Outset is proud to have supported productions for the 55th International Art Exhibition – La Biennale di Venezia The Encyclopeadic Palace curated by Massimiliano Gioni, Director, The New Museum, New York.
The Trick Brain
Single channel video, 16:00
Atkins’ video The Trick Brain, 2012, is built around archival footage of the apartment belonging to the founder of the surrealist movement, André Breton. The poet’s personal microcosm – his voluminous collection of rare books, paintings, and tribal artifacts, is combined with new footage and a spoken narrative by Atkins. With the title’s suggestion of free associative thinking, the work is a kind of surrealistic fugue, which proposes that the object accumulated over a lifetime become a kind of corpse after the collector’s death. This is particularly appropriate in Breton’s case: his collection was left virtually untouched for more than three decades before being auctioned off in a massive and controversial sale. In light of this, The Trick Brainpresents a mummification of Breton’s corpse, which survives, uncannily, even after its dismemberment.
Aura, Aroma, Arena
Mixed media installation
For the 55th Venice Biennale, Bock has created Aura, Aroma, Arena, a large-scale outdoor environment that has the appearance of an off-kilter utopian farm village complete with grazing sheep. As in much of his work, however, a certain humor matches any darkness: nestled in his enigmatic enclave is a layered structure Bock has dubbed the ‘Temple of Maggots.’ Bock’s work proposes a kind of pseudo-pagan rite of imitation at the heart of a series of vitrines filled with interchangeable and rotating objects ranging from rubber boots, to eggs, to animal eyelashes, a human tooth, sheep’s wool or a coffee cup lid. With near-cryptic symbolism, the delicate but inexplicable objects in the vitrines appear as elements of a secret language, themselves furtive caricatures of secrets, which, however classified or consecrated, often serve to instigate and simulate knowledge.
Single channel video, 13:00
Through video, performance, installation, and grassroots activism, Sharon Hayes employs and deconstructs the tactics of political language. The artist’s video project Ricerche: three utilises the same socially engaged strategies. Based on Pier Paolo Pasolini’s 1965 cinema verité documentary Comizi d’Amore, in which the filmmaker interviews diverse segments of postwar Italian society about sexuality, Ricerche: three similarly involves intimate discussions of sexuality with friends, poets, artists, students, executives, and unemployed labourers in locations throughout the United States, from New England to the Midwest.
Hayes follows Pasolini in her attention to people in groups, staging large group interviews in a way that slowly and jointly draws out each group’s collectivity and each individual’s social self. In presenting the work as a looping video account, Hayes also suggests a tension between earnest conversations and slightly fictionalised performances – all while personally navigating the efficacy and traps of language, politics, and desire.
The Universal Addressability of Dumb Things
Mixed media installation
Through his videos and performance lectures, Mark Leckey has established himself as a cultural anthropologist whose dissections of digital media and contemporary consumerism speak to the myriad ways in which technology has altered our relation to the world. For the 55th Venice Biennale, Leckey has created a video using three-dimensional scans of an exhibition he curated at the Bluecoat in Liverpool, entitled The Universal Addressability of Dumb Things. Serving as the show’s enhanced digital doppelgänger, the video presents artworks by Leckey and a cast of others alongside the panoply of historical and contemporary artifacts that Leckey brought together in order to propose a coming era of ‘techno-animism’. In this future, technology will have so thoroughly transformed our relationship to the objects around us that the line between the animate and the inanimate will have blurred. However, while the staid and static objects in the exhibition merely hint at this coming upheaval, his video brings the show’s concept to dull bloom, as objects are animated out of their torpor and allowed to take on gregarious, uncanny lives of their own.
How Not To Be Seen: A Fucking Didactic Educational.MOV File
Single channel video, 14:00
Hito Steyerl’s video works demonstrate the fluidity and ubiquity of images in an age when visuals are mediated, packaged, designed, and distributed on an unprecedented international scale. Her video essays focus on both political and personal figures but spiral outward, while montages deriving from numerous sources subsequently undermine her documentarian authority. Her video, How Not To Be Seen: A Fucking Didactic Educational.MOV File functions like a guerilla manual for those seeking asylum from the imminent extinction of invisibility in our increasingly surveilled, panoptic digital age. Of her project, the artist writes: ‘How do people disappear in an age of total over-visibility? Which huge institutional and legal effort has to be made to keep things unspoken and unspeakable even if they are pretty obviously sitting right in front of everyone’s eyes? Are people hidden by too many images? Do they go hide amongst other images? Do they become images?’