Curating Contemporary Art: The RCA Celebrates 20 Years

2013 marks the 20th anniversary of Curating Contemporary Art exhibitions at the RCA. This year’s graduating students present No one lives here, an exhibition by international artists exploring aspects of the digital age that permeate contemporary life, from the domestic to the political.

The over saturation and remediation of images, through social media, open source databanks and citizen journalism, has contextually altered the individual and social rules of engagement. Bringing together sculpture, installation, moving image and performance, No one lives here, will look at the contradictions and paradoxes of living in the digital age.

The title of the exhibition is derived from Indian theorist and philosopher Gayatri Spivak’s concept of ‘planetarity’ from her book Death of a Discipline (2005). Her assertion that “the globe is on our computers. No one lives there”, frames the exhibition thematic of a virtual environment that is uninhabitable yet populated. In White Mountain, a separate but connected display that prefaces the main exhibition, the Pionen White Mountain Data Centre is presented as an architectural case study. The Centre is a subterranean databank located near Stockholm, Sweden housing the Wiki-Leaks servers, Pionen epitomises the layers of access and secrecy synonymous with virtuality. The exhibition presents a range of archival material, architectural plans and images that consider the development of the Pionen Data Centre as a metaphor for the contemporary condition of digital cultural flow.

Among the works featured is the UK debut of Hito Steyerl’s film Strike (2010) that shows the artist’s calculated assault on a flat screen monitor. Direct from his solo exhibition at the Palais de Tokyo, Paris, Neil Beloufa will present a new sculptural installation described as an ‘ethnological sci-fi documentary’ that addresses identity, human relationships and lies somewhere between fiction and reality. Mosireen Collective is a non-profit media organisation born out of the explosion of citizen journalism and cultural activism during the Egyptian revolution. Based in downtown Cairo, the channel is the most watched non-profit television channel in Egypt. ‘Mosireen’ is a play on the Arabic words of ‘Egypt’ and ‘determination’. The collective provide training, equipment and technical facilities and organise free screenings, discussions and events.

Combining surreal video installations with live performance, Shana Moulton’s Restless Legs Saga (2012) reflects upon the permeation of digital culture into the domestic setting. Jill Magid’s Legoland (2000) shows footage from a surveillance camera strapped to her foot as she walks around New York City. Between Magid’s legs, the observer can view the cityscape from a different perspective, drawing attention to the positioning of the gendered body within an image-based society.

Aleksandra Domanović’s practice is concerned with the circulation and reception of images and information. For her contribution to No one lives here, she will exhibit new sculptural works Untitled (Mash up) (2013) and ongoing video work 19:30 (2010-). S Mark Gubb’s video loop Drowning Dog (2012) offers a moment of acute contemplation of the paradoxes of web imagery. It is a remediation of the appropriated news footage of a heroic event between two dogs on a Chilean highway.

London-based artist Jack Strange’s work ‘g’ (2008) playfully draws on the limitations of the physical and virtual realms; a lead ball is placed on the ‘g’ key of a laptop computer producing infinite characters on a screen and eventually crashing the laptop’s system. This work is in the MoMA collection. Raphael Hefti’s glass sculptural works from the series Subtraction as Addition (2012), recently shown at Camden Arts Centre, investigate contemporary experiences of viewing through an iridescent colour palette produced in dialogue with a digital aesthetic.

Curating Contemporary Art MA Graduate Show

Royal College of Art Galleries, Kensington Gore, London, SW7 2EU

Press View: 7 March, 11am-1pm

Private view: 7 March, 6-9pm

Open: 8–24 March 2013, 10am – 5.30pm daily, free admission

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