Mark Leckey: Affect Bridge Age Regression

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Mark Leckey, Affect Bridge Age Regression, installation views, Cubitt Gallery, 2017. Image courtesy the artist and Cubitt Gallery, photo by Mark Blower.

Cubitt Gallery, London, 23 June – 30 July 2017

The ‘Hey Man’, as we called him, used to roam the train tracks that ran behind my house as a kid, regularly calling out a long, mournful “Heeey”. We never saw him, though we did come across a matted tangle of sheets under the adjacent bridge that must’ve been where he occasionally slept. Once, hearing his cry, I yelled a similar “hey”: he immediately returned with a shorter, almost cheery, “hey!” Maybe, I thought at the time, all he’d been yelling for was a response, for some sort of communion. Continue reading

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The Collectors

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Human Biology display, Natural History Museum, London, 2018.

So, over thirty years later, these things are still pretty close to the surface:

The translucent chest of the Transformer in the shape of a Tyrannosaurus Rex opens up, letting you fold the shiny head of the techno-beast into the cavity. But none of the other limbs or parts go anywhere; all it seems to transform into is a headless mecha T-Rex.

Adam, He-Man’s princely alter ego, is notoriously cowardly. But then why does the toy of Adam have such a broad chest? Such massive biceps? He-Man, conversely, is a slender, trim barbarian. When Adam calls on whatever power the castle Grayskull donates to him, does it exchange muscle mass for strength? Continue reading

Adventures of the Orange Square

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Once unwrapped, the surface is diffusely shiny, reflecting only a dull haze. Millions of this minimalist, monochrome sculpture exist across the globe: a thin, floppy bright-orange square, almost eight centimetres across, representing a race against the sun, a denial of time. It is made up of around 97 per cent dairy, or more accurately solid materials that were once dairy: whey protein concentrate, anhydrous milk fat and dried milk powder. The other three per cent is a cocktail of hydrocolloids, emulsifiers, preservatives, additives and dozens of other intermediary ingredients that don’t legally need to be listed, including a vitamin D supplement derived from Australian wool.[i] This consumable ready-made is the true icon of our era: the processed cheese slice. Continue reading

Aki Sasamoto: A Dream Language

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Aki Sasamoto, Judge Mentals 7.18.18, performance documentation at White Rainbow, London, 2018; Copyright Aki Sasamoto, courtesy of White Rainbow, London and Take Ninagawa, Tokyo, Photo by: Damian Griffiths

It is precisely because the unsaid always remains in the background of what is said, and the not understood always remains in the background of what is understood, that the yearning peculiar to linguisticality will always be unfulfilled.

– Donatella Di Cesare, Utopia of Understanding [i]

 

Consciousness is – or might be­ – a thing in formation. Or, at least, not a solid. The Greeks considered thought to be gaseous, something like a cloud. During the Enlightenment, it was a thin, heatless flame that shot along ventricles throughout our bodies. All the while, the Buddhist conception of consciousness was as an unceasing stream, a restless current, sometimes muddied and crowded, with its own tributaries and eddies. Continue reading

Tour of the Question

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Detroit airport is a long, skinny tube that takes around half an hour to cross end to end at a curious stroll. There’s no shortage of food for the hungry: newsagents with bags of flavoured pretzels, bumped-out coffee shops with stacks of sandwiches, and more than a few sports bar-cum-restaurants.

I pass by the steakhouse and the fast-food court with pizzas, hot dogs and fried chicken, eventually doubling back to one; it had a hockey theme, and the smallest thing I could order was a serving of nachos topped with the requisite orange-tinted cheddar on a plate about an arm long.

It was, as it turns out, exactly what I wanted. The first flight had been booked in an unthinking rush to try to get to St. Louis in time to see my grandmother. Up until a week earlier, she had been a non-stop chatterbox with a sly sweet tooth and taste for Irish whiskey, who would lead her care home on day trips out and try and spike the weak juice at ‘cocktail hour’ when no one was looking. The nachos were a comforting re-centring through the familiar tangle of gummied corn crisps bearing dollops of tinny salsa and unnaturally thick sour cream.

The last time I had visited, we had gone to my grandmother’s favourite restaurant where she went at least once a week. Crusoe’s is a ‘family restaurant’, that American invention and gastronomic catch-all, with pancakes to burgers to cheesecake, as if this is the standards of a continent rather than a specific interpretation of Dutch, German and Italian dishes percolated down through cities, suburbs and highways over a few short generations. The weighty beige of starch hovers in the air: trays of garlic bread, breaded mushrooms, and in St Louis, crumb-coated toasted ravioli. Food arrives crowding of those oversized trays equivalent to another table. I think I ordered a fish filet, my aunt some type of creamy pasta and Grandma a Reuben sandwich; all were liberally topped with white shreds of Provel cheese.

Continue reading

Amitai Romm: A Library of Sphincters

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Amitai Romm, Dorothea Von Stetten Art Award 2018, Installation view. Photograph by David Ertl, image courtesy the artist.

Have a breathe in.

Let the mingled molecules of nitrogen, oxygen, argon caress your nose hairs, slip under your epiglottis and tickle the cilia that line your trachea on the way in. Maybe follow one floating pair of atoms, as they drift further into the fluvial outreaches of your lungs, cross over the alveoli wall and hitch a ride on a red blood cell into your arteries. The other, unneeded molecules are ushered back the way they came.

Notions of ‘inside’ and ‘outside’ are easily theorised, obsessed as we are with the workings of our own heads. Though the thin skin that covers our muscles and tendons is, if flattened out, up to two square metres worth of pulsing fabric; the combined routes of the bronchi of our lungs can have a surface area of up to seventy-five square metres. Which is to say that: an area of us around the size of a tennis court is constantly exposed to the air and elements, incessantly absorbing and exchanging materials. Life is simply, on one level, a thinly delineated set of molecules, filtering and sorting what’s needed from its surroundings in order to cultivate the conditions for existence. Humans are merely another permeable sac, punctuated at either end by muscular sphincters admitting and ejecting atoms. Continue reading