The first installment of Art In The Age Of… focuses on how forms of energy and raw material shape, or are narrated by, contemporary artistic practices. Since early times art objects have drifted with the motion and transformation of raw materials like wheat, minerals, and cotton. How does contemporary art relate to geothermal energy? To oil, gas, or alternative sources such as the sun? Could it even fly on rays of cosmic energy?
The installation Strobank by artist duo MAP Office examines wheat, its distribution and symbolic capital, alongside a history of the stock market’s trading pit. Nina Canell meditates upon the loss of information and energy that occurs during processes of transference in her sculptural constellation of stumps and cross-sections of telecommunication and power cables, each becoming sentences cut-off mid-flow or instances of material forgetfulness. In Children of Unquiet, Mikhail Karikis interweaves sound recordings of geothermal activity and industry in Larderello, Italy, with a cinematic and cultural history of Dante’s Inferno, whose vision of hell was inspired by that very location. Anton Vidokle’s This is Cosmos turns its eyes to the stars and charts the Cosmism movement in Russia and its disavowal of death through cosmic energy, positing the medium of film itself as an irradiation treatment. Through image and archive, Céline Condorelli addresses the relationship between Egypt’s cotton industry and its nationalization after Nasser’s revolution. Zircon, a 4,400-million-year-old mineral is excavated, dematerialized and reanimated in Nicholas Mangan’s A World Undone, whilst material is mapped to stock market fluctuations in Talk About the Weather. In Marlie Mul’s sculptural series Puddles, messy dark matter glistens and seeps, contaminated by human interaction.
The exhibition includes Petrocultures, a section devoted to films, adverts and ephemera related to the development of the iconography of oil.
Alongside artist presentations, a dedicated research blog has been founded. This blog will track the development of Art in the Age of… exhibitions for 2015 and acts as a visual reader accompanying artists work: http://artintheageof15.tumblr.com.