Ivana Basic, Encyclopedia Inc., Nicolas Lobo, Sean Raspet
Curated by Courtney Malick
3315 West Washington Blvd., Los Angeles
October 23 - December 12, 2015
In the Flesh Part I: Subliminal Substances features artists whose work utilizes inorganic ingestible elements found in food, medicines, cosmetics and technological devices. Some of these consumable and non-consumable products emit chemicals and radioactivity that our bodies absorb through the skin. Inorganic ingestibles include, but are not limited to, GMOs, pathogens, hormones, pesticides, steroids, preservatives, radiation and plastics. Such substances seep into our bodies more and more consistently, while the term “organic” is applied liberally and FDA regulations continue to decrease.
Through the work of Ivana Basic, Encyclopedia, Inc., Nicolas Lobo and Sean Raspet, In the Flesh explores the ways in which our bodies very slowly adapt, morph and mutate as a result of the increasing seamlessness between what we think of as purely organic or natural matter, such as skin and flesh, and inorganic, ingestible substances that are regularly consumed. Furthermore, In the Flesh imagines how such porosity will eventually, over time, alter human bodies and shift what is considered “natural.”
For Ivana Basic, these ideas take shape through her life-like, sci-fi sculptural incarnations that reference bodily, fleshy interiors as well as otherworldly surfaces and textures. Encyclopedia, Inc.’s work begins with research on yellowcake uranium and radioactivity. Their findings bring forth connections to foods such as Betty Crocker cake mix, the longevity of contaminated produce, and radioactive, glow-in-the-dark objects. Their installation evokes a sense of paranoia that perpetually bubbles just below the neatly packaged surfaces of consumer goods. Nicolas Lobo, whose work often involves biochemical processes, presents a new video that features an unusual material; soy sauce produced from fermented human hair. Lobo’s piece is inspired by a soy sauce rumored to have been made with hair collected from salons and hospitals in China. Sean Raspet experiments with molecular manipulation to create artificial flavors and scents that are dissolved in water. His designs have been used to produce new flavor profiles for Soylent, a food supplement that promotes a new kind of lifestyle which surpasses the inconvenience of ingesting real, organic food by rendering it nutritionally unnecessary.
These artists open up unconventional ways of thinking about food production and consumption. The four projects take diet, ingestion, lifestyle options and their accompanying marketing strategies as their starting points. Each artist, in their own way, pushes contemporary conditions to extremes, envisioning potential realities that we may one day face. In this sense their works not only address concerns for bodily and planetary health, they postulate that issues surrounding notions of organic and inorganic matter will affect the sustainability of the human race as we know it.
The exhibition is accompanied by a PDF catalog with essays by Courtney Malick and Encyclopedia Inc., installation images and additional, research-based contributions from Nicolas Lobo, Sean Raspet and Lucy Chinen.
Ivana Basic, Hannah Black, Megan Daalder, Cecile B. Evans, Martha Friedman
Curated by Courtney Malick
6315 NW 2nd Ave., Miami
February 6 - March 12, 2016
In the Flesh Part ll: Potential Adaptations builds upon the exhibition In the Flesh Part I: Subliminal Substances, which featured work by contemporary artists who explore the potentially harmful inorganic materials found in many things that we ingest—be they mass produced food products, dietary supplements, pharmaceuticals, hygiene and beauty products, or invisible matter from toxic waste and technological devices.
To further these investigations of what goes into the body, In the Flesh, Part ll presents artists whose work envisions the long term effects that the continuous ingestion those “subliminal substances” may have on the way that humans look and function. Their works draw attention to ways that the body, the concept of a body, container and vehicle—or lack of a physical vessel as it may someday be—adapts and shifts over time in the ways that it appears externally and functions internally. While the structure of human DNA itself almost never changes, its epigenome, which aids in gene expression, is easily affected by internal and external, organic and inorganic forces. With this in mind, it is clear that what we ingest, and the ways that we use our bodies in relation to our growing reliance on technological devices, will eventually cause the human epigenome to adapt and morph accordingly.
Undeniably, these transmutations may take place over very long periods of time, and are therefore somewhat imaginary in our current moment. However, experimentation with potential future outcomes continues to gain momentum as a present topic of inquiry. With this in mind, Part ll also responds to subcultural groups and schools of thought gaining traction today that actively seek to reinvent the human body with new, often mechanical or “super-human” abilities. In this way, Part ll incorporates groups such as biohackers, body-modders and transhumanists, into its multifarious and wide-ranging conversation of potentialities.
The artists included in In the Flesh, Part ll, each in unique and unusual ways, reimagine and foreshadow the future of the human body. Through their varied practices that span video, sculpture, installation and new media, they at once call reflect upon the evolutionary changes that have already altered the human body, and point to the plausible causes and effects that will continue to drive this constant shift in collective corporeality.
Through her sculptural work, New York-based Ivana Basic creates forms whose surfaces resemble human skin, connoting raw slabs of meat and twisting into themselves into awkward, alien-like figures. Conversely, her two-dimensional work often begins with images of her own likeness, through which she continues to create complex virtual identities.
Berlin-based Hannah Black investigates ways that the individual body can be used as a foil to reconsider larger cultural issues, such as bodily health, vanity, branding, communism, language, the entropic nature of architecture, and their surprising intersections across various cultural contexts.
Los Angeles-based Megan Daalder works in performance, sculpture and filmmaking to parse a wide range of interests and conceptual focal points through which her projects often reveal ways that technological devices and new forms of communication have changed interpersonal relationships.
There is a palpably futuristic quality to the multi-faceted, often project-based work of Berlin-based Cécile B. Evans, through which she complicates notions of and formats for personal identity as they continue to be more and more mediated by the virtual context in which so many people spend the better portion of their lives.
In both the sculptural and performative work of New York-based Martha Friedman, we see specific parts of the human body magnified and exaggerated – their naturalness questioned through her use of bold, synthetic materials and her severe color palette.