Bose Pacia presents "On Certainty," a group show curated by Sreshta Premnath.
"On Certainty" brings together a group of artists and specialists from various fields, who engage with the notion of certainty. How and why do we constitute a unified self from which to speak and construe meaning in this world? How and why do we construct a consistent narrative from our experiences? When we say, "I know..." with certainty, what do we mean?
The title of the show, lifted from Ludwig Wittgenstein's posthumously published book, signals our attempt not only to investigate knowledge and factuality, but furthermore, to interrogate the statement "I saw it with my own eyes." What is the position of the witness (who represents an event) and the authentic subject (who represents a group) in knowledge production? This seems a relevant question, not only politically and sociologically, but also physiologically and psychologically.
It is with these thoughts in mind that each artist begins to contemplate certainty and its sibling, uncertainty.
The project includes a group show, a new issue of the magazine Shifter (co-edited by the participating artists), and a series of public dialogues between economists, neurologists, physicists and writers. The artists include, Lindsay Benedict, Joshua Hart, Abhishek Hazra, Pat Palermo, Sreshta Rit Premnath and Kiran Subbaiah.
Through film, performance, and various media Lindsay Benedict presents us with fragments and gestures that examine and question social relations. In her work, affect and raw emotion are often deployed to disrupt and destabilize any simple reading of human connections. A wide ranging temporality, from more deliberate and slowly conceived films and sewn texts to the more immediately gestural drawings allow a dense layering of material and narrative to unravel and intertwine simultaneously.
Pat Palermo's comic books and paintings often ruminate on the question of how and whether it is possible to communicate. Vacillating between the autobiographical subject and the object as subject we are placed within narratives and structures where the criteria for meaning production are, at best, trying. Although always at the center of artistic production, the autobiographical subject remains unsure of, and ever startled by his own position.
Like Kafka's Josef K, Kiran Subbaiah's protagonists, are always caught in a narrative of paradox. Each time he (the protagonist? Subbaiah? The simulacrum presented to us on a screen?) attempts to unravel the knot of representation within which he is bound, we find that it only tightens. Ever more self-reflexively we are seduced through humor, narrative and visual trickery into this paradox of representation only to be reminded again and again: this is only a video.
In Joshua Hart's drawings and sculptural assemblages, forms slip and tumble down the chain of signification, constantly shifting from one thing to another - a camel becomes a soldier, a printed pattern mimics a reflection. Yet the object asserts its base materiality as if to also say, "I am only this." This mirage he draws us into not only makes his objects difficult to fix but also shakes the ground that stabilizes our view. When the body that names is itself unstable how does it go about naming?
Sreshta Premnath is engaged with forms of interrogation and representation. Often using fragments of historic material as anchors, he pieces together found or fabricated images, texts, video and film into installations. He employs strategies of negation, erasure, fracture, displacement and fiction, to explore moments of slippage - those cracks in language where meaning and representation, memory and history split.
Abhishek Hazra's close yet idiosyncratic study of the historiography of science has led him to examine various technologies of knowledge production and dispersion. His projects often settle on moments of technological dysfunction as nodes for narrative exploration. Taking the form of video installation, performance, prints and items for sale on ebay, his projects further complicate his questions by themselves engaging in various modes of production and dispersion of knowledge.