Inflected objects

Nina Beier’s work Greens (€100) consists of a 100-Euro bill bath towel and a palm stalk and leaf, held together by a glass plate. Contrary to the work’s title, the plants have – since Beier made the work in 2013 – changed from chlorophyllous green to brown. The elements of the plant are exhibited by being pressed against the glass; a gesture of preservation that reminds one of how precious plant specimens are preserved in herbarium books. By replacing the book sheets with a 100-Euro bill, the act of conservation is directly linked to value creation. More precisely, the sculpture alludes to the question of value’s transformation over time while speculating on its spatial coordinates, as the work is literally suspended a transitory state between image and object, or between representation and assemblage of consumer goods.

Juliette Bonneviot’s work series Xenoestrogens registers the movement and ubiquity of a specific material – the female estrogen hormone as it is utilized in various different contexts. The two sculptural objects that were commissioned for Otherwise, Unhinged all consist of materials that contain estrogen: lead, cadmium, aluminum, aspirin, oestradiol, soy, pesticide and silicon rubber. Seemingly inert, these material aggregations complicate any easy distinction between the dead and the living. They show that material flows, the moving matter that constitutes our objects as well as our bodies, are a shared concern of the organic and inorganic worlds and depend on one another in ways that often can neither be controlled nor predicted.

Nina Canell’s sculptures and installations materialize the intangible. The displayed works from the series Shedding Sheaths (2016) are found objects: discarded plastic casings that used to enclose subterranean fiber optic cables carrying the data traffic that facilitates digital communication. Once disposed of, these remnants are collected in recycling facilities where they are compressed before being further processes and re-used for other purposes. They can be seen as the fatigued, material residues of the information age; the hidden yet consistently circulating and transforming material infrastructure of our current digital era.

Hungry Bellies Have No Ears by Bea Fremderman is a sculptural triptych consisting of acrylic boxes that encase gold electronic scrap metal, a gold bar and a gold dental crown. The piece showcases different states of recycling of gold: from obsolete technology to raw material to functional object. It shows how the perception of value is tied to the vessel that carries it, as it ranges from ostensibly useless to seemingly functional. In Fremderman’s series Untitled (Clothes) sprouting chia seeds have taken over worn garments – socks, a pair of jeans, a hoodie – and are using these clothes as their breeding ground. Evoking experiences with the ways in which everyday goods and materials have different propensities for change over time, these artworks align themselves with the growth and decay of the sprouts and thereby conjure a sense of instability and finitude.

Mass-produced goods and their systems of production are a recurring interest in Rubén Grilo’s work. More specifically, his work centers on the distinct ways in which consumer goods materialize and how chance and error interfere with these standardized processes. For the exhibition Otherwise, Unhinged, he has devised Everfresh – a paint that never dries. Together with the German paint company Kremer he is launching this paint as an entire product line that can be bought through www.everfresh.online. As such, Grilo generates the material condition for artworks that never properly “settle” and never find a state of completion, thus playfully defying ideas about what constitutes a usable product.

Tamen Pérez’ paintings reflect on the current image culture that has long transgressed the medium she works in, as they bring together symbols, logos and images that she found online with painterly gestures, washes, texts and drawings. This results in a potpourri of elements that is strangely devoid of a specific timeframe, creating a kind of selective and anachronistic painterly afterimage of the visual overload we are confronted with daily. For the exhibition, she has worked with Everfresh, Rubén Grilo’s paint that never dries, which further complicates and augments the notion of extended temporality her paintings seem to invoke.

Jenna Sutela’s work has recently been pre-occupied with a particular slime mold, the physarum polycephalum: an ancient, decentralized, and autonomous organism that processes data without a nervous system. In her work Orbs, this slime mold slowly extends itself on organizational charts of decentralized systems such as Blockchain, Holacracy (a peer-to-peer organisatorial model), and a mandala drawn by the Japanese biologist Minakata Kumagusu that stands for a more spiritual yet equally hierarchy-challenging world view. Sutela’s work is an investigation into fluid and circular organisatorial infrastructures, showing us how today’s most advanced cultural and technological imaginaries (unwittingly) mimic the stubborn growth of one of the oldest and most primitive forms of life.

Samara Scott has referred to her art as “trembling, putrid glitter.” And indeed, her sculptural works, which are presented here as a relational arrangement in the gallery’s basement, consist of a wide range of contrasting materials ranging from fluid to perishable, organic to mass-produced. White wine and nail polish, toothpaste and fabric softener, baking trays and bath salts: all oscillate between beauty and decay, sparkling and rotting, visual celebration and discarded trash. Staging such a wild panoply of products, her work speaks of the simultaneous lure and repulsion generated by a consumer culture in which just about everything can be bought.

Marianne Vierø’s work Great Transformation dramatically stages the fact that material properties can outgrow a work of art. Her sculpture is a 3D print of Naum Gabo’s Construction in Space: Two Cones (1927), one of the first artworks making use of plastic – then an emerging new material. Her print is an exact copy of the work as she found it in the Philadelphia Museum of Art in 2013, which was a work in a state of collapse. Her meticulous re-creation pays homage to the temporality and decomposition of Gabo’s piece. In making use of the state of the art printing technique of today, Vierø’s piece links to the history of material progress that Gabo’s sculpture is somewhat ironically connected to. It monumentalizes the history of how this specific work of art was handled and provisionally fixed, rather than upholding the illusion of artworks as timeless entities.

Dan Walwin’s commissioned work No title connects the previous exhibition in the Inflected Objects series with the current exhibition. The video depicts three works in the collection of the Frans Hals Museum/De Hallen Haarlem (The Netherlands), which triggered the concept for the current show. In each of these works particular material properties acted up, affecting their value, aesthetic presence, and mode of display. We see a painting whose paint started to liquefy ten years after its inception. Then, a 19th century portrait of an unknown woman contains white patches that were at the time provisionally applied to fix the work, but have since become part of the painting. The third work shown in the video consists of a series of diafanoramas – boxes with inserted glass plates depicting landscapes and seascapes. These glass works have been infected by a contagious glass disease and now need to be kept in isolation from other works. In each case, the volatile material consistency of the artworks shapes their destiny, which is likewise in a state of flux.