‘This is the way things are.’
‘This is the way things are...!’
[shrugs] ‘What? ... I don’t know - this is just the way things are...’
‘THIS IS THE WAY THINGS ARE!’
‘This. Is. The. Way. Things. Are’
What is the place of the alienated individual in the globalised world system, and why are alternatives to it so hard to imagine? How can we envision a better future when we are told that this is the way things are, and that this is the way things have to be?
THE WAY THINGS ARE is a solo exhibition of new work by Leeds based artist Karanjit Panesar, the selected artist of the hotel generation programme for 2018.
Comprising sculpture, film, CGI animation, and text, the exhibition is an attempt to affectively map a world system that is so vast and unrepresentable a totality as to factor into almost every aspect of life and relationships in some way. What does this mean for us - the perennial consumer - and our view of the world at large?
The show borrows from the language of advertising and political rhetoric in an effort to ridicule the pervasive nature of the neoliberal system; its apparent finality and preclusion of alternatives. Framed within an installation that is suggestive of some site of theatrical ruin, the exhibited works move between pessimism and guarded optimism, and between loosely suggested futures and fictive pasts. The exhibition considers the critical function of utopian thinking, and in doing so addresses a crisis of the social imaginary.
Panesar’s practice is informed by digital processes from the outset, often using 3D modelling software to visualise sculptural works and installations. Frequently, works are part made using computer controlled machines after a process of drawing and designing digitally; resulting physical works retain some element of the flat screen image, whilst existing in three dimensional space.
In this exhibition, ceramic works are made through this hybrid process - some elements made by the ‘artist’s hand’ and some outsourced to digitally controlled machines - raising questions of automation and artistic labour. CGI flags are used in film and print works; ersatz relics of past political demonstrations, or glimpses into a future reclaimed. Fragmented narratives unfold to give a picture of a dislocated historicity; parts of a whole that is impossible to see in its entirety.
Specialised chroma-key paint is used as a shorthand for the green screen process: one of opening, substitution, and imagination. Through this treatment, physical objects become trapped in a no-man’s land between sculpture, prop, and the screen. In a new film work, the acting process is foregrounded and used to re-subjectivise a phrase that is often delivered stoically, or with a sneer. The repetition and pulling apart of the phrase opens it as a potential space of affirmation or even joy.
Alongside the show, the gallery will be open for use by local groups who need space to meet, as well as a programme of free educational sessions and workshops.