Touching Distance is the first exhibition in the “Empowerments” series of public events, hosted by Exposed Arts Projects in 2019 (curated by Sasha Burkhanova-Khabadze). Over the course of four exhibitions and concurrent events, researchers and art practitioners will interrogate contemporary notions of power, and consider how they reside in, and emerge from, our social structures, institutions and systems of belief.
Touching Distance explores the relationship between control, dependence and vulnerability in the context of the current climate of mass migration and hyper connectivity. Artists Alyona Larionova, Sophia Al Maria and Terry Ryu Kim present work that investigates this theme from multiple access points, such as systems and networks of state control, historical forms of power exchange, and the nature of touch. The exhibition considers the interior lives of individuals in relation to circumstances of transience, freedom, connectivity and distance, via sculptural environments and narratives that interweave the fantastical and the documentary.
Alyona Larionova’s film Staying With the Trouble is a hybrid documentary film that follows a Kazakh berkutchi (eagle-hunter) on his journey to tame his wild eagle, Sadak. The film draws upon the unique bond between the hunter and his eagle to provide a meditation on power relations in a world dealing with security crises and accelerating hyperconnectivity. Oscillating between states of control and submission, berkutchi, Sadak, a judoist, and a border control officer, offer viewers their own bodily interpretations of the constantly shifting power scales.
Sophia Al Maria’s practice spans writing, film and performance. In her film Mothership Al Maria creates a haunting vignette that straddles the line between documentary and fantasy. A tiny drama of cosmic proportions performed in a sinkhole in the desert where a newborn earthling receives a shadow visitor: time – the terror of all creatures.
Terry Ryu Kim’s work Binaural Cabin Sounds demarcates a distorted aeroplane cabin space within one of the rooms in the gallery. Metal stands supporting windows follow the contours of the inner cabin walls, while others hang from the ceiling to confront viewers as they orientate the space. Traces of the human presence, shifts between transparency and opacity, and distortions in the forms of the windows themselves subvert the context of the work from a supposedly safe space of leisure and transit, to one that addresses the senses of anxiety, uncertainty and misinformation surrounding issues of mobility and migration. Referencing the implementation and relinquishment of control performed upon and by flows of people, Kim acknowledges how power structures are frequently built upon visibility; those who have access to data and those who don’t, those whose visibility is accepted, and those who are excluded.
Alyona Larionova (b. 1988, lives and works in London) is an artist and filmmaker based in London. She received her BA Honours in Photography from London College of Communication and her MFA in Media from Slade School of Fine Art. Recent and upcoming shows include screenings at Sharjah Art Foundation; as well as participation at the 11th edition of Lo Schermo Dell’Arte Film Festival in Florence; 35th Kasseler Dokfest, the 20th Contemporary Art Festival Sesc_Videobrasil; and the 7th Moscow Biennial of Contemporary Art.
Sophia Al Maria (b. 1983, lives and works in London) studied comparative literature at the American university in Cairo, and aural and visual cultures at Goldsmiths, University of London. Al-Maria has shown at the Whitney Museum NY, USA (2016); New Museum, NY (2015); Gwangju Biennale, South Korea (2013); Waqif Art Centre, Doha Qatar (2007); and townhouse Gallery Cairo (2005). She participated in the 2016 Biennale of moving images (BIM), organized by the centre d’art contemporain in Geneva. In 2015 she guest edited issue 8 of The Happy hypocrite (Fresh Hell). Her memoir, The Girl Who Fell to Earth (2012), was published by Harper Perennial. Her writing has also appeared in Harper’s Magazine, Triple Canopy and Bidoun.
Terry Ryu Kim (b. 1985, Seoul, Republic of Korea) lives and works between London and Berlin. She received an MA in Fine Art Media at the Slade School of Fine Art, UCL, and a BFA in Painting at Seoul National University. She is the winner of the Catlin Art Prize 2013. Recent exhibitons include Creative Tech Week, VDPlas Gallery, New York; Slimeface Emoji! A collaboration with Adham Faramawy, tank.tv, London; Here, Here and Sometimes There, Display Gallery, London; Demimonde, Amberwood House, London; and Points of Contact, No Format Gallery, London.