In a historical period in which it seems that the book is, almost, past fashion, perhaps the study of architecture X+Living has found a brilliant way to relaunch it. This ingenious idea responds to the name of Zhongshuge and is a bookshop with a surreal, almost magical aspect, located in the Chinese district of Binjiang.
In addition to being an intricate labyrinth of staircases, rooms, and corridors, which alone create a place to be discovered, the main feature of the Zhongshuge is the immoderate use of mirrors. Forget, however, the classic mirrors to hang on the walls, I’m talking about entire ceilings, walls or floors mirrored. This aesthetic choice creates a unique optical illusion, multiplying spaces endlessly. Going looking for a book at Zhongshuge becomes a life experience, a sort of visit inside an immersed installation, the only difference is that it remains there every day, always at your disposal.
The expression post-internet art can be divisive and at times incomprehensible. Let’s clarify this term a bit. The term emerged in the early 2000s when Marisa Olson, a visual artist and curator who was collaborating with Rhizome was searching for a definition to describe her work as a visual artist—a combination of online and offline creations. Olson’s intention was not to coin a term that indicated the future of contemporary art after the invention of the internet, but rather to find a word that would help her and the collective she co-founded, Nasty Nets, define that branch of art that celebrated, albeit with criticism, the world of the internet. Due to many misunderstandings, this term and its creator have faced numerous criticisms over the years.
Today, post-internet art means the artistic strand that deals with the impact of the Internet in the world of art and culture. Unlike Net Art, which used the Internet as a medium in the late 1990s, times have changed. Now artists like Amalia Ulman, Jon Rafman and Cory Arcangel use content from the Web to create works that reflect on the relationship we have not only with the Internet but also with social media.
Argentina’s Amalia Ulman has used a variety of mediums over the years, from painting to smartphone apps, exploring the links between consumerism and gender identity, social classes and aesthetics.
Jon Rafman’success came with 9 Eyes, a series in which the artist “stole” some shots from Google Maps using the Street View mode. His critique of the internet world has reached far, incorporating its rich vocabulary and visual culture to develop poetic narratives capable of capturing the tension between the human and the machine, as seen in his recent exhibition, Ebrah K’dabri at Sprüth Magers in Berlin last April.
Cory Arcangel is another post-internet artist who plays with pop culture through techniques like digital hacking and reconfiguration. Arcangel employs bot performances and machine learning tools, such as in 2021 when his solo exhibition Century 21 in New York featured Let’s Play: Hollywood, a type of deep-Q machine learning supercomputing system capable of playing any open-ended RPG game in real-time.
Ph. courtesy Marisa Olson, Amalia Ulman, Jon Rafman, Cory Arcangel
Props from Asteroid City, the new film directed by Wes Anderson, will be featured in an exhibition curated and presented by 180 Studios and Universal Pictures from June 17 in London. The film is set in a fictional American desert town during the 1950s and features a stellar cast, from Scarlett Johansson to Tom Hanks, Jason Schwartzman to Margot Robbie and many others. But, sure to steal everyone’s thunder is the alien, who appears for a few minutes but will leave everyone speechless.
The exhibit anticipates the dreamlike atmosphere and retro aesthetic of Anderson’s new film, exploring the props and costumes we can already glimpse from watching the trailer. A jetpack, a ray gun, a meteorite, a telescope, as well as colorful posters and much more. Visitors will even be able to dine inside the diner, faithfully recreated like the one in the film. The exhibition will be a true immersive experience in Asteroid City, amid the music and colors of the movie, which will accompany visitors as they await its theatrical release, scheduled for June 23, 2023. From the trailer clips, one can already sense the richness of the details and the meticulous care Anderson has toward the set. The colors and cinematography are also remarkable, almost succeeding in drawing attention away from the plot and focusing instead on the harmonious beauty of the shots. Indeed, the pastel palette, from blues to desert beiges, creates an almost dreamlike, at times metaphysical, setting that allows the viewer to relax.
In short, Wes Anderson’s touch is clearly discernible. His manic use of symmetry and refined framing enhance what is a set bordering on the surreal. Indeed, it is not the real American desert, but the Spanish landscape. The director preferred to recreate the setting outside Madrid, first also evaluating the Cinecittà studios. So all we have to do is wait and, in the meantime, discover a few frames and catch a glimpse of the objects that will soon be featured in the London exhibition, open until July 8 and bookable here.
Among the most famous and fascinating artistic techniques, the ancient Japanese art of Kintsugi undoubtedly stands out. It is a practice born from the idea of transforming an imperfection, a damage or a wound into something even more beautiful and perfect. Basically, this technique consists in repairing ceramic objects, even those of daily use such as cups and plates, using gold or cast silver to weld the shards. The final result gives the object a unique look and, what is no small thing, a much higher value than the original. It is precisely from the art of Kintsugi that the artist Glen Martin Taylor was inspired for his works.
Like Japanese, Glen Martin Taylor repairs ceramics of all kinds, some made by him and others bought but replacing precious metal with everyday objects, from twine threads to metal elements.
If in Kintsugi’s art the only important part is that of repair, for the artist the act of reassembling objects is as important as that of destroying them. Through these two phases, the artist frees his emotions and confronts them by creating objects that will eventually have lost their primary purpose, but not their importance.
With a photographic cut and a very close gaze, French painterAlexis Ralaivao (1991) is able to cancel the distances between the subjects of his oil paintings and the viewers. Bodily details become the protagonists of his huge canvases. An ear, a hand holding a fork, a pendant swinging above a cleavage, a naked belly. Ultra-zooming bodies almost seem to come out of the canvas, becoming tangible and real. They can be brushed against, sniffed, sensed. The viewer is involuntarily led to establish an intimate connection with the subject, though not seeing his or her face. Simple, everyday gestures lead the viewer on an empathetic journey, allowing him or her to get closer. And here the Dutch figurative painting from which the artist draws inspiration becomes “accessible.” No longer something to be frightened by, almost overwhelmed by, but a moment to relax, to surrender to delicacy.
Alexis Ralaivao translates the everyday and the simplicity of gestures into eternal moments, suspended in time. Calm and lightness are evoked by pastel hues and delicate shades, enclosing the canvases in a dreamlike dimension. The choice of mixed-ethnicity subjects, being himself part of that community, and the photographic cut borrowed mostly from social media, allow Alexis to take a contemporary look at what is one of the most traditional and ancient techniques, the figurative. The boundaries between the traditional and the contemporary are broken, “In classical portraiture there is a distance between the audience and the person represented. I want to erase this distance,” Ralaivao declares.
Thus ephemeral and simple moments, which in the world of social media would disappear after a few hours, become crystallized forever in a dimension that is not meant to be magical or surreal, but rather tends toward inclusion and the breaking down of boundaries.