— Skills of Economy

Mattering City

Mattering City

With: Melanie Bonajo, The BodyBuilding Project, and Asbjørn Skou

Curated by Jussi Koitela

4. – 26.11.2016

The exhibition Mattering City echoes symptoms and reactions to the contemporary city space as an accumulation of capital. It presents reflections and bodily engagements to neoliberal human-centric urbanism, its gentrification, and its geometries for city space. The project recognizes the potential for contemporary artistic practices to rethinking spatial, social and economic shifts, like those organized by human and extra-human co-agencies in the public sphere.

The contemporary city is being developed through notions that see certain areas or spaces as empty and misused. Often investors and politicians view space with what could be referred to as a colonial gaze, one that fills the “emptiness” and makes it “usable.” Or at least this is how it is perceived from the human perspective: neoliberal gentrification as a frontier of contemporary capital and as the only alternative for understanding ontological units that the city space can contain. This brings in focus, how through the engagement of capital and fossil energy, the city is experienced as flow of objects and energies creating densities and cartographies of matter and forms.

Mattering City brings up artistic practices as ways of exposing material and bodily flows, objects and densities of the neoliberal city. It argues and rethinks city space from stabilized divisions of function/non-function, human/non-human, built/empty, rational/spiritual and body/non-body, to more hybrid, blurred and merged notions of contemporary city space and the co-agencies forming it. Which can be defined as the autonomous and regenerative agency dynamics taking place between human and non/human interface and coexistence. In this background, these merged co-agencies can open up ways for challenging the entangled spaces of ontology, epistemology and ethics in urban areas.

The exhibition project is formed by three artistic and discursive presentations:

Asbjørn Skou’s Exoskelethon uses fragmented narration to present the city space as a formation for a magical debt-based economy that forces materiality, language, bodies and thoughts to act within its alchemy. With the participatory event Emergent Economies, led by The BodyBuilding Project, invites participants to examine different ways to sense and feel agencies and energies that tend to escape a neoliberal gaze. Asking, how can these agencies, forces and processes be activated without collapsing into regulatory tendencies? Melanie Bonajo’s video Night Soil/Economy of Love gives a portrait of a Brooklyn-based movement of female sex worker activists, who reclaim power in a male-dominated pleasure-zone. It is the second part of the film trilogy Night Soil that portraits global capitalism by emphasizing spirituality and kinship beyond boundaries of species and biological taxonomy.

Mattering City is part of the Skills of Economy curatorial research project. The first exhibition chapter, titled City Agents, was hosted by Contemporary Art Museum of Estonia (EKKM) in August 2016. The exhibition is supported by Nordic Culture Point Mobility Program and Danish Arts Foundation. Jussi Koitela’s curatorial work and research is supported by Kone Foundation.



Søren Thilo Funder: The Vanishing Table + Reading by Asbjørn Skou

12 Nov 2016 – 17.30 – 19.00

Søren Thilo Funder’s video piece The Vanishing Table (2014) is based on two scenarios. First, a group of numismatics sits around a table, handling and admiring the world’s rarest coins. The coins are only present and visible for the numismatics and the viewers can only imagine the spectacle. Secondly, the focus shifts to a scene, where an animated cartoon monkey, well-dressed in a suit, is reading a Lewis Carroll poem about a debtor and a creditor. In the simultaneously tragic and humorous poem, the debtor is never actually given the sum of his loan before the creditor shows up to collect his dues. By juxtaposing the two scenes the piece opens up the dynamics of a debt-based economy, where exchange is no longer based on actual currencies. The screening is accompanied by re-writing and live reading of the Lewis Carroll poem by artist Asbjørn Skou.

The works of Søren Thilo Funder are carefully crafted cinematic mash-ups of diverse cultural fields and social histories. Through the use of cinematic narratives, mise-en-scène and video documents they aspire to propose new connections between historical, cultural and political matter and generate new potential spaces, third places, for political contemplation and counter-memory

Asbjørn Skou’s works attempt to shake bodily, material and psychological relations and build environments through drawings, texts, collages and sculptural elements. His practice forms on different kinds of speculative fictions for spaces of interaction and co-creation for humans, non-humans, matter and capital; seeking to establish strange ecologies.


The BodyBuilding Project: Emergent Economies Event

11. – 13.11.2016

Event Schedule:

11 November, Friday from 17.00 to 20.00

12 November, Saturday from 11.00 to 17.00

13 November, Sunday from 14.00 to 16.00

SixtyEight Art institute is excited to invite our audience to a three-day event organized by The BodyBuilding Project. Scheduled between November 11th and 13th, the members of the project will organize an event in order to investigate and activate the notion of ‘emergent economies’ by focusing on questions of excess and waste in urban surroundings. Instead of taking urban space as an appropriated and conditioned dimension, shaped by neoliberal interests, the event will zoom toward micro-political practices generated by the material and energetic excess that various urban life forms – and economic processes – are producing. The workshop aims to ask whether or how these practices might constitute the beginnings of an alter-economy. Questions will range but not limited to: What are the resources and processes that are seen as excess or waste? How are the excesses controlled or made available by the various infrastructures and actors present in the city? What kind of affects, relations, agencies and economies might they generate, and how might we interact with them without colonizing, regulating, or appropriating them for our own purposes?

On the first event, Friday November 11th, the group will introduce the topic with the help of preliminary exercises and shared discussions. Saturday November 12th will be dedicated to a practice session that moves through various locations in central Copenhagen; during the session, the participants will develop ways of noticing and taking part in the emergent economies at play on these sites. On Sunday the 13th, their findings will be shared with the public in the form of a two-hour discussion held at SixtyEight Art Institute.

The event is open to anyone and does not require any prior knowledge or a background of a certain kind. However, the participants are expected to commit to the event for the first two days; participation in the public discussion is voluntary.

The BodyBuilding Project is an ongoing artistic inquiry into the sensibilities, subjectivities and relational modalities we – both as interdependent beings and as a species – might develop in response to the planetary urgencies and changes we currently face. It encourages us to re-imagine the propensities currently identified as “human,” and to begin building bodies capable of prefiguring life beyond the collapsing horizons.

The project consists of a perennial artistic research process and a series of context-conditioned public events created collaboratively by a mutating body of artists, theorists and practitioners. It was initiated in 2007 in the context of a collaborative artist residency at Watermill Center, New York; since then, it has been shown in Chez Bushwick (New York, United States), Baltic Circle, Theatre Academy, HIAP Gallery Augusta, Mad House Helsinki and Kiasma Theatre (Helsinki, Finland).

SixtyEight Art Institute is an artistic/curatorial research organization looking to uncover, develop, and further exchanges between artists and curators and their creative labor. The exhibition Mattering City is the fifth installment of our two-year program of exhibitions, called Dictionary of Advanced Difference and that is kindly supported by Balderdash, Absolut, Billedkunstudvalg Københavns Kommune and the Danish Arts Foundation.