Region/Concept: South Asia, Violence
Sub-Concepts: Pain, Catastrophe, Partition, Mutilation, Supplication
Description: Indian artist Nalini Malani creates video assemblages projected onto spinning Mylar cylinders casting shadows on walls.

Theory: Tails, claws, racing limbs, wagging fingers—pulsing, flickering, slow revolution, spinning, cutting, differential speeds. Fingerprints float past, unfathomable maps of a sensual cosmos out of reach, suffocatingly so. Overcome by the splitting of land, women’s bodies an incision point—again, yet again, we learn only at the end, far past the end, that there are no people here; always “the people are missing.” Revolutions of translucencies, hollow bodies of light, what silent supplication arises from the vapor of vanished blood? May the wrathful deities yet protect passage through realms of defeat and separation. Organs riven apart, what remains to follow the voice of Faiz Ahmed Faiz—“This blood which has disappeared without leaving a trace/isn’t part of written history: who will guide me to it?”—but empty, endless, phantom longing. Cassandra does not speak, merely spins, in painful compassion…or could it be an enormous, billowing rage?


Posted by: Una Chung



Region/Concept: East Asia, Space
Sub-Concepts: Mapping, Urbanization, Dislocation, Geoscape, Ancient, Phantom
Description: Chinese artist Yang Yongliang creates industrial dystopias in shan shui landscapes.

Theory: Stitching innumerable series of electric pylons and half-built/half-demolished high-rises, for the eye yearns to see graceful contours of a mountainous landscape. The wrecking force of a developmental power that only knows creating, building, making, raising, multiplying—a menacing positivity threatening the natural environment with its own relentlessly reproductive nature. The micro-twitchings of an eye compiling. Algorithms thriving on indeterminacy. Computational landscapes fecund with affect. Natural perception nothing more than primal projection of reality—“there are only relinkages subject to the cut”—Taoism’s pure perception sees through contrast and past juxtaposition to pierce the emptiness of what is—“instead of cuts subject to the linkage.”


Posted by: Una Chung



Region/Concept: Latin America, Myth
Sub-Concepts: Disorientation, Immensity, The Labyrinth, The Elsewhere
Description: Brazilian artist Henrique Oliveira creates installation of wooden caverns.

Theory: Artificial primordialism; hypothetical exodus; prophetic wilderness. An artist-sculptor takes the debris from splintered wood and restructures its pieces into a vast sequence of coils and turning lairs, the pseudo-site of an uprooted forest. Once wasted particles have now become a continuous network of excess and immensity, the catacomb of some child or savage’s dream (terrifying innocence). The consequence: an assembled geography of enclosures and subterranean halls (the tunnel, the labyrinth, the corridor, the cylinder, the cave); appearance of an untouched world; manipulated sublimity. These arteries are but the collective lie of an origin (only their hollowness is universal). Such is the experience of the radical elsewhere: traveling beneath, within the underpass and the curvature. Such is the experience of spatial bewilderment: where one goes to join the lost, the aimless, and the disoriented.


Posted by: Jason Mohaghegh



Region/Concept: East Europe / Space (Vampiricism)
Sub-Concepts: Dracula, Contamination, Arithmomania
Description: Dracula’s castle goes for sale and inspires speculation on the nature of vampiric force.

Dracula has never been more popular, as numerous TV shows and movies attest. Perhaps that means that he is truly dead, now living posthumously not as the aristocratic undead but as a pastime of bored twenty-first century audiences. Journalists are quick to announce that he is a “fictitious character” (they are not fooled, the fact-checkers). In Transylvania his castle is being sold. (Yes, the castle of Vlad Tepes, the legendary prince upon whose exploits the tale has been based.) It currently belongs to the Habsburg family, former rulers of the Habsburg empire. But let us get our facts straight. Dracula is just a spectacular manifestation of a much older, subterranean force that runs through southeast European tales and the everyday in the 1700s: that of a vampir. It is no coincidence that vampires rose (from the dead) to prominence when the Habsburg empire was at its peak, like a counter-current running from the edge of the empire, spreading disbelief and paranoia. What is more, this vampiric chemistry trickles through centuries, even millennia, both as a political and as an aesthetic force. It always appears as a disturbance at the heart of a “civilization” (Mesopotamian, ancient Greek, Roman, Chinese, etc.). Contamination, proliferation. Is there a more revolutionary tactic for a movement? And yet, the greatest terror does not come from the spilling and sucking of blood but from an internal compulsion, a terrible flaw: arithmomania (obsessive need to count actions or objects in one’s surroundings). One can only hope that new owners of the Bran Castle will also get bit (it is the least they deserve), then close the castle to swarming tourists, and count the bags of spilled peas into eternity. A passionate mania is always better than a passionless spectacle.


Posted by: Dejan Lukic



Region/Concept: North America, Myth
Sub-Concepts: Shadow, Abduction, Omen, Portal, Unpromising World
Description: Photographer Arthur Tress recreates scenes from children’s nightmares.

The Dream of Night: a third ancient obsession of human consciousness (birthplace of the marauder, the highwayman, and the vigilante). Myths of the shadow and of the pitch-black; myths of nothingness and darkening, of night as abductor (that it steals our being), night as omen (that it can be read in signs) and oracle (that it reveals the sacred will), or night as portal (that it provides passage into the deranged, the hidden, and the prohibited). Thus a photographer interrogates the recurring themes of children’s nightmares—some born of sleep and others of sleeplessness, some archetypal and others quite unique to behold—and then situates them as accomplices to its black-and-white recreation. As they consent to a second performance of the terror, we are showered with images of the buried alive, of being chased, of growing roots from one’s hands, of submergence in a house’s rooftop, and of not-right men standing in the woods. And yet all is inviting here (one trembles, yet without anxiety), as each instance takes its place within the larger catalogue of an artist-turned-collector. This leads one to ask the proper term for such an album of young visitations-unto-dread: can one even call this an archive, compendium, anthology, or testimony of some kind? Perhaps no invented word yet for what it means to accumulate the many bad sides of malediction and pretending, those which forebode and warn the viewer of an unpromising world…such that the transition from dusk to evening to midnight goes hand-in-hand with the transition from seamlessness to seduction to awful entrapment. The nocturnal therefore speaks only of the inexistent; and the night always wins.


Posted by: Jason Mohaghegh



Region/Concept: Europe, Myth
Sub-Concepts: Fright, Malevolence, Extremity, Otherworldliness
Description: Danish artist John Kenn Mortensen draws images of monsters on post-it notes.

The Dream of Monstrosity: another of the most ancient obsessions of human consciousness (the first villages had their folklore of supernatural creatures threatening from the periphery). Myths of devouring jaws, of nightmarish forms and disproportionate limbs, of evil and miraculous traits. Ecstatic malevolence; diabolical thought; otherworldliness. Thus we descend upon the cellar stairs of our exhilaration before images of fright, paralysis, awe, and deformity. The monster has always represented the excess of human possibility, the visceral ghoulish embodiment of man-gone-too-far. This is why they resemble us in certain key ways (our eyes, our hands), and yet deviate toward horrid states of expansion, magnification, or irradiation (the pupils are too bloodshot, the nails are too long). Still, it is through this hyper-mirror alone that we can envision ourselves as the lost cause, and at the point of no return; for the monster’s face, the monster’s body, is nothing more than the extreme limit of our own mortal intensity (and thus made immortal).


Posted by: Jason Mohaghegh