How shall we dress for the occasion?
Jan 11th - March 22nd, 2020
Opening reception: Friday, January 10, 6-8 pm
601Artspace, 88 Eldridge St.
Curated by Ulya Soley, mentored by Mari Spirito as part of the Protocinema Emerging Curator Series
Featuring work by:
Deniz Tortum and Kathryn Hamilton
Saturday, January 11, 4:00 -5:00 pm
Conversation with Chulayarnnon Siriphol, Deniz Tortum, Kathryn Hamilton, Ulya Soley, and Mari Spirito
Friday, February 7, 6:30 - 8:00 pm
Lecture Performance by Pınar Yoldaş, introduced by Mari Spirito
Acceleration is accelerating. We are faster, stronger, better. We are digital. We are artificial. We are intelligent. We don’t have enough space but we have enough experience. We are connected, we are loud, we are confident. We have all the info we need. We have time. We manipulate time. We know the past, we know the future. We are the future, but somehow, we can’t even predict the weather. If the world has become wretched and damaged, if humanity is futile, “how shall we dress for the occasion?”1
This exhibition, featuring artists Chulayarnnon Siriphol, Deniz Tortum, Kathryn Hamilton and Pınar Yoldaş, considers our obsession with future scenarios and how we try to make sense of personal mortality, technological progress and environmental collapse, simultaneously. Are we experiencing the “end of the future”2 or the “end of history”3? How do we fight the accelerated passage of time? Why do we take measures to undo the effects of time? How does it feel to worry not only about our personal time but how much time the generations to come will have on earth? How do we think about the relationship between value and time, when there is an expiration date to humanity’s existence on earth? How shall we dress for the occasion? invites the audience to contemplate our multiple, contradictory experiences of time.
ARK (2020), a video installation by Deniz Tortum and Kathyrn Hamilton, is a visual essay that positions virtual reality as a potential stand-in for immortality. Exploring a series of nascent 3D archives, ARK catalogues both the precious and the mundane, making no assumptions about what will survive and what will disappear in the future. While extinction may be inevitable, 3D modelling and digital technology offer a way to freeze time and disrupt its linear path. Using the literal disembodiment inherent to VR to underscore the growing sense of isolation and loss in highly digitized lives, ARK asks the viewer what is at stake when we can no longer count on eternity.
Chulayarnnon Siriphol’s video installation, Golden Spiral (2018), opens with the following lines:
You are staring at space, at empty space.
This is the space that we are currently at.
A white space, timeless, borderless, endless.
Our space is moving through time.
Our space is moving at a constant velocity.
Our space is moving at a constant acceleration.
In this immersive work, the viewer is shuttled from space to forest, encountering dinosaurs, deep sea fish, and ancient fossils in one moment, and confronting the damage humans have inflicted on the earth in the next. In Golden Spiral, our relationship to time, the earth and extinction is explored again, this time with a humorous but sharp-edged critique of consumerism. Through sweeping visual contractions of timespace, the work addresses disappearance and change in the natural world on a grand scale. Then, the gaze narrows to the individual fight against time, as a commercial-style narrative about a miraculous anti-aging gel unfolds. Both the installation space and the video are inhabited by a series of painted golden shells, embodying the tension between the natural and the artificial. By engaging both planetary destruction on a millenial scale and personal obsessions with aging, this work challenges us to reconsider our complex relationship to time and nature.
Pınar Yoldaş’s Regnum Alba (2015) offers yet another entry point into global fears around mortality and extinction. Regnum Alba is Latin for “white kingdom”, and the work is a photo collage that reflects on the environment and established hierarchies in the natural world. The work includes over 50 animals with reduced pigmentation, a genetic mutation known as leucism. Several scientific papers draw a positive correlation between environmental pollution and leucism, especially in fish. This “kingdom of no color” underscores the destructive effects of humans on the environment and industrialization’s unfulfilled promises. In “Baby Animals”, Yoldaş looks into the origins of the idea of beauty in the biological world. Inspired by feminist philosopher Elizabeth Grosz’s work, which roots our notion of beauty in the animal world, the artist makes a digital collage of young animals, focusing on the dynamic and unpredictable nature of living systems.
As we experience a contrast between technology’s promise of a better future and “learning to die”4 in light of dystopian scenarios, discussions around both perspectives push us to think about time in novel ways. How shall we dress for the occasion? is a cross cultural dialogue that asks questions about both the passage and value of time, in order to explore the way we think about, foresee and define the future.
1. Douglas Coupland, Bit Rot (London: Windmill Books, 2016), 26.
2. James Bridle, New Dark Age: Technology and the End of the Future (London: Verso, 2018).
3. Paolo Virno, Déjà Vu and the End of History (London: Verso, 2015).
4. Roy Scranton, Learning to Die in the Anthropocene (San Francisco: City Lights Books, 2015).
Partial support for the commission of Deniz Tortum and Kathryn Hamilton’s project was provided by SAHA Association, Istanbul, Supporting Contemporary Art from Turkey.
Ulya Soley works at Pera Museum as a collection supervisor and contributes to the Museum’s exhibitions and publications as a curator and editor. She completed her MA in Culture, Criticism and Curation at Central Saint Martins, and her BA in Art History and Psychology at McGill University. Recently, she curated the digital exhibition “You Look Familiar” as part of the British Council’s Curatorial Residency Program. Her past curatorial projects include “Katherine Behar: Data’s Entry” and “Bring Your Own Beamer” at Pera Museum, “Waiting Room” at South London Gallery, and “Stereo-Reality” as part of Proto5533’s emerging curators program. Her writing appeared in printed and online publications such as Pine Magazine, UQ, The Believer Logger, Istanbul Art News, Art unlimited and K24. She is an AICA member, and co-founder of the publication project Stimuli.
Protocinema is a cross-cultural art organization that commissions and presents site-aware art around the world. Based in Istanbul and New York, they produce critical installations of the highest artistic quality and accessible to everyone. Founded in 2011 by Mari Spirito, Protocinema is a non-profit 501(c)3. Free of “brick and mortar,” sites vary to respond to both global concerns and changing conditions on the ground. In July 2015, they launched the Protocinema Emerging Curator Series (PECS), which provides professional training in the form of learning through doing, a professional mentorship program. PECS is an incubator for emerging curators to gain hands-on experience in exhibition making, from inception to completion, including fundraising and collaboration with partner institutions.
Deniz Tortum (Istanbul, 1989) works in film and new media. His work has screened internationally, including at the Venice Film Festival, SxSW, Sheffield, True/False and Dokufest. He has worked as a research assistant at the MIT Open Documentary Lab, where he focused on virtual reality. In 2017-2018, he was a fellow at Harvard Film Study Center, working on the film Phases of Matter, which will be released in 2020. He was recently featured in Filmmaker Magazine’s 25 New Faces of Independent Film.
Kathryn Hamilton is an artist based in New York and Istanbul. A 2019 Macdowell Fellow, she is the founder of Sister Sylvester, a performance group that make cross-species collaborations and cyborg theater. Her work often takes the form of essayistic performances, using first hand research and found documents. Her work has toured internationally, recent productions include: Brecht Forensics, (in development) which has been seen at Joe’s Pub, Caveat, The Cell, MAX Festival and University of Colorado; The Fall, a lecture-performance about film and revolution, has been performed at Yale University and at The Public Theater for Under the Radar Festival. Three Rooms, a live-skype performance exploring the relationship of technologies of mobility to the crisis of borders was a commission from The European Union ‘Between Two Shores’ program, and has been performed at at Shubbak Festival, Arcola Theater, London; Frascati Theater, Amsterdam; Bozar, Brussels, among others; Her video installation documenting the work of the Peace Academics in Turkey, still in development, has been shown at Amsterdam University and Humboldt University, Berlin. She also writes, most recently her work on Virtual Reality and Orientalism was republished for the New Inquiry Classics edition. She was a 2019 Yale University Poytner Fellow in Journalism and she has taught or mentored students at Columbia University, NYU, Princeton, Yale and Boğaziçi, Istanbul.
Pınar Yoldaş is an infradisciplinary designer/artist/researcher, an assistant professor in University of California San Diego. Her work develops within biological sciences and digital technologies through architectural installations, kinetic sculpture, sound, video and drawing with a focus on post-humanism, eco-nihilism, anthropocene and feminist technoscience. Her solo shows include The Warm, the Cool and the Cat at Roda Sten Konsthall (2016), Polyteknikum Museum Moscow (2015), An Ecosystem of Excess, Ernst Schering Project Space among many. Her group shows include ThingWorld, NAMOC National Art Museum of Beijing (2014); Transmediale Festival, Berlin (2014), ExoEvolution at ZKM (2015),14th Istanbul Biennial (2015) ,Taiwan National Museum of Fine Arts(2016).
Chulayarnnon Siriphol explores new possibilities to create moving images, and traverses between the world of filmmaking and artmaking. A keen observer of Thai society, Siriphol transforms uses the implications of his cultural observations as materials in his work, accentuated by his sense of humour. His artistic practice is based on an investigation of personal vs social memory, documentary and fiction, reality and supernatural, grand narrative and alternative stories.
Image: Chulayarnnon Siriphol, Golden Spiral, 2018. Video installation, sound, color, 18 min, Photo Credit: Miti Ruangkritya. Courtesy of the artist and Ghost Foundation