Cover Story—June 2019: ‘Thinking like a drainage basin: Lara Almarcegui’s ‘Concrete’

Latitudes' homepage www.lttds.org

The May 2019 Monthly Cover Story ‘Thinking like a drainage basin: Lara Almarcegui’s ‘Concrete’’ is now up on Latitudes' homepage: www.lttds.org

Lara Almarcegui’s current exhibition at the CAIRN art centre in Digne-les-Bains, southern France, focuses on the nearby Bléone river, its geology, and its exploitation. Latitudes has written an essay entitled ‘Thinking like a drainage basin’ for the accompanying catalogue. Lara’s project Béton (Concrete) has two parts. The first, seen here, involves the floor of the art centre being covered with crushed cement, gravel and sand. This raw material is the remains of several concrete structures — weirs — that were placed in the river in a failed attempt to stabilise a riverbed that had been extensively dug out over the preceding decades to produce gravel for the construction industry. The watercourse and its ecology is now being restored, and the weirs were recently removed.”

—> Continue reading
—> After May it will be archived here.


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


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Cover Story—September 2017: Dark disruption: David Mutiloa’s "Synthesis"

Photo: Roberto Ruiz. Cortesía: David Mutiloa.


The September 2017 Monthly Cover Story "Dark disruption: David Mutiloa’s "Synthesis" is now up on www.lttds.org – after this month it will be archived here.

"Human worker-performers move sluggishly around a modular platform in a permanently gloomy La Capella; they are employed to apparently do nothing much at all, embodying an uncanny kind of work–life balance. It’s the gig economy, stupid. David Mutiloa’s melancholy Barcelona exhibition Synthesis shadows how changes in the modern office workplace have heeded novel notions of management and business efficiency, abiding by a labour market that progressively favours flexibility and adaptability." 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. 

 Photo: Pep Herrero / La Capella/ Barcelona Producció 2017.

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

"In the modern office workplace, spatial design and brand communication have evolved in step with novel notions of management, business efficiency and a labour market that progressively favours flexibility and adaptability. The typical Western office worker – their physiology as well as their psychology – has also been overhauled. Twentieth-century time-and-motion studies first standardised and rationalised the salaried worker’s time and space. And today the twenty-first-century worker is increasingly a co-working independent contractor who navigates an entirely dissolved working-week structure, continuous competitive ‘disruption’ and the so-called ‘gig economy’. 

Using sculpture, video projections and human presence, David Mutiloa’s exhibition Synthesis proposes that this condition has led to the appearance of pharmacologically managed depression, “an illness of responsibility”. It has also induced a terrible form of boredom – the spectre of both the boundless outsourcing of undesirable labour to the developing world, and automation leading to a world without work. Synthesis shadows these ideas through two video projections, live action by human worker-performers and the display of a series of sculptures made from steel, silicon, resin, computer components, pharmaceutical drugs and other materials. These sculptures derive from human anatomy and iconic industrial design forms conceived for the office environment from the 1960s to the 1990s. These decades saw a transition from the typewriter to the personal computer, and from rooms with regimented rows of desks to spaces with customisable cubicles, ‘neighbourhoods’ and flexible work ‘nests’. Arranged on and around a modular platform like industrial still lifes, the sculptural elements are sometimes juxtaposed with office-systems brochures. They often represent variations based on an individual element that Mutiloa has abstracted, augmented or made into its inverse form through moulding and casting – furniture, desk accessories and structural systems, for example, that were designed with both high style and ergonomics in mind. Prominent among the sculptural forms are those based on the classic Pop-era Valentine typewriter, first produced in 1969 for the Italian brand Olivetti. Large metal forms are derived from wall connectors from the revolutionary Action Office systems, introduced by the Herman Miller company in the 1960s. Modular ‘workstations’ for the ‘human performer’ were comprised of angled and movable fabric-wrapped walls, which an office worker could supposedly arrange to create his or her own ideal work space. Other sculptures adopt the form of articulated arms with support for screens or are taken from the Aeron chair, also produced by Herman Miller. 


 Photo: Pep Herrero / La Capella/ Barcelona Producció 2017.

The latter, a seat with exaggerated lumbar support, become so popular with Web startup companies in the late 1990s that it was nicknamed the ‘Dot-Com Throne’. Other forms recall the frame of the 543 Broadway chair, and a metal grid evokes the Shopping Cart desk; both of the earlier pieces were designed by Gaetano Pesce in the 1990s for the notoriously open-plan, multicoloured offices of the advertising agency TBWA/Chiat/Day New York. A large suspended video projection will present a series of highly composed shots of the installation itself, and will be filmed and edited during the exhibition and later inserted into the composition as if following a just-in-time production methodology. The second video projection of Synthesis also gives the whole exhibition space its uncanny soundtrack – a relentless, evolving, aural collage that seems to evoke the hum of a post-industrial factory floor, or the placeless drone of the knowledge economy. The screen shows a virtual camera moving over and around a spatial environment that Mutiloa derived from the 1970s office system produced by Olivetti, from which the exhibition also takes its title. Continuously generated from a 3D digital model, the visualisation comprises a looped animation that is screened throughout the exhibition. Human work-performers move listlessly around the exhibition; they are employed by Mutiloa’s exhibition, yet are apparently doing nothing at all. In a widely cited study published in 2013, experts predicted that almost half of the jobs in the US were at risk of being automated in the next two decades.  Driverless technology, cheap computers, deep learning and big data are leading to increasingly sophisticated tasks being done by ever-smarter machines across a whole range of sectors – from translation to logistics, but especially in office and administrative work. A pessimist would argue that wherever office work can be broken down into a series of routine tasks, no job is safe. If new technologies are not yet replacing workers, they may
nevertheless be putting them under increased surveillance in order to monitor their activity and productivity minute by minute.  


As automation rises, does the value of the tasks that can be done only by humans therefore increase? What is at stake when affective faculties such as creativity – the supposed domain of the artist – are more than ever part of a productive and evaluative logic? Does the notion that one must project one’s own personal brand through the splintered attention spans of social media point to a future marked by a total synthesis of individual fulfilment, freelancers’ anxiety and corporate competitiveness for all?
 

— Latitudes
 

[1] http://www.oxfordmartin.ox.ac.uk/downloads/academic/The_Future_of_Employment.
 

Photo: Pep Herrero / La Capella/ Barcelona Producció 2017. 

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Cover Story: July 2016 – Through the grapevine – Rasmus Nilausen’s Soups & Symptoms


New Monthly Cover Story "Through the grapevine – Rasmus Nilausen’s Soups & Symptoms" is now on www.lttds.org (after July 2016 it will be archived here)

"Rasmus Nilausen’s ‘The Cluster III’ (2014) sits tight in a cupboard in what was once the house of a priest. This painting formed just one part of the exhibition that, together with Pere Llobera, Nilausen made for the Latitudes-devised Composiciones last October (the programme of artists’ interventions returns later this year). "Vera Icon" took over the rooms of the abandoned house in the gardens of La Central bookstore, itself a former city-centre church, and tweeting Mayoress Ada Colau was one of the many curious visitors over the weekend." 

—> Continue reading...

Cover Stories' are published on a monthly basis on Latitudes' homepage to highlight past, present or forthcoming projects, research, exhibitions or field trips related to our activities. 
"Highly recommended the #BarcelonaGalleryWeekend @ArtBarcelona_AS". Twitter by Ada Colau, Barcelona Mayor during her visit to Rasmus Nilausen (photographed on the left and upper right corner) and Pere Llobera exhibition at the house of a former priest, La Central Bookstore. Slideshow starts here.

Related content:
  • Archive of Cover Stories.
  • Last days! Cover Story and exhibition of José Antonio Hernández-Díez: techno-pop, death and resurrection (20 June 2016)
  • Cover Story, May 2016: Material histories – spilling the beans at the CAPC musée d’art contemporain de Bordeaux (10 May 2016)
  • Cover Story, March 2016: José Antonio Hernández-Díez: The sacred heart of the matter (3 March 2016
  • Cover Story, February 2016: Sarah Ortmeyer, Towering allusions (9 Febrero 2016)




Commentary text on Roman Ondák now available via The Common Guild' website


Compilation of commentary texts. Photo: The Common Guild.

The Common Guild regularly commissions artists, writers and curators a series of short texts to accompany their ongoing exhibitions programme. These commentaries are uploaded as pdfs on their website, and can be printed and easily compiled – see image as a suggestion for how to do this. 

Latitudes' commentary text on Roman Ondák's work and exhibiton "Some Thing" (12 October – 14 December 2013) has just been uploaded and can be found as a pdf here. The text follows Latitudes' talk on 21 November 2013 (audio here).

Commentary text can be downloadable as a pdf here.



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