Karma Ltd. Extended is a collaborative curatorial program at Acud Galerie and aims at a political expansion of the discursive space. It puts the human imagination centerfold by focusing on artistic narratives about future possibilities of coexistance. A quest for artistic trajectories and visions that broaden our senses for unexpected fantasies. As curators we focus on the acting subject and together with the invited artists, we design a wide variety of counter-perspectives and alternatives.
Divided into seven exhibition chapters, Karma Ltd. Extended interrogates the possibility to create imaginative abundance with limited resources. The first chapter Karma Ltd. Extended delves into the work of 7 international artists who mould new imaginations and invite viewers to conceptualize future landscapes.
KARMA LTD. EXTENDED
CHAPTER #1: IMAGINATION
02.02. – 04.03.2018
Anouck De Clercq (Ghent/Berlin), Farkhondeh Shahroudi (Téheran/Berlin), Pedro J S Vieira de Oliveira (Brazil/Berlin), Isabel Lewis (New York/Berlin), Notfoundyet (Vienna), Viviana Druga (Transylvania/Berlin), Karma She (Israel/Berlin) and Liam Young (London/Australia)
Humans and their innovations are in constant evolution. The stories we imagine carve future developments. The futuristic visions in the science fiction films from the past did indeed manifest. Technologies merge with our genes and the arrival of more advanced and intelligent beings is expected. While many classic tales might be seen as superstitious or surreal to our present-day selves, these so called “tales” were as real as our current set of ideologies, may it be religion, miracles, cyborgs, aliens, nations, and beliefs such like “free democracies”. Storytelling and imagination remain a crucial drive for the future of our society. Stories that have been passed on time and time again have evolved into the mortar that bonds cultures. These stories build a collective body of belief systems, customs, stereotypes, values and codes. Changes in the social and political fabric inspire new narratives drawn in the collective mind. From the beginning of belief systems, from Hinduism to Plato, it has been suggested that the world is an imaginary world of illusion, and some argue that the modern human already lives in an imaginary world or simulation.
In an age, where political and social imagination runs dry, the presented works in the exhibition Karma Ltd. Extended, puts the human gift of imagination in its centerfold, looking at alternative narratives about being in the now and near future of possibility. This exhibition delves into the work of selected artists who through the media of film, sculpture, sound, text and performance, mould new imaginations and invite viewers minds to travel to unseen destinations.
KARMA LTD. EXTENDED
CHAPTER #2: TRANSCULTURAL TRANSIENCE
16.03. – 15.04.2018
We cannot act without supports, and yet we must struggle for the supports that allow us to act. (Judith Butler in: Notes Toward a Performative Theory of Assembly)
Transcultural Transience, the second chapter of the curatorial collaboration Karma Ltd. Extended, is approaching political aspects of history, while investigating notions of ephemerality, knowledge-production, and transmission. During five weekends, the gallery hosts a site-specific and process-oriented performance series, a lecture, and a screening program.
The newly commissioned durational works by Isaac Chong Wai and Rachel Monosov question how embodied collective memory can be reconsidered and dealt with through performance. By looking at large-scale gatherings, such as demonstrations and the Olympic Games, the artists are investigating the role of the individual within those assemblages. What is the function of the bystander, who unexpectedly becomes part of a public demonstration? And what can we make of human bodies, marked by weakness and perfection, which become symbols for a national or political struggle? These are examples of questions that arise, more frequently so within our societies becoming rapidly digital— as human activity becomes increasingly virtual, and the line between physical and virtual spaces our bodies inhabit become blurred.
This performance series took its beginning from politically charged images that surround and accompany the immediateness of our online personalities every day. These images are a trace of a political past, which continue reiterating themselves into the future. What if we try to slow down the speed of distribution of images on the world wide web? How can we understand, translate, capture, edit, and seek to archive these images that flicker on our screens? And yet they slip away in the invisible archives of the multinational corporations and we, once again turn into passive bystanders within a large-scale global process. Being connected to the Internet is simultaneously a transience and transcultural act, as one can momentarily extend political borders and spaces.hat if we try to leave those virtual ephemeral platforms and assemblies behind and start to perform again outside of the laptop screen?
Slavs and Tatars are aiming for a visualization of transcultural transience in the history of the human being. They refer to themselves as archaeologists of the everyday as they draw upon deeper layers of meaning exemplified by tradition, custom, performance, language, anthropology and politics. By breathing life back into vast, misunderstood and often forgotten regions, the artist collective aims to resuscitate Eurasia.
Abrie Fourie, a Berlin-based photographer and artist from South-Africa, shares his knowledge and perspective on documented performance works by South African artists and the diaspora. His curated film series MINE – The Film Will Always Be You offers a rare and in depth look on performance ephemerality captured on film, which seeks to explore the myriad ways in which we identify and position ourselves.
KARMA LTD. EXTENDED
CHAPTER #3: VARIATIONS ON TIME
27.04. – 27.05.2018
There is neither source nor end, for all things are in the Center of Time. As all the stars may be reflected in a round raindrop falling in the night: so too do all the stars reflect the raindrop. There is neither darkness nor death, for all things are, in the Light of the Moment, and their end and their beginning are one.
― Ursula K. Le Guin, The Left Hand of Darkness
In the third chapter Variations on Time, Karma Ltd. Extended presents the work of three female artists who deal with non-anthropocentric, organic tenses and question traditional time patterns. By providing access to forms of knowledge and understandings that are suppressed by dominant linear and anthropocentric time culture, they invite us to imagine different ways of interspecies co-existence and counter-narratives.
The dominant model of time in contemporary Western societies is known as a linear, goal-oriented time: a ‘mechanical’ time that can be measured, owned, used, bought and sold by humans.
Thinkers such as the geologist James Hutton, who put forward the theory on Deep Time in the 18th century, assumed that the age of the Earth has been determined to around 4.55 billion years. According to this geological timeline, humans have been around for an extremely short period.
By zooming out from micro to macro, it becomes clear that the timeframe of the Anthropocene is relatively short in time. This is visible through a number of examples such as the oral storytelling tradition of indigenous peoples in Australia. Through these stories, one is told that dramatic sea level rises across Australia date back more than 7,000 years. Several researchers claim that these indigenous stories from across the continent recorded events between 18,000 and 7000 years ago, when the sea rose 120m.
If one looks at the adaptation and survival skills of plants and other organisms, and look at time through their perspective, one can learn and foresee possibilities for future scenarios.
The way to handle an immense topic is often through close attention to a small aspect of it, revealing the whole through the part. In the works of Susanne M. Winterling that is exactly what happens. Zooming in on a remarkable species, like bioluminescent marine organisms, printed in 3D, installing them in a sensual way and in such, quasi hypnotizing and making the audience aware of those ‘other ‘ living organisms that are around since way beyond the human timescale and have incredible healing and survival skills we are not aware of.
Looking at time and science fiction, beyond the white, male and heteronormative dominance, is another aspect of Variations on Time. What would the world look like if the white man hadn’t colonized great parts of it; if black people had not been enslaved? Would racism still exist? The legendary American jazz musician Sun Ra, who passed away in 1993, formulated such an alternative reality. He created a mystical tale about his origin in which he claimed that he had arrived on Earth from Saturn. By reimagining reality he could create a narrative that set him free from the history of slavery and its dehumanizing consequences. The film Sun Ra Repatriation Project by the Canadian artist Kapwani Kiwanga follows her attempt to return Sun Ra’s remains to their original home: Saturn.
Working with sound, film, performance, and objects, Kapwani Kiwanga (born in Canada, based in Paris) relies on extensive research to transform raw information into investigations of historical narratives and their impact on political, social, and community formation. Her work focuses on sites specific to Africa and the African diaspora, examining how certain events expand and unfold into popular and folk narratives, and revealing how these stories take shape in objects and oral histories. Trained as an anthropologist, Kiwanga performs this role in her artistic practice, using historical information to construct narratives about groups of people. Kiwanga is not only invested in the past but also the future, creating speculative dossiers from future civilizations to reflect on the impact of historical events.
In the series Subduction Studies (2015-2017), Kiwanga observes the space between Earths continents, specifically Africa and Europe. The speculation of Pangaea Ultima suggests a supercontinent occurring again, which will see Europe slipping underneath Africa. This theory inspired Kiwanga to take photographs at the National Museum of Natural History in Paris of rock specimens from the Northern coast of Africa and Spain. By folding the photographs together, she not only demonstrates a new form but also a new geopolitical perspective, where two continents and their migrants would be geographically connected.
Susanne M. Winterling (born and living in Rehau and Berlin, Germany) works across a range of media to explore the sentient economy, digital cultures and the social life of materials in the environment. Winterling’s practice reflects upon political as well as aesthetic entanglements and power structures among human/animal/matter.
Forms and materials form a narrative on the relationship between species and elements in today’s challenging geopolitical context. Working across a variety of media and with a constant challenging and questioning of artistic media in society, Winterling is known for her time-based installations that critically engage the representation of reality. Prevailing modernistic concepts, power structures, and hierarchical historiographies are captured and investigated in her work in the form of spatial constellations. Her practice emphasizes what pure information and form leaves out —including a sensual approach to media and material as well as body flows. Winterling undertakes affective and material-based research that highlights the subjective interaction between producers, viewers, materials, and species in our ecology.
Susanne Winterling’s recent research has centered around microscopic and satellite image captured marine organisms called dinoflagellates. These protagonists are bioluminescent: when mechanically activated—by the movement of swimmers or boats—populations of dinoflagellates cause a blue glow in the water. Physicist-cum-philosopher Karen Barad cites dinos as one instance of queer nature: “They are neither plant nor animal, but can act as both.” Winterling calls the bioluminescent dinoflagellates and the ecosystems in which they are embedded an affective, haptic system. The teeny organisms react to touch in a way the artist compares to a living touchscreen. In this work, she deliberately blurs the lines between the human hand, technology, and plankton. The viewer is put at eye level with the suspended and enlarged organism, albeit one that doesn’t have eyes or a central nervous system. While being a perfect example of embodiment the sentient species are an alarm system for changes now heavily announced on the planet. They suggest an alternative way to imagine communication and community, while sentient species that awaken by melting ice have turned toxic and remind us of a future with transformations to come.
In her new video work Epiphyte (to learn from) (2018) Susanne M. Winterling recreated an epiphyte in CGI. This is a kind of organism that grows on the surface of a plant and derives its moisture and nutrients from the air, rain and water (when in marine environments)—or from debris that accumulates around it—many, for example, hang in electrical cables. This work engages with paying attention to, and learning from plants, microbes and mushrooms that have speculative future-solution features in comparison to humans: they create their own energy, or suck water from the sky. Paying attention to these skills and knowledge systems, networking and “being-with“ shows us a different path to the future transformation and adaptation processes happening in reaction to climate change. As part of a tba 21 academy fellowship and the desert lab, Winterling started exploring those living organisms. They are experts at the edge of the desert and allow life to exist in extreme situations for a long time. Her poetic and technological exploration of the epiphytes allows the viewer to imagine future scenarios of co-existence: reflection about cohabitation between species, but also eroding the difference between life and non-life.
The performance Cloud Chamber by Emilija Škarnulytė explores questions of the beginning of the universe in relation to the geological un-grounding processes, invisible structures, geo-traumas and deep time. It is a fictional visual meditation about contemporary science and across sections of the larger systems of power and the politics of desire. The relations between humans and nonhumans become transfigured and weaved equally into the new forms of life.