TMRW Gallery presents Coexistence, a virtual experience exhibition presented as an application that can be downloaded by viewers. Navigating this virtual world reminds one of the original Sims game through the first-person perspective. The show and the artworks demonstrate a fluidity and agility of practice that these artists possess, and have stretched while creating under lockdown. The exhibition asks and attempts to reflect on questions such as how the contemporary commercial fine art institution exists alongside the digital. This kind of marriage has always happened when you look at anyone who is working with the digital. The artists selected for the show are all working with this in some way—either in response to technology or working with technology directly.
Alex Corder, Ride
Daniel Malan‘s drawings are an example of this. Inspired by satellite imagery from across the world of what people are going through during the pandemic, the existence of technology is present in his work even though his work is created with chalk pastel. The title for the show speaks to multiple interpretations of coexistence. Firstly, it allows one to think of the merging of a traditional art form like drawing into the virtual environment. Here, it is not simply an act of translation, but it takes on a life form of its own. In this way it calls into one’s mind the fact that when sharing works such Daniel Malan’s chalk pastel drawing Nord Pas De Calais laundromat 02/02/2020, the relationship between the screen mediating the experience of the works, the digital rendition of the works and the object-hood of the works become a powerful triangle. Coexistance does not only consider how non-digital art exists in the virtual, but also how this art exists alongside the digital. Natalie Paneng’s video Inside 2.0, which has collage-like characteristics, lives in the same space as Alex Corder’s collages which appear to have been created in digital form. However, each of Corder’s collages have been put together in analog format.
In conversation with TMRW Gallery’s manager and content specialist Brooklyn J Phakathi, he mention how the show also reflects on contemplations of coexistence in reference to how subject matter, particular motifs or elements of art coexist within each individual artists’ practice. Yolanda Mazwana‘s works were created on her phone using the notes app, highlighting how work is being created when access to an artist’s usual maker space and energy has been removed. The abstractions she makes of figures in her work draws attention to the coexistence of shape, line, form, and how they inform her practice. There is a familiarity to the exhibition space in that one is able to recognise it as a gallery space. However, the exhibition also becomes an attempt to reimagine alternate ways of how gallery spaces and the gallery experience could look and feel. Viewers are able to engage with video work in a way that would not exist in a physical setting. Navigating different sections of the show is also a process of navigating specific moods or phases. One can engage with the video pieces or choose to have them play in background while you engage with the rest of the space. The inclusion of sound such as Joe Turpin‘s sonic piece that accompanied his Tunnels installation adds a layer to the experience, with proximity to the installation determining the volume of the sound.
The show does not only offer a different form of emersion that is more accessible, it also offers an alternative framework for thinking about digital archiving and what exhibition “relics” can look like (Gleadowe 2011). In this way, the show as navigable online and existing as an application to be downloaded on to a device to be viewed offline for as long as that technology remains functional, operates as an exhibition; an affective experience and as future evidence of its own existence at a particular point in time. Access the link to download the exhibition on the TMRW website and the guided tour on YouTube. The show will be on until mid August.
Kgotlelelo Sekiti, Le Leme
Artists presenting work in the show:
Daniel Malan, Erin Sweeney, Kgotlelelo Sekiti, Alex Corder, Natalie Paneng, Yolanda Mazwana, Joe Turpin and Ketumile Meso.
Gleadowe, T. 2011. Inhabiting Exhibition History.
3D Erin Sweeney