Cover Story—January 2018: I'll be there for you

Latitudes' home page www.lttds.org

The January 2018 Monthly Cover Story "I'll be there for you" is now up on www.lttds.org – after this month it will be archived here.
 

"Camille Orny and Magda Vaz’s exhibition for the Sala Petita of Barcelona’s La Capella will open on 23 January—it is the last of three projects that Latitudes is mentoring during the current season of the Barcelona Producció grants." Continue reading  

Cover Stories' are published on a monthly basis on Latitudes' homepage and feature past, present or forthcoming projects, research, writing, artworks, exhibitions, films, objects or field trips related to our curatorial activities. 


(Above and below) View from "Artengo2000", exhibition by Camille Orny and Magda Vaz at the Sala Petita in La Capella. Photo: Pep Herrero / La Capella.

Below the text written by Latitudes, mentors of the project:

"Bringing the format of the miniseries into the Sala Petita, Camille Orny & Magda Vaz have created a drama-documentary for six screens premised on the story of a group of five flatmates—including semi-fictionalized versions of themselves—who have struck a sponsorship deal with a corporation known as Artengo. In one reality Artengo is a sub-brand of the sporting goods retailer Decathlon dedicated to racket sports, yet in another reality, it is an arcane Russian-American multinational corporation. The series begins with a dream in which a flatmate is haunted by the Artengo-branded socks that the flatmates have agreed to wear at all times as part of the sponsorship deal that in return sees them receive occasional deliveries of unbranded food and a discount on their gas bill. Artengo2000 is a cumulative narrative: each installment is comprehensive and distinct, while each is grafted onto the body of the series, with certain elements and plot lines that link across.

Artengo2000 hinges on possible spiritual advancements and psychic disorders caused by shared living and by being obedient brand ambassadors. We witness the transformation of a communal flat into a laboratory-like space governed by the unwritten transactions entailed in lifestyle sponsorship and company patronage. Although the drama takes us to Montjuïc, the W Barcelona hotel, and to the Arenas shopping centre, and other branded flats, the Artengo apartment itself is the core psychological location. Yet in contrast to the breezy comedic and romantic adventures of the flat-sharing television series Friends (1994–2004), the Artengo apartment fills with irrational drama, distrust, deranged dreams, and doppelgängers. The flatmates become more like guinea pigs in a pioneering space station, afloat in a void at the limits of corporate ethics, loyalties and interpersonal relations. Characters include Camille and Magda’s flatmates Manu and Laura, a washed-up professional tennis player, and a supposed Danish-Catalan man named Borja with an academic interest in the introduction to Barcelona of novel and more covert forms of whole-life sponsorship.


Artengo2000 takes place in a familiar but twisted world in which gig economies, collaborative work and service sharing appear to have developed in even more perverse ways. A brand called Little Bits makes an appearance—a sort of mutant Deliveroo based on micro-tapas. As Orny and Vaz have suggested, their shared flat drama imagines the bizarre incompatibility of a kommunalka (kommunalki were multi-family communal apartments encouraged by Lenin as a response to the housing crisis after the Russian revolution of 1917) set in a near-future where neoliberal and Silicon-Valley logic wields even greater power. Here the so-called ‘sharing economy’ of coworking, or online platforms such as BlaBlaCar and Airbnb, is evidently not representative of an altruistic fantasy of entrepreneurship or dynamic community cohesion, but is a symptom of evermore precarious socioeconomic circumstances. Giving up some personal space is part of the experience of sharing a flat, yet it allows a lower cost of living. However, the sponsorship deal that the flatmates are signed up to exacerbates their sacrifices to extremes. The work-life balance has not been blurred, but completely collapsed, as the flatmates renounce their intimacy and subjectivity in commodifying themselves for the Artengo brand.

Where the vast majority of television narrators strive for neutrality and self-effacement, as if viewers are supposed to ignore the fact that the story is coming through a mediator, Orny and Vaz’s storytelling, and the Artengo2000 world of homemade myth-making, is far from straightforward. It incorporates numerous doubtful narratives, both onscreen and offscreen. Film genres such as the Western, or the film noir, routinely passed through a kind of four-stage metamorphosis, media scholars have suggested.1 In the first stage, conventions were established and isolated. In the second ‘classic’ stage these conventions reached equilibrium and were mutually understood by makers and audiences; the third stage saw formal and stylistic embellishments. Finally in a ‘baroque’ stage, the embellishments were accented to the point where they themselves became the substance of the work. Yet whether television series have followed the same logic is moot, particularly in an age where gathering in the living room to watch the latest hit show at the scheduled time has long been a thing of the past, usurped by viewers binge-streaming multiple episodes. Moreover, is it not the case that Artengo2000, much like David Lynch’s surreal crime drama Twin Peaks (1990–91), was already born congenitally baroque?

While Artengo2000 is steeped in cinematic theory and the study of genre, more plausible still is that it comes at us not only through a filter of American television, and series that have experimented with the medium of the episodic drama in often darkly-comic and self-referential ways, such as Seinfeld (1989–1998), Curb Your Enthusiasm (2000–present), and Louie (2010–15). Artengo2000 has also filtered through many diverse influences related to what critic Jordi Costa has identified as ‘post-humor’ in Spain, including YouTube channels and self-made web series from the likes of Canódromo Abandonado, Pioneros Siglo XXI, and Venga Monjas.2 Yet why does a series ‘happen’ when it does? Was the fanatical following that built around the supernatural detective series The X-Files (1993–2002), for example, in some way a Bill-Clinton-era phenomenon, a result of psychohistorical factors at work in 1990s America? And why do we now see a return of Twin Peaks (2017–) just at the same time as we see Artengo2000 emerge in Barcelona? Appropriately, asking more questions that providing answers, we offer no more closure than a typical episode of either." 

Latitudes 

Mentors of the project. Text written for the exhibition and available in English, Catalan and Spanish.


1 See Thomas Schatz, ‘Hollywood Genres: Formulas, Filmmaking, and The Studio System’, McGraw-Hill, 1981.

2 See Miguel Iríbar, ‘El posthumor, la tortilla deconstruida de la risa’, http://www.jotdown.es/2014/12/el-posthumor-la-tortilla-deconstruida-de-la-risa/



RELATED CONTENT:
  • Archive of Monthly Cover Stories
  • Cover Story – December 2017: "Tabet's Tapline trajectory", 4 December 2017
  • Cover Story – November 2017: "Mining negative monuments: Ângela Ferreira, Stone Free, and The Return of the Earth", 1 November 2017
  • Cover Story – October 2017: Geologic Time at Stanley Glacier 11 October 2017
  • Cover Story – September 2017: Dark Disruption. David Mutiloa's 'Synthesis' 1 September 2017
  • Cover Story – August 2017: Walden 7; or, life in Sant Just Desvern 1 August 2017
  • Cover Story – July 2017: 4.543 billion 3 July 2017
  • Cover Story – June 2017: Month Light–Absent Forms 1 June 2017
  • Cover Story – May 2017: S is for Shale, or Stuart; W is for Waterfall, or Whipps 1 May 2017
  • Cover Story – April 2017: Banff Geologic Time 3 April 2017
  • Cover Story – March 2017: Time travel with Jordan Wolfson 1 March 2017
  • Cover Story February 2017: The Dutch Assembly, five years on 1 February 2017
  • Cover Story January 2017: How open are open calls? 4 January 2017

-->




Older Posts / Entradas antiguas