Those who usually read this blog will find it strange that I happen to like Ed Fornieles’ show at the Chisenhale Gallery. I am saying this because it includes all the elements that I usually hate in an art exhibition: installations, focus on the source of the materials and interior design. There are no autonomous artistic objects in this show but the hints of an environment. Having said this, the interesting thing about it is how it manages to turn that ‘dematerialisation’ of the work of art into a problem to be physically experienced.
In his exhibition ‘Modern Family’, Ed Fornieles explores the effects of the information age on that basic social institution. The installation, comprising a chaotic and sprawling array of objects, structures, monitors and cabling, is instantly evocative of a disorientating, labyrinth, a website made physical. Precariously compiled sculptures incorporating domestic materials are punctuated by televisions playing live-feed slideshows of imagery algorithmically aggregated by specially coded software. You can pick your way through various household sets: a social space made of plywood and cushions, a picnic table covered in debris, a barbecue on an artificial lawn. A bed. A hot tub.
All objects and areas are open to exploration, except the hot tub – which is lavishly occupied by a very relaxed gathering of coloured, steel sculptures. Fornieles seems to remind us that after all this is not an ‘environment’ but an ‘art show’. There is also a reference to the current ‘artistic’ obsession with ‘conceptual choice’ in the fact that the music, played loudly throughout the space, is algorithmically chosen. One minute you’re looking at synthetic human limbs extruding from the barbecue while sultry French music massages your ears and pornographic, twerking gifs assault your eyes. The next you’re lying awkwardly on the bed watching pictures of fruit juice while upbeat house music fills the gallery.
There is no narrative or theme in this show. If you want, a self cancelling confusion is the theme. Fornieles achieves that by transforming confusion into an allegory of the excess of choices that the internet brings about. It is as if our life experiences could only oscillate from ‘affective anorexia’ to ‘informational saturation’. From that point of view, this installation manages to represent non sense as something, somehow, meaningful. J A T
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