Work from Ed Fornieles and Petra Cortright proves it’s not all sundrenched days and perfect pool parties
Summertime* is an exhibition lifting the lid on the sunshine season, scrapping our idealised versions and revealing its dark side – shit pool parties and bad acid trips included. On show will be film, photography, animation, painting, sculpture and advertising, with the curator, ex Dazed arts editor, Nick Hackworth, explaining, “We are all surrounded with images of summer in entertainment, advertising, marketing and the media. These images conjure an imagined space that is perpetually beautiful and sundrenched, where everyone is happy and everything is casual and fun, and where death and decay is unimaginable – for all those utopian associations it is the perfect site from which to market product.” Opening tomorrow, the show will host artists like Petra Cortright, Ed Fornieles, Ali Emir Tapan and Arslan Sukan, alongside late 90s digital art legend Jeremy Blake. We spoke with Hackworth below to find out what to expect ahead of the launch at Istanbul’s Galerist space.
What is it that brings these artists’ works together?
Nick Hackworth: The structure of the show is semi-abstract and associative in form and there are several intertwining lines of work that run through it. Some works directly engage with the mire of popular culture. The show opens with the film work Century 21, a masterpiece by the late Jeremy Blake, that takes the ‘American Dream’ on a bad acid trip and it closes with Ed Fornieles’ Pool Party, a half-an-hour long video (featuring Mercedes Kilmer) which I see as a deadpan critique of reality TV and entertainment culture – implying a clear narrative direction in the show. In between we’ve got Petra Cortright’s flash animation works – with their mash-up of cheap online soft porn content and virtual overabundant landscapes, and Gabriele Beveridge’s work that elegantly appropriates and critiques the aesthetics of luxury culture.
What is it that stands the artists’ work apart from one another?
Nick Hackworth: Another contrasting strand of works is abstract and aesthetic and includes Kadar Brock’s works of paper that manifest the aesthetics of erasure, Thomas van Linge’s minimal, cool and reflective works and Isabel Yellin’s exuberant, fabric based abstractions – which remind me of serious gestural painting fused with pop-songs. These works function in the show as a metaphor for the surfaces and screens that define the space of modernity. Sites of seduction. Deconstructing that idea we have Nicolas Deshayes’ strange and compelling pieces – both seductive and grotesque – with their jellyfish forms floating on a shiny, plastic whiteness and also the cracked surfaces of Arslan Sukan’s scanned images of smartphone screens and of Ali Emir Tapan’s heat tempered mirrors which evoke a fragile and beautiful otherworldliness.
What do you think the symbolism of summertime means to people?
Nick Hackworth: I’m going to answer a slightly different question – which is to analyse the symbolism of the image of summer that Capital wants to conjure in people’s minds. As anyone who’s been subjected to advertising knows it’s a utopian space of eternal positivity – sunlight, perfect smiles, saturated colour, ripeness, joy, movement. Constant growth is a prerequisite for the success of capitalism, so to make the season of harvest eternal is pure, cold, instrumental logic.
The show’s flyer is illustrated with a Charles Bukowski poem “the mockingbird” – why did you choose that particular work?
Nick Hackworth: It beautifully embodies the feeling the show generates. The casual killing of the bird by the cat at the end of the poem undercuts the casual happiness at the start – and it’s that sense of a summer turned toxic that I think these works, in context with each other, generates. Our consumer world projects images of perfection onto multiple surfaces and screens, but behind and beneath these images is a world being desolated. Everything is not okay.
Summertime* runs from 1 July – 15 August, 2015 at Istanbul’s Galerist