Gathering presents ‘Violins/Violence,’ a group exhibition featuring works from Bruce Nauman, Cécile B. Evans, Ndayé Kouagou, Sung Tieu and Jesse Darling. The exhibition brings together artists for whom manufactured objects become performers, interrogating and reframing systems of control through drawing upon associations with the body, language, the inanimate and the technological.
Nauman’s Violins/Violence, the work around which the exhibition concept revolves, combines the depiction of an object with a linguistic game. A banal sonic correlation between the two words, one indicating evil, the other human enjoyment, teases the instability and efficacy of language.
Ndayé Kouagou pushes text and performance to explore themes of territory, fear, and confusion. Screens broadcast ambivalent bulletins such as, ‘LOOKING for an answer IS NORMAL BEHAVIOR, BUT DO YOU EVEN KNOW what the question is?’. Imbued with contradictions and ambiguities, Kouagou’s seemingly urgent statements end without conclusion.
The bureaucratic control of language, bodies, and ideas are central in the work of Sung Tieu. In contrast to the large, blunt words of Nauman and Kouagou, Tieu?s work asserts the importance of ?Das Kleingedruckte?, the small print, drawing attention to the minuscule aspects of visual identity and wording, which blur the line between evidence and fabricated fiction. Tieu’s works are comprised of meticulously researched referential elements, implicitly performing complex histories of political agency and subtleties of modern weaponry. Tieu builds installations that mirror this method of quiet, subconscious control, using the language of Minimalism to evoke institutionalised spaces.
The weight of meaning buckles the objects used by Jesse Darling. The Virgin Variations cabinets house disused fabrics and trinkets. They look exhausted and disposable; a graveyard of things no longer achieving their intended function. Darling writes ‘objects are bodily and complicated… I see the sculptures as mortal and vulnerable, just as we all are.’ Interested in the notion of limited accessibility, the concept of ?disability?, and freedom from representation, all stemming from inherently ableist systems, Darling investigates the societal expectations surrounding both the object and the body.
Cecilé B. Evans expands these themes of multiplicity of meanings into the digital realm. While the viewer stands within a set constructed by Evans, digital characters reckon with their own existential questions from beyond the screen. Their film, Notations for an Adaptation of Giselle (welcome to whatever forever), is a reimagining of the Industrial Era ballet Giselle as a futuristic feminist eco-thriller. Dismissing the idea of the ?virtual? and affirming the physicality of technological phenomena, Evans investigates the power and the potentiality to control technology. Their performers are comedically searching for their own boundaries and existential affirmation, reckoning with freedom of choice and
creation, and where the limit to those capabilities lie.
Together, these artists enforce a space of pressured reflection. Building controlled spaces to make and exhibit their work, they tease the onlooker with referential and linguistic multiplicity.
VIOLINS/VIOLENCE – May 1st, 2023, Bruce Nauman, Cécile B. Evans, Ndayé Kouagou, Sung Tieu, Jesse Darling, Gathering.