Who can blame you if you’re at a loss to what being ‘human’ means right now. Each day seem to bring fresh catastrophes and abominations, be that man-made or ‘acts of God’. Our relationship with technology seem to be such a huge part of our lives that we’ve willingly re-entered Plato’s Cave and let go of our ability, not to mention any desire, to interact with other humans in real life as it were.
Gazelli Art House’s I CYBORG, curated by William Corwin, is a group exhibition featuring work by Aziz + Cucher, Dustin Yellin, Elisabeth Kley, James Ostrer, Kianja Strobert, Recycle Group, Roxy Paine, Roxy Topia & Paddy Gould, Saad Qureshi and also Corwin himself, UK and US based artists who are aware of the position of man in relation to our new place as an increasingly crossbred and unified entity and creating artwork about this transition. The days of da Vinci’s Vitruvian Man are numbered and he has been replaced by a growing physical collaboration with technology, architecture and the wider biological panorama.
Countless solo shows by New York-based duo Aziz + Cucher have treated the loss of identity in a technological environment as an ongoing concern and the works on show at Gazelli Art House are no exception. Their new digital jacquard tapestry, to be featured as part of the exhibition, represents a landscape that has been devastated by a misguided war. This is not a new concern – as far back as 1994, with their shocking Dystopia where the subjects’ features were erased in photoshop as an allegory of the loss of personal identity and humanity, they have been aware of our endless obsession with technology and the online life.
Meanwhile Brooklyn-based artist Dustin Yellin has recently been creating futuristic works using virtual reality. Both he and Jeff Koons were granted access to Google’s technology early on. Yellin collects, manipulates and constructs three dimensional collage pieces suspended within a structure. The work on display at Gazelli Art House is a new series of work combining clippings as sculptural objects along with fragments of text.
In addition to Corwin’s own works, which have found their place in the exhibition, ceramicist Elisabeth Kley will display glazed vessels in black and white with hand-drawn seraphim crosses. Counterintuitively perhaps, both Elisabeth Kley and William Corwin reach back into antiquity in order to represent the body as a hybridised entity: Kley’s cinerary urns and sigils look at the figure in reverse — anthropomorphising the object, while Corwin reassembles the body from found objects and architectural details.
Volt Café are long-time fans of James Ostrer’s work. His new photographic series The Ego System draws inspiration from his surroundings by means of the media. His prescient and grotesque portraits of characters such as Donald Trump are the result of the ‘emotional downloads’ that we ingest from social media and the internet, which shape our world to the extent that someone like Trump can have a stab at running for President of the United States. Works by collaborative artist duo Roxy Topia & Paddy Gould fashion lively ceramics and fabric pieces which employ a playful aesthetic language of the grotesque utilising bodily functions and visceral or disquieting physical experiences. Roxy Paine’s diagrams approximate and assess various processes—scientific, chemical, intellectual, and bemusedly offer an ‘unbiased’ opinion as they replicate the cold, clean lines of the machine world. Through grappling with events of nature and industry, control and chaos, Paine’s work highlight how we experience the world around us.
As you’d anticipate from the name, Recycle Group’s sculptures reflect on what our time will leave behind for future generations, what artefacts archaeologists will find after we are gone, and whether they will find their place in the cultural layer referencing technology and social media.
Similarly fascinated by the transformative quality of memory and time, Saad Qureshi’s drawings and sculpture probe issues of contemporary cultural belonging and the ramifications of warfare. The mixed media work of fast-rising New York artist Kianja Strobert will also figure in the roster of talent exhibited, in a combination of ink, watercolour and acrylic.
The exhibition is not about new forms of art, but as these difficult and contradictory ideas about humanity sink in, older forms such as sculpture, ceramics and painting are as quick to embrace and consider the new world as performance, video and computer animation.
Each artist has their own trajectory in their study of what being ‘human’ represents now – and our relationship with technology and machines. With technology now being such a vital part of our lives, it seems to be diminishing our abilities and desire to interact with other humans face to face. “I wanted people to draw their own conclusions,” says Corwin. “I wanted to curate something layered, that wasn’t too obvious. I like the idea that people had to figure out the pieces of the puzzle.”
I CYBORG presents artworks that explore the relationships between mankind, identity and technology and whether the latter is something we can no longer survive without?
7 October—12 November 2016
Gazelli Art House
39 Dover Street
London W1S 4NN
+44 207 491 8816
TagsAziz + Cucher, Dustin Yellin, Elizabeth Kley, Gazelli Art Hose, James Ostrer, Kianja Strobert, Recycle Group, Roxy Topia & Paddy Gould, William Corwin,