Article by Samuel Staples // July 18, 2018
In the exhibition ‘Augmented Sunrise Beneath The Skin,’ currently on view at the Wedding non-profit artist-run space Gr_und, themes of identity and belonging in an increasingly globalized world are confronted. Exploring the relationship of the body to the places in which we live and work, the exhibition features the work of 10 artists from international backgrounds producing work in Miami, Florida (USA) and Berlin (Germany). Viewing these works side by side, parallels between the two cities are easily drawn. Miami and Berlin are both cities of great migration and exile where newcomers attempt to construct new lives, as sweeping gentrification threatens to end affordable living.
For GeoVanna Gonzalez, the exhibition’s curator who has lived between Miami and Berlin, it’s hard not to compare the two cities, and therein lies the thinking behind the exhibition: the aim to create a bridge and dialogue between the two places, and more generally to examine how our bodies relate to the cities we call home amidst the spread of these globalized infrastructural spaces.
In her artistic practice, French artist Claude Eigan uses sculpture as her primary medium to explore themes of capitalism, work and labor, and politics through everyday objects and imagery. Year of the rooster (2018), presented in resin, plaster, spray paint and wood, visualizes data collected during the recent presidential elections in France. The sculptural work looms over us, hanging from the ceiling attached to neon orange straps. Here Eigan examines the effects of our increasingly politically divided time. Lean (n.02) (2018), on the other hand, is part of a series of grayscale sunflowers, the heads of which droop to the floor, too heavy to hold up, and the stems filled with the codeine-based cough syrup, “lean.” In this work Eigan takes on the pharmaceutical industry, examining how the overconsumption or recreational abuse of prescription drugs through their accessibility can act as a form of oppression in which their users—like the sunflowers—are no longer watching what is happening around them.
Elsewhere artists Elite Kedan, Domingo Castillo and Ittah Yoda explore the systems shaping our post-human experience, examining the increasing alienation resulting from our plugged-in, never turned off culture and our ability to imagine a future.
This speculation on the future possibilities of climate change, world building and ecology is further explored by German artist Manuel Roßner and Colombian artist Leo Castaneda. Through the construction of virtual environments and computer-generated worlds and games, Roßner and Castaneda provide a compelling analysis of contemporary semio-capitalism and the emerging inequalities looming within our future as we live in what theorist and activist Franco Berardi describes as “an age of impotence,” stuck part way between identity and capital. By breaking down the border between the real and unreal through virtual reality technology, a future that is in itself virtual is explored.
Roßner’s UltraLight Beam (2017), which shares its name with the 2016 Kanye West song, creates a virtual walkthrough of a post-industrial world infiltrated by candy-coloured hyperreal pipe systems extending from floor to ceiling, mirroring the aesthetics of children’s playgrounds. Here Roßner makes physical a new form of automation, imagining a world where technology replacing the work of people is not a bleak dystopia but rather a liberating power from our capitalist structures. Here Roßner considers a new model of post-capitalist economy without human labor.
In ‘Augmented Sunrise Beneath The Skin,’ all of the artists exhibited address an invisible shift in society—a shift in relation to the economy, labor force and technology. The exhibition asks us to look at and differentiate between the real and unreal in a world where it becomes harder everday to differentiate between the two realities. Through the lens of the cities of Berlin and Miami, the current invasive infrastructure that threatens our way of life is examined and subverted as is the resultant growing socio-economic inequality of a not-yet visible but very plausible future.