Something Other than What You Are
April 19 – June 3, 2018
Black Ball Projects is pleased to present an exhibition by Anthony Graves and Carla Herrera-Prats, aka Camel Collective, running from April 19th through June 3rd. This exhibition will be the New York premier of Something Other than What You Are, a video originally commissioned by REDCAT Gallery in Los Angeles in 2016. Also on view are two new sculptural works, Judith and Hammer & Sickle, as well as a series of small drawings that the duo employs as an index to their research process.
Camel’s history stretches back to 2005 when the group formed at the Whitney Independent Study Program in New York. Anthony Graves (US) and Carla Herrera-Prats (MX) have exhibited under the name Camel Collective since 2010. Their works in video and performance think through the contradictions of contemporary labor and value, and the myths of cultural production. Their projects bring together collaborators from a variety of professions.
At the center of the exhibition at Black Ball Projects is a 36-minute video that grapples with collaborative production, freelance labor and the constructed nature of reality. In this work color theory and the labor of theatrical lighting become a way of presenting a scale model of capitalist production and the distorted and contradictory values it seduces us into believing.
“You see, things themselves don’t possess color. We act as if they do. Knowledge of color is a knowledge of false consciousness. We live in a distorted world of things that act as if they possessed attributes like color. When we light a set, we tug on the thread of false appearances. We throw a wrench in all of that. But an audience will still cling to appearances and call this the artifice.”
So says one of three characters played by actor Corey Tazmania in Something Other than What You Are. Rather than taking things at face value, these works (and the artists themselves) are suspicious of appearances and identities. Something Other… subtly unpacks the production of identity and one-dimensional thinking, showing the problem of alienated labor, the technical production of affects, and the labor hierarchies of the gig economy. Even so, the fictional characters are absorbed in their own webs of mis-identifications: with work, with contradictory values and aspirations, of “getting there without wanting to want to get there.”
The sculptures Judith and Hammer & Sickle illuminate the black box of the gallery. The works are constructed from modified century stands used in rigging and lighting for film and video. Their surfaces have been sandblasted, effectively removing any marks or traces of their use in production. Judith is mute with recrimination; Hammer & Sickle is a nightlight. These works echo the “ghost lights” that are left to illuminate the stages of empty theaters during off-hours to allow the spirits of dead actors to play.
Tyler Coburn’s essay “So Much a Medium” will be available in the gallery.
video credits — Actor: Corey Tazmania; Director of photography: Meena Singh; Theater lighting: Tony Shayne; Producer: Chiara Giovando; Sound recording: Andrew Storrs; Grip: Russell Bell; 1st assistant camera: Nadia Baptista; Video editor: Rodrigo Cervantes Ornelas & Camel Collective; Music and sound mix: Nate Harrison.
Something Other than What You Are was commissioned in 2016 by Ruth Estevez, REDCAT Gallery, Los Angeles, with support from Fundación Jumex.