M HKA and AIR Antwerpen have invited Drop City to be the eleventh guest in the LODGERS programme, occupying the 6th floor of the museum as «Drop City, Antwerp» between 5 August – 15 October 2017.
Drop City is a collaborative gallery model, working regularly between the cities of Düsseldorf, Germany and Newcastle upon Tyne, UK. Drop City approaches its structure as a flexible, reflective model – functioning in parallel to the infinite organisational structures present in the cultural landscape. By continuously developing a form that capitalises on the varied experiences of its founders: an independent curator and three artists, Drop City explores the gaps and potential plasticity between several versions of gallery structure and exhibition model with activities often gathering around the three prevalent organisational forms of artist-run collective, curatorial initiative and commercial gallery
In Antwerp, the four individuals who make up Drop City (Paul Becker, Nadia Hebson, Sam Watson, Eleanor Wright) will pursue four separate and interconnecting public programmes including presentations by new and existing collaborators and contributors.
Running concurrently to the four public programmes, a selection of artist moving image works will be played consisting of analogous or representative works by invited peers and collaborators that point to the ideas and structures to be set out in each programme.
Drop City, Antwerp
at M HKA Museum of Contemporary Art Antwerpen
Rubén Grilo, Dan Holdsworth, Christian Jendreiko,
Markus Karstiess, Metaphysics VR, Pentecostal Party, Jani Ruscica, Deanna Smith, et al.
The Studio for Arousing Tools is a programme developed by exhibition maker and designer Sam Watson within «Drop City, Antwerp» at M HKA which focuses on the tool: approaching contemporary art as an activity that shares several characteristics with cultural anthropology. What are the tools we use to understand the world around us? A chisel might define the joint by which we glue and join together disparate pieces of wood, while humankind’s curiosity and observational rigour helps to define various and at times, conflicting stories of our development as social beings. The fields of design, architecture, anthropology and art diverge in significant respects but we can also observe many parallels between them. Not only do artists, scientists and researchers share a passion for probing what lies beneath the surface, but they endeavour to reveal things that were formerly disregarded yet which have the potential to change our views of the past, present and future.
Focusing on alternative ways of knowledge finding: things our bodies know but which we do not always act upon, such as acquired skills, sudden reflexes and marked intuition, the works and methods presented within the studio programme offer imaginative approaches to working with audiences, participants and contributors alike that range from tap-dancing poetry readings to explorations of current spatial realities. They make the invisible visible.
The Studio for Arousing Tools is a temporary platform taking the form of a public programme where fields of study converge. It presents exhibited artworks and objects, interdisciplinary performances and events as well as educational activities in the contemporary art museum M HKA, the community garden of AIR Antwerpen, various public and private locations in the city as well as the live-work space of «Drop City, Düsseldorf» – re-connecting the historic relationships between these EUROCORE locations which form the basis of M HKA’s invitation to Drop City.
In his work, Rubén Grilo defetishizes the perfect, ready-to-be consumed objects that surround us by taking them apart and reversing their production processes in order to draw our attention to the materials, techniques and labour involved in their production. Chocolate moulds, high density styrofoam, clay of the sort used for car prototyping and an obsolete unit of measurement—the ell—have all taken centre stage in his sculptures and installations. His work addresses a blind spot in our consumer society, whose language—as a result of the processes of branding and marketing—acknowledges only the experience of the end-user.
Exactly when and how does something become an individual thing, a product that speaks to us, a finished, self-contained entity? Grilo is interested in how processes of mass fabrication lead to and are intertwined with signifiers of individuation, such as imprints, signatures, fingerprints, letters and mistakes. Mass production, originality, individuality and seriality meet in sneaky ways in Grilo’s work. Signatures are bought from the Internet, paint is conceived to never dry, and jean fabric wear patterns are industrially produced.
A tension between the creation of individualized objects and anonymous, mass-produced products is also palpable in the ways in which Grilo positions himself as an artist. Playing with different degrees of dissociation from the creative process, Grilo has at times, for instance, acted as an entrepreneur—notably during the launch of his paint series. For a recent exhibition in London, he wrote a letter to be used as a press release in which he reflected, “I distanced myself so much from the work that if my skin was just thicker it would become plaster”.
Grilo’s most recent work has taken an even more radical turn; it is not visible to the naked eye. Though they are nowhere to be seen, Grilo has in fact left his marks all over the exhibition space, planting fingerprints on its walls, windows and furniture—even on other artworks that are part of this group exhibition. These prints stand for the promise of a unique presence when in fact they have been fabricated—the fingerprints do not belong to anyone. What is usually one of the most precise ways to identify a human being has here been faked. Present and absent at the same time, this work alludes to some of Grilo’s central, ongoing concerns. What constitutes an individual? And what are the technologies that we rely on to make individuation material?”
Holdsworth merges the tools and philosophies of art, science and nature to produce photographic images which challenge our perceptions of the commonplace notions of landscape. His interests in new technologies have led him to study various landscapes, both natural and explicitly man-made, around the world. Holdsworth has recently developed works collaborating together with a geologist, using high precision instruments to gather data from European landscapes such as post-glacial rock formations in the Jura. The latest photogrammetric and geo-cartographic innovations make it possible for hundreds of photographs taken from a helicopter or by a drone to be meticulously compiled and plotted using GPS coordinates. The result is 3D imagery of our environment in an unprecedented level of detail. This latest work, Continuous Topography thus makes up a digital archive, a genuine witness to the current state of these rock formations. Each contour and relief fissure is made visible and available for dissection by the archaeologists of tomorrow.
Artist, writer and composer Christian Jendreiko will present a series of new group actions developed with the O-Coast Synthesiser alongside group and one-to-one discussions where Jendreiko will introduce his latest tool in the form of a philosophically grounded method for making: The Hermestia Approach.
The action events and workshops will take place in both Antwerp and Düsseldorf, and are a part of Jendreiko’s socially innovative, collective praxis in which he develops frameworks with different actors (publics) around the creation of structures: speaking, thinking, acting and playing together. The workshops and actions will analyse the potentials of working together with technological tools in the creation of ‘societal structures’.
Jendreiko’s actions and workshops set out to expose a particular form of togetherness and collaboration, resulting in an experience which leaves the participants with new approaches to collaborative ways of being and working. Jendreiko’s work is not about showing art or exploring the meaning of any particular art form, rather it is about togetherness. The exercises that will form Jendreiko’s events will be influenced by each space and group of participants as well as the local, globally informed cultures in Antwerp and Düsseldorf.
In collaboration with artists Metaphysics produce and curate art experienced in the medium of Virtual Reality. The content is published in different ways: as physical exhibitions in cooperation with art and tech institutions and online via platforms such as Steam, Viveport and Oculus.
Virtual Reality technologies are almost omnipresent, but what does this mean for art? Are those technologies capable of expanding our visions of art and design? Can Virtual Reality bring together the digital and physically-spatial experiences?
Together with other artists and invited guests of The Studio for Arousing Tools we want to discuss VR as a possible medium of art, about the challenges, opportunities and the current state of technology.
Philip Hausmeier (Artist and founder of Metaphysics VR) will give an introduction to the current status of VR and lead a two-day workshop exploring the potential of this technology: mainly to explore unknown territories of what we define as space.