Aziz + Cucher, Dustin Yellin, Elisabeth Kley, James Ostrer, Kianja Strobert, Recycle Group, Roxy Paine, Roxy Topia & Paddy Gould, Saad Qureshi, Will Corwin
Gazelli Art House presents I, Cyborg, curated by Will Corwin, a group exhibition featuring UK and US based artists who are cognisant of the position of the human in relation to its new place as an increasingly hybridised and unified entity and creating artwork about this transition. The days of the Vitruvian Man are numbered and he has been replaced by a growing physical collaboration with technology, architecture and the wider biological panorama.
The exhibition is not about new forms of art, but as these difficult and contradictory ideas about humanity sink in, older forms such as sculpture, ceramics and painting are as quick to embrace and consider the new world as performance, video and computer animation. Collaborative artist duo Roxy Topia and Paddy Gould fashion lively ceramics and fabric works which employ a playful aesthetic language of the grotesque utilising bodily functions and visceral or disquieting physical experiences. Dustin Yellin collects, manipulates and constructs three dimensional collage pieces suspended within a structure which both presents the clippings as sculptural objects and fragments of text and ideas, they assume a cohesion based on unexpected coincidences as well as the artist’s careful collecting and unconventional collation techniques. Aziz + Cucher’s new digital jacquard tapestry from their “Some People” series represents human emotion and gesture within a landscape that has been devastated by either misguided war or ongoing tribal and nationalistic conflict, alluding to the past, and referring to the future, and evoking the senselessness and futility of these ongoing struggles and the anxiety of the historical moment we all inhabit.
This exhibition includes works with a political angle as well: artists have always been the canaries in the mineshaft in terms of social and cultural changes. The new technological and environmental changes that are affecting our lives have inevitably seeped into the practices of the exhibiting artists drawing inspiration from their surroundings—both physical and metaphysical. Roxy Paine’s diagrams approximate and assess various processes—scientific, chemical, intellectual, and bemusedly offer an ‘unbiased’ opinion. James Ostrer’s new photographic series “The Ego System” draws inspiration from his surroundings by means of the media, portraying grotesque portraits of characters such as Donald Trump. Meanwhile, Recycle Group’s sculpture reflects on what our time will leave behind for future generations, what artefacts archaeologists will find after we are gone, and whether these artefacts will find their place in the cultural layer referencing technology and social media. Similarly fascinated by the transformative quality of memory and time, Saad Qureshi’s drawings and sculpture probe issues of contemporary cultural belonging.
I, Cyborg is an exhibition about aesthetics as well—the body has always been a fascination for artists, but how does one address a body that is linked to a greater consciousness and is itself transforming physically through the addition of non-organic components as well as the intrusion of alternative genetic material? Counterintuitively perhaps, both Elisabeth Kley and Will Corwin reach back into antiquity in order to represent the body as a hybridised entity: Kley’s cinerary urns and sigils look at the figure in reverse — anthropomorphising the object, while Corwin reassembles the body from found objects and architectural details. Kianja Strobert’s painting process makes direct reference to the body through the parameters of the gesture vis a vis the dimensions of her figure as well as the act of mark making using finger prints, scuffs and scratches.
I, Cyborg is the antidote to humanism—it neither rejects nor glorifies the idea of the figure or the singular human consciousness, instead envisioning a humanity embodied in multiplicity and the other.