Parallel Screens (Weimar)
Period: 12 November 2019
Artists: Carla Chaim, Luis Urculo, Tina Wilke, Meredith Sward, Pablo-Martín Córdoba, Jessica Findley, Mercedes Lozano, Allison Beda, Randi Renate, Liss LaFleur, Justin McHugh, Chong Yan Chuah, Simon Isaac, Johanna Keimeyer, Mari Nagem, Nick Lesley, Flavia D’Urso, Lissa Corona, Capt. James, Zoya Sardashti, Alexander Isaenko, Allison Beaudry, Liss LaFleur, Jonas Brinker and Esben Holk
Location: NOVA Art Space, Weimar, Germany
Exhibition originally conceived for Porto Vista Hotel Curator Residency Programme.
Reflection, when it is a case of mirroring, is a move toward an external symmetry; while reflexiveness is a strategy to achieve a radical asymmetry, from within. Rosalind Krauss, 1976
Qualquer pessoa pode, a um tempo, ver o rosto e outra e sua reflexão no espelho. Sem sofisma, refuto-o. O experimento, por sinal ainda não realizado com rigor, careceria de valor científico, em vista das irredutíveis deformações, de ordem psicológica. Tente, aliás, fazê-lo, e terá notáveis surpresas. Além de que a simultaneidade torna-se impossível, no fluir de valores instantâneos. Ah, o tempo é o mágico de todas as traições… E os próprios olhos, de cada um de nós, padecem viciação de origem, defeitos com que cresceram e a que se afizeram, mais e mais. João Guimarães Rosa, 1962
The digital world, in a manner of speaking, is a world that the humans have coated over with their own retina. This humanly networked world produces a permanent self-mirroring. The closer the net is woven, the more thoroughly the world shields itself against the other, the outside. The digital retina turns the world into a screen-and-control monitor. Inside this autoerotic visual space, in this digital inwardness there can be no sense of wonder. The only thing human beings still like are themselves. Han, Byung-Chul, 2015
Parallel Screens is a group exhibition that presents moving images in a single duration scheme where the works are screened one after the other for the duration of the exhibition: 120 minutes. The screening occurs through a two video, one audio channel circuit whilst two parallel screens are positioned opposite each other.
The moving image is engrained in everyday life. Over the internet and with the ever-increasing speed in data transmission, we have infinite access to high definition content in a multitude of subjects. In 2017, Netflix’s CEO went so far as to claim that “sleep” was a competitor to the entertainment platform.
If the moving image is accessible, defused and varied, what impact do these developments have on human visual literacy? How has the understanding of the moving image influenced or found parallels in other visual media, say photography, television and cinema? How has it influenced the way we perceive and consume art and popular culture?
Within this current ecology of the moving image, Parallel Screens aims to create a situation that visitors are unfamiliar with: being posited between two screens, they need to develop their own forms of negotiating attention between the two sources. At the same time, they are challenged to decipher a singular narrative, as we have become accustomed to. The artworks, on the other hand, are – by facing one another – in perpetual dialogue in an almost self-sufficient scheme. The viewer takes on the role of a voyeur or an intruder into this autonomous game.
Parallel Screens is an athematic exhibition, and if anything recognises the importance of reflection and reflexiveness inevitably present in the relationship between artwork and viewer, artwork and screen, and screen and viewer. It, therefore, embraces the contingency and ever expanding intellectual possibilities of all involved parties.
As the artist Ed Atkins has put it:
I’ve often felt betrayed by the group show thematic, because my work inevitably becomes bound up with the show’s theme as a result. I mean this specifically in relation to tacit violences of intellectual or affective co-option. A work’s recruitment to the accord of a group show’s overarching theme results in its retardation.
This radical position is useful in this context in order to strip away an imposed aesthetic or any political agendafrom the medium and instead strengthen the freedom of the moving image to be whatever it wants to be and can be to the artists and the audience. Before we accelerate into the future, let’s pause and watch how the moving image manifests itself in artistic production and how this array of artists tackles the difficult task to mesmerise the frantic viewer.