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“Songs, Balloons & Broken Tablets”

at Snehta Residency, Athens

December 2017

The group show Songs, Balloons & Broken Tablets is formulated on a projection of the literal as a form of poetics. Actual verses, floating balloons and tablets - from pre-historic to the digital - are present as objects, moving images, voices, textures, sonic structures and their materialization. 

Associations, flow; the exhibition suggests cross-connections between things that at first seem to diverge. It encourages the subtlety, imaginative ambiguities of the collective presence. Towards systemic manipulations and post-truth politics, the works of Soohyun Choi, Alex Kuusik and Rebecca Wilcox stand with articulations that intend to displace the same grounds that these politics are based on.

The focus is placed on decontextualization and recontextualization in a game of non-authorship. All three artists reflect on the systemic ‘violence’ of production and contemplate the possibilities of interfering and altering the given realities, triggering new, unexpected political imaginaries.

Soohyun Choi in her videos, installations and sound pieces is attempting to rethink the possibility of encounter, as a gesture to criticize the boundaries between contemporary art and performative labour. Starting from the personal perspective of the visiting artist, she follows a balloon seller and a joggler from the neighbourhood. These two occupations are paralleled with contemporary art labour, sharing the creative futility and joy but also the precariousness and vulnerability. Choi, brings the balloons and the juggling balls into the gallery space not as aestheticized objects trouvés but as objects on loan, bearing a personal and specific monetized relation with the proprietor. Whilst inevitably power structures and the hierarchy of exhibiting is there, the artist presents her work as a collaborative project questioning her position as an authoritative producer. In addition, the audio-narrative thought in Korean, written in English and heard in Greek is going through a constant process of translations, leading to certain misunderstandings but also opening to other perspectives.

Alex Kuusik presents a body of work exploring the notion of ‘agency’ that shapes the production of artworks and the movement of visual languages through transitive modes of production and intentionality. He focuses his interest in how archaic objects of meaning are brought, unwillingly into the present exploring the indexical signs of Linear B and the process of their translation, whilst considering anecdotal, or arbitrary objects such as the original translator's table. Words, shapes and forms on clay tablets and iPhones, digital prints and traditional drawings along with mechanical reproductions, dispute the concept of authorship and question artistic subjectivization. His practice involves an inquiry in the articulatory ontology of language as ongoing and unstable; linguistic ‘substance’ is always considered as the matter for a new form or meaning. Kuusik is continually exploring the agency of archaic visual languages and objects as multi-vocal carriers of meaning and the arbitrary role that these assume within contemporary culture.

Rebecca Wilcox, creates a poetic non-narrative using sound, through voice, noise, texts, videos and installations that materialize the texture of these sonic structures in tangibleforms. She is lifting information from various sites and surfaces informing the work, taking rubbings and moulds, incorporating textures which don't easily impart clear information. Wilcox is exploring flatness and surface within her moving image work too, looking at the crossovers in digital surfaces, poetics and diegetic sound. She is playing with a simultaneously up-close and distant image, relevant to writing and its haptic and visual connotations.  Her texts, simple yet non-comprehensible, disorientate the listener and reader, bringing out various dimensions in the in-between of words. Her spoken segments, songs-like, create an uncanny rhythm and bring to the fore the importance of affect. They are emotionally charged but at the same time conceptually-driven, disputing this problematic differentiation. The meaning of her work is generated by allusion, the omission of words and intonation. Processes of layering and erasure often come into play, both visually and audibly, as a way of thinking through the contrasts between being swamped by and refusing to take part in a reproduction of information.

Participating artists: Soohyun Choi, Alex Kuusik, Rebecca Wilcox Curator: Panos Giannikopoulos