It is an understatement that American artist Sam Lewitt likes to take things apart. Specifically, consumer electronic products that aren’t meant to be dismantled are done so on the one hand to satisfy our aesthetic and intellectual needs but more importantly, by dismantling and reconfiguring these components in the realm of art, they shed light on the inter-dependence of the sustainability of these systems and the sustainability of our lives.
In Fluid Employment (2012), Ferrofluid, which is a lubricant invented by NASA for use in outer space, is used along with magnets and fans to create spikey gelatinous forms with spikes fanning out on top that move around to the changing air currents. Gravity holds fluids together in a tidy volume that can be placed in a tank. The problem encountered in space with machines that need to be lubricated by oil, where there is no gravity, was overcome with ferrofluid which can be ‘held’ by magnetic waves.
Instead of staying out of sight, lubricating ball bearings in outer space, here the ferrofluid is laid out on a plastic sheet, held together by magnets and allowed to ‘express themselves’ which is the shape of the magnetic waves.
Greek architect artist Andreas Angelidakis creates imaginary buildings or environments that references the narcissistic contemporary condition, the ubiquitousness of the internet and globalization, juxtaposed with something from ‘history’, either modern history or antiquitous ruins, and projects a future conclusion based on these.
Hand House (2011) is an imaginary house in the hills over looking the Hollywood sign in Los Angeles that is a reflection of the state of the city; a place of broken dreams (for the ‘starry eyed’) and where those that do make it, end up running daily from polar opposites of hiding in a cave for maximum privacy and exposing oneself in an elevated glass box for maximum publicity.
The films of South African artist Candice Breitz deal with the personal existential and relational issues of modern day men and women, and seen collectively offers a glimpse into her own life. Using ‘isolated’ scenes of Hollywood movies, scenes that have the protagonist isolated and the background blacked out, she projects several of these simultaneously to create a ‘symphony’ and a conversation between these characters, creating a story in the process.
By using household-name Hollywood movie actors and actresses, Breitz is also exploring another premise, our tendency to project the lives of these characters, played by famous actors, into our own and the formation of identities in the process. That by imagining ourselves as those actors, we are living in a media induced hyperreality.
The sculptures of French Algerian artist Kader Attia depict an alternative view of the most mainstream iconographic scenes. Often using materials previously held unthinkable, these provide a commentary and critique on various societal notions, challenging the way certain things or groups of people are viewed.
His research has led him to consider how much of traditional Algerian culture has been re-interpreted and used by western ‘cultural leaders’, world famous artists and architects of the modern era, without much acknowledgement of it. In response, he has conceived of the concept of ‘reappropriation’, a ‘re-reinterpretation’ of the traditional forms of Algerian culture in a new way so as to highlight a issue as well as bring about a new Algerian identity.
Kenyan artist Paul Onditi’s richly layered multi-media paintings, somewhat reminiscent of Robert Rauschenberg’s collages, depict a solitary existence; a lonely struggle against the dizzying forces of change in the midst of a rapidly changing landscape that is presumably his hometown.
These forces are not native to Africa and thus his condition is a universal one. Spurred on by the similacra of our hyperreal society, these images depict the ephemerality of contemporary existence and ultimately are a commentary on illusion and reality. Here, Onditi displays the bewildering moments of disorientation when one realizes that fiction has overtaken reality, due to the seductive power of the similacrum, a shimmering beacon of light, allowing it to become more real than reality itself. This is after all, the core tenet of hyperreality.