SPEED 2 is shown at Malmö Konsthall and is the second iteration of the exhibition, following its first presentation at Künstlerhaus Stuttgart. It takes the form of an expanded version, commissioned with Künstlerhaus and realised in dialogue with the spaces of Malmö Konsthall.
SPEED 2 comprises three major newly conceived works by James Richards and Leslie Thornton, alongside a show-within-the-show convened by Richards with works by Horst Ademeit, Tolia Astakhishvili, Adelhyd van Bender, Bruce Conner, Emily Feather, Terence McCormack, Vi Khi Nao, Jeff Preiss, Jens Thornton and Thomas Zummer.
In the making of SPEED 2, Richards and Thornton have been concerned with specific psychic and temporal states, rushes of interconnectedness and scientific wonder, as well as a sense of ecological dread and paranoia. The oscillation between an ordering impulse, and the relinquishing of control is a central feature of SPEED 2, one that returns in the exhibitions’ different modes: cinema screening, video mural, sound installation, study room and group show.
Many of the works in the group exhibition were made against a backdrop of apprehension and self-destruction during the Cold War, with its at times uncanny resonances with the present moment. The atmosphere contains an obsessive energy, a recurring fascination with rays, mind altering effects and rituals and the systematic sorting and recording of experience. It is sense of frantic repetition and labour, which van Bender described as ‘Divine Drudgery’, a spirit also present in Bruce Conner’s psychedelic Inkblot Drawings.
There is an impulse of collaboration that brought about SPEED 2, one shaped by the artists’ joint residency at CERN. This center for nuclear research became a working-site and a space for thinking artistically – the largest machine in the world, seeking the smallest particle, a combination between the epic and the mundane that recurs in the logic of SPEED 2. The exhibition comprises discrete and individual new works, from Richards’ large-scale video mural Phrasing and Thornton’s cinema installation Cut from Liquid to Snake, to the wall text and video installation Sheep Machine Redux, conceived for the spaces of Malmö Konsthall. It is a body of work developed from the artists’ individual practices but also from the third mind of collaboration, a channeling of and at times conscious unsettling of each others’ sensitivities. The basic biographical contrasts between Richards and Thornton are apparent: gender, age and sexuality are all points of difference. What has drawn them together is an inclination they seem to share: that of grabbing charged material, and without apparent judgement or moralising, filling and emptying it. There is an attuned pitch for locating and unsettling any received and comfortable meaning. And at the same time, they produce works with a highly specific sense of the contemporary moment and the urgencies that it presents.
Curated by Fatima Hellberg and James Richards with Matt Fitts
Commissioned by Malmö Konsthall and Künstlerhaus Stuttgart
Realised with the generous support of Pedro Barbosa; Ministry of Science, Research and the Arts, Baden-Württemberg; Wüstenrot Stiftung; Ritter Sport; pbb Stiftung für Kunst und Wissenschaft and the British Council, Berlin.
With special thanks to Rodeo, Galerie Isabella Bortolozzi, Cabinet Gallery, Andrea Bellini, Centre d’art Contemporain Genève und CERN.
High Windows, Dead Birds
Taking a cue from Philip Larkin’s poetry collections, ‘The Less Deceived’, ‘The Whitsun Weddings’ and ‘High Windows’ Stephen Sutcliffe’s new works form a suite of short, collaged videos. These extend Sutcliffe’s longstanding obsessions with cultural confidence, social class and meditations on death and failure, and will be presented in dialogue with selected videos by the artist, spanning from the early 2000s until the present.
Sutcliffe has had an ongoing engagement with literature in his practice, a strand pushed, and also complicated in this new body of work. There are immediate affinities in tone and approach between Sutcliffe and Larkin: the attempt to render a time through the lens of private experience, and the movements between troubled realism and discontent, alongside wit and humour. Working with the format of the short-form collaged video, Sutcliffe both channels the distinctive structure and mood of his literary references and extends them into his own distinctive language and time.
High Windows, Dead Birds marks the most comprehensive presentation of the artist’s work to date, and the first in a German context, encompassing his new videos alongside retrospective elements and spatial interventions realised in dialogue with the spaces of Künstlerhaus Stuttgart.