The Water Mirror
/ March 1 to 6, 2017 / 4 TIMES SQUARE / FLOOR 23, ROOM #2367 / [fbook event]

/ [Installation photos]

Curators: Elektra KB / Isaac Aden / Nicolas Ulloa

Water is a physical and symbolic mirror in which we reflect ourselves. Water is nature’s surveillance tool. It reveals in its surface whatever is close to its proximity. It reflects visually and psychologically our collective psyche. We see water as a body, that when in it's natural wild state, is the epitome of freedom. Concepts of mobility, migration and mutability enter here. But water when is trapped and bottled, is an imprisoned body. It is no longer possible to see our reflection on it, we become censored.

By water is also a way in which refugees and migrants travel and have traveled through centuries. It is the way in which the colonizers came to our continent and water is also the means so many people use today risking their own lives to find safe haven. People are waging uprisings against corporations that capitalize in contaminating water or privatizing it. Water is the ultimate mirror, which contains, collects and reverberates our time and political climate. The exhibition explores water’s relationship to our current hyper surveilled society from its political effects as a trope in the news to the way it is employed as a signifier.

Artists use the symbolism, interpretation or the literality of water as a mirror in video. The works address: imprisoned bodies of water, surveillance, water in relation to massively shared images in social media and GIFs. All artists are using digital images that are flexible temporalities as water is. In which the artist chooses to reveal their face, perform characters, reveal their voice only or hide completely.

Participating Artists:

Title: BODIES OF WATER: Body As A Prison / Prison As A Body
Artist: Elektra KB
Medium: QuickTime, Two-channel video. 10:06 Min.
Year: 2016

Elektra KB’s project “Bodies of water: Body as a Prison/Prison as a Body” is an immersive two-channel video installation with a pool of water in the middle of the space in which the viewer can reflect themselves. Bodies of water when contained in plastic, traveling in conveyor belts in factories of corporations, are reminiscent of prison. That is the symbolic relationship of prison and water. The work takes you through the journey of the artist trying to communicate with environmentalist transgender political prisoner Marius Mason.

It explores the theme of surveillance, also touching upon: gender migration, life inside the prison industrial complex and the communication barriers created by such infrastructures with the outside so-called “free” world. Prison as a body has its own different set of rules, codes, ecosystem, forms of communication and government. The work employs a personal mythology. The first channel of the video builds a juxtaposition of documentary and fantasy in which the artist performs as different characters including: insurgents, eco-warriors, a newscaster and a prisoner singing Christmas carols about being constantly watched in a background of a falling glacier while security cameras record. The second channel is dominated by a 3D animated ocean where the water jugs travel and Cathara warriors are submerged in.

Title: Forensics of an Image
Artist: Esteban Rivera [Berlin]

Berlin based Colombian born Esteban Rivera developed his project “Forensics of an Image” mentored by Ai Wei Wei. It is an ongoing project that focuses on the images produced around Aylan Kurdi’s death on 2nd September, 2015. Kurdi was a Kurdish boy who, drowned in the sea and was found in the coast of Bodrum, Turkey, while trying to flee to the Greek island of Kos with his family. His image brought international attention and politicalimplications to the actual refugee crisis. This project aims to explore the, “effectiveness” of this image on western media and to view it in relation with other images as an investigation strategy.

From technical data concerning its digital nature to legal procedures of distribution, “Forensics of an Image” seeks to dissect Aylan Kurdi’s image in order to understand it. The testimonies of officers, witnesses and photographers who saw the body on the beach for the very first time, as well as video footage and satellite images are used as evidence to decipher the image of Aylan Kurdi.

Titles: Geyser / Waterfall Orgasm / Chelsea Manning Fan Art 1 / Chelsea Manning Fan Art 2
Artist: Faith Holland

New York based Faith Holland’s work was made shortly after Chelsea Manning had been sentenced and she publicly announced that she wanted to transition to a woman.

The sentencing was devastating and then a public debate that ensued after her announcement—which news source would use what pronoun, what would happen to the Wikipedia article, etc. These GIFs are based on that research as well as heavily relying on the Adrian Lamo chat log, from which I quote heavily. Manning’s images are juxtaposed with constructed digital utopias of chaotic flowing water cascades.

Title: Black Fader / Stirrings Still (For Samuel Beckett)
Artist: Isaac Aden

Included in the exhibition are also two works by Isaac Aden, Black Fader and Stirrings Still (For Samuel Beckett). Black Fader offers the viewer an obstructed reflection by combining automotive paint with semi reflective aluminum and neon. Isaac Aden's work Stirrings Still consists of an inverted white neon text, which reads "still" mounted within an open box mounted to the ceiling. Below the box is a plexi glass vitrine. The legible word "still" is reflected in the pool from the inverted neon text above and is interrupted by continuous concentric circles caused by the drips of water from the box above.

Aden's work is based directly on the semiotic meaning drawn from Samuel Beckett's 1988 work Stirrings Still. The work can be seen as an analog projection of sorts, as it has a plane, which performs the same function as a monitor, and the imagery evident in it is in constant flux. The image transitions between static and distorted, perhaps reveals the most significant component of the work, that is an element of real time rather than recorded time.

Preliminary Material for 2022
Maximilian Schmoetzer [Berlin]

Maximilian Schmoetzer’s contribution focuses on the artist's video 'Preliminary Material for 2022'. The storyline follows the massively media documented Red Bull sponsored event of Felix Baumgartner, who jumped off the edge of the atmosphere --the earth’s layer of water vapor-- in 2012. The artist takes as on a journey in which we see the world through this character. The narration of the video juxtaposes Baumgartner breaking the sonic barrier with an asteroid-like entity that threatens mankind, as occurred millions of years ago to the dinosaurs. The setting is a protracted, distended pre-catastrophic scenario, in our actual technocapitalist world densely grounded on corporate power, mass surveillance, and its exploitation of cheap labor and technological creativity.

Interspersed in the video, an only partially visible CGI dinosaur comments with stoic calmness. It is a prehistoric victim of forces beyond control situated between pan-optical omnipotent phantasies and a symbol of natural history, that nowadays could be used as an allegory of obsolescence and ever new product cycles.

︎ ELEKTRA KB  | ︎ | ︎︎ @elektrakb