SHIMMER is a new solo show by Lanfranco Aceti and Willem Jan Smit who came together under the curatorial framework of Irini Papadimitriou, curator at the Victoria and Albert Museum. The two artists merged their aesthetic practices for SHIMMER and generated for the Museum of Contemporary Cuts and the Athens School of Fine Arts in Hydra (GR) a scathing visual analysis of contemporary political art. The exhibition takes place from September 12, 2017 to October 15, 2017.
“The foundation for the defiance in contemporary art practices of activism and art actionism—explain the artists—clashes against social constructs which conspire to blind us to socio-economic exploitation via artists posing as activists through socially mediated platforms for a sprite of screen time or a couple hundred likes.”
It is in this context of aesthetic egotistic Hollywoodification of champagne socialists, click activists, and re-upholstered armchair revolutionaries that the exercise of fashionable prepubescent anger—as a response to the processes of exploitation and necropolitics of nation states—has to be delivered as an optimistic and benign participatory visual message. This is a message that is prettily aestheticized and homophonically heteronormative in relation to the sound of the chorus within which artists are singing the same uninspiring dribbling and re-ingested vomit produced by the same corporate hymn sheet.
Trapped in the swampy glue of contemporary social media and impossibilitated to counteract the hypermediated and metastructures spewed by institutional taxonomies for hunting, trapping, and cataloging behaviors and human activities, the functional aesthetic response is the soiling of oneself with the shimmering of superficial blindness of Arcadian landscapes, shining objects, and the glistening of bodily fluids.
It is in these post-capitalistic ideological failures that the Mediterranean—as a regional and variegated cultural area bent over to corruption, loosely connected and still so similar in its hypersexually inspired patriarchal servitude despite its multitude of differences—flaunts about beauty not as solace but as a weapon in the hands of others and by which to be pierced. Blinded by an obvious aesthetic of oblivion conjured by the silvery shimmer of waters—which renders vision both blind and starry—the complex inheritances of borders, routes, and narratives, sinks in the depths of a sea of darkness covered by the bedazzling light of incessantly and collectively regurgitated reflections. Not much is left to see below the reflective surface of contemporary necropolitics which make of their liquidity and constant changing sparkles an attractive shining body of obfuscating lights.
The awareness of this blinding quality of the Mediterranean waters and their metaphors is at the core of the exhibition SHIMMER in Hydra. The phenomenon of shimmering is presented by the artists as an experience that does not unveil but conceals, making it impossible to reveal the fullness of contemporary sorrowful experiences.
Accustomed to suffering— as a constant process of plunging from one crisis into another, political failure to political failure, falling of an empire into the rising of a new one—the socio-political Mediterranean understanding of life is characterized by a staring in the blinding light of the sun reflected upon the sea. The wavering and weaving process of post-capitalistic narratives of uncertainty exists—in the Mediterranean context—within the certainty of the inscrutability of the undercurrents of events that remain invisible to the naked eye but not for this reason less known or felt in the destructive strength of their invisible forces. These are objects that the artists present as shimmering superficial constructs concealing their darker and deeper nature.
LANFRANCO ACETI (IT, UK, US) is an artist, curator, and academic. He has exhibited internationally at the Venice Biennale, the Thessaloniki Biennial, and numerous other galleries and museums. He is visiting professors at ACT@MIT and professor at Boston University. His artworks are held in numerous private and public collections.
WILLEM JAN SMIT (NL, ES, DE) is a contemporary artist and activist who has exhibited internationally. He has shown in Canada, Germany, Spain, Italy, Great Britain, Greece, and the United States. His latest intervention was, ad nauseam, at Documenta 14. His artworks are held in numerous private and public collections.
IRINI PAPADIMITRIOU (GR, UK) is a curator, producer and cultural manager, working at the forefront of digital culture. Irini works at the Victoria and Albert Museum and Watermans gallery. She also collaborates with the British Council Creative Economy.
1 Lanfranco Aceti, the Biggr the Bettr, 2017. Sequins on stretched silk, 40x60cm.
2 Willem Jan Smit, Not Too Big, 2017. Reversible sequins fabric and garment hangers, 120x240cm.
3 Willem Jan Smit, Blow Me, 2017. Reversible sequins fabric and garment hangers, 140x300cm.
4 Lanfranco Aceti & Willem Jan Smit, Fuck the Fucking Arcadia, 2017. Local shopping bags, 212 x 285cm.
5 Lanfranco Aceti, I Will Keep Forgetting You Every Single Day, 2017. Found text on linen, ink and shimmery gold paint, not too big, suitable to decorate apartments.
6 Lanfranco Aceti, Throwing Shimmery Shade, 2017. Reclaimed chairs from Mandraki dump, mylar tape on parasol, 200x188cm.
7 Willem Jan Smit, Sweet Dreams, Fais de Beaux Reves, Óneira Glyká, 2017. Rope from nearby chapel, dimensions variable, string theory.
8 Lanfranco Aceti, Spa Day, 2017. Performance with mule and youth.
9 Lanfranco Aceti & Willem Jan Smit, The Rehydration of Hydra aka Snakes on a Ladder, Straight Off the Plane, 2017. Iron can, ladder from the water processing plant in Mandraki ditch, garden hose, couplings, metal wire, spray heads and water.
10 Willem Jan Smit, Yammer Yammer, Bad Mammer Jammer, 2017. Farewell performance with megaphone.
11 Lanfranco Aceti & Willem Jan Smit, Miss Congeniality, 2017. Garbage bag runners from mansion windows. Sized to the building.
Many thanks to the Athens School of Fine Arts and the participating students without whom this project would not have been realised so graciously.