Discover

Maja Cule | Facing the Same Direction

Introductory notes by curator Cadence Kinsey from a conversation that happened on Saturday 11th October at Arcadia Missa Gallery, London at the opening of Maja Cule’s Facing the Same Direction.

I thought I would begin not by giving an introduction to Maja’s work but to say something brief about one aspect of my own research, with the hope that it might offer some context for this conversation, and why it made sense for us to work together with Arcadia Missa on this exhibition.

Maja Cule, "Facing The Same Direction", 2014 at Arcadia Missa

Maja Cule, “Facing The Same Direction”, 2014 at Arcadia Missa

Maja Cule, "Facing The Same Direction", 2014 at Arcadia Missa

Maja Cule, “Facing The Same Direction”, 2014 at Arcadia Missa

Much of my work relies on unpacking received narratives and mythologies around the Web, and digital technology more broadly. For example, I have looked at the emergence of the historical construction of the digital as immaterial or ‘abstract’, by considering how it was constituted in the intersecting discourses of postmodernism, finance and genomics. Sometimes, this kind of work reveals deeply conflicting discursive narratives, and this is the case when one looks at the origins of ideas around collaboration, co-creation, and participation (and each of these is highly particular in its scope and historical significance). Participation, for example, has represented competing, but parallel, ideological positions. On the one hand participation has been conceived in terms of the decentralisation and democratisation of information sharing (an idea generally covered by the term ‘networked publics’) but, on the other, it has also been thought about in relation to histories of work transfer. Historically, ‘work transfer’ has referred to the problems of automation and de-skilling but, more recently, has also come to be associated with the removal of paid labour, as characterised by the terms ‘prosumer’ or ‘playbour’, which refer not only to the production or sharing of content within applications or websites (commenting, reviewing, uploading) but also with more basic actions associated with the use of them (clicking, sharing, liking, following).

Maja Cule, "Facing The Same Direction", 2014 at Arcadia Missa

Maja Cule, “Facing The Same Direction”, 2014 at Arcadia Missa

Maja Cule, "Facing The Same Direction", 2014 at Arcadia Missa

Maja Cule, “Facing The Same Direction”, 2014 at Arcadia Missa

Thus, there emerges an unresolved tension in the discourses of participation, which we may characterise as being between commercial optimisation and an Open Source ethics. That the notion of participation remains ambiguous in relation to Web cultures and economies is, of course, vital to sustaining its commercial bite: Do What You Love (DWYL) is so oppressive because it knows that if you love what you do, you are likely to do far too much of it, and for increasingly little reward. This we know from looking, for example, at the emergent working cultures of the New Economy of the late 1990s, particularly the tech and start-up industries, where work became more and more like play. More broadly, this is now expertly captured by social media: leisure time can be colonised, and capitalised upon, simply because it does not appear as work. But there is also a striking relationship between DWYL and both art and academia, since, as forms of supposedly unalienated labour, there is a historical distinction between these kinds of activities and ‘work’.

Maja Cule, "Facing The Same Direction", 2014 at Arcadia Missa

Maja Cule, “Facing The Same Direction”, 2014 at Arcadia Missa

Maja Cule, "Facing The Same Direction", 2014 at Arcadia Missa

Maja Cule, “Facing The Same Direction”, 2014 at Arcadia Missa

This tension in the discourses of participation produces a series of ambiguities that are very interesting to consider, particularly in the context of recent art. Although much of this conversation was articulated at the end of the 1990s, it has only been in the last five years or so that this has entered the discourses of art in a significant way as a sustained enquiry into ideas around labour in the Web economy. Much of this work has been allied to the critical tradition of Italian Autonomist Marxism and has contributed to new understandings of the ways in which participation has been monetised. Arcadia_Missa have been important in formalising some of this through their programme of exhibitions, events and publications. My particular interest has been in practices that explore an ambiguous relationship to these structures, and do not simply make work about the digital economy. In so doing, they come close to dealing with the various forms of complicity that we engage in in our everyday experiences with the Web, instead of maintaining irrefutable positions of critical distance.

Maja Cule, "Facing The Same Direction", 2014 at Arcadia Missa

Maja Cule, “Facing The Same Direction”, 2014 at Arcadia Missa

Maja Cule, "Facing The Same Direction", 2014 at Arcadia Missa

Maja Cule, “Facing The Same Direction”, 2014 at Arcadia Missa

What I have found compelling is the idea that artists are a part of, not apart from, the kinds of economies that they are exploring. Participation in these cultures and economies can figure in many different ways, and one of the things I have tried to consider in the first chapter of my book is the various forms that this may take. For example, when I met with Maja at the beginning of the summer, we spoke a little about Airbnb. I had just arrived in New York the night before and was having some trouble with my hosts (they had assumed I was out, enjoying the city, and so were up most of the night, playing music, as they prepared their costumes for the Coney Island Mermaid Parade). Airbnb had also just launched an advertising campaign on the subway reading ‘New Yorker’s Agree: Airbnb is great for New York City’. In talking about the particular significance of Airbnb for New York, Maja happened to mention just how important this facility had been for artists, including herself at times, in providing them with an income that could sustain their practice without the usual obligations on one’s being in certain places at certain times, as per the 9-to-5 model. Thus, it became evident that it would be impossible to think the ‘sharing economy’ simply as a thematic within recent art, but that it needed to be taken seriously as a structuring condition of arts production more generally. This immediately generates a high-stakes field of enquiry, which requires the reassessing of some of our most basic assumptions about the category of art, such as the question of its autonomy.

Maja Cule, "Facing The Same Direction", 2014 at Arcadia Missa

Maja Cule, “Facing The Same Direction”, 2014 at Arcadia Missa

Maja Cule, "Facing The Same Direction", 2014 at Arcadia Missa

Maja Cule, “Facing The Same Direction”, 2014 at Arcadia Missa

It is this relationship between the work and the conditions of its production which has become increasingly of interest to me in so far as it puts a different spin on the notion of participation. This is also something that is fundamental to Maja’s wider practice. Elsewhere – such as in her film about Madame Tussauds, shown at Arcadia_MIssa in 2013 as part of a duo solo show with Dora Budor – she has looked at conditions of production, grappled with the technological capabilities of representation, and pushed against the edges and limits of image-making. Thus, the plan for this conversation [between the curator and the artist] is to draw out some of these ideas in relation to the show currently on view here, asking how the ideologies of the Web economy correspond to artistic production, what might remain of not working as a site of resistance, and unpack the problem of participation through the notion of doing what you love and loving what you do…

Cadence Kinsey is a British Academy Postdoctoral Fellow in the History of Art Department at University College London. She is currently working on a book project related to art after the Internet, which will be completed in 2016.

Maja Cule, "Facing The Same Direction", 2014 at Arcadia Missa

Maja Cule, “Facing The Same Direction”, 2014 at Arcadia Missa

Facing the Same Direction
Arcadia Missa
Unit 6
Bellenden Road Business Center
London SE15 4RF

Exhibition runs October 12 – November 15

With: Anna Khachiyan as Alex, Justin Warsh as Man With the Microphone, Alex Hunter as Friend, Jose De Leon as Man With the Camera / Cinematography: Miona Bogovic, Tyler Sayles was the Script Editor, Video editing: Meriem Bennani. Thanks to Rozsa Zita Farkas and Tom Clark (Arcadia Missa), Cadence Kinsey and Silvija Stipanov.

Recent Posts

The character will not be the only one who modifies his image in the new of ‘The Avengers’ Besides being one of Marvel’s funniest films, Watch Thor Ragnarok Full movie online ‘ is a film that contains some key data for the evolution of the MCU’s cosmic plot, already launched towards the imminent confrontation with Thanos in ‘Infinity War ‘ . And is that in addition to the return of the Hulk, the new adventure of… [read more »]

A Conversation about Ergonomic Futures

Lafayette Anticipation associate curator Anna Colin talks to artist Tyler Coburn about Ergonomic Futures, a speculative project engaged with art, design, science, anthropology and writing. In this interview, Coburn discusses the research, production process and network of collaborators of a multilayered project ultimately concerned with the futures of humankind. Anna Colin: When one comes across your museum seats Ergonomic Futures (2016—) in contemporary art exhibitions—and soon in natural history, fine art, and anthropology museums—they look… [read more »]

nils lange + saliva : l’eau des algues

L’Eau des Algues Two alchemists already aware of each other’s Instagrams meet for the first time in a gay sauna. They are swimming; it’s the Hood By Air afterparty in Paris. They are Lukas Hofmann and Nils Amadeus Lange. Months later, they meet again. They are on the edge of yet another steaming pool; it’s the Manifesta Biennale closing event at Cabaret Voltaire. They are performing the perfume titled “L’eau des Algues.” Head notes: Zürich… [read more »]

Toward a Low Key Voting System Where Votes Are Actually Considered | Adrian Massey

While reading A Very Short Introduction to Game Theory, I came across the following passage, “If you want people to vote, we need to move to a more decentralized system in which every vote really does count enough to outweigh the lack of enthusiasm for voting which so many people obviously feel…Simply repeating the slogan that ‘every vote counts’ isn’t ever going to work, because it isn’t true.” I was jarred. For me, anecdotally knowing… [read more »]

Tough Luck | Tyler Reinhard

When life is being super unfair, just do what we all do: suffer the consequences. I wake up and the first thing I do is check my phone. A convenient euphemism for using Facebook’s machine learning techniques to discover which 300 entries are statistically most likely to stand out from the tens of thousands of brain dumps my friends and family have produced over the last 48 hours. Impressed by what Facebook provides, I think… [read more »]

America Is Hard to See: A Guide to not being depressed about US electoral politics this November

In order to make sense of state politics in the birthplace of statistical marketing and the internet, one has to be wary of the effects of these technologies on the country’s popular media. In a time when our news and advertisements are tailored to our pre-recorded political opinions, it can be especially difficult to empathize with differing political views. Likewise, learning about the histories of state politics is not encouraged by platforms that profit from… [read more »]

On self-care and the election | Eva Saelens

We can get together and laugh about it. We can heave sighs and express disbelief, but it’s never enough. This presidential election year has lasted for years, and they sit on citizens like a slick film. We feel touched by an unshakable germ, invaded by a blood-sucker, afflicted by a social cancer, drained of the plump vitality of life and the amazing liberty of choices, and transformed into a cynical, depressed shrivel. After being touched… [read more »]

Swarovski Crystal Meth at National Sawdust

Swarovski Crystal Meth, a collaboration between Ser Serpas, Daniela Czenstochowski and Gia Garrison for the National Sawdust “Selkie Series” performances, curated by Alexandra Marzella. Music composed and produced by Daniela Czenstochowski Poem by Sera Serpas Sound Edit Mateo Majluf Vocals Sera Serpas, Gia Garrison and Daniela Czenstochowski All Images Olimpia Dior i went to the desert con mi mama outlet store shopping is fried onto mi conciensa, big bags, wins bigger losses fragmented lux economy… [read more »]

Hasbeens and Willbees Auction @ Romeo Gallery

Shop items from the most recent Hasbeens and Willbees luxury auction now! Featuring Bjarne Melgaard, Bror August, Women’s History Museum, Lou Dallas, Hermes, Gautier, and more. All photography Dillon Sachs Styling Avena Gallagher Hosted by Rome Gallery NYC

NHU DUONG SS17 WORK COLLECTION FT. KARL HOLMQVIST

What is a piece of clothing that “works”? Who is working whom? Is the one who poses the one who actually “works” hardest? The S/S 2017 collection of Berlin-based, Swedish- Vietnamese designer NHU DUONG entitled ‘WORK COLLECTION’ plays with the ideas of professionalism, leisure and appropriateness through a range of garments that are inspired by work outfits and hobby uniforms. Overalls, raw denim outfits, kung-fu pyjamas, biker pants, baggy tights and gloves, bomber-jackets, bomber suits,… [read more »]