“The whole useless body was invaded by transparency. Little by little the body turned to light. […] And the person was no longer anything but a sign among the constellations.” – Louis Aragon*
Gasworks presents Interlocutor, a major new commission by Rachal Bradley, produced by Gasworks through the Freelands Artist Programme, and in partnership with Kunstlerhaus Stuttgart.
Bradley is interested in organisational structures, processes and relations, how these shape meaning and code the relations between individuals and society. This includes, but is not limited to, art and the contexts in which it is presented and produced, and an attention to what art does as well as what art means.
Interlocutor begins from the privacy of the artist’s studio at Gasworks, occupied during her residency from 3 July to 18 September this year. Spiralling outward from here, like an IUD, it becomes more public in stages, from private, semi-public and public events, to critical writing, a solo exhibition and an intervention on the façades of the Gasworks building, the organisation’s most public aspect.
This intervention entails attaching purpose-engineered panels to Gasworks’ exterior walls, like armour or a prosthesis, transforming the organisation into a negative ion generator, emitting negative ions throughout the building and surrounding areas. An ion is a charged atom or molecule, charged because of an imbalance between the number of protons and electrons it contains. In nature, waterfalls and thunderstorms produce negative ions, and they are said to be good for your health, meaning that negative is actually positive. Amping up this inversion and materialising the production of this invisible force – tied up with contemporary wellness as much as Ancient Greek and Japanese philosophy – the work operates as a functioning metaphor for how value might be produced by different systems.
First conceived as opportunities for group discussion and research, the related events series also dilutes the time-limited ‘publicness’ of Bradley’s commission beyond the dates of her solo exhibition from 25 January to 25 March 2018. The first event, a closed-door workshop titled The Erotics of Infrastructure, took place on 15 August together with artists, writers and theorists Patricia L Boyd, Emily Jones, Ghislaine Leung, Jay Springett, Helena Vilalta, Sidsel Meineche Hansen and Jess Wiesner, who were each invited to present research material implicating infrastructure in the erotic, pleasurable, charged or circuitous.
A follow up, semi-public workshop, The Erotics of Infrastructure II, took place on 11 November, and Rachal Bradley and Patricia L Boyd will be in conversation on 14 December. Bradley will also give public readings on 24 February and 3 March 2018 of a new text, epic in form, which addresses collective memory and the politics of emotion, altogether different negative energies, driven by the artist’s obsession with a photograph of professional skateboarder Jason Dill standing with arms folded on a New York City street on 9/11, with the Twin Towers billowing smoke in the background.
Commissioned and produced by Gasworks through the Freelands Artist Programme, and presented in partnership with Kunstlerhaus Stuttgart. With additional support from Arts Council England, Cockayne—Grants for the Arts and the London Community Foundation; and Gasworks’s Exhibition Programme Supporter 2017-18, Catherine Petitgas.
*Quoted in Shierry Weber Nicholson, Subjective Aesthetic Experience and its Historical Trajectory, Exact Imagination, Late Work: On Adorno’s Aesthetics, Cambridge and London: The MIT Press, 1997, p.38