Artist: Josh Bitelli
Exhibition title: A Partition
Curated by: Rebecca Lewin
Venue: Cell Project Space, London, UK
Date: April 29 – June 12, 2016
Photography: all images copyright and courtesy of the artist and Cell Project Space
This project will take place at Cell Project Space in Bethnal Green and at The Old Operating Theatre in Southwark. A new video work by Josh Bitelli will occupy the exhibition space at Cell, with a series of events initiated by Rebecca Lewin will take place concurrently in the historic spaces of The Old Operating Theatre, with contributions from Sidsel Meineche Hansen, Nils Norman and others.
The title of this project, A Partition, is taken from Michel Serres’ seminal text The Parasite. In it, Serres proposes the parasite as a metaphor for human interaction. Rather than an insidious entity, Serres reappraises it as important due to its ability to profoundly affect the behaviours of the people and places surrounding it. Considered as such, the parasite is a key agent in social and economic relations and a crucial catalyst in their evolution. The notion of an individual becoming a partition – that is to say, something separate from these systems – is suggested by Serres as a form of protest.
The two locations of this project have been chosen as contrasting forms of institution, sites that respond to the relationship between the individual and the collective, or social, body. The possibility of the artist becoming a partition – a focal point that reveals and unpicks the transactional exchanges that surround their practice – will be explored both in the form of an exhibition and in events accompanying it.
Bitelli’s new video work All Doors and No Exits (2016) presents a combination of scripted and improvised actions performed by a group of healthcare professionals. As each set of verbal and physical actions is learned and performed, it also begins to disintegrate, drawing attention to the performance of learned knowledge prescribed and proscribed by systems of care. Revealing the mechanism of its own production, the film proposes a displacement of authorship that acknowledges the institution without demanding to be located within or without its structures.
In response to the idea of the parasite as a metaphor for human interaction, Hansen has invited Nils Norman to discuss two group-based projects: Norman’s Parasite (1997-8), which was a self-organised activity that piggybacked specific art institutional infrastructures in exchange for content provision; and the group-based piece CULTURAL CAPITAL COOPERATIVE OBJECT #1 (2016), which is part of Hansen’s show at Gasworks until 29 May.
Josh Bitelli recently presented a new performance for The Chisenhale Gallery’s 21st Century programme in February this year. Solo projects include ‘Limescale Tea’ at tank.tv, London; ‘To Gaze at Ten Suns Shining’ (with Sarah Abu Abdallah) at POOL, Hamburg (both 2015). Recent group shows include ‘CO-WORKERS – Network as Artist’, Musée d’Art moderne de la Ville de Paris; Pavillon de l’esprit nouveau, Swiss Institute, New York (both 2015); Place of Dead Roads, screening with Felix Melia at Centre D’Art Contemporain, Geneva; ‘89plus marathon’, Serpentine Galleries, London (2013).
Rebecca Lewin is exhibitions curator at Serpentine Galleries, London.