Annie Abrahams (b. NL 1954 , lives and works FR) is an internationally regarded pioneer of networked performance art. If not you not me at HTTP Gallery in London is the first solo exhibition of her work in the UK. Where social networking sites make us think of communication as clean and transparent, Annie Abrahams creates an Internet of feeling ' of agitation, collusion, ardour and apprehension. This exhibition presents three new collaborative works alongside documentation of recent networked performances created and curated by the artist.
Working with simple interfaces, disruptions in data-flow and carefully crafted instructions, Abrahams sensitises participants and audiences to glitches in communication and invites them to experience and reflect on different ways of being together in a machine-mediated world. This exhibition asks how we deal with the tensions of collaboration and physical separation as we negotiate relationships through video imagery, computer software and digital networks.
Abrahams has created three new works for If not you not me, inviting collaboration from visitors to the HTTP Gallery and others around the world. Shared Still Life / Nature Morte Partagée, the central work in the exhibition, is a telematic still life for mixed media and LED message board. Visitors to HTTP Gallery are invited to communicate with those at Kawenga - territoires numériques a media arts space in Montpellier, France by arranging objects in the still life and sending messages to one another, with the results visible in a projection in both galleries. Two additional performances will take place during the opening on 12 February. On Collaboration Graffiti Wall, a collective text and speech performance, visitors will reiterate reflections on the nature and problems of online collaboration collected on a special website open to contributions. The resulting traces on the gallery wall will remain visible throughout the exhibition. Huis Clos / No Exit - Jam, a telematic performance projected at HTTP Gallery and in Kawenga - territoires numériques, will feature four women artists: Antye Greie (Hailuoto, FI), Pascale Gustin (Paris, FR), Helen Varley Jamieson (Wellington, NZ), and Maja Kalogera (Madrid, ES). Sitting before webcams in different locations around the world, they will try to organise a unified sound performance, despite the inevitable delays that result from the international live feed. Audio documentation of the performance will play in the exhibition.
In addition to the new works, the exhibition presents documentation of live Internet video-streams from two ground-breaking networked performance series curated by Abrahams, Breaking Solitude and Double Bind, as well as Oppera Internettikka- Sécurité et protection, her collaboration with Slovenian artist Igor Stromajer, and her artistic research project Huis Clos / No Exit. Concerned with questions of co-existence and collaboration they include performances by influential artists working in the field including Helen Varley Jamieson (NZ), Robin Nicolas (BE) and Renée Turner (NL). The exhibition also includes performances by Abrahams with other international collaborators. Individual agency, controlling behaviours, intimacy and improvisation are the subjects of three extended performances questioning the 'presence' of the digital network: One the Puppet of the Other co-created with Nicolas Frespech (FR), Double Blind (Love) co-created with Curt Cloninger (US), and The Big Kiss featuring Mark River (US).
Annie Abrahams was born to a farming family in a rural village in the Netherlands. She obtained a doctorate in biology in 1978 and found that her observations of monkeys inspired curiosity about human interactions. After leaving an academic post, she trained as an artist and moved to France, where she became interested in using computers to construct and document her painting installations. She began experimenting with networked performance and making art for the Internet in the mid 1990s. Her work has since returned to the questions raised by the monkeys, concentrating on the possibilities and limitations of communication on the Internet. She has performed and shown work extensively in France, including at the Pompidou Centre, Paris, and in many international galleries including among others Espai d'Art Contemporani de Castelló, Spain; the Museum of Contemporary Art, Tokyo; and the Armenian Center for Contemporary Experimental Art, Yerevan; festivals such as the Moscow Film Festival and the International Film Festival of Rotterdam, and on online platforms such as Rhizome.org and Turbulence.
If not you not me is co-produced by Furtherfield.org and HTTP Gallery, London, and bram.org and Kawenga - territoires numériques, Montpellier, France. Furtherfield.org supports experimental practices at the intersections of art, technology and social change. This exhibition was conceived in connection with Furtherfield.org's Rich Networking project interrogating the transparency of communication, artistic collaboration and sociability through digital networks. This is the fourth event in Furtherfield.org's three-year Media Art Ecologies programme which foregrounds practices sharing an ecological approach - an interest in the interrelation of technological and natural processes: beings and things, individuals and multitudes, matter and patterns.
Private view and performances: Friday, 12 February 2010, 6:30-9pm, HTTP Gallery
7pm: On Collaboration Graffiti Wall - Collective text and speech performance at HTTP Gallery. To contribute or view texts to be used during the performance visit http://bram.org/collaboration/index.php.
8pm: Shared Still Life / Nature Morte Partagée goes live - Telematic still life installation at HTTP Gallery and Kawenga - territoires numériques, Montpellier, France.
8:30pm: Huis Clos / No Exit - Jam - Telematic performance projected at HTTP Gallery, featuring Anteye Greie (Hailuoto, FI), Pascale Gustin (Paris, FR), Helen Varley Jamieson (Wellington, NZ), and Maja Kalogera (Madrid, ES).
Annie Abrahams - http://aabrahams.wordpress.com
Bram.org - http://bram.org
Kawenga - territoires numériques - http://www.kawenga.org
Furtherfield.org's Media Art Ecologies programme - http://www.furtherfield.org/mediaartecologies.php
Unit A2, Arena Design Centre,
71 Ashfield Rd, London N4 1NY
HTTP Gallery is Furtherfield.org's dedicated space for media art. Furtherfield.org and HTTP Gallery are supported by Arts Council England, London.
Lauren Wright, HTTP Gallery