Solar Plexus @ Space Station Sixty Five: The Exhibition Text

September 7, 2012

Solar Plexus at the Space Station Sixty-Five gallery in London is the second installment in the series of exhibitions organised by MyPeople project – a global, cross-cultural collaboration involving twelve artists from three different cities: Shanghai, London and Amsterdam. Through the contemporary visual language of digital media, video and installation, the project strives to address the emerging shift within contemporary culture toward interconnectedness, collaboration and flattening of hierarchies. Solar Plexus, an anatomical term referring to a dense entanglement of nerves in the abdomen, reflects not only this new sensibility and its dominant metaphor, the network, but also the living, organic nature of the new paradigm.

The show as a whole does not, therefore, attempt to present “network” as its central theme, because it, by its own nature, does not have its singular center, its “truth”. Its ambition is, rather, to open up itself, its participants and its audience, to surprises: to lie in wait for the unexpected, to look for genuine events within its web of meaning. As such, the project itself, far from having fixed, petrified form keeps evolving, reacting and transforming itself. While the first exhibition in Shanghai’s V Art Center brought forward bold engagement with human body in its physicality, vulnerability and even monstrosity, the current exhibition is both less material and more intimate. The introverted, darkened space of the Space Station Sixty-Five (as the exhibition consists almost entirely of projected videos and images) gave rise to an exhibition which puts forward the question of intimacy of human subject caught the in the network: engaged with other individuals, interconnected, entangled – but also exposed, unprotected, stripped bare.

Xu Zhifeng’s (aka. s.h.a.w), in the documentary of his entertaining performance piece Look, Through Me, is making use of ordinary digital technology – camcoder and computer screen – to turn itself into truly transparent subject, while at the same time actively engaging passers-by. This paradox of connection through transparency reappears in Anika Schwarzlose’s Bending Light/Breaking Time, in which a sealed gallery window becomes, through web streamed video projection, an active field mediating between the local and the remote, digitally transmitted reality.

Denial of authentic intimate subjectivity is addressed by several other works. Charbel Ackermann’s installation I Close My Eyes, But Still Can See Through My Eyelids is a mediation on the somewhat obscure companion to the modern communication technology: the modernist dream of telepathy, which at the same time connects individuals, and deprives them of the last refuge of privacy. In Lu Yang’s Zombie Under-water Frog Dance, the signals transmitted by electric circuits to dismembered animal bodies create macabre show of blind grotesque obedience.

Yaron Lapid’s photographic prints are among the few physical artworks in the show. Lapid’s attention toward minor, fragile manifestations literally abandoned on the sidewalk, has shifted toward photographs as found objects. Film Stills is a series of carefully manipulated erotic photographs from private collection, which seem to belong to a series of snapshots from non-existing film. While rescuing it from oblivion, the artist also lays bare fragments of its previous possessor’s intimate passions. Ellen Nolan’s Waiting Room series captures delicate web of gestures, postures and gaze exchanged between young fashion models – ambitious, full of expectations, slightly bored, ready to give up their intimacy in the most spectacular way.

(Jiri Tobisek)

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