Spread The Virus Vol 2
Martin Mayorga & Vanessa Murrell
In collaboration with Pita Arreola-Burns & Elliott Burns
Spread the Virus is a year long monthly curatorial project, co-organised with an invited guest curator, culminating in an online exhibition of 12 artists. As a result, the show evolves over 12 months, with one artist being announced each in response to the previous one, building over the course of the year into a group show which responds to unfolding events and reflects contemporary digital discourse. Like an uncontrollable pandemic, the exhibition integrates the functionality to shift, evolve, and re-direct its course, charting an unexpected course as it spreads itself chronically and through the internet rhizome. Consequently, in February 2020, it will culminate with an online show which intends to chart the year through aesthetic as well as social and political lenses.
Juan Covelli, Suzannah Pettigrew, Libbi Ponce, Léa Porré, Aaron Scheer.
11.02.2019 — 11.02.2020
World Wide Web
In the 15th century, European countries embarked on expeditions to foreign territories in the search of new resources and wealth. Including Christopher Columbus’s accidental arrival to America in 1492. These expeditions facilitated the establishment of Western Europe culture in other regions and the export of wealth, knowledge and cultural goods, including the flora and fauna, from these ‘new worlds’. The objects, living organisms and archives brought to these countries were used as the foundation to develop knowledge in Western Europe and were displayed to the public as a symbol of imperial power. Contained within new public spaces, botanical gardens, zoos and natural history museums, these items served a combined educational-recreational purpose. Since their inception, these venues have acted as a key factor to spread the notion of exoticism and otherness into the European subconscious. The cultural influence of these places remains relevant for science and society to the day. Since then, the use of new technologies have played a key role in facilitating the import of culture from new territories, including living organisms. And as new technologies develop, expeditions are back in vogue. We more increasingly see an arising interest from European countries and the U.S.A. in researching and exploring new space territories. Terra Incognita interrogates how these new worlds will be colonised in the 21st century.
Juan Covelli is a Columbian artist currently living and working in Bogatá. A graduate of MA Contemporary Photography; Practices and Philosophies at Central Saint Martins, London, his practice revolves around the technological potentials of 3D scanning, modelling and printing to readdress entrenched arguments of repatriation and colonial histories. Using video, modelling, data sets and coding he creates IRL and URL installation-based works which collapse historical practices with current models of display and digital aesthetics. Solo and duel shows include How to dust the surface, Warrington Museum & Art Gallery, Warrington (2018); and Nexcuitilamatl, Galería ADM, Mexico City (2017). As well as group shows Roca Lunar, Planetario Distiral, Bogota (2019); INSIDE INTEL, Centre for Investigative Journalism; and New Materialities in the Digital Age, Harlesden High Street Gallery, London; The image of things, Guttormsgaard Archive, Oslo; and Neo Norte, Fundación Cultural de Providencia, Santiago De Chile (2018). He has presented his work at Universidad el Bosque, Bogota and the UCL Multimedia Anthropology Lab, London and was an invited guest artist for the In-ruins residency programme. He is the curator the group show of Fake plastic forevers & détournement of digital colonialism, Internet Moon Gallery, online (2018).
‘You’re Searching for Something (I’m Searching for Something)’, although itself a digital work centred on the patterning of virtual echo chambers, arose from an analogue experiment. Enlisting actors Max Attard and Vicky Bakis to perform Meisner’s repetition exercise, which encourages the actor to “get out of their head” to effect intuitive responses to stimuli, Pettigrew supplanted intuition with influence by issuing the pair with self-written set texts to consciously shape parts of their encounter. The video’s script, borne from extracts of this conversation, is then performed by Pettigrew, who subverts the rules of role-play by reading both parts. Layering her non-diegetic, uninflected intonation over her on-screen, avatar-esque self, Pettigrew consciously constructs a recurring glitch. The video becomes exponentially repetitive and abstracted; Pettigrew’s dialogue with herself resembling a feedback loop, and her image infinitely duplicated and spliced through disorientating editing that jumps from split screens to close-ups of her glossed, narrating lips. Exploring the relationship between digital and physical spaces, Pettigrew’s work questions how our voyeuristic behaviour in the digital e-sphere affects our physical realities, dissects the dichotomy between algorithmic vs. intuitive responses, and considers where our evolution with technology might lead.
Suzannah Pettigrew is a multidisciplinary artist living and working in London, her practice explores the exchange between online and offline realities and how this influences collective and singular experiences in advancing post-human societies. Working across mediums including video, performance, text and installation she interrogates systems of imagery and language used to transmit and receive information in our contemporary media landscape. Recent exhibitions and performances include Honey, I’m Data with Keiken at Mira Festival, Barcelona, SPACE (Art + Technology), London and IMPAKT Festival, Utrecht; Care Stranding, Vorspiel Festival, Berlin; Intrapsychic Crisis, Guest Projects, London; Safety Glass, LUX, London (2018); Disturbed, Hacked, Reassembled, Lewisham Arthouse, London; and out_of_body, isthisit?, online (2017).
Long live the King! In the wake of President Macron’s mismanagement of the gilets jaunes, dismall poll rating and unpopular reform policies Léa Porré announces her campaign to reinstate Louis Bourbon, otherwise known as Louis XX, as a digitally elected representative of God on earth, to reign over the Kingdom of France. Return to an era of French exceptionalism, undisputed as leaders of etiquette, representation and spectacle. Take back control by reinstating what made France the sovereign authority on all things, from lavish gold palaces to the finely trimmed Jardins à la Française. Become a good Royalist by signing up to the online email enrolment, listen out over the wireless for incoming pro-Louis XX radio announcements and fund the revolution by buying exclusive collectable merchandise. Louis XX For 2020, the King is Back.
Léa Porré is a French artist currently studying MA CAP Critical Practice at the Royal College of Art in London. Porré’s practice employs varied means of digital and physical fabrication delving into French history to create speculative contemporary scenarios exploring ritual, power and image of nationhood. Her current project investigates the hyperreal, what would France look like if the Monarchy was reinstated? Recent exhibitions include Who knows what happened here?, Placement Produit, Paris (2019); Total Immersion, State of the Art Berlin, Berlin (2018); and Fake Plastic Forever, Internet Moon Gallery, online (2018). She was one of four artists involved Ghosted a web residency hosted by Schlosspost and Akademie Solitude (2018) and took part in two editions of Tate Exchange, Tate Modern, London (2017 & 2018). This year she will debut her first solo exhibition taking over the 17th C. Chateau de Lantheuil in Normandy.
Artist Aaron Scheer’s Digital Aquarelles are one of his eponymous series of digital artworks consisting of four digital paintings in which the digital paints are made of rectangles edited with touchpad swipes. The artist has created these digital watercolour paintings through LED-backlit glossy widescreen display (Apple), FHD (1,920 x 1,080) LED anti-reflective display (Samsung), and 2160 x 1440, 200 PPI, touch enabled display (Huawei) devices. This series of works refer to both the medium and the resulting artwork. The use of LEDs produces great light intensity and gives the surface the appropriate texture to maximize visuality when illuminated fully. The artist’s digital watercolours appear luminous because the digital rectangles are laid down in a pure form, further edited with Light and Color tools. Once complete, these digital watercolours may be read as an abstracted version of contemporary digital activities, referencing Wallpapers made for Lock Screens and Home Screens, as well as traditional art historical watercolours.
Aaron Scheer is a German artist whose work utilises the digital realm to combine elements of collage, photography and painterly technique to expand what painting can be and mean today. The artist’s process involves using free form digital gestures, keyboard commands and touchscreen swipes to develop his works, which once complete may be read as an abstracted version of contemporary digital activities. He has recently had solo exhibitions with FINAL_007 (02) Annka Kultys Gallery, London (2019); Aaron Scheer, Contemporary Collective Gallery for Artsey, Berlin (2018); and Inside the Artists Studio with Aaron Scheer, Off Site Project as part of The Wrong Biennale, online (2017). Duo and group exhibitions have included Painting Inside the Matrix: Code and its Others, Painting at the End of the World at DOK Artist Space, Edinburgh; Cacotopia 03, Annka Kultys Gallery, London (2018), Identity as Continuum, Gothenburg International Art & Design Festival, Gothenburg; and The Choice of a New Generation, isthisit? at Muse Gallery, London (2017), amongst others. This year his work was shown by Annka Kultys Gallery at Salon ACME in Mexico City. Aaron currently lives and works in Berlin.
Filmed in 360°, Fernanda tells the everyday story of families split across borders, seen from the perspective of Ponce’s 9 year old cousin Fernanda. Taking place in Ecuador, over the new year period, Fernanda takes us through city streets as fireworks explode overhead, announcing herself and optimistically greeting everyone in the Estados Unidos. Later she tours us through her home, asking busy relatives to say hi to the camera as they help to prepare the holiday cena. Overlapping this backdrop Ponce introduces fragments of footage, showing ceremonial burnings of Disney icons and the 3d scanning of cultural artefacts, speaking to the post-colonial influence the United States has on Latin America and the status technological prowess grants one nation over another. These deeply complex conversations run parallel to the unbridled joy Fernanda takes in exploring the platform her cousin’s camera gives her to speak to the world. *Please note that the video is best viewed on a headset or smartphone screen.
Libbi Ponce is an Ecuadorian-American artist whose work explores Latinx-Futurism and modes of decolonisation. Drawing from her status as a first-generation immigrant, her family heritage and experience growing up digitally native, Ponce creates immersive video installations, remixes daily video documentation, has developed an interstellar alter-ego and carves Pre-Columbian puppies. Solo exhibitions include Then We’re Out of Danger, Lector Social Club, Tampa; bili’s house, Off Site Project, online; (2018) and i want a nice german girl, Centre Gallery, Tampa (2017). She has exhibited in duo and group shows Nola Film Shorts Festival, The Front, New Orleans; Memetic Geometry, Gallery 501; You Have A Beautiful Home, Quaid Gallery, Tampa (2018); and The Mix Show, Lemin Space, Los Angeles (2017). Recently she took part in the Ox-Bow School of Art & Artists Residency, attended the Pennsylvania Academy of Fine Arts, Currents Undergraduate Summer Residency as a Dina Wind scholarship awardee, and co-founded the curatorial project Migrant Mothers. She currently works as an art instructor at the Tampa Museum of Art.