The View From “No Man’s Land”, Firas Shehadeh

Posted in art, Artist Book, books, meme, politics on July 10th, 2021
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“Since 2013, Firas Shehadeh’s conceptual practice has been preoccupied with understanding the human condition through post-internet aesthetics, a tactic calculated towards a larger strategy of tackling the many themes mirrored by our new millennia. The internet and its cultures, video games, virtual communities, and various types of images are key mediums in his work, which helps the artist avoid material limitations and highlights the impact internet life is increasingly having on our offline lives.

Yet if one can trace a unity in Shehadeh’s work, one would find that it’s mainly concerned with images, not purely as form, but for what it absorbs from today’s political realities, conveyed by way of not-so-innocent silliness or abstraction. That is not to say that he deals with images as if they are inherently political. On the contrary, as a puppeteer controlling his marionettes with agility, Shehadeh takes such images and carefully reassembles them in front of us to subtly narrate their stories of origin and the meaning they evolved to carry. By relying on a combination of irony, tragedy, and delicate hopefulness, he ultimately highlights the bitter contradictions of today’s world.

One can easily detect some of Shehadeh’s political interests: history, technology, and aesthetics. He connects all these in today’s Online, the direct descendant from yesterday’s internet. Today’s algorithmically-driven Online is akin to predestination, loaded with ready-made scenarios where you’re trapped in a time loop like a sick joke. Original moves are calculated, preconfigured, and repeated every day; a Punxsutawney-hell from hell where one disaster leads to another. Still, they’re expected, welcomed, normalized, in a made-up history where irony’s reserve has drained to the very last drop.

In The View from “No-Man’s Land,” Shehadeh documents the year 2020 by using online culture’s main currency—memes—to tell stories of crashes, depressions, and violence caused by acceleration and the hyper technologies of control. His position as a Palestinian artist permits him to tell such stories with ease and cleverness. Yet unlike his subjects, he doesn’t convey a post-ironic attitude; his awareness is a tool to decipher post-irony, exposing its contradictions as if fighting fire with fire. That is highlighted best in the book’s cover; a kite strapped with a Molotov cocktail. The contra-drone of the oppressed. A direct, ironic answer to the oppressor’s hyper-tech arsenal.

This book and its artifacts function as a memory theater for an era that doesn’t want to leave, trying to outwit us by employing elements from the past. All the versos and rectos speak of the same story, reiterating after Carl “CJ” Johnson, its undeclared Angelus Novus, “Oh shit, here we go again.””

– Yazan S. Ashqar
Writer, Editor, and Translator, New York City

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@rt_rhyme, Darren Bader

Posted in art, Artist Book, books, curating, photography on July 9th, 2021
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Begun on Instagram in 2017 as part of Bader’s exhibition at Museo Madre in Naples, @rt_rhyme is a series of photographs that pair artworks (identified by artist (sur)name) with various rhyming objects or actions: spoons in front of a Koons, cobble held next to a Schnabel, Sherman matched with some German and a crawl below a Saul. Some rhymes are easy to decipher while others require a good unpacking. @rt_rhyme continued posting on Instagram through the end of 2018 but the project remained incomplete, in part due to an exhaustion of funds as well as some rhymes proving very difficult to photograph. This book collects the @rt_rhyme photographs, the list of unrealized rhymes (two of which have been digitally realized by the publisher for inclusion in the book) and an introduction by Bader.

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Zampa di Leone: Deep Europe, Zampa di Leone, Boris Buden

Posted in art, Artist Book, books, illustration, Motto Books, politics, zines on July 9th, 2021
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For the first time, this publication unites the English language work of Zampa di Leone with two sequences of comic strips and caricatures titled “Deep Europe” and “In the Arse of the Balkans”. Zampa di Leone wanted to offer a radical critique of the colonial tendencies embedded within the discourse of “Balkan” and “Eastern European” contemporary art as it had been articulated during the 1990s and 2000s in global cultural centres, first and foremost in Germany and Austria. The anonymous collective was mostly active in Serbia and Europe between 2001 and 2011, and produced a significant number of comic strips that were circulated at events and through internet forums or mailing lists.

This publication has been printed on the occasion of THE DREAMERS, 58th October Salon, Belgrade Biennale 2021, within the frame of the Reading Room bookshop. The comic strips are accompanied by Boris Buden’s text “The Madman Is Sleeping with the Lunatic”, which was first published in 2003 — a reminder of the historical context and the Balkanist discourse that served as a backdrop to Zampa di Leone’s activities.

Edition: 300

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The Last Acts of Saint Fuckyou, Bern Porter / Alice Dusapin (Ed.)

Posted in art, books, writing on July 8th, 2021
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The Last Acts of Saint Fuckyou by Bern Porter was first published in 1975.

This new edition presents an additional introduction, transcribed from a reading given by Bern Porter on May 19,1985, in Madison, Maine.

Bern Porter wrote this poem, The Last Acts of Saint Fuckyou, which were presented in alphabetical order, with the same number of acts for each letter.

Edition of 500, 2021

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GIGER SORAYAMA, Various Authors

Posted in art, books, illustration on June 28th, 2021
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This book accompanies a two-artist exhibition co-curated by Alessio Ascari and Shinji Nanzuka, bringing together for the very first time the work of Japanese artist Hajime Sorayama and Swiss artist HR Giger. Touring from PARCO Museum in Tokyo to PARCO Event Hall in Osaka between December 2020 and February 2021, the exhibition coincides with the 80th anniversary of Giger’s birth and features over 50 works ranging from the late 1960s to the present day.

The catalogue, designed by Swiss-based art direction firm Kasper-Florio with Samuel Bänziger, features a foreword by co-curator Alessio Ascari, a critical essay by Venus Lau, an interview with the late HR Giger by Hans Ulrich Obrist and Patrick Frey, and a recent interview with Sorayama by Ascari. It comes with a 50x70cm two-sided poster, and two 20cm die-cut stickers.

Born and trained at opposite ends of the world, Sorayama and Giger are apparently at odds—one’s bright colors are swallowed by the other’s dark chiaroscuro; one’s enthusiastic outlook on technology borders with the other’s nightmarish dystopia; one’s “super-realism” challenges the other’s surrealism—yet they share more than meets the eye. Both emerged in the 1970s and 1980s, becoming acknowledged masters of airbrush painting and influential creators beyond the boundaries of the traditional art world, blurring the relationship between commercial and personal work. But more importantly, at the very core of their practice lies a similar concern: an obsessive investigation of AI, eternal life, and the fusion of organic and apparatus. Gynoids (female androids) are predominant subjects, conjuring the post-human and the apotheosis of the woman to reveal an underlying tension between life, death, power and desire.

Hajime Sorayama (b. 1947 in Imabari, Ehime prefecture) has established his position as a legendary artist, both within Japan and internationally, for his extensive oeuvre that centers upon an ongoing pursuit for beauty in the human body and the machine. Best known for his precisely detailed, hand-painted portrayals of voluptuous women, obtained through an astoundingly artful use of a wide array of realistic expressional techniques, most prominently airbrush painting, the artist’s international recognition is inextricably tied to his signature series titled “Sexy Robot” (1978-) featuring erotic android figures clad in shiny chrome metal, and to AIBO, the award-winning robotic pet he designed for SONY in 1999.

Hans Ruedi Giger (1940–2014) was a Swiss surrealist painter, sculptor, and set designer known for his biomechanical creatures, extraterrestrial landscapes, and disturbing sexual machines. In a career that spanned more than five decades, he employed a staggering variety of media, including furniture, movie props, prints, paintings and sculptures, often creating exhibition displays and total environments with the immersive quality of a wunderkammer—including, most notably, the HR Giger Museum in Gruyères. In 1979, his concept design for Ridley Scott’s Alien (1979) won an Academy Award for Best Achievement in Visual Effects and catapulted to fame his daunting vision of death and futurism.

Designed by Kasper-Florio
With texts by Alessio Ascari, Venus Lau, Hans Ulrich Obrist

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FAGSHISM, Edgar

Posted in art, Artist Book, books, politics, writing, zines on June 27th, 2021
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2nd edition – 100 numbered copies

A Manifesto for a fictional political movement that through satire and pop culture references shines a light on the sterotypes and prejudices within the gay male community.

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Xanadu vol.3,5, Everest (Metal907)

Posted in Artist Book, books, illustration, zines on June 23rd, 2021
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Xanadu vol.3,5

2021

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Atlas of Anomalous AI, Ben Vickers, K Allado-McDowell (Eds.)

Posted in art, Artist Book, books, writing on June 19th, 2021
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Foreword by Bill Sherman

Like a snake eating its tail, artificial intelligence exists in a circular relationship with its human creators.

The Atlas of Anomalous AI is a compelling and surprising map of our complex relationship to intelligence, from ancient to emerging systems of knowledge. A wildly associative constellation of ideas, stories, artworks and historical materials, the Atlas draws on art historian Aby Warburg’s Mnemosyne Atlas — an image map of the “afterlife of antiquity” — to approach the defining concepts of AI from an imaginative, artistic and revitalising perspective.
The Atlas presents a hyperdimensional view of the world, through a broad range of perspectives that explore the question of what AI has been and what it is becoming. Key texts on modelling, prediction and automation are brought together with stories of science fiction, dreams and human knowledge, set among visionary and surreal images.

Contributions from writers, philosophers and curators including: Blaise Agüera y Arcas, Ramon Amaro, Noelani Arista, Jorge Luis Borges, Benjamin H. Bratton, Federico Campagna, Arthur C. Clarke, Rana Dasgupta, Eknath Easwaran, GPT-2, GPT-3, Yuk Hui, Nora N. Khan, Suzanne Kite, Jason Edward Lewis, Catherine Malabou, Hans Ulrich Obrist, Matteo Pasquinelli, Archer Pechawis, Noah Raford, Nisha Ramayya, Beth Singler and Hito Steyerl.

Artworks by: Anni Albers, Pablo Amaringo, Refik Anadol, William Blake, Ian Cheng, Ithell Colquhoun, DeepDream, Federico Díaz, Susan Hiller, Hildegard of Bingen, Pierre Huyghe, C. G. Jung, Hilma af Klint, Emma Kunz, Paul Laffoley, Lucy Siyao Liu, Branko Petrović and Nikola Bojić, Santiago Ramón y Cajal, Casey Reas, Jenna Sutela and Suzanne Treister.

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Dissent Without Modification, Grace Ndiritu

Posted in art, Artist Book, books, writing on June 16th, 2021
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Dissent Without Modification (Bergen Kunsthall), written by Grace Ndiritu, is a research book composed of interviews with radical and progressive artists and thinkers, who started their education and careers in the 1990s. Some are well-known, some are not. They are African, European, and American women working as painters, photographers, performers, hackers, activists and educators, among other roles such as Lisha Sterling, Monster Chetwynd and Kathrin Böhm.

What connects these brilliant women together, now in their late thirties, mid forties, early fifties and sixties; is that the decade of the 1990s had a culturally significant impact on their politics, career and personal life choices. The decade represented a creative coming of age for them all and their lives changed forever. The consequences of those changes are still reflected in their distinctive thoughts and practices today.

The long format interviews that comprise Dissent Without Modification are casual, meandering, philosophical conversations with a wide ranging appeal. Each person’s character is slowly revealed within a backdrop of humour, while touching on many serious universal and global subjects. Topics include pedagogy, race relations, neo-paganism, sexual violence, class warfare, interracial marriage, ecological feminism, contemporary slavery, activism, extreme tourism, African politics, terrorist practice in Western democratic states, and much more.

Dissent Without Modification illuminates the 1990s in a new way, and regards it as a pivotal point in the lineage of today’s grass-roots politics and cultural ferment. on show. The book recalls the Seattle Riots against the signing of the North American Free Trade Agreement; the recent televisual phenomenon Catfish recalling MTV’s Real World and the spread of the Occupy movement and the birth of Black Lives Matter through the recent Ferguson and Missouri uprisings. Dissent Without Modification offers first-hand perspectives on the 1990s as the decade “when shit went bad and which we never recovered from,” – to quote Hank Moody, the cantankerous main character of Californication, cult TV show.

At last in Dissent Without Modification Grace Ndiritu takes readers on a circular, revealing expedition into the recent past, sharing its impact with a new generation of readers.

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Inflamed Invisible – Collected Writings on Art and Sound, 1976–2018, David Toop

Posted in art, books, music, Theory, writing on June 15th, 2021
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A rich collection of essays tracing the relationship between art and sound.

In the 1970s David Toop became preoccupied with the possibility that music was no longer bounded by formalities of audience: the clapping, the booing, the short attention span, the demand for instant gratification. Considering sound and listening as foundational practices in themselves leads music into a thrilling new territory: stretched time, wilderness, video monitors, singing sculptures, weather, meditations, vibration and the interior resonance of objects, interspecies communications, instructional texts, silent actions, and performance art.

Toop sought to document the originality and unfamiliarity of this work from his perspective as a practitioner and writer. The challenge was to do so without being drawn back into the domain of music while still acknowledging the vitality and hybridity of twentieth-century musics as they moved toward art galleries, museums, and site-specificity. Toop focused on practitioners, whose stories are as compelling as the theoretical and abstract implications of their works.

Inflamed Invisible collects more than four decades of David Toop’s essays, reviews, interviews, and experimental texts, drawing us into the company of artists and their concerns, not forgetting the quieter, unsung voices. The volume is an offering, an exploration of strata of sound that are the crossing points of sensory, intellectual, and philosophical preoccupations, layers through which objects, thoughts and air itself come alive as the inflamed invisible.

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