On September 11, at Brussels gallery monCHÉRI, inaugurated LANDLORDS, a group show curated by Domenico De Chirico with artworks by Bradford Kessler, Michael Assiff and Alessandro Agudio.
We asked some questions to the curator.
ATP: Could you introduce us to LAND LORDS? How did the idea for the exhibition came out? What about your sources of inspiration?
Domenico De Chirico: Michael and Bradford recently curated a show together at American Medium in Brooklyn of 10 artists that included Alessandro and their work as well. The show title was Finally Every Dimension of the Soil (FEDS) which was borrowed from a magazine that can be found in magazine shops in some underground New York subway stations. That magazine is titled Finally Every Dimension of the Street. FEDS is basically a crime porn magazine mostly profiling professional criminals, drug dealers, pimps and gangs. In a way, they took this same hard knocks attitude and applied it to an exhibition about nature but relying particularly on connotations of the word ‘dimension’ to allow them to get loosely abstract and think about evolution, bio-genetics, crimes on nature and animals, urban farming, the history of gardening, fossils as readymade sculptures, soil science, organic vs inorganic, pollution, eco-terrorism, etc. The graphic for the show was made to look like a magazine cover just like they have done with the comic book cover for Land Lords at Mon Chéri. Land Lords is almost like a condensed sequel to the FEDS show because it not only contains 3 of the same artists but also because it surreally abstracts the term Landlord into something supernatural (the cover alludes to superhero villains) the way they did with dimensions of the soil in the FEDS show.
ATP: On which criteria is the selection of the three artists based? What is the link between them in terms of their research?
DDC: Alessandro, Bradford and Michael share a design sensibility that exists between organic and inorganic, remnants of natural history become industrial and border on science fiction. Their is underlying misanthropic energy in their attitude. I would say these artists chose a non-violent path of art making rather than that of eco-terrorists.
ATP: How did you conceive the display?
DDC: The walls of Mon Chéri have been painted a particular shade of ’smoker’s yellow’ the artists chose to somewhat set up a mood of urban anxiety by mimicking a low-rent apartment but at the same time when placed as a fresh coat of paint it is simply a soft beige coat that might be used in contemporary interior design.
ATP: The press release does not address directly the exhibition; rather it describes the actions of a not well identified group of people. Could you deepen this aspect of the show?
DDC: The press release was meant to create a fictional setting that was illustrated by the graphic for the show (which was produced by a hired comic book illustrator) rather than provide direct literal information about the artist’s intentions or individual concepts in each work. The show will somewhat be politicized in their own way which I would say is pretty anti-anthropocentric. Dark ethics of land ownership, borders, visas, currencies, tourism, hunting, farming, deforestation, hiking, camping, all get romanticized into striking art forms that include aesthetics of technology and industrial production. Together it all approaches something vibrantly science-fictive that was best expressed in a Kafka-esque narrative.
ATP: Could you discuss the relationship between the text you’ve written and the work you have chosen?
DDC: There is no straight connection. The text is perhaps a poetic work itself replacing a traditional press release. It was the artist’s wish to not preach in words. For example in their FEDS show at American Medium, the press release was written to mimic the autistic ramble of a fictional child who was affected by genetically modified foods and pesticides. They combined these wild thoughts with lyrics from Jello Biafra of the Dead Kennedys. The combination was something very unusual which authentically mirrored the group show as a whole.
ATP: Which are the projects are you working on now?
DDC: Currently, I’m working on 6 exhibitions: the first show will be hosted in Milan, in a Contemporary Art Foundation, which has been active for two years circa, Rivoli2: “Needless to say I have some unusual habits”, the a solo show by Antoine Donzeaud feat. Micah Hesse (opening on the 1st of October). After that, there are some other exhibitions I’ll be working on in Paris, Bruxelles, and, again, Milan.
Until October 24