2021 opened its doors to a global population in conflict; divided but interconnected, and thus exposed and vulnerable, sharing a planet in the very same conditions. Coexistence seems to be among the most pressing issues in need for a radical re-thinking both on a planetary and molecular scale, yet its understanding is at the basis of great asperity. Operating through allusive references and lyrical registers, On Survival addresses the ambiguities and tensions behind contrasting modalities of human subsistence and in particular their tendency towards mutual care and solidarity, or self-preservation and societal withdrawal. The evocative qualities of materials, forms and imagery relating to the basics for survival, are brought to the fore in order to stage – and undo – ideas and stereotypes of both collectivity and heremitic isolation, exposing their inherent contradictions.
The show presents simultaneously convivial and hostile situations, which overlap, threatening any sense of safety on the one hand, and allowing a post-prosperity vitality to emerge on the other. In such a ruinous landscape, the modalities of human participation rest rather unresolved, and looking at survival becomes an excuse to ponder upon perceptions of community and immunity at a moment when the understanding of such ideas is increasingly shaping political strategies and collective conscience around future ecologies of endurance.
(b. 1975, Serbia) lives and works in Munich, DE
An intensive grappling with issues of pop culture and art history in the neo-expressive painting of Boban Andjelkovic is just as essential as his self-reflective, painterly experience. The artist combines figurative references and an abstract formal language and raises basic questions concerning the meaning of painting as a contemporary medium.
On occasion of On Survival, Andjelkovic presents a new series of watercolours and collages exploring a personal artistic obsession for the mythological creature of the mermaid. Maintaining the humorous and grotesque character of his paintings, Andjelkovic returns to his recent engagement with the significance and role of female artists in the art historical canon but shifts the represented subject to the non-human creature whose ambiguity is well noted, from Greek mythology to Walt-Disney pop culture. The fluid pictorial gestures put a threat to the figure itself, which at times appears dissolving in the pictorial space. The viewer is left with the alien eye of the other and the text SPLASH as witnesses of the moment between figuration and abstraction, beginning and end, existence and disappearance.
Boban Andjelkovic studied painting at the Academy of Fine Arts in Munich. His works have been frequently shown in exhibitions in Munich and nationwide. Solo exhibitions include: Zwei Sieben, Karlsruhe, Germany (2018), Artothek Munich, Germany (2017), Lothringer13/Halle Munich, Germany (2010). Group exhibitions among others: Rathausgalerie Munich, Germany (2020), Munich Re and Lenbachhaus Munich, Germany (2016). He received the Bavarian Art Promotion Award and the scholarship of the Cité Internationale des Arts, Paris, France.
(b. 1976, Karlsruhe, DE) lives and works in Berlin, DE
Helene Appel is a painter whose practice investigates the technical aspects and limits of painting. Her subjects are often details that range from nature to objects from the everyday surroundings, which Appel distinctively paints to the exact scale of their original, causing substantial shifts of scale within her works and to the viewers’ physical relation to each piece. The subjects of her paintings exist within the rawness of the linen canvas, leaving them slipping between abstraction, figuration, readymade and still life, to occupy their very own elusive space. Appel’s intention is in fact not to deceive the eye with paint, but for the paintings to evoke the presence of the object.
For On Survival life-size quasi-sections of tree trunks are seen next to a thick lump of dry soil that perforates or crumbles on the canvas. In the style of Lucio Fontana, Appel slashes the canvas or even destroys it through the act of cutting-out the shapes of the represented subjects. The canvas comes thus to life as an object in itself, rather than an image-on-canvas. On the one hand the pictorial space is expanded, on the other, in the case of Erde (2020), the shadow behind the holes matches the soil’s color scheme so that one must look twice to see if the hole is actually in the canvas or in the soil in the picture. In the context of the show, Appel’s treatment of the material surface challenges the survival of the canvas itself while also, with her choice of subjects, contributing to bringing to the fore imagery relating to the basics for endurance and its stereotypical settings.
Helene Appel studied Painting at the Hochschule für Bildende Künste Hamburg and the Royal College of Art in London. Most recently, her works were shown at the CCA Andratx, Mallorca (Spain), where she was an artist-in-residence in 2019. Her works are shown internationally and are represented in collections such as La Gaia Collection, Busca (Italy), Mönchehaus Museum Goslar (Germany), and the Olbricht Collection, Berlin (Germany). Currently she is teaching Painting at HBK Braunschweig (Germany)
(b. 1990, Los Angeles, USA)
lives and works in Frankfurt am Main, DE and Brussels, BE.
Jakob Brugge’s practice is grounded in a form of representational sculpture consisting primarily of the meticulous remanufacturing of seemingly mass-produced objects, heavily loaded with political and ideological significance. From Boy-Scouts uniforms to polo shirts, Brugge’s process of reconstruction, of forgery, is intended as a means of interrogating an object’s assumed value and meaning, whilst observing how symbolic demarcations – both political and civic – manifest within social groups.
Welcome to the Party (2020) is a recreation of a store bought piece of celebratory decoration known as bunting. This work is an attempt to empty out the symbolic meaning of an object — a nostalgic object that is most often a surrogate for community, whether that is indicated through the colors of a sports team, a high school, or a nation — and in doing so, creating the space for a potential redrawing of the lines along which that symbolic identification occurs. They are, in a sense, avatars of representation (both political and otherwise), empty celebrations for unwitting collaborators. They both imply an audience and also demarcate space, inherently authorizing and/or excluding access. But their demarcation is an ambiguous one. It is rooted in a nostalgic form that announces itself, but not what it stands for. It is welcoming, but does not specify who is welcome and perhaps, therefore, articulates a tacit rejection of all.
Solo exhibitions include: GAO, London, England (2019), fffriedrich, Frankfurt am Main, Germany (2018); Human Resources, Los Angeles (2016). Selected group exhibitions include: Bel Ami, Los Angeles, USA (2020), Pina, Vienna, Austria (2019), Städel Museum, Frankfurt, Germany (2019), Tor Art Space, Frankfurt, Germany (2018).
(b. 1974, Piacenza, IT) lives and works in Fabbiano, IT
Chiara Camoni works with drawing, sculpture, vegetal print and video in order to explore the expression of thought through form and the collective generation of meaning. Camoni’s works are often created with the assistance of friends, relatives and collaborators, all members of what can be called her extended studio or centri di sperimentazione. In her home in Tuscany, in the Hills of Versilia, the artist unceasingly investigates the act of creating, of “sculpting” as a gesture always steeped in a relational dimension—one of sharing and discovering the poetics of the ordinary and the complexity of the simple things.
Such is the case for Untitled (A Tent) (2019), where suggestions of shelter and togetherness emerge from a series of vegetal prints produced collectively with the use of the most frail and perhaps un-noticed elements of the available natural surroundings. Flowers, weeds, mushrooms, dry branches – among others – leave traces of what could be seen as the spirit of planet-earth, in urgent need for attention and care.
After graduating in Sculpture from Brera Academy of Fine Arts in Milan, she worked at the Institute of Natural Sciences in Naples for many years. Together with other artists, she founded the MAGra Contemporary Art Museum of Granara and the Vladivostok group. Camoni has exhibited widely in Italy and internationally with recent and upcoming solo exhibitions at: CAPC, Bordeaux, France (2021); MOSTYN, Llandudno, Wales (2019); Arcade, London, England (2018) and MIMA, Middlesbrough, England (2017). She is currently part of FUORI, Italy Quadriennale, Rome.
(b. 1986, Finland) lives and works in Frankfurt am Main, DE
Hanna-Maria Hammari’s sculptural practice offers material and formal investigations of discomfort, abjection and instability. The artist manipulates a diverse vocabulary of materials – ranging from wood, fake fur, latex, helium balloons to steel and ceramics – to construct resonant and allusive combinations of images, forms and narrative styles exploring the tension between dualities.
For On Survival, a series of ceramic sculptures displayed across the floor appear to be metallic hunting animal traps. The tension within the materiality employed and its resemblance alternates feelings of safety and threat, as well as contributing to presenting contradictory elements of the common aesthetics of survival based on self-sufficiency. The works are part of a larger series of shapes inspired from gestation and the sense of terror, in relation to pregnancy labor.
She studied as master-class student with Prof. Tobias Rehberger at Frankfurt Art Academy Städelschule from 2011 to 2017. In 2016 she spent a semester abroad at the Cooper Union in New York, US. Her work has been included in recent exhibitions at Frankfurter Kunstverein, Frankfurt, Germany (2019), Deborah Schamoni, Munich, Germany (2019), Staatliche Kunsthalle Baden-Baden, Germany (2019); Gillmeier Rech, Berlin, Germany (2018), Museum für Moderne Kunst, Frankfurt, Germany (2017).
(b. 1983, Poland) lives and works in Poznan, PL
Ostrich eggs, beeswax, body bags, foam, aerospace materials and clothes, among others, are the materials characterizing Piotr Lakomy’s sculptural practice, which engages with the human body and its relationship to objects, the built environment and architecture. Influenced by rationalist architecture and the biomorphism of Frederick Kiesler, the artist uses both industrial and organic materials that, together with the choice of form and the use of space, contribute to ideas of inhabiting.
For On Survival Lakomy presents two sculptures whose materials relate to ideas of habitat, but also to the tensions behind vulnerability and mortality as universal human conditions. From bamboo, notoriously used as construction material and very popular in DIY manuals for building one’s house, to cracked ostrich eggs, shell and protective layer for definition, and body bags, with their cold deadly presence, notions of shelter are both staged and undo. Following Le Corbusier modular scheme, the sculptures maintain proportions based on the human scale, but at the same time they point towards the absence of human life, leaving room for ambiguity. The warmth of fertilised eggs, next to the artificially fabricated collapsed shroud of a body bag or the skull-like appearance of aluminum honeycomb, create a feeling of suspension between life and death, as the titles of the works also state.
Recent solo exhibitions include: Simian, Copenhagen, Denmark (2020), Koenig 2, Vienna, Austria (2020); SKALA, Poznań, Poland (2020); Avant-Garde Institute, Warsaw, Poland, (2019); Centre for Contemporary Art FUTURA, Prague, Czech Republic (2019); The Sunday Painter, London, England (2019); Stereo, Warsaw, Poland (2017).
Selected group exhibitions include: Slash, San Francisco, USA (2020); Foundation Cartier, Paris, France (2019); Kim Contemporary Art Center, Riga, Latvia (2018); Half-Truth, Xawery Dunikowski Museum of Sculpture, Warsaw, Poland (2017); Views Art Prize, Deutsche Bank Foundation Award, Zachęta National Gallery of Art, Warsaw, Poland (2015); Museum of Modern Art Warsaw, Poland (2014);
(b. 1993, Ignalina, LT) lives and works in Vilnius, LT.
Anastasia Sosunova’s multidisciplinary practice consists of video, installation, writing and printmaking among others. Sosunova looks at objects with the curiosity to imagine or track their histories as well as the stories of the individuals and larger communities that once owned these artefacts. Often her research sits within understanding how certain conventions work – from religious belief to culinary or art making traditions – especially within East Europe and its Russian influences. She is interested in anthropology, history and politics and her work focuses on the ways in which communities and identities are formed, subsist and come undone. Often this is a practice of noticing and knowing intimately our contexts, and the ways in which we interact with them.
On occasion of On Survival, Anastasia Sosunova presents a site-specific installation revolving around an existing table of Britta Rettberg Gallery. Inspired by the writings of Sarah Ahmed, Sosunova approaches the object of the table as a place of conviviality and encounter, but also a theatre of debate and potential dissonance. In this work, the artist refers to the Eastern European myth of Samobranka and stages a magical tablecloth which according to the tale provides an abundance of food appearing out of thin air but might offer spoiled or oversalted meals in case of its mistreatment. Employing this symbol as a metaphor of invisible domestic labour, Sosunova sets the tablecloth with a series of Karavai pie sculptures which magically materialize on the table. Traditionally symbolizing an act of acceptance to the community, the Karavai pies here reveal a rather toxic metallic core with monstrous etchings. Similarly to Jakob Brugge’s buntings inhabiting the same room, the table implies a collective audience, but who is actually welcomed to join the buffet rests unclear.
Anastasia Sosunova holds a BA in Graphic Art and a MA in Sculpture from the Vilnius Academy of Arts. Recent exhibitions and screenings include: 2nd Riga International Biennial of Contemporary Art, Riga, Latvia (2020); Kogo, Tartu, Estonia (2019); online pavilion of the Wrong BiennaIe (2019); I: project space, Beijing, China (2019); Contemporary Art Center, Rupert and Editorial, Vilnius (Lithuania); The Sunroom, Richmond and other. Recent residencies: Rupert in Vilnius, Litthuania (2019), Achterhaus Ateliers, Hamburg, Germany (2019), Fynske Akademie in Odense, Denmark (2018)
(b. 1992, Trieste, IT) lives and works in Turin, IT.
Mainly working with oil painting, but also drawing and sculpture, Alan Stefanato has developed an atlas of magical and surreal landscapes where abstraction and figuration meet and dissolve. Stefanato’s cavernous hallucinations generate both grotesque and quirky characters; ephemeral shapes charged with inner world sensations and otherworldly visions of flux and metamorphosis.
The works presented as part of On Survival depict both one of Stafanato’s deadly but comical non- human characters and a dark landscape of slimy formations. In both cases the vitality of other-than- human forms of life seemingly emerge from hostile environments where the sunlight ceases to animate (human) existence and life finds other ways to manifest. Stefanato brings a subject of sublime character a bit closer, while giving it an animist appearance. But the works do not simply anthropomorphize such ideas, they rather suggest a disruption, even a comic laugh, on anthropocentric envisionings of survival.
Recent shows include: Phoenix piece Roma, Italy (2019); Dimora Artico, Milano, Italy2018); Deutschvilla Museum Strobl, Strobl, Austria (2018); 19 Premio Vittorio Viviani Villa Brivio Nova Milanese, Italy(2017); Bucharest international Biennal for contemporary art, Bucharest, Romania (2016). Recent residenciey at Cripta747, Torino Italy.
ANDREW NORMAN WILSON
(b. 1983, LA, USA) lives and works between the EU and US.
Andrew Norman Wilson’s multidisciplinary practice mainly explores the role that technology plays in amplifying the impact of “truthiness” over truth. As sound, images, objects, computation, and bodies interrelate, they offer possibilities for intermedial imprints that provoke surprising new effects and complicated meanings.
In the two-channel video installation Z = |Z/Z•Z-1 mod 2|-1, Wilson uses three different imaging technologies—a photographic lens, photorealistic ray tracing animations, and fractal ray-marching animations—to zoom through three constructed environments. The first section of Z = |Z/Z•Z-1 mod 2|-1: The Old Victrola employs a 75mm to 1500mm Canon telephoto lens developed for wildlife cinematography. This uncannily prolonged zoom moves from a cityscape view to details on a single balcony of Bertrand Goldberg’s Marina City, Chicago’s iconic lotus-shaped complex of “organic architecture”. The second section employs 8K photorealistic computer-generated materials commonly used in architectural renders, video games, and the motion picture industry. Finally, the third section was procedurally generated using a fractal software, also commonly used within architecture renders and video games, developed by the artist together with computer engineer Code Parade in order to render a series of infinite synthetic 3d landscapes constructed for something other than the human body. In Z = |Z/Z•Z-1 mod 2|-1: Lavender Town Syndrome, Wilson mobilizes the same telephoto zoom lens footage alongside an amphetamine-fueled stream of consciousness rant delivered by a narrator who used to live in Marina City with their two artistic collaborators and their twin boys. As the monologue unfolds using hyper-loquacious language, a dizzying succession of details and diversions is presented until ending with a speculation about Pokémon survival when stored inside the Poké Ball.
Z = |Z/Z•Z-1 mod 2|-1 presents itself as a layered and complex fiction, functioning here as a commentary on human constructed collective imagination, manifested within the conditions of living and mediated both through language and technology. These works form part of an ongoing project: a metafictional documentary about a group of artists who eventually drop out of the contemporary art world to pursue more socially productive design projects.
Recent exhibitions include: Ordet, Milano, Italy (2020), Kunstverein Braunschweig, Braunschweig, Germany (2019), Luma, Arles, France (2018, Whitney Museum, New York, USA(2017), Gwangju Biennial, Gwangju, Korea (2016)
Caterina Avataneo is an independent curator based between London and Turin.