Thursday, August 26, 2010

Marcus Coates: "Adaption: Between Species" The Power Plant, Toronto, Canada

ADAPTATION: Between Species

Allora & Calzadilla, Francis Alÿs, Cory Arcangel, John Bock, Olaf Breuning, Marcus Coates, Robyn Cumming, Mark Dion, FASTWÜRMS, Michelle Williams Gamaker, Shaun Gladwell, Lucy Gunning, Nina Katchadourian, Louise Lawler, Hanna Liden, Hew Locke, Sandra Meigs, Rivane Neuenschwander and Cao Guimarães, Jeff Sonhouse, Javier Téllez

19 June - 12 September, 2010
Opening Reception: Friday 18 June, 8-11 PM

The Power Plant
231 Queens Quay West
Toronto, Ontario

Curated by Helena Reckitt, Senior Curator of Programs

Responding to the contemporary desire to go “back to nature,” The Power Plant’s summer group exhibition highlights interspecies encounters. What happens when humans, animals and the natural world meet? What forms of communication, miscommunication, intimacy, and exchange ensue?
As the industrialized world further encroaches on the natural world, species live in ever closer proximity. Yet many people feel profoundly cut off both from natural environments and from their own animal natures. Our deep longing to connect with non-human life forms is reflected in contemporary phenomena ranging from the boom in pet ownership and the widespread anthropomorphism in popular culture to the upsurge in vacations that promise to transport us to unspoiled lands.
However, despite this deep-seated sense of alienation from nature, the species are in fact closely related. For instance, as Donna Haraway notes in her book When Species Meet, 90 percent of human cells are filled with the genomes of bacteria, fungi, protists, and such, with only 10 percent comprising human genomes. ‘Adaptation: Between Species’ explores this commonality between the species and considers the various forms of intelligence and knowledge they share. It also asks what our interactions with other species reveal about our human as well as our animal natures. Highlighting the urge to observe, touch, live with, and mimic other species, the exhibition delves into the intimate and, at times, uncanny fusions that result. From another perspective, ’Adaptation’ looks at the facility that animals have in adapting to our domestic and urban environments, including the ability to “train” their masters.
Coinciding with the United Nations International Year of Biodiversity, the exhibition considers how adaptation functions as a form of biological and cultural survival. ‘Adaptation’ also builds on Roger Caillois’ 1935 essay “Mimicry and Legendary Psychasthenia”—which was central to Surrealist thought as well as to Jacques Lacan’s theories of the Mirror Stage—to think through the spatial, aesthetic and psychological nuances of camouflage and assimilation. However, ‘Adaptation’ also takes a realistic view of human/non-human dynamics: it acknowledges the unbalanced and exploitative power relations that too often characterize our society’s attitudes toward other life forms.
This focus on the interface between humans and other species builds on a rich body of critical work that is emerging in various disciplines, from policy and law, philosophy, anthropology, science, and cultural studies, to animal rights and environmental activism. Influential studies include Giorgio Agamben’s The Open: Man and Animal, Jacques Derrida’s The Animal That Therefore I Am, Gilles Deleuze’s The Body, the Meat and the Spirit: Becoming Animal, Richard Dawkins’ The Greatest Show on Earth: The Evidence for Evolution, and Donna Haraway’s impressive oeuvre on human/animal relations. Academic institutions are also addressing similar questions. In Ontario alone, a recent studio art class at the University of Guelph explored the phenomenon of “cultural followers”—animals that thrive within human environments—and in 2009 the Ontario College of Art & Design launched a module on Biomimicry & Design.
‘Adaptation: Between Species’ presents the work of leading international artists alongside that of newer figures whose work has gained international attention. Ranging in tone from reverent to decidedly iconoclastic, and created with media including photography, film/video, sculpture, and painting, works in the exhibition examine the lure of primeval states and primitive behaviours, and the urge to understand oneself as wild at heart.

The Jack Weinbaum Family Foundation


Marcus Coates
Journey to the Lower World
Dual Channel Video
30:00 mins Dimensions Variable
Courtesy of the Artist and Workplace Gallery, UK

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Jennifer Douglas: "Winner of Northern Futures Prize"

Workplace Gallery is delighted to congratulate Jennifer Douglas on winning the Northern Futures Award 2010 with her installation The Voice of Silence.

The Northern Futures 2010 Award was selected by a panel of international experts from the field of fine art. Northern Futures Exhibition is currently showing at The Civic , Barnsley until 3rd September.

Shortlisted Artists:
Kit Abramson (Lancaster)
Samantha Donnelly (Greater Manchester)
Jennifer Douglas (Gateshead)
Paul Merrick (Gateshead)
Daniel Staincliffe (Manchester)
Liz West (Sheffield)

Fine Art Judges
Helen Pheby, Curator at Yorkshire Sculpture Park, Wakefield
Karen Newman, Curator at FACT (Foundation for Art and Creative Technology, Liverpool
Claire Turner, Comme Ca Art, Manchester
Gavin Delahunty, Curator - Fine Art at MIMA Middlesbrough Institute of Modern Art
Sheila McGregor, Chief Executive, Axis (Leeds)
Ann Bukantas, Curator, Walker Art Gallery (National Museums Liverpool)
Julia Bell, Visual Arts Co-ordinator, Baltic (Gateshead)


Jennifer Douglas
The Voice of Silence, 2010
Light bulbs, Rubber flex, Paint Pots, Morse Code Sequencer, Steel, Paint
Dimensions Variable
Courtesy of the artist and Workplace Gallery

Friday, August 06, 2010

Marcus Coates & Matt Stokes: "From Ritual to Theatre" Ancient & Modern, London, UK

From Ritual to Theatre

Screened Fridays 6, 13 & 20 August
1.30PM and 5.30PM
201 Whitecross Street, London EC1Y 8QP

During the month of August, ANCIENT & MODERN presents From Ritual to Theatre curated by Ben Judd, a series of artists' films that explore the grey area between performance and ritual.

The artists in From Ritual to Theatre reuse the signs, codes and mannerisms of rituals, rites and ceremonies. Through their restaging, these events, both everyday and profound, are used as readymades, re-exploring their value and cultural status.

The work in From Ritual to Theatre explores the paradox of the parameters and freedom that self-imposed ritual provides. In relation to the cultural and historical baggage that these ritualistic acts suggest, the artists explore the role of the initiate, a position which has a strangely exempted status. For anthropologist Victor Turner, the initiate occupies an ambiguous territory where they remain "neither here nor there  ... betwixt and between the positions assigned by law, custom, convention". During the liminal or transitional phase of any ritual activity the characteristics and laws of the dominant social structure are momentarily collapsed, as "the ritual subjects pass through a period and area of ambiguity"  where "they are at once no longer classified and not yet classified".

The artists locate themselves at the fulcrum where one position begins to slip into another, the shimmering point where fixed positions begin to waver.

Running schedule commencing 1.30pm and 5.30pm:

Christine Sullivan and Rob Flint, Generator, 2006, 4:00 min, colour, sound
George Gurdjieff, Hidden Symmetry 2, date unknown, 4:31 min, black & white, sound
Jim Shaw, Initiation Ritual of the 360 Degrees, 2002, 10:54 min, colour, sound
Matt Stokes, Long After Tonight, 2005, 6:40 min, colour, sound
Marcus Coates, Out of Season, 2000, 7:16 min, colour, sound
Alex Sanders, Fire Spirit Ritual, c.1970, 3:27 min, colour, sound
Bruce Nauman, Walking in an Exaggerated Manner Around the Perimeter of a Square,1967-68, 5:00 min extract, black & white, silent
Magali Reus, Background, 2009, 7:25 min, colour, sound
Catherine Sullivan, Triangle of Need (Olympian and Doves), 2007, 7:00 min, colour, sound
Michael Curran, All My Little Ducks, 1995, 7:00 min, black & white, sound
Kenneth Anger, Invocation of My Demon Brother, 1969, 10:30 min, colour, sound
Maya Deren, Divine Horsemen: The Living Gods of Haiti, 1947-55, 8:00 min extract, black & white, sound
Sian Davies, Thebes, 2007, 7:52 min, colour, sound
Guy Sherwin, Man With Mirror, 1976/2006, 9:00 min, colour, sound
Breda Beban, Walk of Three Chairs, 2003, 10:00 min, colour, sound
Jim Shaw, The Whole: A Study in Oist Movement, 2009, 16:40 min, colour, sound

Text by Emma Cocker and Ben Judd
For more information and individual screening times please see

Matt Stokes
Long After Tonight (Still), 2005
Courtesy of the Artist and Workplace Gallery, UK