Performance, Public, and Online Presence: Gretta Louw's Controlling_Connectivity

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An artist living in a gallery for the duration of a show is a trope of visual art performance, which left a mark in popular culture portrayals of performance art. Even though these works emphasize considerations of the gallery space, the relationship between the artist and the audience is not always the center of the piece. In the iconic I Like America and America Likes Me, Joseph Beuys was rushed from the airport to a New York gallery in an ambulance and left in an ambulance, leaving the US without having set foot on its soil. Tracy Emin lived in a locked room in a Stockholm gallery as part of Exorcism of the Last Painting I Ever Made in 1996. The audience could only see her naked figure through fish-eye lenses embedded in the walls as she spent her days painting. 

In a new project launching November 2, Berlin-based artist Gretta Louw takes this relationship two steps forward, one step back. Like Beuys, she could not be seen at the gallery, but like Emin, she will be viewed through a lens. Twenty-four hours a day for the ten day duration of the show, Louw will be in constant communication with her audience via different online platforms: Skype, Facebook, Twitter, and so forth. The project, Controlling_Connectivity, is described on Art Laboratory Berlin's site,

Controlling_Connectivity uses the pervasiveness of internet-based social networking, as well as the obligation and opportunity for constant connection with these platforms as a paradigm for a severe and systematic disruption of normal, socially accepted patterns of life and interpersonal interaction during a self-documented performance. Taking to its natural extreme the notion that new technologies are increasingly dictating our social interaction, professional life, and have a far reaching effect on many other aspects of daily life, Gretta Louw ...

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Contested Terrains at Tate Modern

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Excerpt from a review of Contested Terrians at Tate Modern in London from African Art in London:

Contested Terrains is the first annual project arising from Guaranty Trust Bank’snew partnership with Tate, and it sets the bar extremely high. The show features a foursome of talented artists working in Africa in variety of media: Kader Attia (slide show installation), Sammy Baloji (photomontage), Michael MacGarry (sculpture) and Adolphus Opara (photography). Jointly curated by Kerryn Greenberg (Tate) and Jude Anogwih (Centre for Contemporary Art, Lagos), this is an African group show with a difference – exactly the sort of thing that you’d hope for from Tate Modern. There’s no questionable attempt to edify the audience, no over-excited claim to be introducing us to anything, and, perhaps most importantly, no curatorial waffle about ‘African creativity’ – the intelligent, subtle and challenging works on show here speak for themselves...

The final room presents the photomontages of Sammy Baloji, together with two final small pieces from MacGarry, whose work runs like a twisted thread through the whole show. Baloji’s subject here is the history of resource exploitation in the Democratic Republic of Congo, and in particular the decline of the Gécamines mining company, whose presence has shaped his home region of Katanga since 1906. Mémoire (2006) unflinchingly reveals the catastrophic recent fortunes of the company, through a series of desolate panoramas of industrial decline, upon which the artist has superimposed archival images of officials and labourers from more prosperous times. The colonial officials appear oblivious to the state of their new surroundings, blithely peering at dilapidated old sheds and piles of rusty metal, but the Congolese labourers stare straight out at the viewer, photographic ghosts issuing a warning which comes too late.

images via bbc news

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