Taking its title from the name of a fictional, post-iPhone device at the centre of Gary Schteyngart’s 2010 near-future novel Super Sad True Love Story, Äppärät is concerned with labor, play and the uncertain zone between the two; with the extension of the body, and the self, through technologies ancient and contemporary; with things (to borrow Martin Heidegger’s formulation) “present-at” and “ready-to” hand; with compulsion and with death.
Featuring 13 artists from across Europe, the Americas, and Asia, from major art historical figures to practitioners in the early phase of their careers, the exhibition begins with a wall painting by Jessie Flood-Paddock, based on an illustration of a worker operating a loom from Denis Diderot’s Encyclopédie (1751-72), one of the first attempts to record and systematize all human knowledge in published form.
From the Stone Age to the digital age, from the pre-human to the post-human, Äppärät suggests not only a neglected history of touch, and of tools, but also how this might help us arrive at what Roland Barthes termed, in his 1964 essay The Plates of the Encyclopedia, “a certain philosophy of the object.” Visitors will encounter implements made by chimpanzees (Damián Ortega) and steel grills stuffed with spent cigarette butts (Marlie Mul), Neolithic hand-axes sitting alongside smart phones (Shimabuku) and anthropomorphic hardware (Lee Lozano), vicious shackles and traps transformed into what appear to be ritual objects (Melvin Edwards) and a meditation on the indivisibility of the holder and the held (Charles Ray).
Roger Hiorns will exhibit his Untitled (2012), a domestic freezer in which visitors are invited to chill their hands, the better to contemplate a series of paintings made with bovine brain matter. Hiorns will also make a new work for Ballroom Marfa’s courtyard, while Sophie Jung will create a new body of sculpture and performance work.
In addition to these new works, Äppärät will feature Cécile B. Evans’ film installation Hyperlinks or it didn’t happen (2014), a meditation on the physicality of data and the digital afterlife, and also Ed Atkins’ Even Pricks (2013), a film in which the human – and simian – hand operates as an index of (digital) attention, the compulsive and destructive “economy of like.”
Featured artists: Ed Atkins, Trisha Donnelly, Melvin Edwards, Cécile B. Evans, Jessie Flood-Paddock, Roger Hiorns, Sophie Jung, Lee Lozano, Marlie Mul, Damián Ortega, Charles Ray, Shimabuku, Paul Thek