Exhibitions Archive

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  • 'Orbitecture II: Everything under heaven is in utter chaos; the situation is excellent'
    curated by Cedar Lewisohn and Focal Point Gallery
  • 18 April to 18 June 2011

‘Orbitecture II: Everything under heaven is in utter chaos; the situation is excellent’
curated by Cedar Lewisohn and Focal Point Gallery
18 April to 11 June 2011

Artists include: Gerd Arntz, Ray Brassier, Pim Conradi, johnny de philo, Romain Gavras, The Gut Club, Head Gallery, Eileen Joy, Dean Kenning, Rachel Kushner, Patricia MacCormack, Alastair MacKinven, Man Like Me, Nicola Masciandaro, Robin MacKay, China Miéville, Stephen Molyneux, Reza Negarestani, Benjamin Noys, Laura Oldfield Ford, David Osbaldeston, PLANNINGTOROCK, Nina Power, Hillary Raphael, Francis Thorburn, and Evan Calder Williams.

‘Orbitecture II’, curated by Cedar Lewisohn and Focal Point Gallery, examines current trends in contemporary art through the work of artists who deal with important social issues. The exhibition concentrates on ecological, political and ethical matters, which are often seen through the idealistic perspective of youth. Featuring painting, sculpture, film and music, the project looks at alternative ways of living outside of the mainstream and asks if rebellion

is still possible.

If anything, the focus for dissent and protest is suggested in the exhibition’s subtitle ‘Everything under heaven is in utter chaos; the situation is excellent’. A quote from the Chinese communist dictator Mao Tse-tung, the line was recently appropriated in the journal New Left Review by Slovenian theorist Slavoj Zizek. Zizek’s essay describes how economic turbulence can be used as an excuse by political leaders to enforce dubious policies. The fact that the new UK government is currently making swathing public cuts (i.e., the situation is excellent for politicians, because it could be argued that they have more freedom to make unpopular irreversible self-motivated decisions), is only one example that we can tie to this famous quotation. We could also say that we are in danger of entering a regressive period for art in the UK because misguided ideas that culture flourishes when times are hard are entirely false.

If we are currently in an entirely different situation to that of the recession twenty years ago, and if social mobility

is more restricted than it was fifty years previously, then this exhibition asks in a modest manner, how we might construct a self-organised alternative to the current system. With the inclusion of Head Gallery – an organisation based in New York – as well as philosophers and writers loosely connected to the burgeoning theoretical genre entitled ‘Speculative Realism’, the exhibition aims to focus on new practical and theoretical perspectives in aesthetics and contemporary art within the setting of a marginal or ‘minor’ location.

To see Head Gallery's project for Focal Point Gallery, which features new texts by Ray Brassier, johnny de philo, Eileen Joy, Dean Kenning, Rachel Kushner, Patricia MacCormack, Robin MacKay, Nicola Masciandaro, China Miéville, Reza Negarestani, Benjamin Noys, Nina Power, Hillary Raphael, and Evan Calder Williams please visit: www.headgallery.org/spinal.html

Cedar Lewisohn is an artist and curator based in London. He currently works as a programmer for Tate Media. He was the curator of ‘Street Art’, Tate Modern, (2008) and

‘Rude Britannia’, Tate Britain (2010).

For further information and images on the exhibition, please contact Lib Fox, Focal Point Gallery Exhibition and Marketing Officer: +44 (0)1702 534 108 / libfox@southend.gov.uk.

‘Orbitecture II: Everything under heaven is in utter chaos; the situation is excellent’ is supported by Arts Council England and Southend-on-Sea Borough Council.