Apparatus 22 at Closer Art Center

Artist: Apparatus 22

Exhibition title: Hope Sank Teeth Into The Night

Curated by: Sergey Kantsedal

Venue: Closer Art Center, Kiev, Ukraine

Date: January 23 – February 20, 2019

Photography: all images copyright and courtesy of the artist and Closer Art Center

The first solo show in Ukraine of the art collective Apparatus 22, “Hope Sank Teeth Into The Night”, is drawing on a odd viewpoint: understanding the day(time) as extension of the night(time); An afterthought of the afterdark.

The exhibition is shaped as a direct, yet surprising answer to the very unique setting of the Closer Art Center. Associated with Closer – an iconic club of contemporary Kiyv set within a post-industrial complex, the exhibition space was, until recently, used for raves: it features hermetically closed interiors repurposed from typical “club” architecture.

In troubled places – Kiyv included – clubbing proves to be a fierce escape from everyday routine.

It can very well turn into a political gesture too.

A survival strategy no doubt.

First time shown in such a peculiar context, several new works and site specific versions of recent installations by Apparatus 22 are bringing to the fore the topic of resistance in the face of a tedious status quo. The collective is very much interested in clubbing as a social and political phenomenon, underlining its counter cultural narrative. Despite its commodification by the cultural mainstream, clubbing still provides a space in which to share common feelings and emotions as one of the most powerful tools for empowering a community. The semi-darkness of the dance floor, though itself a minimal feature, is enough to make it a space for experimentation. This feeds another type of escapism, generating an alternative time-space dimension for cultivating different ideas, rejecting essentialist points of views, and embracing the subversive.

In “HOPE SANK TEETH INTO THE NIGHT” exhibition Apparatus 22 is interested in the fragile after-afterparty evoking precisely a liminal state: in between escapism and its dramatic collision with reality, between excitement and tumultuousness, anxiety and daydreaming.

How can we put the intensity, the feeling of unrest, the freedom of the (rave) nights at work to make some cracks in the ways our bleak reality functions?

How can we shift our own perspective and transcend the everyday? How can we imagine utopias that are able to (hopefully) effect change upon reality?

And last but not least, how can hope be used as a powerful tool of critique in a situation of relativism, distinctive of the dominant discourse?

Criticality has long been associated with negativity, destructive force and programmatically excluded self-criticism. Overused, criticality loses its grasp, at the risk of becoming an intellectual trend and cultural canon.

Through their practice, Apparatus 22 seeks to take a different stance on criticality, one embodied with optimism instead; and sometimes with humor too.

It is not by chance that they choose to navigate the cruel waters of reality under the flag of hope, a rather romantic gesture.

To this effect, the group has even coined the term “SUPRAINFINIT”, indicating a parallel universe somewhere beyond the infinite; this state of SUPRAINFINIT, which is similar to our own world only at a superficial glance, turns into a utopian container for empowering their most audacious ideas about identity politics and cultural definitions. These kinds of ideas, all of them “ephemeral and beyond normalization, in fruitful incongruity with our reality and embedded prospects,” run through very diverse works produced by Apparatus 22, including installations, performances, and texts.

Even if they incorporate a sense of lightness and conscious naivety, the collective is making some radical comments in “Hope Sank Teeth Into The Night” exhibition: from the terrific curtain that stands in the middle of reality as a membrane between seen and unseen, between our reality and SUPRAINFINIT (The howls are not what they seem) to an installation discussing a bigger-than-life monument dedicated to all the artists that worked in XXIst century (ALL), from exploring the emancipatory power of desires via their critical approach to painting coined as speculative still life (series M) to chanting the first in a series of hymns they dedicate to the SUPRAINFINIT universe (Hymn 1), from an installation homage to (failed) utopias (Ruins from a world that never was) to a series of works reflecting about moments in very different contexts when clubbing would embody an impromptu socio-political agenda in opposition to the oppressive dominant perspectives (ABOVE AND BEYOND series) etc. 

“Hope is a new oxygen,” not without pathos they say. It is difficult to disagree. An the works in this exhibition might prove one day to be more than a daydream.