Exhibition by Galerie Manqué
Galerie Manqué is located in Brooklyn, in New York. The founder and curator aim to show art that deals with various aspects of life that other galleries seem to ignore or under-represent. The latest exhibition “Late Stage” features work by Bob Bicknell-Knight, George Metesky, Erin Mitchell, Pablo Stahl and Laura Yuile.
The physical and video art in "Late Stage" might initially be mistaken for various forms of upscale corporate advertising or public relations material, typical of major financial services firms or high-tech companies. The slick, high-gloss look and soothing-yet-authoritative tone of the narration and texts are familiar to us from our daily encounters with this type of material. However, a closer, more patient inspection produces a subtly disorienting effect as the content departs from our typical expectations and inhabits a zone in which nothing is being sold but much is being revealed.
Bob Bicknell-Knight’s HD video, State of Affairs, is a 24-minute tour-de-force compilation of footage from the YouTube channel News Direct, in which daily news stories, from self-driving buses to social media bots, are transformed into 3D-rendered animations. Non-linear in presentation, and blurring the line between utopian and dystopian, the re-appropriated video work illustrates current and future modes of the technological interface, from facial recognition software to drone surveillance. Akin to the unconscious rituals implemented while existing on the internet, opening tab after tab, clickbait after clickbait, State of Affairs mirrors the inconclusive narrative of our digital lives. The visual content is accompanied by a soothing, melodic soundtrack and augmented voiceover, the forewarning of the future of gamified spaces and digital death. Bicknell-Knight also presents a small, three-dimensional piece that incorporates an image from the video, aluminium tracking material and a 3D-printed figure.
George Metesky’s painting presents an aerial view of what appears to be the architectural plan for an anodyne network of buildings, connected by a complex of walkways and surrounded by greenery. A CAD rendering that would be used as part of an architectural firm’s proposal for a self-contained corporate campus comes to mind. However, the structures in Metesky’s painting are closely based on a penitentiary complex design that has been replicated numerous times throughout the Southern US. The cool, slick presentation plays against the complex’s intended purpose and suggests the influx of private interests into the correctional system and the commodifying of incarceration by for-profit prisons.
Erin Mitchell’s video performance, The Future of Virtual Nature, is a talk presented by the artist in conjunction with TEDxGeo, an anonymous, online-based network of future-looking artists, creatives, and innovators. Mitchell turns the tables on TED in her almost Swiftian talk on the commodified natural virtual environments she examines in her work. Co-opting the presumed authority of a TED speaker, she uses confident assertions and persuasive language to inspire viewers to leave behind the limitations of the natural environments around them for a more enticing future product experience that will be “as easy as updating your current operating system and as affordable as the latest iPhone X.” Mitchell makes intentionally bold claims and sweeping generalizations with conviction and gusto while providing little or no evidence to support her statements, demonstrating the fluidity of contemporary authority, the naïve saviour complex of Silicon Valley, and the hypocrisy of futurism as a thinly-veiled marketing ploy of techno-capitalism.
The videos and posters in Pablo Stahl’s Nous project feature images of well-dressed young professionals and prosperous older adults, on which are superimposed short texts that either exhort (Become your career! Win your dreams!) or promise support (We are here to see you win! We will never let you down!). Young businessmen grin broadly or frolic ecstatically on the beach; business handshakes are exchanged. The “we” (nous in French) that offer such enthusiastic encouragement and reassurance remain unidentified. Interestingly, this anonymity, despite the relentlessly positive tone, serves to produce an unsettling effect; the cheerleading begins to feel oppressive, ominous or insincere. Stahl has essentially transformed the commonplace financial firm advertisement or workplace motivational poster into a kind of subtly menacing poetry of corporate disingenuousness.
Laura Yuile’s video, Inject with Life, features a backdrop of activity within a mall, over which is semi-transparently superimposed footage of women performing yoga and other exercises to maintain flexibility. The calm, cheery voice of the narrator draws parallels between the easy adaptability of the mall’s commercial units and the human body (“creeping toward the elimination of all difference, better equipped to go with the flow and make excellent business decisions”). The transparency of the women’s skin and clothing, through which can be seen the mall activity, reinforces this conflation. The business-friendly metaphors and tone of inexorability in the narrator’s assertions, which become increasingly dark, ultimately produce a feeling of unease, like a piece of corporate public relations gone disquietingly awry.
The exhibition is organised by Galerie Manqué curator George Metesky.