AboutPerFormative sets out to interrogate the location and boundaries of theatricality in modern life, in a quest to explore the several paths taken to preserve authenticity and resist visual oversaturation and cross-citation.
Exhibited artists include Jake and Dinos Chapman, Mikey Georgeson, Nicola Ruben Montini, Gretta Sarfaty and Wolfgang Tillmans.
The exhibition brings together artists whose aesthetics re-establish the art of performance in a context where any possible gesture is devoid of innocence. Once used as a platform for political and existential statements, the human body as a way of expression has gradually been contaminated by the 20th century civilization of the image. The iconography introduced by the pop culture and advertising imagery altered the perception of the body now that any act of enunciation can only be read as an act of quoting.
In this age of re-enactments, art forms previously thought of as purely visual have slowly developed a certain penchant for offering themselves to the viewer in a manner that is best described as theatrical, as if borrowed from somewhere else.
Much lauded for their disturbing exploration of all things repulsive, Jake and Dinos Chapman expand on their recurrent motif of uncanny sexualities. Pornography, according to Baudrillard's classic Seduction, is a perfect example of hyperrealism, or of represented objects that have no flesh and blood equivalent. In Bring me the head of... pornography is blended with the grotesque to the point of transgressing itself and functioning on a completely different level. The viewer is overpowered by organically experienced existential anxiety, and the essentially performative medium of film ends up mocked and subverted.
Sarfaty presents a selection of photographs created in 1976. Now a classic, Transformations offers itself in a different light. A collective narrative on femininity, overtones of hysteria and self-identification made theatre all in one, this profoundly visceral series of silver gelatine prints comes across as startlingly modern, referencing surrealist portraiture as much as late 2000s fabricated Facebook identities.
Wolfgang Tillmans' series of nine prints further reflects on modern identities. Snapshot first asserted itself as bona fide art in the 1970s, most notably in the work of the Boston group of photographers, universally recognised for uncontrived representation of intimacy and raw emotion. Tillmans takes the snapshot one step beyond, and his practice is most accurately described as a cultural performance of the snapshot, making its aesthetic all the more complex. His subjects pose as if already prepared to be represented and marketed as art, and authenticity is replaced by its representation.
In a similar vein, Nicola Ruben Montini's video footage Registro per le Coppie di Fatto portrays couples (including same-sex and transgender) who have been denied the opportunity to have their relationship officialised and are invited to do so in the middle of a gallery space. Apart from simmering with socio-political comments, Montini's project can also be described as an eccentric metaphor of the age of social networking sites, when private matters meant to be shared with the chosen few are lost in to an edited, represented version of themselves to be revealed to as wide an audience as one can possibly come by.
Meanwhile, Mikey Georgeson has managed to make life and performance naturally inseparable. He 'finds the portal of his own imagination in performance and dressing up, which has spawned the Goth alter-ego he calls Mr Solo- a be-quiffed Robert Smith-type character in a catsuit and cape- that performs what Mikey calls Vanderville art pop that pays homage to pre-Ziggy Dawid Bowie and Marc Bolan'. Completely London, March 2010.
The works by Jake and Dinos Chapman and Wolfgang Tillmans have been made available by private collectors specifically for the occasion and shall not be for sale.