Random House

Mourning mops and survival horror games inspire the latest show from Arcadia Missa and Harry Burke

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This week London-based gallery, Arcadia Missa launches Random House, an exhibition featuring the works of American artists Jasper Spicero, Bunny Rogers and Jill Magrid along with Londoner, Emma Talbot. Along with co-curator, Harry Burke they will explore the relationship between narrative and affect, described as a "renewed opportunity for poetic and material reconstruction." The exhibition will also feature a side project from publishing-house.me, an online platform for emerging writers and artists.

Here, Dazed talks to curators, Harry Burke and Rozsa Farkas, co-founder of Arcadia Missa along with Jasper Spicero about the show.

Dazed Digital: The show is all about narrative and affect - can you explain a little more about the theme and how you've interpreted it?

Jasper Spicero: For Random House I didn’t interpret a prescribed theme. It started by playing early survival horror games like "Silent Hill", "Clock Tower", "Parasite Eve", "Koudelka", "The Mirror Lied" and "Juggernaut". At the same time as playing these games I noticed that my favourite books are mostly published by Random House. From there I started researching the company, making connections between early survival horror games and Random House, searching for midi files and collecting images online. Eventually, my research led to a story, sketches for sculpture and a soundtrack. When Arcadia Missa approached me about an exhibition concerning ‘narrative and affect’ I was already working on Random House. Random House (the publisher) is based in London, Arcadia Missa looks like a safe house or a storm shelter, Harry and Rozsa told me about the other artists’ practices, and they liked my idea of taking Random House as the show’s title, and everything fell into place.

DD: Having worked on Random House as part of a group of emerging and established artists, what's the value of collaborative vs. individual projects?

Jasper Spicero: Bunny (Rogers) is special. I won’t collaborate with anyone and I’m mostly closed off from the larger community of "artists on the internet". The story I wrote for Random House includes a female character that is inspired by Bunny’s practice. Working with her makes the project more meaningful. In the past I have collaborated with people close to me to produce artworks, such as my two-year-old brother and my father. 

DD: What everyday things inspire you? How do you boil your inspiration down to final pieces?

Jasper Spicero: It could be Flowers for Algernon or untied shoelaces. I don’t know what I will end up paying attention to. It’s not about boiling but weaving simple things together. 

DD: How did the exhibition come about and Harry's involvement?

Rozsa Farkas: Harry has written for Arcadia Missa publications and been a part of the Arcadia Missa family for almost two years now. Harry and myself have specifically written collaborative texts like Postscript p.s Forever) or p.s I Love You so, of course curating an exhibition together was a natural progression. Our conversation, which turned into the concept for this show, was built on and out of a text we did, that included a reading of Jasper’s intriors ii work. 

The idea of biopower, and of affect and narrative being traced back to a constellation of objects in an art installation, was carried further with ideas on language being a part of this affective material reality (specifically, we were both very influenced by Karen Barad’s ideas on agential realism etc). This is why Jill’s work around the authority involved in systems of knowledge, and Emma's work – a diaristic image-producing use of words, and of course Bunny’s mix of being both poet and artist, are all so key to the group exhibition. 

We worked with William Kherbek on ideas surrounding what a "literary frame" would be in an exhibition – if something could hang in the ether, as a tangent to the show, without imposing on, or detracting from, it. Harry developed the idea developed around publishing-house.me, so he should talk about that, but I will say that it will be really exciting when the site goes live.

DD: Tell us a bit more about the involvement of publishing-house.me? What are they bringing to the show?

Harry Burke: publishing-house.me is not literally related to the gallery show. What it does is try and implement some of the ideas implicit in the sculptures and prints, albeit by publishing poetry and prose - as if running alongside the exhibition, or in a close possible world. The text selections are fragments from a network of artists and writers who are all sitting on the edges (at this point) of mainstream publishing, yet are still writing as proficiently as anyone you'll see anywhere else. In this sense it attempts to highlight a social aspect to this "weaving", as well as the cross-disciplinary nature of the forms it operates through - the intersection of the textual, visual and social. The publishing model it takes (a poetry collection, published online) isn't new or progressive, and doesn't aspire to fetishise such qualities. It's closer to open sourcing the publishing model, rather than attempting to challenge or "innovate" it. 

Random House opens 20 November at Arcadia Missa

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