H Y P E R C O N N E C T E D is a group show curated by João Laia as Strategic project of the 5th Moscow International Biennale for Young Art at MMOMA, Moscow Museum of Modern Art. The exhibition, closed on August 14, featured Adriano Amaral, Hicham Berrada , Lupo Borgonovo, Cécile B. Evans, Neringa Cerniauskaite (aka Pakui Hardware), June Crespo, Diogo Evangelista, Guan Xiao, Rodrigo Hernandez, Patrick Hough, Sasha Litvintseva, Adrien Missika, Saskia Noor van Imhoff, Yuri Pattison, Mariana Silva, Iza Tarasewicz, Ana Vaz & Tristan Bera, and Zoe Williams.
In this interview João Laia tells us further about the show.
ATP: Your previous show, Hybridize or Disappear, focused on current processes of dematerialization, questioning the “friction between real and virtual” in a time where the web “functions as a context for all things on and off line”. I’d like to start from this project to ask you to introduce us to H Y P E R C O N N E C T E D, because I feel there’s a strong idea of continuity between the two.
João Laia: There is a continuity between the two. H Y P E R C O N N E C T E D is a development of previous projects such Hybridize or Disappear but also a polyphonic wave of concrete materials flowing through the air for example. Looking back, I would say the idea of the hybrid or of mixing is a recurrent topic in my work. With H Y P E R C O N N E C T E D I was interested in studying our social realm by exploring different layers of the idea of connectivity, proposing a dialogue between technology and ontology and drawing from thinkers such as Timothy Morton or Rosi Braidotti. The notion of an enlarged ecology which does not point towards a relation between humans and nature but rather to an understanding of humanity as one element in a large constellation of entities was particularly important here.
ATP: Given the show’s topics and premises, I found exemplary the way you decided to write the title: it’s a single word formed by capital letters, like if each one was the first letter of a name. They’re all separated from each other, but they still form a single word: “hyperconnected”. I think it’s really a brilliant solution, both in a visual and in a conceptual way. Could you discuss further about it, and about how you came to this solution? I think it would have been totally different if you instead wrote it as an acronym.
JL: I was experimenting with different titles and forms for the show and I found this one to represent it quite accurately, from a visual standpoint rather than solely in terms of the word’s meaning. By dividing and capitalizing the different letters in the word I was trying to signal their individuality as well as their combined presence. Similarly, in H Y P E R C O N N E C T E D micro and macro scales are juxtaposed, signalling the embedded relations between topics such as politics, geology, media, history, biology, economy, technology and art, all mutually influencing each other and feeding into a single system. The main intent was to underline that nothing is an isolated item in the world: the planet is a system of which everything is part of.
ATP: The exhibition develops on four floors. How did you manage the display, according to the theme of the show? Were you interested in creating a connection between the four spaces?
JL: The Museum’s building is structured in four exhibition floors, a strong feature which needed to be incorporated into the show. I decided to create smaller, more cohesive conceptual groups which together, in a similar way to the graphic form of the title, would echo the narrative I was trying to built. The 1st floor reconsiders our existence within a highly mediatic environment, exploring ideas such as the embedded relation between our body and images, how both are fluid entities in permanent transmission and reconfiguration. The second floor questions the idea of discursive frames, specifically looking at historical dynamics (cultural, political, social, artistic, etc). The third floor sets a pre-apocalyptic scenario in relation to discussions related to fossil based industries, intense surveillance and their relation to capital. The fourth and last floor presented works that explore the blurred boundaries between human and non human. H Y P E R C O N N E C T E D emerges out of the simultaneity of these four shows, which are non hierarchical or chronological but rather co-existent. In fact the audience would often start from the fourth floor (taking the lift up and coming down via the stairs) which further collapsed the possibility of a linear narrative.
ATP: In your text for the show you write: “This exhibition looks at how contemporary practices have been looking at our present situation as a moment of shift in which the correlation between object and subject or distinctions such as nature and culture are being surpassed and replaced for a conception of the world as an interlinked collectivity”. For H Y P E R C O N N E C T E D you invited 19 artists from 15 different countries. Do you think the nationality of an artist still matters in 2016? I mean, the particular culture of the country of origin of an artist still have an influence on the way she feels and interpret the shift we’re all experiencing?
JL: This is such a difficult question to answer. By arguing towards an envisioning of the world as an interlinked collectivity I am not defending a sort of globalisation that erases local specificities but rather signalling the importance of considering local / individual questions in connection to larger / collective trends. In the current context where conservative, nationalistic, individualised dynamics are intensely being recovered and implemented, I find extremely important to underline the need to consider how all things are deeply interrelated. I’m not sure how to answer your question in the specific context of an artistic practice. I would say that everything might possibly influence one’s practice but I would probably place nationality alongside other different contexts one is embedded in from more personal scenarios such as family, schooling or work environment, to larger frames such as natural, cultural and economical landscapes.