Getting out a bit more
As its days of hermitage slowly wane, with artworld events coming back into play and Return to Work orders in place, Artreview thinks wistfully of that peaceful time during which it didn’t have to listen to the constant chitter-chatterings of oce life, or pretend to care about everyone’s weekend plans, or worry about whether it was making the correct facial expression, or make sure it didn’t drink the last of the coee without oering it to anyone else… Still, it supposes, there are those that like to make connections with other sentient beings. So in this issue, it looks to examples of networks, collaborations, cosmologies and kinship, for lessons in how to interact with the outside world.
Take, for instance, the gradual disappearance of London’s physical project spaces as a mode of exhibiting art, and the corresponding rise of dispersed, communal popup projects: as the capital’s commercial artworld feels increasingly homogenised, and its independent spaces are increasingly under pressure, does this model – albeit a diuse one – provide an ‘underground’ network that could help to preserve the city’s diversity? You’ll have to ask Chris Fite-wassilak, who suggests that the role of any city’s informal art projects is ‘to rattle the assumptions that there is just one way to “artworld”’.
Or in the work of New York-based Torkwase Dyson, who, for her exhibition in London, has created a series of new largescale geometric sculptures that act as a site of collaboration with dancers, poets, artists, curators, performers, music artists and academics (including Chicago-based and producer Ron Trent, and musicians Gaika and Ase Manual, who are contributing to a limited-edition dubplate that accompanies the show). The show, Liquid a Place, forms part of her
ongoing work of making connections between the Black diaspora, imagining a fluid common space for both sharing and resistance.
The photographic work of Deana Lawson, too, draws on the collective experiences of Black communities, be it in the United States, or Ghana, Ethiopia, the Democratic Republic of Congo, Jamaica and Haiti. Whether canoodling with one another, or poised nude at home, Lawson’s portraits of strangers present staged scenes of intimacy, gathered together in photobooks that create ‘an everexpanding mythological extended family’.
And speaking of mythologies, Makuxi artist Jaider Esbell (who runs a selfdescribed ‘laboratory’ in Boa Vista, Brazil, which shows work by artists from multiple indigenous ethnicities and runs art and theory workshops) makes works inspired by Makunaimî – both a god and an ancestor – as well as conversations and collaborations with shamans who represent dierent peoples, confronting the environmental and social abuse of Makuxi land in the Roraima region of Brazil. Esbell describes his work an essential ‘artivism’, at work with wider transcosmological forces, shaping his intricate, colourful paintings. That preoccupation of human relationships with nature, and how we might create a more symbiotic, rather than exploitative way of understanding the natural world around us, is also addressed in the work of Anicka Yi, who is about to present this year’s Tate Modern Hyundai Commission. Our presence here on Earth is pretty tenuous, as she asserts in her discussion with artist Gary Zhexi Zhang. ‘It just reinforces for me how robust animal life is, and how fragile and vulnerable humans are,’ she says. ‘And we’re all kind of entangled in that zoonotic spillover.’ Yi proposes that we ‘de-position’ our certainties to get a little bit of perspective, and perhaps then we can appreciate some of the dierent awarenesses, attentions and forms of togetherness that the projects inside put forward. See? These artists are already teaching Artreview how to behave, empathise, operate and be brave in this new world. Artreview
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