Issues of materiality, embodiment, and subjectivity are explored in this volume of Parkett. Our four artist-collaborators tackle the vast questions of who we are as individuals, how we interact with others, and what we create with our labor.
The videos of Ed Atkins feature solitary avatars whose prolix and euphuistic monologues—written and voiced by the artist—plumb the sorrily sentimental and the sordidly somatic. Always white and male, these hyper-real, high-definition, digitally animated talking heads seem to be suffering, or are “perhaps just insufferable” (Leslie Jamison).
Theaster Gates’s practice spans sculpture and ceramics, architecture and urban planning, operating within a “circular economy” that connects “underserved black communities on the South Side of Chicago with the institutional art world” (Andrew Herscher). Materials from disused buildings are transformed into gallery-ready art objects, the sales of which fund the structures’ renovation and repurposing as neighborhood archives and meeting spaces.
Long concerned with the privatization of public space in Hong Kong, Lee Kit has sought both to occupy and to withdraw, alternating between interaction and interiority. He salvages the imprints of our bodies—stains, shadows, scrawled words—with simple materials like cotton or cardboard, creating works that overlap multiple genres, at once domestic still lifes and landscapes, self-portraits and history paintings (Doryun Chong).
Finally, human traces are packaged as commercial products in Mika Rottenberg’s colorfully abject allegories of global capitalism. Splicing together fictional scenarios performed by actors and documentary footage of factory workers, her videos depict elaborate assembly lines of women interlinked across time and space. The resulting works are “more realistic than most Realism” as they lay bare the “strange imperatives imposed on life and labor by the exigencies of universal commodification” (Jonathan Beller).
Inspired by museum objects and displays, the Insert by Iman Issa offers a photographic collection imagining the various forms that materials can take.
(from the editorial by Nikki Columbus, executive editor USA, and Bice Curiger, Editor-in-Chief)