Threads: A Fantasmagoria About Distance at Kaunas Biennial

8-Lothar Hempel

Artists: Saâdane Afif, Arnas Anskaitis, Hicham Berrada, Walead Beshty, Roberto Cabot, Attila Csorgo, Bronė Sofija Gideikaitė, Liam Gillick, Lothar Hempel, Carsten Höller, Katja Novitskova, Pakui Hardware (Černiauskaite Neringa & Ugnius Gelguda), Katie Paterson, Amalia Ulman, Julijonas Urbonas, Kelley Walker, Darius Žiūra

Exhibition title: Threads: A Fantasmagoria About Distance

Curated by: Nicolas Bourriaud

Venue: Central Post Office, Kaunas, Kaunas Biennial

Date: September 18 – December 31, 2015

Photography: Remis Ščerbauskas, images copyright and courtesy of the artists and Kaunas Biennial

“Telegraph and telephone destroy the cosmos. Mythical and symbolic thinking strive to form spiritual bonds between humanity and the surrounding world, shaping distance into the space required for devotion and reflection: the distance undone by the instantaneous electric connection.”  Aby Warburg

Fantasmagory, both as a technique and an ideology of the image, could be the forgotten historical model for today’s art practices: the way artists embroider stories in a mixture of fictions and social reality, inhabiting the interstices between the real, the illusion, the image and its interpretations, seems to connect to the ambitions of the 18th century’s ‘fantasmagorists’ — their will to include the viewer into total environments that recall our installations, the way they combined scientific ambitions, esoteric knowledge and spectacular practice.

Already at the end of the eighteenth century, Philidor and Robertson, the first ‘fantasmagores’, share some traits with contemporary artists: between enlightenment and entertainment, science and magic, painting and theatre, prestidigitation and political issues (Robespierre and Danton were among the revolutionary figures invocated by Robertson in his spectacles), they appear as prototypes for the contemporary artist…  Contemporary to the fantasmagories was the invention of telegraphy (from the Greek word tele, far and graphein, write), the long-distance transmission of written messages without physical transport of letters. A semaphore network was invented by Claude Chappe in France, which operated from 1792 through 1846; an electrical telegraph was independently developed in the United States in 1837 by Samuel Morse.

Threads’ ambitions are both to approach the form of fantasmagoria and to address the way today’s artists include the notion of distance in their works: in a globalized and digitalized world, how does art deal with transportation, real time communication? What is the current shape of the presence/absence dialectics? How do artists present absent realities? “Move bits, not atoms”, said the web activist Nicholas Negroponte in the 1990s.

As a metaphor, Threads also stresses the parallels between today’s art and the spectacle of fantasmagory, focusing on the similarities with this proto-movie theatre both in terms of techniques and intellectual issues, and leads the way to another possible history of art, where feature films and installations would share a common ancestor.

By doing so, it alludes to the spectral as an emerging mode of visualisation anchored in internet culture: furtive apparitions, gaseous, infra-thin or filigree-like images, pseudo-telepathy, ventriloquism or magnetic phenomena are part of a new culture of the visible aiming to reconcile science and poetry, technology and image analysis, but in a production context dominated by digital tools.

Based on this link between science, poetry and spiritualism, Threads is an exhibition about art as a system that connects itself to a different time and/or space.  The artwork as a telegraphic device, entering into contact with something happening somewhere else, in another realm, world, place or times…

1-Katja Novitskova

Katja Novitskova, Pattern Of Activation (On Mars), 2014

2-Kelley Walker

Kelley Walker, Nine Disasters (Florida City; Maui; Moran; San Fernando Valley; Anchorage; Kobe; Elba; Los Angeles; TWA Flight 800), 2002

3-Kelley Walker

Kelley Walker, Nine Disasters (Florida City; Maui; Moran; San Fernando Valley; Anchorage; Kobe; Elba; Los Angeles; TWA Flight 800), 2002

4-Kelley Walker

Kelley Walker, Nine Disasters (Florida City; Maui; Moran; San Fernando Valley; Anchorage; Kobe; Elba; Los Angeles; TWA Flight 800), 2002

5-Lothar Hempel

Lothar Hempel exposition in Kaunas Central Post-Office building, Kaunas Biennial, 2015

6-Lothar Hempel

Lothar Hempel, Acid and Iron, 2011

7-Lothar Hempel

Lothar Hempel, Slowdance, 2015

8-Lothar Hempel

Lothar Hempel, Baccha Paranoika, 2009

9-Katja Novitskova

Katja Novitskova, Pattern Of Activation (On Mars), 2014

10-Katja Novitskova

Katja Novitskova, Pattern Of Activation (On Mars), 2014

11-Katja Novitskova

Katja Novitskova, Pattern Of Activation (On Mars), 2014

12-Julijonas Urbonas

Julijonas Urbonas, Hesitating Door. Original version, 2009; special version for the 10th Kaunas Biennial, 2015

13-Roberto Cabot

Roberto Cabot, Ventilation No. II, 2008

14-Pakui-Hardware-Ugnius-Gelguda-Neringa-Cerniauskaite-Nicolas-Bourriaud

Pakui Hardware, Shapeshifter, Heartbreaker, 2015

15-Pakui-Hardware-Ugnius-Gelguda-Neringa-Cerniauskaite-Nicolas-Bourriaud

Pakui Hardware, Shapeshifter, Heartbreaker, 2015

16-Pakui-Hardware-Ugnius-Gelguda-Neringa-Cerniauskaite-Nicolas-Bourriaud

Pakui Hardware, Crave That Mineral, 2015

17-Pakui-Hardware-Ugnius-Gelguda-Neringa-Cerniauskaite-Nicolas-Bourriaud

Pakui Hardware, Crave That Mineral, 2015

18-Pakui-Hardware-Ugnius-Gelguda-Neringa-Cerniauskaite-Nicolas-Bourriaud

Pakui Hardware, Crave That Mineral, 2015

19-Pakui-Hardware-Ugnius-Gelguda-Neringa-Cerniauskaite-Nicolas-Bourriaud

Pakui Hardware, Crave That Mineral, 2015

20-Katie Paterson

Katie Paterson, Timepieces (Solar System), 2014

21-Katie Paterson

Katie Paterson, Candle (from Earth into a Black Hole), 2015

22-Katie Paterson

Katie Paterson, Candle (from Earth into a Black Hole), 2015

23-Arnas Anskaitis

Arnas Anskaitis, The Traveler, 2014-2015

24-Arnas Anskaitis

Arnas Anskaitis, The Traveler, 2014-2015

25-Arnas Anskaitis

Arnas Anskaitis, The Traveler, 2014-2015

26-Katja Novitskova

Katja Novitskova, Pattern of Activation (Rhinos), 2014

27-Walead Beshty

Walead Beshty, 16-Inch Copper (Fedex®  Kraft Box ©2005 Fedex 330504 10/05 Sscc), International Priority, Los Angeles-Bruxelles Trk#861718438308, August 31 – September 2, 2011, International Priority, Bruxelles-Paris Trk#876303869097, January23 – January24, 2013, International Priority, Paris-Bruxelles Trk#899244571053, May14 – May15, 2013, International Priority, Bruxelles-Kaunas Trk#806093127029, August 25 – August 28, 2015, 2011

28-Walead Beshty

Walead Beshty, Copper (Fedex® Kraft Box ©2005 Fedex 157872 Rev 10/05 Sscc), International Priority, Los Angeles-Geneva, Trk#860603386371, March 9, 2011–March 14, 2011, International Priority, Geneva–Kaunas Trk#803581825107, September 2 – 7, 2015, 2011.

29-Brone Sofija Gideikaite

Bronė Sofija Gideikaitė, The Trip, 2013-2015

30-Brone Sofija Gideikaite

Bronė Sofija Gideikaitė, The Trip, 2013-2015

31-Brone Sofija Gideikaite

Bronė Sofija Gideikaitė, The Trip, 2013-2015

32-Roberto Cabot

Roberto Cabot, Ventilation No. I, 2008

33-Lothar Hempel

Lothar Hempel, Mäusebunker Trailer, 2015

34-Liam Gillick

Liam Gillick, Inside Now, We Walked Into A Room With Coca–Cola Coloured Walls, 1998–2015

35-Liam Gillick

Liam Gillick, Inside Now, We Walked Into A Room With Coca–Cola Coloured Walls, 1998–2015

36-Katie Paterson

Katie Paterson, The Dying Star Letters, 2011

37-Katie Paterson

Katie Paterson, The Dying Star Letters, 2011

38-Darius Ziura

Darius Žiūra, The Monument for Utopia. 2015

39-Darius Ziura

Darius Žiūra, The Monument for Utopia. 2015

40-Darius Ziura

Darius Žiūra, The Monument for Utopia. 2015

41-Hicham Berrada

Hicham Berrada, Présage / An Omen, 2007-2015

42-Hicham Berrada

Hicham Berrada, Présage / An Omen, 2007-2015

43-Hicham Berrada

Hicham Berrada, Présage / An Omen, 2007-2015

44-Attila Csorgo

Attila Csörgő, Clock-Work, 2012-2015

45-Attila Csorgo

Attila Csörgő, Clock-Work, 2012-2015

46-Attila Csorgo

Attila Csörgő, Dice Tectonics, 2015

47-Attila Csorgo

Attila Csörgő, Dice Tectonics, 2015

48-Amalia Ulman

Amalia Ulman, Forever & Always, 2015

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