Are Friends Electric?
January 18 – March 21, 2014
Catalog release with essay by David Pagel accompanied by Artist Talk- March 16,2014, 4- 6pm
Helen Rebekah Garber
Are Friends Electric? is a group art exhibition curated by the Manual History Machines dispersed between two locations as Act I and Act II. Act I is presented as a Curator’s Lab Exhibition at Fellows of Contemporary Art (FOCA) in Chinatown, Los Angeles from January 18 - March 21, 2014. Act II was on on view at the Peggy Phelps Gallery and East Gallery at Claremont Graduate University from January 21 - February 6th, 2014. Along with presenting the works in two different locations, Are Friends Electric Act I and II will be accompanied by a catalog. The catalog includes an essay by the accomplished writer and art critic David Pagel along with documentation of both exhibitions and images of individual works by each artist. Both exhibitions present(ed) works from the same group of artists, pushing our modes of perception and ability to relate to the artists' works.
The work selected for this exhibition hesitates towards a technology-driven frenetic future, addresses feelings of isolation and makes transparent the nature of shifting meanings through context/positioning. The exhibition title, “Are Friends Electric?” Is taken from Gary Numan’s iconic song, whose lyrics verge on fear of loneliness amid the appearance of friendly entities. In reflection of our truly complicated relationship with what it means to be “social” today, artists continue to forge, perhaps even more fastidiously now, personal identities in their practices despite the reality of shrinking “private” and [truly] “public” spaces. New forms of “social spaces” allow for one kind of collectivity, but marginalize a more analog communion between individuals. Laden with aesthetic self-identifiers, each work serves as a beacon for the thoughts, ideals, and intuitions of the artist. When this work is brought together, what new meanings take place? In collectivity, can anxiety about the future be temporarily subsided, helpfully articulated or possibly - exacerbated? Seen as a synecdoche, Are Friends Electric? focuses both on each individual artist as well as the collective formation of both exhibitions. The exhibitions seek to create a dialogue through a theatrically staged installation of video, photography, painting and sculpture.
The artists in Are Friends Electric? are actively carving out public space through the simple act of bringing physical objects and bodily engagement into a public venue. The handmade and humble materiality in many of the works reflects a desire for the earthbound, the visceral and instills a lucidity of material that pulls the viewer in and out of cerebral (private) space. Some of the artists’ work allows for discrete interpretation through external/ universal references, while others’ work requires more negotiation, intuitive reasoning and submission to opacity. Perhaps the opacity serves as a conduit back to the artists’ private self and as a reminder to the viewer to retain a private self through their own subjectivity. Perhaps the artist is mimicking their own subjugation to the larger sphere of the world, and is moving through the material with the intuition, flexibility and fluidity required for survival. Are Friends Electric? negotiates between public, social and private space with the honesty and discomfort that we feel moving towards an unknown future.
Are Friends Electric, Act I was organized by LA-based artist collective, Manual History Machines through Fellows of Contemporary Art Curator's Lab and will be on view from January 18th - March 21st, 2014 at FOCA exhibition space, 970 N. Broadway, Los Angeles, CA 90012. Hours of operation: 10am to 5pm/ Tuesday through Friday
Catalog Release and Artist Talk will be held at FOCA on March 16 from 4-6 pm.
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For more information, please visit: http://manualhistorymachines.tumblr.com/