Magazine article Art Monthly

Eva International 2012: After the Future

Magazine article Art Monthly

Eva International 2012: After the Future

Article excerpt

various venues Limerick 19 May to 12 August

How does one live after what comes after? In borrowing its theme from the media activist Franco 'Bifo' Berardi's 2011 book After the Future, one cannot help but notice the tautological implications of this year's eva International, curated by Annie Fletcher of the Van Abbemuseum, Eindhoven. The compulsion to reject utopian expectations of progress might easily signify retrogression to prior models of living, a Zen-like complacency or, following Berardi, a tendency to 'exalt tenderness, sleep and ecstasy, the frugality of needs and the pleasure of the senses'. That many of the works here challenge or critique these notions would suggest that contradiction is no barrier to artistic practice.

The practical disjunction between 'living in the present' and 'working towards the future' is particularly apparent in Pilvi Takala's project The Trainee, 2008, installed at the Limerick City Gallery of Art. Undertaking a month-long internship in the marketing department of Deloitte, a firm dedicated to financial advice, risk management and consultation, the artist - using the pseudonym 'Johanna Takala' - runs headlong into employers' expectations of her role. A sequence of projected images captures Takala sitting at her desk, standing by the photocopier, gazing into the distance, while a PowerPoint presentation reveals the emailed concerns of her supervisors: 'Does this Johanna have any work, I mean it looks like she is just sitting', 'is it OK, that she is doing brain work all day?' As the projection, and the month, ticks along, the friendly camaraderie of her co-workers turns to suspicion, annoyance and confusion. Here the distinction between the artist's desires and those of her colleagues are revealed in social awkwardness and resentment, perhaps even envy. Berardi, after all, does situate his post-futurist manifesto as a reaction against the rhythms of capital, and in Takala's gesture - the intrusion of stasis in an environment dedicated to anticipation and measured in productivity - pitches her unwitting subjects into complete bewilderment. This effect recurs in a film by Priscilla Fernandes entitled Calibration Circle, 2010, where a single dancer is isolated against a black background, holding a red disc that remains in the centre of the screen. The eye naturally follows her graceful, circular movements across the field but is pulled back, again and again, to this floating dot. While clearly a more poetic response to the theme, the work does reveal an inherent difficulty in reorienting one's senses. Movement happens unexpectedly; it is up to the viewer to make the necessary adjustments.

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Tension is also present in Greg Howie's sculpture '(' of 2011, located at the eva venue on O'Connell Street. A horizontal sheet of glass bound with ratchet straps to create a slight curve, it evokes a palpable sense of pressure and impending release. After all, the directive to live in the perpetual present requires constant vigilance, a self-control that represses thought, otherwise panic begins to creep in, as it does throughout Soren Thilo Funder's film Disastrous Dialogue - The Roland Emmerich Speech Act, 2011. Casting Egyptian actors to recite phrases from the titular director's Hollywood blockbusters - 'Ladies and gentlemen, we all knew this day would come' - Funder positions his protagonists against sparse and crumbling apartment interiors. …

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