and gloved hands act as metaphors for disembodiment, but also perform in the films as symbols, heightening gestures imbued with ritual. Poetry runs through the films as a voice into and out of their constructed worlds as if in dreams. In the exhibition the objects and costume details, made by the artist, are displayed together with the films, implying their continued employment in confronting old narratives, which haunt EXPOSED.
For Simona Sharafudinov the project at EXPOSED is in many ways affective and symbolic on personal level. For Sharafudinov, whose father is a mechanic, the space of a garage happens to be automatically charged with family history and myths. Hence her choice to use the cars repairing area for her site-specific installation and performance — that comes in response to the artist’s perception of own identity, heritage and exile. As a meaningful coincidence, Sharafudinov’s recent performance Spleen (2017) was presented at the old garage and launched the metaphoric return to her origins and activated feelings from which the current project — Disappointment (2018) — takes form. Here the artist aspires to bring the building to life by launching three threads of processes — that of making, performing, and recording; and inviting the building itself to follow and respond to the established rhyme. Importantly, prior to her intervention, Sharafudinov familiarised herself with its history, accepted the weight of it, and is this way enabled herself of calling “the wonderful ghost to dance with” (the artist’s own words).
In her practice Rhona Eve Clews captures the unseen dimension of those places that are specifically purposed for being looked at; those that become so familiar to the beholder that she fails to actually “see” them beyond the expected contours. To adjust her vision to this dimension, to go beyond the personal and collective recollections, Clews employs the photogram technique. She takes photos of the places’ aura without camera, by exposing light-sensitive paper to fire in the nighttime — turning the place itself into her protagonist and her dark room all at once. The series of life-sized photograms, resulting from the artist’s night walks in her mother’s garden (Mother Night: Go Ito her totally, 2017), are installed in the gallery as a map of the landscape, in which they were created — endlessly reproduced by the mirrored walls. In this repetition, as the two temporalities clash, the two narratives come to visibility: the room becomes the garden; memories slip out of the paper and impersonate the building. On the night of the exhibition opening, during her performance in the gallery garden, the artist will expose her working process of making photograms to the audience.
Interested in human urge to make sense of things and intellectually conquest the unknown, Maria Positano connects the gradual process of developing knowledge with creation of physical artefacts, capable of marking the boarder between the two realms: of comprehendible and not-yet-grasped. Invested with this mission, Positano’s artefacts look like monuments, monoliths and objects of worship, constructed of burned wood, clay and sculpted metal. When installed in the gallery, the artefacts expand their powers: from marking boarders of the unknown — to corrupting our perception of the familiar. The first series of Positano’s sculptures on display — VOID — suggests the presence of the unknown through the lack of familiarity of forms and symbols used in their production. Positano’s new series — The Transmuting Agent (2018) — follow a different strategy: they overload the viewer with information, streamed through the multiple layers of symbols from various cultures, contexts and times, that, once again, turns the mechanisms of understanding dysfunctional.