Featuring works by Joe Weird, _v.3lo, and Most Dismal Swamp, InOrganic Synergy is on show at London’s Hypogeal Projects
In the footnotes of James Bridle’s 2018 book The New Dark Age is a link to an article that contains a YouTube video from 2016. A man dressed in camo walks across the vast expanse of the Siberian tundra. As he moves, the ground beneath him begins to ripple like liquid as the methane below the surface leaks out into the air. “I became obsessed with this 30 second video. It struck a nerve in a very powerful way,” says Lil Mew, the curator of <In>Organic Synergy, the latest exhibition at Jimel’s Hypogeal Projects at Gaika’s experimental art space in London. “It seemed like the most accurate yet abstract metaphor for this lack of stability infused by confusion and anxiety present today.”
Like Bridle’s image of nature in flux, the pandemic, too, has felt like the ground falling from under our feet. Neoliberal systems that previously felt solid and immutable have caved in front of our eyes. They reveal gaping sinkholes in our understanding of the powers that be, as if what felt solid was built on gas all along. Lil Mew explains, “I began thinking about what it means to feel like one is constantly experiencing this vertiginous sensation of plunging into freefall, where the structures that are there to support us are not as reliable as they are presented to be and we realise we have nothing to grasp on to.”
When applied to the art world, this manifests in “gatekeeping hierarchies and impenetrable spheres that are only accessible to very few,” explains Lil Mew. <In>Organic Synergy aims to deconstruct these pre-established norms by inviting six artists to collaborate or work alongside a guest artist of their choice. “We wanted to make the exhibition grow and unfold in an organic and almost rhizomatic manner instead of relying on traditional, hierarchical structures,” she adds.
Working closely with friend and artist Joe Weird, the artworks on display stretch across numerous practices and mediums. Murky and disorientating digital landscapes sit alongside post-digital biomes and glow-in-the-dark fungal figures. Dinocore spines moulded from molten plastic feel like a relic from a lost future, while child-like scrawlings are juxtaposed with dystopian ink works that depict a modern myth about vampiric angels. “Everyone was feeding off each other and responding to one another’s work, either by creating new work in reaction or choosing past work that they thought would work well together in synergy,” says Lil Mew.
“Noah’s work has this yin yang connection to mine in his use of materials and subject matter,” explains Weird on his decision to display alongside fellow London artist Mimicsgate. “We are both world-building and we both love manga and a lot of the same weird stuff. But what he makes has like the opposite feeling to my work. My world is intrinsically fallen in the biblical sense, while his has this amazing, slightly tainted childlike innocence to it – and he comes up with wonderful and vast compositions you can really lose yourself in.”
What combines the works on show, however, is a sense of mystic fiction. As if emerging from a Dark Age swamp, they feed off the unreality of the present by imagining dank ritualistic worlds that grow and mutate amongst themselves. Bringing together these vast worlds creates a self-supporting structure that’s removed from the gaseous instability of our surroundings. As Lil Mew states, “How can we regain a sense of orientation and stability whilst falling through what seems like a bottomless pit?”
<In>Organic Synergy closes tonight (November 5) at 37 Endell Street, London