Monthly Archives: July 2019

Artist Spotlight: Tom Austin

A year of working in London’s most prestigious galleries left Tom Austin unimpressed, unsatisfied and empty. When he arrived at Pilotenküche the beginning of June, he didn’t know if he wanted to make art anymore. The sometimes self-serving, complacent aspects of the art industry, led the artist to question the long-established hierarchies within it, and their impact on the process of art-making and on society itself. In order to gain distance and dissociate with the world he had been disappointed with, Tom left. He spent 6 months working on farms and volunteering.

‘Pilotenkueche is a cool chance to re-engage with art’, he says. ‘I am trying to find a new sense for art making: I really struggle with the why at the moment.’ He is currently looking for ways to create art which help empower himself and other people.

With the effects of the climate crisis being more vigorously and immediately noticeable than ever, Tom’s most recent practice is largely focusing on the interconnectedness between the anthropogenic destruction of the planet, the existing global power structures and the entrenched elitism of our national institutions, and correlatively on the way cultures are shaped and altered by these entities. 

Earlier this year, Tom held a 45 minute-long lecture in The Hague, generating a long overdue debate around the matter. The artist argued that the gallery world helps sustain the status quo: ‘It’s designed to stop us from thinking outside the box, to put us in our place, and it is run by elites who want to keep things the same. It is actually stopping us from taking any actions on climate change.’ 

The lecture thematised the growing use of fossil fuels in the 18th and 19th century, and the environmental, societal and cultural changes that came with it. It spurred the development of colonialism and the propagation of exploitative working ethics, culminating in an immoral extractivist system that is still in place today.

With the leading economies still nestled in the colonialist mindset of the past, they continue to exert their dominance and expropriate the world’s poorest nations of their natural resources. Tom highlights that the idea of superiority, of territorial and cultural hegemony over other humans, stems from the radical rationalist thought of the Enlightenment Era, the concept of man’s sublime position above flora and fauna finds itself manifested in the bible. 

Despite the destructive ramifications of energy extraction through fossil fuels, the artworld gained phenomenally from it and this has altered the course of art history. The invention of the steamship made travel and trade easier and faster and gave artists the opportunity to access the unknown. Paul Gauguin spent ten years in French Polynesia, his paintings from that time made him famous and became a vital influence for Symbolist and Expressionist art. Emil Nolde painted in New Guinea, Van Gogh developed his love for Japanese prints, Picasso’s African Period greatly informed his cubist work. Tom’s attempt to find a holistic understanding of these complexities in their entirety, is evident throughout his most recent practice: connecting all the dots on a diagram, a written performance on the wall. 

With his practice emphasising on performative art, Tom is currently developing ideas for a performance for the Pilotenkueche Exhibition at Kunstkraftwerk. He is creating a paper maché flower, which will be used as a prop. Props, masks and costumes find frequent usage in Tom’s performances and videos. They act as tools, as connecting points between him and the idea, never as character- defining elements that determine the narrative. 

‘Circle of Life’, one of Tom’s more recent works, is a slowly progressing, organically moving piece in which Tom playfully engages with seemingly random objects like oranges, a basketball and several domestic items like a tablecloth, a CD-player and a juicer. These objects evoke connotations to mundane phenomena: breakfast TV, school outings, shopping channels. Tom’s interaction with them bespeaks a humorous, zeitgeisty language. Yet, Tom’s work is a far cry from being a mockery. Instead, it is a testimony of Tom’s dissatisfaction, a protest transmitted with an almost tragic, clownlike seriousness, a demonstration revealing to us our derelictions in a time of drastic change.

written by Fiona Irene Graf


See Tom’s work in the upcoming exhibitions

HUNGRY DUNGEON FRIENDS

vernissage: 
Saturday 17 August 
7PM-10PM

Performances:
Isaac Magner and Agathe Barre
Antonia Wetzel
Tom Austin
Simon Schäfer

Saturday 24 August
Performances:
Isaac Magner and Agathe Barre
Antonia Wetzel
Tom Austin

open: 
Sunday 18 August – Sunday 1 September 
10AM-6PM (closed Mondays)
location:
Kunstkraftwerk
Saalfelder Str. 8
04179 Leipzig

GRATEFUL PARK

vernissage: 
Friday 20 September
7PM-11PM
open: 
Saturday 21 September – Monday 23 September
1PM-5PM 
location:
PILOTENKUECHE International Art Program
Franz-Flemming-Straße 9

Artist Spotlight: Michella Perera

Sri Lankan born Irish artist Michella Perera explores the edgy co-dependent relationship between the fictional representation of a culture and the tourist industry. Under the radiant traditional garments and embroideries lie the fetishization and mystification of oriental tourism in Western ideology. The fascination of “the exotic” generates the mythical portrayal within their understandings and preconception. The resulting image and objects that signify the culture become icons in which the original context and historical value are reduced. She stated that the phenomenon ironically juxtaposes the belief of cultural tourism: to acquire knowledge and appreciation of another country through traveling. Tourism is however based on the attraction of the mystified and the fetishized, and highly depends on it. The bewitched process is thus inescapable.

Michella Perera is intrigued by the absurdity within touristic behaviour. “I am interested in shrines,” she says, referencing the particular space where we place items which we have collected from our vacations. The arrangements of her made objects, as if displayed on a shrine, are in flamboyant colours. “There is this expected vibrancy of tourism…. People expected to see colours, but also they tend to dress ‘on-holiday’ with all the colours on them.” In addition, she pointed out the “I’ve been there, I know” attitude, while much knowledge is in fact a generalization or built from preconception. “I got a lot of people saying ‘Namaste’ to me. I don’t speak Hindi, I learn Sinhalese.”

Born in Sri Lanka and having moved to Ireland at the age of ten, she is also on the quest of self-discovery through tourism and binary cultural discomfiture. Confrontations with the sense of in-and-out not only appear in geographical context but also in her own cultural identity. Her appearance is distinctively different from those in Ireland, and at Sri Lanka her posture is clearly one of the tourists. “In Sri Lanka, I don’t particularly read Sinhalese well, so then I have this feeling that you are drawn in and spat back out at the same time.”

Her practice is then “a resolution without a resolution” for this complex sensation. Michella has been in search for the materiality of the language, through learning the origin of letters and understanding it physically. She explained the Latin alphabets are angular due to its origin from stone carving; whereas the medium of Sinhalese was dried leaves. The strokes flow along with the hair of the leaves, ending in letters without angles. She started to make the letters out of clay and carving them into plaster. “It’s just spending time with the letters that I don’t necessarily understand, in the hope that maybe I can understand them more sculpturally, more materially.”

Her work has a strong sense of bodily interconnection. In addition to her exercise in letters, which she playfully refers it as “to physically understand something linguistic without understanding it linguistically,” she works on embroideries and body positions in papier-mâché. The art work is not only a practice for her to comprehend the in-and-out sense, but it also encourages viewers to relate to them through their body, instead of through identification and naming.

Written bu Huai-ya Lin


See Michella’s work in the upcoming exhibitions

HUNGRY DUNGEON FRIENDS

vernissage: 
Saturday 17 August 
7PM-10PM
open: 
Sunday 18 August – Sunday 1 September 
10AM-6PM (closed Mondays)
location:
Kunstkraftwerk
Saalfelder Str. 8
04179 Leipzig

GRATEFUL PARK

vernissage: 
Friday 20 September
7PM-11PM
open: 
Saturday 21 September – Monday 23 September
1PM-5PM 
location:
PILOTENKUECHE International Art Program
Franz-Flemming-Straße 9

PK RD40: Upcoming shows

HUNGRY DUNGEON FRIENDS

Hungry exchanges are often communicated through the affective fields of our bodies. The body-organism is linked to the world through a network of primal signifiers. An underworld of currents, there are some conversations that can only take place on the borders, on the edge of ourselves, of our contact with the other. The exhibition tries to circulate these borders, these textures, these interiorities, that are viscous, unformed, multiple and many times. We morph between states of consciousness, mapping unknown desires. This exhibition is the interim show of the Pilotenkeuche residents, and explores the possibility to traverse these spaces, inviting a tactile sensibility, and begs to ask what happens in a dungeon with friends?

text by curator Colette Patterson

vernissage: 
Saturday 17 August 
7PM-10PM

Live performances by 
sound artist Isaac Magner with film maker Agathe Barreand performance artists Antonia Wetzel, Tom Alexander Austin and Simon Schäfer.

events:
Saturday 24 August
Curatorial Tour by Colette Patterson

Live performances by 
sound artist Isaac Magner with film maker Agathe Barreand performance artist Antonia Wetzel and Tom Alexander Austin

open: 
Sunday 18 August – Sunday 1 September 
10AM-6PM Tue-Sun

location:
Kunstkraftwerk
Saalfelder Str.


GRATEFUL PARK

How do we navigate and develop our own ecologies of care?

Through a cultural exchange, that creates systems to nurture and grow. The studios at Pilotenkeuche become spaces for recreational play, temporal support structures manifest. This final exhibition of the residents aims to be a space to rethink forms of operating in the individual and collective spheres. Grateful Park reflects the outcome of some of these processes, articulating how we find ourselves embedded in an environment.

text by curator Colette Patterson

GRATEFUL PARK

vernissage:
Friday 20 September
7PM-11PM

performances: TBA

open:
Saturday 21 September – Monday 23 September
1PM-5PM

location:
PILOTENKUECHE International Art Program
Franz-Flemming-Straße 9
04179 Leipzig


PK RD40 

International residents

Adam Tuch (sound, digital art, installation/US)
Agathe Barre (film/FR) 
Antonia Wetzel (performance, painting/DE)
Ariel Taylor (painting/US)
Clément Bedel (painting/FR) 
Christopher Sperandio (comics/US) 
Darien Crossley (performance, painting/US)
Helene Planquelle (painting, drawing/FR)
Isaac Magner (sound design, video/UK) 
Michella Perera (sculpture/UK)
Tom Alexander Austin (performance/UK)
Vernon O´Meally (painting/US)
Zara June Williams (painting/AU)
Zheng Wenxin (painting/CH)

Local Participants
Matthias Geisler (painting, printmaking/DE) 
Simon Schäfer (sculpture, film, sound, installation, digital/DE)

Curator
Colette Patterson (UK)

Assistants
Fiona Irene Graf (DE/UK) 
Huai-ya Lin (TW) 
Silvia Zandomeneghi (IT)
milkafterfish (instagram)
Stanley Louis (HA/FR) 
iam_stanlouis (instagram)– 

Artist spotlight: Hélène Planquelle

“Artists have to ask themselves: Does my art matter in respect of my death? Does it change something? Does it speak to somebody? Does it make a difference?.” Questions like these are the guiding precepts by which Hélène Planquelle works. Heavily influenced by her humanities studies, Hélène’s practice centres upon philosophical principles concerning subjects like social interaction and responsibility for the other.

The Constitutive Other, a term coined by Hegel but later revisited and revised by the 20th century philosopher Emmanuel Lévinas, stands in immediate relation to Hélène’s visual concept. The phenomenological notion of the ‘Other’ is concerned with the identification of the Self through the distinction from another human being – the ‘Other’ becoming a bedrock analogue of the Self –  as well as with the moral liability towards the ‘Other’ in a face-to-face encounter. 

Lévinas also spoke of Original Violence, a term which describes the idea of violence being created during our first contact with another person. “Before you are encountering another person, you are living in your own bubble of self-centered reality. It de-centers you and forces you to take another human being into account in your life, you can’t just dismiss the reality of this other person’s existence,” Hélène expounds.


Hélène’s meticulous, almost photorealistic drawings and oil paintings are a manifestation of her fascination with these matters. Her works often depict two people in direct, physical interaction: they grab, strangle, carry each other, are entangled and intimate, tender and violent. They tell us of the indiscernible, underlying power struggles within a relationship. 

Recently, Hélène has began to work on a new series of paintings called “Where Is Your Brother?.” in which she investigates the concomitance of nurturing love and resentment or even hatred within fraternal relations. Here, the idea of brotherliness is to be understood in a broader sense: it describes the care and responsibility we carry towards the ones that are close to us, our neighbours, our fellows in misery. 

Hélène draws inspiration from the famous biblical story of Cain and Abel. The first offspring of Adam and Eve and the first tale of the first fratricide in the Christian history of creation, Cain murdered his brother Abel out of jealousy. Religious context is evident throughout Hélène’s pictorial language. Deliberately dramatic and staged, her drawings and paintings conjure up comparisons to famous religious Renaissance and Baroque paintings and sculptures. Her often undraped figures pose in submissiveness, they enact their inner yearning, their ecstasy and agony. Strong sexual references run through her entire body of work. 

Although ever so delicately executed, Hélène’s drawings and paintings also convey a rawness, brutality even. “They relate to the basic theories of attachment.” Hélène explains. They act as an echo of our most primal experiences, of the initial event of being torn apart from the origin: the womb of the mother. The involvement with this painful, almost cruel process of leaving the nurturing and protecting maternal body, to becoming a separate entity forced into unattached existence, is reflected in Hélène’s imagery. The arising narratives tell us of life, in its most intense forms.

written by Fiona Irene Graf

images supplied by the artist


See Hélène’s work in the upcoming exhibitions

HUNGRY DUNGEON FRIENDS

vernissage: 
Saturday 17 August 
7PM-10PM
open: 
Sunday 18 August – Sunday 1 September 
10AM-6PM (closed Mondays)
location:
Kunstkraftwerk
Saalfelder Str. 8
04179 Leipzig

GRATEFUL PARK

vernissage: 
Friday 20 September
7PM-11PM
open: 
Saturday 21 September – Monday 23 September
1PM-5PM 
location:
PILOTENKUECHE International Art Program
Franz-Flemming-Straße 9

Artist Spotlight: Christopher Sperandio

“It’s a comedy that makes you want to cry,” says Christopher Sperandio. The distress and injustice of our world are increasingly so absurd that it almost seems comical. Christopher is an American artist with a great enthusiasm for comic books. He has long been working closely with the medium, including several international collaborations. Capsulizing his own art within one mere word as “pissed-off,” his practice in comic illustration – the fierce palette of the print and the action-lead raw narratives – certainly reflects the frustration and the fury of the artist toward the countless and endless, even repetitive, chaos of the society derived from greed, brutality and racism.

Christopher is no stranger to the power of comics. Beneath the naive frivolous nature of the medium lies an explosive energy, and most of all – a political voice. He points out that the aftermath of comics can be just as violent, with cartoonists and comic artists sent to prisons or even murdered. Take for example, the recent Charlie Hebdo Attack, where twelve employees of the French satirical magazine were killed.

Yet the danger is not limited to the confrontation and controversy from free speech, but also as a political tool for the purpose of propaganda. Interested in the history of comics in different countries, Christopher spent a month in Lisbon last summer. Diving into the archives of Portuguese comics, he devoured the considerable amount of Fascist prints with their governmental indoctrination. They were full of beautifully portrayed images such as kids in uniforms singing patriotic songs.

images by PILOTENKUECHE International Art Program

At the same time, comics are equally influential for positive uses. He mentioned the critical cartoons during the 1968 protest in Paris in which the dreadfulness of capitalism was conveyed through graphics and narratives. Early last year, Christopher curated the exhibition Between Love & Madness: Mexican Comic Art from the 1970s. The title came from one of his comic book collections of original drawings Entre el Amor y la Locura. “That comic is about gaslighting,” he explains. He references the 1944 mystery-thriller Gaslight where the husband manipulates the wife into questioning her own sanity. “That’s what Trump is doing with the American public. He’s gaslighting the American public – telling lies and making the citizens believe things that aren’t true.” Christopher complimented the utilization of comic book form to discuss the psychological manipulation which is still perfectly relevant to contemporary issues in the modern world.

“Humour can reach across gaps whether it’s class, race or other kind of social boundaries. Humour has a political dimension to it. It can be quite useful in destroying tyrants.” The artist who previously published a copy about Trump, describing him in comical term as “a straight-up villain,” is currently working on his new comic book, tackling on the concern of automation. Seeing the videos of Boston Dynamic robots, he questioned the possibility of the exploitation – robots deployed as a military or police force instead of for health-care purposes. “It sounds a bit like science fiction,” he continued “but it fills me with dread seeing the videos. These things literally feel like zombies, with no pity and no feelings. They are animated but not alive.”

written by Huai-ya Lin

images supplied by artist


See Christopher’s work in the upcoming exhibitions

HUNGRY DUNGEON FRIENDS

vernissage: 
Saturday 17 August 
7PM-10PM
open: 
Sunday 18 August – Sunday 1 September 
10AM-6PM (closed Mondays)
location:
Kunstkraftwerk
Saalfelder Str. 8
04179 Leipzig

GRATEFUL PARK

vernissage: 
Friday 20 September
7PM-11PM
open: 
Saturday 21 September – Monday 23 September
1PM-5PM 
location:
PILOTENKUECHE International Art Program
Franz-Flemming-Straße 9

Artist Spotlight: Adam Tuch

Adam Tuch likes to play with the invisible. Revolving around the intangible, his multi-faceted practice is concerned with our perception of space and sound, in regards to contemporary society’s increasing coalescence with modern technology and its dependence on it. Adam’s work centers on the communication between man and machine. He focuses on the threshold between intimate interaction and functional utilisation of new digital means. 

The Boston-based artist is interested in the increasingly blurred boundaries between reality and simulation and their constant reciprocation to the point of total indistinguishability between original and fake, of the genuine and the imitation becoming mutually dependent on one another. With his often entirely digital works, Adam is aiming to explore our emotional and corporeal understanding of both physical and virtual spaces. His practice concentrates particularly on the impalpable concept of public space and its ever shifting definition. 

Central to Adam’s work is the intention to create conditions which enable the viewer to actively engage with the technological means employed. The direct interaction with the computer transforms the viewer’s role from passive spectator to active contributor. This forces them to reconceive their function in respect to the machine. Simultaneously, the situation generated allows the audience to have an intuitive, almost mindless interplay with the computer.

On his website hellllllo.info, Adam invites the visitor to correspond with an animated character through an algorithmic online chat. Since the answers are automated, the conversation between the online-character and the visitor turns into an absurd, almost tragic miscommunication, a dead end. This is emphasised by the haphazard sound effects and random screenshots that flare up during the chat. The provoked situation draws on our growing urge to connect with others through digital means, and the inevitable, intricate complications that come with it.

Diverging from his classical music and jazz background, Adam released his entirely electronic album called ‘Screen Shot 2018’ last year. Although occasionally melodic, the twelve tracks, consist of distorted voice snippets, linguistic exercises and shrill gaming sounds, and range somewhere between children’s TV character, rave party and horror soundscape. They have an almost nightmarish infantility to them. He pushed the further with nonsensical titles such as ‘erRorErrOrerroReRorrerROreRRoRErrOr’, ‘I*v’ and ‘%’, With Adammmmmmmmmmmm, his musical persona, Adam explores the idea of artificial realities, his sounds luring the listener into a non-existent cyber space. 


Currently, Adam has started to grow algae in his studio space at Pilotenkueche. “I want to use it as a means to represent environmental space,” he says as he expounds his plan to juxtapose the algae with a digital image of an underwater world shown on a submerged iPhone. He has also recently started researching brand logos, their embeddedness in our consumption-oriented culture and the almost religious reverence they are attributed with in present day society. Adam’s practice is incessantly concerned with the way we identify with the products we buy and concurrently let these things define us. It is hyperaware of the fact that everything we surround ourselves with plays a pivotal role in the way we perceive, evaluate and determine objects and spaces. 

Fast-moving technological advancements allows us to regenerate the idea of material reality and bodily presence as we are no longer confined to locating ourselves in a single space. Instead we are now able to exist in multiple spaces at the same time. The attempt to capture the essence of this idea, of us being able to simultaneously experience different forms of reality, lies in the heart of Adam’s complex work. 

written by Fiona Irene Graf


See Adam’s work in the upcoming exhibitions

HUNGRY DUNGEON FRIENDS

vernissage: 
Saturday 17 August 
7PM-10PM
open: 
Sunday 18 August – Sunday 1 September 
10AM-6PM (closed Mondays)
location:
Kunstkraftwerk
Saalfelder Str. 8
04179 Leipzig

GRATEFUL PARK

vernissage: 
Friday 20 September
7PM-11PM
open: 
Saturday 21 September – Monday 23 September
1PM-5PM 
location:
PILOTENKUECHE International Art Program
Franz-Flemming-Straße 9

Artist spotlight: Sabrina Jolicoeur

In today’s society people are exposed to dozens or even hundreds of commercials every day. We are nearly drowning in those images. They are everywhere: in stores, outside on the street or in our news feeds on social media. How does it influence our perception of the world? Which role does it play in contemporary art? Sabrina Jolicoeur is a good person to ask those questions. Sabrina, a multidisciplinary artist and a freelance photographer based in Montreal, can see the commercial image from both sides. This allows her to create a new perspective.

(During her BFA in photography at Concordia University) “I was mainly focused on the commodification of image forms”

Surveillance was the main topic for her Bachelor thesis. This referenced her childhood spent on the military base and addressed one of the most discussed public issues. To get a full picture she interviewed a relative who worked in the military as a drone operator. She then conducted research on the companies that make jets, cameras and weaponry for the military. She paid special attention to how they use language as a way of propaganda.

all photos by PILOTENKUECHE International Art Program

Since coming to the residency at Pilotenkueche, Sabrina has been elaborating on new ideas. Currently she is focusing on commodification of the wellness economy and its offshoots. This led to researching how wellness has been commercialized and shared throughout history. What is particularly interesting about this topic is the fact that it can be accessed on a microscopic level in a connection to a human body, as well as, on an environmental level, and as a space of a wellness.

In her work, We share our blood, she deliberated on wellness in a sense of the community.  She made an installation with different kinds of hooks and wires and all points of connection painted in red as a reference to the blood oxidation. On each end there was an avocado seed as a reminder of growth.

It is very typical of Sabrina to pay special attention to the materials she is working with in terms of their microscopic importance. For example, carbon fiber is used in the tech industry, but at the same time it is one of the essential elements for a human body. She tries to collect all kinds of materials and arrange them so that they interact with each other. Salt and rocks, massage tools and seasonal depression lamp or sea weed and wires- the seemingly random join in connection.

Sabrina usually works on more than one piece at the same time.I am trying to let the process guide the work. I don’t like to have a finished idea about what my art piece is going to be. I let it grow naturally without limiting it to a final stage. So here in the studio things are in a constant flux, things move around, things get discarded…”. After her residency comes to an end, she wants to continue working on the topic of wellness in a larger scale back in Montreal.  We are all thrilled to see the fruitful results of her work.  

written by Kristina Nizamova

feature photo: Richmond Lam



Goodbye PK RD39, Hello PK RD40

Three months goes by so fast! It feels like just when you are getting to know each other, it’s time to go. Round 39, we will miss your passion and laughter. Happily, a few of you have stayed behind.

Here are some RD39 moments to treasure.

We want to extend a warm welcome to Round 40. It’s good to see the studio buzzing again. We look forward to a great summer spent making memories and exploding in creativity.

PK RD39

International residents
Anabel Najera-Lopez(ceramics, painting: El Paso,Texas, USA)
Coffee Kang(visual art, mixed media installation: Shanghai, China/Los Angeles, USA)
Cristina Prudente(multidisciplinary: IT/UK)
Daniel Long (painting, projection mapping: Saigon, Vietnam)
Eliana Jacobs(etching, objects, collage, conceptual: Vancouver, BC, Canada)
Izdehar Afyouni (painting, scultpture: Palestine)
Jana Moser (drawing: Melbourne, VIC, Australia)
Karine Frechette(painting: Montreal, Canada)
Kate Jones (Montreal, Canada)
Louis Bouvier(drawing sculpture, installation: Montreal, Canada)
Maria Dominga Vergara(painting: Santiago, Chile)
Marjin Roos Lindgreen (architecture, installation: Amsterdam, Netherlands)
Sabrina Jolicoeur (photography, fibre art, installation, video, performance: Montreal, Canada)

Local Participants
Elisabeth Kraus(interdisciplinary; Leipzig, Germany)
Jos Diegel(painting, film, performance: Leipzig, Germany)


Curator
Clementine Butler-Galle(London, UK)

AssistantsAdrian Klaus Rotzscher(drawing, illustration, book making: San Francisco, CA, USA)
Ellisha Walkden-Williams (art history: London, UK)
Kristina Nizamova (arts management: Hostivica, Czech Republic)

PK RD40

International residents
Adam Tuch (sound, digital art, installation, US)
Agathe Barre (film, FR)
Antonia Wetzel (performance, painting, DE)
Ariel Taylor (painting, US)
Clément Bedel (painting,FR)
Christopher Sperandio (comics, US)
Darien Crossley (performance, painting, US)
Helene Planquelle (painting, drawing; Paris, France)
Isaac Magner (sound design, video, UK) 
Michella Perera (sculpture, UK)
Tom Alexander Austin (video, UK)
Vernon O´Meally (painting, US)
Zara June Williams (painting, AU)
Zheng Wenxin (painting, CH)

Local ParticipantsMatthias Geisler (painting, printmaking, DE)
Simon Schäfer (digital art, DE)

Curator
Colette Patterson(UK)

AssistantsFiona Irene Graf (UK)
Huai-ya Lin (TW) 
Silvia Zandomeneghi (IT)
milkafterfish (instagram)
Stanley Louis (HA)
iam_stanlouis (instagram)

Artist Spotlight: Izdihar Afyouni

There is no such thing as passive spectatorship in the work of Palestinian artist Izdihar Afyouni. She explores dualities such as subjugation and agency, violence and eroticism, abjection and subjectivity. Complex narratives emerge. They present disenfranchised subjects; women, prisoners, migrants and refugees. But her viewers are not any more confronted with these narratives as they subjected to them. At times, she will employ processes of unconscious identification in order to provoke a psychological response. Others, she will creative immersive participatory performances which facilitate feelings of (consensual) discomfort. Through these means, alienation and biologically sanctioned injustice is literally enacted upon the bodies of the viewers themselves.

Izdihar was classically trained in academic figural drawing and recently completed her MA in Art and Politics at Goldsmiths, University of London. Although primarily working on large-scale paintings, she operates as a multi-disciplinary artist and independent curator. Both politically and psychologically engaged with understanding the body, Izehar is specifically interested in individuals who have been subjugated and experienced abjection.

Abjection was popularised by Julia Kristeva in her work Powers of Horror. Building upon the psychoanalytic theories of Sigmund Freud and Jaques Lacan, the term refers to the separation between the self and ‘other’. This is derived from cultural narratives of horror or discrimination, it is the state of being ‘cast off’. Izdihar is fascinated in intense forms of abjection, manifested in decades of trauma. She says that this occurs when horror becomes the only language you know how to speak, when war becomes your ‘psychological currency’.

Describing her practice as research-led, she will begin with a concept and develop it theoretically. However, at times the concept will develop with the work itself. This is especially true for her paintings.  For they speak a pictorial language which transcends what the written word can express alone.

Stylistically, she considers herself a figeral painter, an abstract expressionist and a contemporary Surrealist. But we’re not talking about the dream imagery of Salvador Dali. It’s a Surrealism for a more contemporary age; one which is imbued with a so called ‘horror aesthetic’. Much of her paintings induce nightmarish qualities, only amplified by the grandiose scale which is intended to dwarf the spectator. Izehar will at times use her own blood, ground into the paint.

Blood has particular symbolic pertinence to her practice, not only for it’s festishistic properties, but in its connection to real people. In her on-going series and curatorial project Thicker Than Blood,Izdihar looks at the impact of state policies and bio-surveillance measures which regulate free movement, bodies and individual agency. In the initial instalment, which took place in a London Dungeon, viewers gained entry into the space upon providing a small sample of their blood. Their experience of the piece was then contingent on the amount of white blood cells shown in their results. While some viewers were treated to a performance, others were subjected to an interrogation. But there was a method to the cruelty. The oeuvre is intended to draw attention to the ethical and psychological ramifications of racial and genetic profiling.

During her time at PILOTENKUECHE residency, Izdihar has returned to painting. For the group’s first show at Kunstkraftwerk, she created a triptych entitled ‘She’s A Cult’. The piece is inspired by the early Italian Baroque painter Artemisia and art-historical interpretations of female violence. Artemesia is today considered one of the foremost progressive painters of her generation. In an era when women were largely excluded from the male-dominated community of artists and patrons, she has been hailed by art critics as representing the rhetoric of the  ‘power of women’. Through a direct re-imagining of Artemisia’s ‘Judith slaying Holofernes’, Izdihar sought to highlight similar contemporary paradigms of displacement with regard to the continued exclusion of women from artistic discourse.

For the group’s final exhibition ‘Wrestling with Impermanence’, She completed another large scale painting exploring a sustained pre-occupation with the figure of the abject.

Written by: Ellisha Walkden

________________________________________________________________________________________

Elsewhere a Blue Line and the Absurdity of a Ghost on a Stone 

Open: Sun 19 – Sun 2 June 2019, 10AM – 6PM (closed Mondays)
Location: Kunstkraftwerk, Saalfelder Str. 8, 04179 Leipzig

Wrestling with Impermanence 

Vernissage: Fri 21 June 2019, 7PM
Open: Sat 22 – Wed 26 June 2019 1PM-5PM
Location: PILOTENKUECHE, 2nd Floor, Franz-Flemming-Str. 9, 04179 Leipzig, Germany