74 million million million tons
Individuals and objects contribute to and corroborate accounts of a significant event, or shift, in material, social, technological, and/or political realities. But before this happens, there is a period of time between the event and its subsequent narratives when a lapse in comprehension exists. Before there is consensus or familiarity with a fundamental change in understanding, the parts must be identified and pieced together. The artists in this exhibition directly intervene in these moments to expand on the devices for measurement and documentation of what has yet to become widely known or accepted. They make potential future documents that reflect a range of subjectivities, human and otherwise. By operating inside the delays, silent pauses, sensory impairments, and omissions, the artists examine the shape and weigh the force of these gaps, not only as absences but also as sources of knowledge.
In their approach to subjects and objects, these artists do not consider form the only means of producing the metaphoric or symbolic. Their materials do not simply stand in for or index broader concepts and political issues, but move beyond the role of representation to become elements that are integral to the relevant events. The poetics of their work is embedded in the rigor of their investigations and the intensity of their observations. These artists operate at the limits of perception and detectability, they create a new visual lexicon through which those at the threshold of politics can emerge—the refugee, the robot, the environment, and others on the outskirts of legality. They anticipate and produce material documents even before the process has been deemed necessary.
The artists in the exhibition extract information from various sources and materials to bring forth new meaning. Shadi Habib Allah (born 1977 in Jerusalem; lives and works in New York City) presents his work A Defective Wave Shields Disparate Topographies, 2016, which consists of cell phones that play recorded communications obtained by the artist of Bedouin smugglers who use the 2G cellular networks in order to maintain secrecy and privacy. George Awde (born 1980 in Boston; lives and works in Doha and Beirut) makes photographic works that capture and obscure the complex conditions and relationships that led to their production. Created mostly in Lebanon, where the artist lives, these intimate images show people in various locations embedded in covert social relationships. Carolina Fusilier's (born 1985 in Buenos Aires; lives and works in Mexico City and Buenos Aires) abstract paintings address the internal spaces of mechanical objects. Researching the modes in which machines—from cars to watches—are advertised, Fusilier depicts their internal material qualities using similar aesthetic techniques. Sidsel Meineche Hansen (born 1981 in Denmark; lives and works in London) exhibits works related to her ongoing research into machine learning and surveillance technologies, investigating how advances made in pornography industries have a complex potential impact on privacy, gender, and sexuality. Hiwa K (born 1975 in Sulaymaniyah, Iraqi Kurdistan; lives and works in Berlin) presents his video work A View from Above, 2017, which tells the story of an unnamed man seeking political asylum in a European country; his efforts are rewarded when he pretends to be from a particular town and inadvertently displays knowledge that is more consistent with that of immigration officials than of the people living there. Nicholas Mangan (born 1979 in Victoria, Australia; lives and works in Melbourne) shows a selection of new collages from his ongoing series Ancient Lights. An outcome of wide-ranging research, the works propose a schema that elaborates how the cycles of the sun have had a role in cultural, economic, technological, and environmental events. Sean Raspet and Nonfood (born 1981 in Washington D.C.; lives and works in Los Angeles) will present a product from Nonfood's line of algae-based foods that will be available for purchase. With algae being one of the most sustainable and nutritious food ingredients, Nonfood believes algae has considerable potential for reducing global resource consumption and carbon emissions in the food system. Raspet will also present the flavor he composed for the product as a separate work. Susan Schuppli (lives and works in London) introduces a new series related to the 2010 Deepwater Horizon oil spill that considers modes of image production and representation of the disaster. By combining and analyzing several sources and visual records, Schuppli generates new knowledge concerning the event. Daniel R. Small (born 1984 in Centralia, Illinois; lives and works in Los Angeles) displays a group of new works that consider the mechanisms around human interventions into the concept of time, bringing new immortality movements and technological advances together with ancient time-telling devices. Hong-Kai Wang (born 1971 in Huwei, Taiwan; lives and works in Vienna and Taipei) presents a sound piece that emerged from workshops with Taiwanese farmers in which the participants attempted to reproduce "The Sugar Cane Song," a long- forgotten song written by workers during Japan's colonial rule of Taiwan. Its reconstruction suggests new historical perspectives on the past and present.
Together, these ten international artists identify some of the most urgent ideas that inform the production of contemporary art today. 74 million million million tons iscurated by Ruba Katrib and Lawrence Abu Hamdan and is accompanied by a color publication with essays by the curators.