The New Anxiety
The 300+ year technologies built to capture, understand and connect the world - from maps through geostationary satellites to contemporary algorithms and big data collection - have been exposed as weapons-grade systems that pluralise reality and destabilise the present. How does living in this new anxious world feel, and how deep do these systems take root?
Holly Childs + Gediminas Žygus Freefall [new work - a VIRTUALLYREALITY commission]
Chino Amobi ILLUMINAZIONI
Competition [new performance]
Marta Śniady you make me feel so brand new [new solo version] UK premiere performed by Silvia Lucas (keyboard/voice)
Sonja Mutić sh[out]
Our previous ‘New Anxiety’ theme showed attention and devotion to the inner workings of systems is vital for us to impart humanity into the folds of this pluralised world. But what if our devotional abilities - romantic, religious, corporate or otherwise - have been co-opted by higher forms of authority?
We start in pieces, a gut-punch. Sonja Mutić’s audiovisual ‘sh[out]’ sees romantic devotion crumble as language itself fails to comprehend the magnitude of heartbreak. Emotional impact can be felt in the scrap string loops, dented percussion and unadorned croons of Newcastle’s Competition presenting a live-streamed set including music from his 2019 album ‘Repetitive Music’ (Slip).
still from Sonja Mutić's 'sh[out]'
Devotion monetised is attention won. The manipulative world of the beauty industry is often critiqued by Polish composer Marta Śniady. In a new solo upcycle of the work ‘you make me feel so brand new’ for pianist Silvia Lucas, ad slogans are recited like mantras over triggered blushy glitch. A higher power is Romantically subverted in Chino Amobi’s film ‘ILLUMINAZIONI’. Blending corporate iconography, first-person-shooter VFX, Renaissance tableaux and the devotional music of Arvo Pärt, the mise-en-scene seems to silhouette our unwitting relationship with the powers that be.
still from Chino Amobi's 'ILLUMINAZIONI'
still from Holly Childs + Gediminas Žygus' 'Freefall', a new commission from VIRTUALLYREALITY
We close this chapter with a new commission from intercontinental collaborators Holly Childs & Gediminas Žygus whose forking stories sit suspiciously over sci-fi-adjacent medieval folk sounds. ‘Freefall’ pummels with indeterminate urgency, haunted by dust, looming systems and conflicting devotions to knowledge and belief. This newly commissioned video made with artists Elif Satanaya Özbay and Tomasz Skibicki situates their anxious conspiracy-coaxing within creeping and osseous visuals.
Chino Amobi is a Virginia-based contemporary artist, experimental electronic musician, and producer. He is co-founder of the independent label NON Worldwide. He has previously worked in painting and sound art, and has released albums such as Airport Music for Black Folk (2016) and Paradiso (2017), which explore themes of intercontinental security, post-apocalyptic narratives and The New Global South. He is represented by Fitzpatrick Gallery (Paris; Los Angeles).
Holly Childs is a writer and artist. Her research involves filtering stories of computation through frames of ecology, memory, poetry and light. She is the author of two books: No Limit (Hologram) and Danklands (Arcadia Missa); and has presented her work at ICA (London), Stedelijk Museum (Amsterdam), Trust (Berlin), Elam School of Art (Auckland) and more.
Silvia Lucas is a Spanish pianist and electronic performer based in Manchester (UK). As a contemporary performer, Silvia has premiered a large number or works, most of them dedicated to her. She performs extensively along the UK, Europe and North America. Most recently she has received a PhD from the RNCM focusing on the performance of works for piano and electronics. As well as a performer, Silvia is the artistic director of the newly created concert series noisescenes.
Sonja Mutić is a composer, performer and PhD candidate at Harvard University. She works with sounds at thresholds of silence, harmony and noise, using minimal means to create textures of maximal expressive weight. She is interested in slowness, artistic self-exposure and vulnerability.
Elif Satanaya Özbay is a multidisciplinary artist with a lens-based practice focusing on diasporic nostalgia, working within the frameworks of horror. She produces installation works accompanied by objects or materials that draw contemporary references to the undead and researches in a biographical way the notion of digging up and bringing back.
Craig Pollard (aka Competition) is a quietly pivotal figure in Newcastle’s musical underground, curating events and operating across the city’s artist-led communities. As Competition, he makes (mild) pop music with a sampler and voice. The songs think about smallness and vulnerability, and build hooks from within their own limited means.
Tomasz Skibicki produces installations, sculptures, and films based on what he likes to call “first-hand encounters with second-hand stories.” In the manner of a forensic scientist, he performs autopsies of abandoned places and objects to subsequently incorporate them as vernacular signs into his work. Next to being a hoarder of objects and stories, Skibicki also likes to use traditional crafts such as wood carving and assembling to produce sculptures and installations that as much speak to concerns of migration, consumerism and death, as they are riddles in personal and arcane narratives.
In her work as a composer, Marta Śniady follows the vision of a music that refers to different art forms. Furthermore, she feels that new music is an important medium of social communication, which is why she doesn’t treat it as pure sound art, but works on building multi-layered references and connections.
Gediminas Žygus is an artist working within the fields of sound, documentary and performance. Their practice assembles a spectrum of influences deriving from ecology, science studies, and media theory. As J.G. Biberkopf, their releases have found homes on Knives and Danse Noire. Žygus has performed at Barbican Centre (London), Berghain (Berlin), Sonic Acts (Amsterdam), and Centre Pompidou (Paris), among others.