HC Guest Curator Amanda Schmitt
Curator: Amanda Schmitt
Artists: Madeline Hollander, Pearla Pigao, Hans Rosenström
Made possible by: The Finnish Cultural Institute in New York through their MOBIUS Fellowship program & Helsinki Contemporary through the HC Guest Curator program
In collaboration with HIAP – Helsinki International Artist Programme & Zodiak – Center for New Dance
Supported by Kone Foundation & Office for Contemporary Art Norway
Helsinki Contemporary ends its Spring season with Future Delay, a group exhibition curated by Amanda Schmitt. The exhibition, realized in collaboration with the Finnish Cultural Institute in New York, will center around newly commissioned works by Madeline Hollander, Pearla Pigao, and Hans Rosenström.
Future Delay departs from the work of media pioneers and theoreticians Paul Ryan and Erkki Kurenniemi who dedicated their careers to exploring cybernetics and positing the future potential of technological immortality, mobilizing their experiments through the work of three contemporary artists. The exhibition —featuring sonic sculpture, performance, and site-specific installations — will be interactive in nature, inviting the visitor’s participation and even causing them to question whether they are responding to the new media-based work, or if the work is responding to them. The feeling may be similar to the effect of a time delay, but entirely different. As this cannot be put entirely into words, the visitor is invited to explore the concept physically.
Schmitt has invited three artists to participate in the exhibition. The New York based artist and choreographer Madeline Hollander will work in tandem with local dancers to present a choreographic performance that will take place in the gallery throughout the month. The Norwegian artist and artisan Pearla Pigao will present a sonic sculpture consisting of three textile works that react to the movements of the visitors to the gallery, inviting them to participate and create a soundscape of their own. Hans Rosenström, a Finnish artist based in Stockholm and represented by Helsinki Contemporary, will create for the exhibition a site-specific binaural sonic installation. Works by Hollander and Pigao are presented for the first time in Finland.
Future Delay is made possible by the Finnish Cultural Institute in New York through its MOBIUS Fellowship Program and Helsinki Contemporary through its Guest Curator Program. Additional support is provided by HIAP – Helsinki International Artist Program by hosting Madeline Hollander's residency in June 2019 and by Zodiak – Center for New Dance by announcing an Open Call for performers for Hollander’s new choreographic work. Office for Contemporary Art Norway has provided support for Pearla Pigao’s work.
To read Amanda Schmitt's curatorial statement, see the end of the page.
Madeline Hollander is a New York-based artist and choreographer who works primarily with performance and video to explore how human movement and bodylanguage negotiate their limits within everyday systems of technology, intellectual property law, and mass-culture. Forthcoming projects and exhibitions will be presented at the Whitney Biennial, The Whitney Museum, New York and The Shed, New York.
Pearla Pigao is an Oslo-based artist, musician, and craftsman. Drawing on her background in both music and textile art, her work explores the relationship between sound and material, drawing on the commonalities between weaving and musical composition to create digitally hand-woven textiles that create visual, tactile experiences of sound structures.
Hans Rosenström is a Finnish artist recognized internationally for his site-specific spatial installations using sound. His practice is an ongoing exploration into how we relate to each other as human beings. His poetic and poignant work has a special resonance in these turbulent times where similarities are ignored and differences played up and exploited by politicians and the media. Rosenström is based in Stockholm. Forthcoming projects include a collaboration with Zuecca Project Space in Venice, Italy and a solo exhibition at Kuntsi Museum of Modern Art in Vaasa.
Amanda Schmitt is an independent curator focusing on video, sound, performance and time-based media, with a core interest in analog technologies, and has curated over 50 exhibitions, video screenings and performance series since 2006. Schmitt has held director positions at New York galleries including Marlborough Chelsea, Signal, The Hole, and Horton Gallery, and is currently the Director of Programming and Development of the Art Fair Untitled, Art as well as the host and producer of the Untitled, Art, Podcast
Through the HC Guest Curator Program, Helsinki Contemporary invites annually an international curator to realize a project at the gallery. The aim of the program is to present a bold international exhibition showcase in Helsinki, to introduce a new content viewpoint to the gallery's program and to support the work of artists represented by the gallery.
MOBIUS Fellowship Program, launched by the Finnish Cultural Institute in New York and the Finnish Institute in London in 2014, aims on bringing together visual arts professionals and organizations through international work periods and thematic projects on both sides of the Atlantic. The program is supported by the Kone Foundation.
We live on the precipice of total simulation. As technologies further proliferate and dominate daily life and basic organic functions, the perception and fullfillment of biological needs and desires is in danger of being totally hijacked by technologies that generate the self and its surroundings. Digital reality, presented through various mediums with an increased level of bodily incorporation (sound, video, holography, VR, AR, and so on) and distribution channels (television, social media, internet advertisements, etc), have an uncanny ability to alienate oneself. Jean Baudrillard’s concept of the simulacra — copies that depict things that either had no original, or that no longer have an original — has finally been realized.
As cautiously proferred nearly fifty years ago by the American media theorist and video pioneer Paul Ryan, in reaction to the increased use of hyper-connectivity and video technologies in a fragmented modern, post-war society, “One moves in a vicarious experience of intimacy with an electronic image that cannot respond in real time.” Ryan, however, sought an optimistic solution, positing in his iconic text, Cybernetics of the Sacred (1973), that video technology could in fact save the human species. Imagining a utopic future, Ryan was part of a larger cohort of video pioneers who — in the words of Ina Blom — investigated the cybernetic continuity between biological and technical modes of being, as well as nascent ideas of artificial life. For these artists, a techno-utopic future was one where individuals developed into communities, connected through — and integrated with — technology.
Concurrently, and similarly, on the other side of the Atlantic, the Finnish multimedia artist Erkki Kurenniemi imagined the technological capabilities going one step further: that video could preserve, supplement, or even replace, the human experience. From Kurenniemi’s point of view, a techno-utopic future is one where humankind’s “slime-based, sluggishness, uncertainty, forgetfulness, and fatigue” is complemented by artificial intelligence, realized by technologies that will soon outpace the human brain. His position was optimistic in that — rather than accepting the inevitability of biological death — we could reframe our perspective towards imagining virtual and technological immortality.
Throughout this exhibition, artists Hollander, Pigao, and Rosenström present alternative modes of integration between humans and technology, which propose to resolve the sharp detour from the utopia of the 1960s to the dystopia of the 2010s. This exhibition is about feedback between humans and machines placed alongside the dimension of time; time being only perceivable against a background of mortality. Precluding Kurenniemi and Ryan's ideas about video technologies and cybernetics, and also precluding the current corporate investment into virtual immortality (by magnates like Elon Musk, Mark Zuckerberg or Dmitry Itskov), the Argentine writer Adolfo Bioy Casares imagined — in his novella, The Invention of Morel (1940) — an immortality achieved through the technology of holography. As the protagonist of this story discovers, this programmed immortality, achieved via machine, is superior to his own sufferable mortality. Bioy Casares both shares and prefigures Kurenniemi’s perspective that the physical body is an insufficient mechanism. A line from the novella reads: “I believe we lose immortality because […] we keep insisting on the primary, rudimentary idea: that the whole body should be kept alive. We should seek to preserve only the part that has to do with consciousness.”
Departing from a line of ideas developed by the aforementioned writers, theoreticians and artists, this exhibition asks us whether technological immortality can or should replace biological mortality. Technology promises today, as religion promised for millenia, a stare into the abyss of death, but with a happy ending. What would future delay appear as, and how would interference and synchrony between transmission and reception in both organic and technological beings manifest? Are humans choreographing a future integrated with machine, or are the machines choreographing us?