Suska Bastian
       
     
Ventolin Art Space//NEWNOW Art Space
       
     
Alicia King
       
     
Alicia.jpg
       
     
Deborah Prior
       
     
Debbie2.jpg
       
     
Debbie3.jpg
       
     
Kimberley Pace
       
     
Kimberley.jpg
       
     
Luisa Hansal
       
     
Suska Bastian
       
     
Suskax2.jpg
       
     
Mia Bencun and Wagehe Raufi
       
     
Ursh Kuiper
       
     
DSU.jpg
       
     
DU.jpg
       
     
Suska Bastian
       
     
Suska Bastian
Ventolin Art Space//NEWNOW Art Space
       
     
Ventolin Art Space//NEWNOW Art Space

Ghost Sensation at NEWNOW

Suska Bastian (DE)

Mia Bencun and Wagehe Raufi (DE)

Luisa Hansal (AU)

Alicia King (AU)

Ursula Kuiper (AU)

Kimberley Pace (AU)

Deborah Prior (AU)

Ghost Sensation is a collaborative exhibition between Ventolin Art Space and NEWNOW Art Space. As part of this project Ghost Sensation is the exhibition curated by Ursula Cooper that will be hosted by NEWNOW Art Space in Frankfurt, Germany.

View Exhibition Catalogue

Curatorial Essay

Essay by Ursula Cooper

Ghost sensation, a term coined for this exhibition, is intended as a starting point for a visual investigation that interrogates concepts that cross a boundary between rationality and belief. This concept encompasses phenomena that exceeds or blurs limits of rationality. This is a highly contentious subject at the scrutiny of sceptics and believers, but describes an intangible sensation that is impossible to ignore.

One possible explanation for a ghost sensation can be rationalised as a, feeling of presence (FoP). Different to hallucinations and out of body experiences, an article in the New Scientist examines the studies of neurologist Olaf Blanke. To explain this, he uses a robot with two components: a master and slave. Blindfolded volunteers are asked to move the arm of the master robot; every movement is mimicked as the slave robot registers each movement into the volunteer’s back. This experiment becomes interesting when the feedback loop is delayed, this is when volunteers report a feeling of a presence behind them. (Ananthaswamy 2014) Basically, this article puts this ghost sensation down to your brain trying to make sense of conflicting information. There may be some rationalist explanations, however categorising intangible senses sets up a personal confliction subject to the limits of each individual. Robert Pfaller cites an experiment undertaken by Howard Mounce that invites students to participate in an exercise where “plenty of people who empathetically claim not to believe in voodoo would nonetheless still refuse to gauge out an eye in a picture of their own mother.” (2002) Setting up a personal dilemma, this experiment anchors a situation where the morally ambiguous exceeds logic. Continuing to interrogate similar subjects this exhibition brings together the practices eight artists to examine the boundary between rationalism and intangibility. Taking a broad perspective, this exhibition draws on artist’s response to a ghost sensation and in some cases borrows heavily from sensations experienced by the artists themselves.

Interestingly, more than just an unsettling reminder of our own physicality, Alicia King presents us with a piece of breast tissue within a vessel. Through the transition of human tissue into sculptural form King utilises biotech processes to explore subjects of ethics and ritual. The sample, obtained through an anonymous donor brings up a wider dialogue regarding the theory of cellular memory that is embedded in biological matter. Although King has not had this piece of tissue inside her body this leaves a trajectory to reflect on the transgressive potential of bodily matter in finding her own ghost sensation,

“While processing the tissue in the laboratory I felt its connectedness to the anonymous donor, whose motives to be involved in the project I would never know. I began to obsess about her identity, and imagined I felt, on a very basic level, something akin to the psychological distress that I imagined organ recipients may feel.”

King’s connectedness with the biological matter references a phenomenon extensively recoded in medical journals, but yet to be explained, the theory of cellular memory that is embedded in biological matter. This personal and tender account recalls interviews recalling the psychological distress and sensory experiences that follow transplant surgery. Such accounts often directly parallel to the history of their donors resulting shifts as extreme as changes in personality. (Pearsall 2000: 191-201) The soft and delicate tissue we are presented with represents a coded set of signifiers that can produce a shift in how we connect to our internal self. Representing an unsteady boundary between consciousness and the physical body, all that is left is to contemplate is the transgressive boundaries of our self.

Focusing again on the discomfort of the human body, a gentle play between beauty and repulsions is featured in Suska Bastian’s, Body Chain. We are immediately seduced by the sculpture but repelled by the material, from a distance it is easy to miss the materiality of this sculptural piece, but step a little closer, this piece is comprised entirely of black synthetic hair. The play between synthetic and real references a body which is absent. This installation delicately blurs boundaries. Referencing Julia Kristeva’s conception of the abject, it is on a visceral level that we are unable to ascertain whether the matter is living or dead, whether it is categorised as self and other, it’s break down of clear boundaries produces a ghost sensation. (1982)

Similar ambiguous sensations have been experienced by Kimberly Pace, her artistic practice focuses on subjective relationships with the corporeal body. Her video work from her series Let’s look at Dicks focuses on the reframing heteronormative western gaze that this object is heavily embedded with. Doused in pink and blue light, the video work, Rub, rub, rub features an excessive number of penises that are being caressed – a figment pleasure. Within the context of this exhibition this video work takes into perspective the artist’s own experience of producing phallic centric pieces, Pace writes:

After one late evening of making dicks for this show I dreamt I had a penis. It wasn’t exciting though as I imagined maybe suddenly having a penis might be – it was more about the logistics of suddenly having a penis but not having enough space in my underwear or jeans to comfortably fit it. In my dream I decided I needed to go to the shop to buy appropriate underwear as in my present situation I could not contain my new body part. It squished and oozed out and every time I tried to push it into shape it rebelled. It rejected all the boundaries I tried to put in place. It seeped past comfort and spilled into the uncomfortable. I started worrying about the eyes that would wash over my new bulge when I went into a public space. I pushed it down trying to smooth it out. Then I woke up.

In a collaborative artwork by Mia Bencun and Wagehe Raufi, XYZ focuses on modifications that can be made to the human body through the interpretation of computers. To optimise the stability of the standing, a foot and two sneakers have been reproduced using 3D technologies. The mechanisation of the printing process has adapted these extremities into a hyper-feminine, elevated form. Even the sneakers, a shoe typically worn for comfort, has been adapted to compensate for this extreme bodily modification. According to Haraway, the hybridisation of machine and organism fuses the physical self with cyborg identity. (1991: 149) Resonating throughout this work is an awareness of internal and external modifications that have been developed for the organic body. Devices including pacemakers and prosthetics are widely accepted by the medical industry and general public. This type of technology is continuing to make advances; it is predicted by Prellis Biologics that in the next two and a half years that 3D printing of organs will be running its first trials on animals. (Gurdita 2018) For humans this means that bioinks composed of tissue and human cells will be used to create organs. This work strips away a former sense of self though the possibility of self-customisation. Through utilising 3D technologies to re-imagine bodily form XYZ allow us to contemplate questionable cyborg prospects where we can transcend into a post human state.

Focusing on the meaning and materiality linked to the female body, Prior has recreated figurative representations related to the venerated Saint Agatha. By doing so Prior reframes the established way the body is portrayed in Christian iconography. The artist uses her own breasts, as cast off sculptural pieces in a likeness to representations of Saint Agatha’s breasts that were cut off by pincers as she would not rebuke Christianity. The title, Eat your Saints references the materiality of Prior’s sculptural piece – chocolate, a medium that is intended to be consumed and destroyed. The work avoids easy categorisation as the chocolate medium slips between liquid and solid. As the artist’s breasts become sacrificial offerings, the transgressive nature of this piece evokes magic, miracles and entropy.

In this video work, Dead Weight we witness the gentle and tender kneading of dough. The dough has been made to produce a body double of the artist, Luisa Hansal. The identity of the artist and the body double is obscured, they are both encased in a mesh toned body suits, share the same pink lips and wear matching synthetic wigs. The rise and fall of the active ingredients of the dough attribute Larinda with a form of life, but otherwise she is an inanimate figure. She is fully supported by the artist, as the video continues, the tenderness of the piece is in the way that Hansal handles her twin around the white room. We are confronted with a paradox of immobility and support. Unhurried, she thoughtfully arranges Larinda into her next position, mindful of Larinda’s comfort her hair is thoughtfully brushed a side to expose her face. It is not immediately clear what the intension of this piece is until we become aware of a diary entry that is addressed to Larinda. The intimate details of the passing of the artist’s brother are shared in the diary entry. It seems Larinda is more than an inanimate figure, through ongoing correspondence the body double becomes a companion for mourning and closure.

Transcendence uses the artist’s tears and holy water to emulate the weight of a soul. The weight of a soul is 21 grams according to physician Duncan MacDougall who experimented with the weight of bodies after their death. The findings of this experiment are rather controversial, each time this experiment was conducted MacDougall took into account detailed factors including the amount of air in lungs, loss of perspiration and consistently was able to account for a mass loss of 21 grams after the death of his patients. For the Ursula Kuiper it is not so important whether this study is true but the fact that it feeds into a bigger picture of a shedding of the corporeal self. And, facilitating this thought process, the physical signifier of a holy water and tears can stand in for a soul and the fragility of human life.

The artists in this exhibition approach conceptions of a ghost sensation in their work as witnesses, visual anthropologists and makers of the intangible into physical form. Embracing a great deal of experimentation in getting this exhibition to Frankfurt required figuring out whether sending a vessel filled with breast tissue would make it through customs, if they did what would happen if the breast tissue it was lost in the mail. Then, there was another issue with two casts of breasts, chocolate is a material that needs to be kept between a constant temperature or it is subject to melting. Deborah Prior sent two casts of her breasts, one in bees wax and one in chocolate, if they made it through customs would they arrive for the exhibition in one piece. Placing both trust and scepticism in a postal system leaves the artworks themselves in the mercy to falling subject to a ghost sensation. This exhibition balances several subjects that blur the line between human logic and the imperceptibility. Taboos, belief, science and the corporeal self are all classifications that are not easy to pin down; however, these subjects all come together in beginning to find an aesthetic for a concept that resists physical form. Art’s aesthetic for the immaterial leaves viewers to draw on their own reference points as Ghost Sensations is a reminder that art can categorise the limits of belief.

List of References:

Ananthaswamy, A. (2014) Ever felt a ghostly presence? Now we know why, Available at: https://www.newscientist.com/article/dn26516-ever-felt-a-ghostly-presence-now-we-know-why/ (Accessed: 12th April 2019).

Gurdita, A. (2018) 5 Most Promising 3D Printed Organs for Transplant, Available at: https://all3dp.com/2/5-most-promising-3d-printed-organs-for-transplant/ (Accessed: 12th April 2019).

Haraway, Donna, J. (1991) A Cyborg Manifesto: Science, Technology, and Socialist-Feminism in the Late Twentieth Century., London : Free Association. 149.

Kristeva, J. (1982) Powers of Horror , 2 edn., United States of America : Columbia University Press.

Pearsall, P. (2000) 'Changes in heart transplant recipients that parallel the personalities of their donors', Integrative Medicine, 2(2-3), pp. 191-201.

Phaller, R. (2002) On the Pleasure Principle , 1 edn., Brooklyn: Verso. 261.

Alicia King
       
     
Alicia King

Slip me some skin explores biotech processes, ethics, and ritual, through the augmentation of human tissue in sculptural form. Using cell culture techniques, the work transforms excess surgical tissue from an anonymous cosmetic surgery donor into contemporary techno-scientific reliquaries. The work navigates ideas of subjectivity and embodiment, as relating to the contemporary body, and it’s components as commodity materials.

Within the reliquaries two tissue forms are encased - popular icons of vampire fangs and crucifix - playful forms with which to engage ideas of ‘consumption’ of human tissue through biotech and biomedical practices, as well as traditions of bodily ritual and sacrifice. A layer of fibroblasts seals the outer tissue with inner cell membranes - inscribing a scientific body onto the literal, physical (social) body.

The tissue specimen in this work originated from the breast tissue of a female donor. The specimen was collected from a local Perth hospital, handed to me as I lingered outside the operating theatre, and taken directly to SymbioticA labs to process. Surprisingly, harvesting and culturing this tissue was an acutely subjective experience. The sheer quantity of tissue, still warm

from the donor’s body, its strangeness and mystery of origin contributed to an intense encounter - alienating me enough from the tissue to firmly cement me within my own body; an experience I had not felt for some time.

The line between the body as subjective, and as raw material, is slippery and irrational. While processing the tissue in the laboratory I felt it’s connectedness to the anonymous donor, whose motives to be involved in the project I would never know. I began to obsess about her identity, and imagined I felt, on a very basic level, something akin to the psychological distress that I imagined organ recipients may feel. The incorporation of this tissue into my own body would have a challenging impact on my sense of self. If the tissue had been a finger, something recognisable as human and individual, it would be seen as definitively part of her body, carrying with it an inherent sense of ownership and value. Without these features it became anti-sacred flesh, waste, biomedical capital. Not a phenomena of the human form, but bodily ‘stuff’.

Artist Statement by Alicia King

Alicia.jpg
       
     
Deborah Prior
       
     
Deborah Prior

Focusing on the meaning and materiality linked to the female body, Prior has recreated figurative representations related to the venerated Saint Agatha. By doing so Prior reframes the established way the body is portrayed in Christian iconography. The artist uses her own breasts, as cast off sculptural pieces in a likeness to representations of Saint Agatha’s breasts that were cut off by pincers as she would not rebuke Christianity. The title, Eat your Saints references the materiality of Prior’s sculptural piece – chocolate, a medium that is intended to be consumed and destroyed. The work avoids easy categorisation as the chocolate medium slips between liquid and solid. As the artist’s breasts become sacrificial offerings, the transgressive nature of this piece evokes magic, miracles and entropy.

Debbie2.jpg
       
     
Debbie3.jpg
       
     
Kimberley Pace
       
     
Kimberley Pace

Rub, rub, rub (2018) is a video work that aims to uncover dick/s as an object of desire are heavy, loaded and problematic in a way that nothing coded or understood as desirable on cisgendered women’s body’s are. While the most intimate sites of the body are often open game for public consumption, there is a real fear of dicks being present, in view, or handled as an intimate site of the body – erect or flaccid. They are the things we giggle at in adult shops, they are excluded from nude scenes in movies, censored in art galleries and they are simply too much in a way that the saturated idea and image of cis women’s intimate body’s are not.

In Rub, rub, rub a voyeuristic lens into allows us into private spaces. The garment itself has reformed from something that normally veils and conceals into an external element. Body is worn and therefore exposed. An intimate moment plays out before us, our taboos are challenged and stretched. The framing of the video borrows from pornographic framing usually reserved for CIS women, calling attention to a continuous and ongoing privileging of this particular gaze.

Artist Statement by Kimberley Pace

Kimberley.jpg
       
     
Luisa Hansal
       
     
Luisa Hansal

In Dead Weight we witness the gentle and tender kneading of dough. The dough has been made to produce a body double of the artist, Luisa Hansal. The identity of the artist and the body double is obscured, they are both encased in a mesh toned body suits, share the same pink lips and wear matching synthetic wigs. The rise and fall of the active ingredients of the dough attribute Larinda with a form of life, but otherwise she is an inanimate figure. She is fully supported by the artist, as the video continues, the tenderness of the piece is in the way that Hansal handles her twin around the white room. We are confronted with a paradox of immobility and support. Unhurried, she thoughtfully arranges Larinda into her next position, mindful of Larinda’s comfort her hair is thoughtfully brushed as side to expose her face. It is not immediately clear what the intension of this piece is until we become aware of a diary entry that is addressed to Larinda. The intimate details of the passing of the artist’s brother are shared in the diary entry. It seems Larinda is more than an inanimate figure, through ongoing correspondence the body double becomes a companion for mourning and closure.

Suska Bastian
       
     
Suska Bastian

Focusing again on the discomfort of the human body, a gentle play between beauty and repulsions is featured in Suska Bastian’s, Body Chain. We are immediately seduced by the sculpture but repelled by the material, from a distance it is easy to miss the materiality of this sculptural piece, but step a little closer, this piece is comprised entirely of black synthetic hair. The play between synthetic and real references a body which is absent. This installation delicately blurs boundaries. Referencing Julia Kristeva’s conception of the abject, it is on a visceral level that we are unable to ascertain whether the matter is living or dead, whether it is categorised as self and other, it’s break down of clear boundaries produces a ghost sensation. (1982)

Suskax2.jpg
       
     
Mia Bencun and Wagehe Raufi
       
     
Mia Bencun and Wagehe Raufi

In a collaborative artwork by Mia Bencun and Wagehe Rufi, XYZ focuses on modifications that can be made to the human body through the interpretation of computers. To optimise the stability of the standing, a foot and two sneakers have been reproduced using 3D technologies. The mechanisation of the printing process has adapted these extremities into a hyper-feminine, elevated form. Even the sneakers, a shoe typically worn for comfort, has been adapted to compensate for this extreme bodily modification. According to Haraway, the hybridisation of machine and organism fuses the physical self with cyborg identity. (1991: 149) Resonating throughout this work is an awareness of internal and external modifications that have been developed for the organic body. Devices including pacemakers and prosthetics are widely accepted by the medical industry and general public. This type of technology is continuing to make advances; it is predicted by Prellis Biologics that in the next two and a half years that 3D printing of organs will be running its first trials on animals. (Gurdita 2018) For humans this means that bio inks composed of tissue and human cells will be used to create organs. This work strips away a former sense of self though the possibility of self-customisation. Through utilising 3D technologies to re-imagine bodily form XYZ allow us to contemplate questionable cyborg prospects where we can transcend into a post human state.

Ursh Kuiper
       
     
Ursh Kuiper

Transcendence uses the artist’s tears and holy water to emulate the weight of a soul. The weight of a soul is 21 grams according to physician Duncan MacDougall who experimented with the weight of bodies after their death. The findings of this experiment are rather controversial, each time this experiment was conducted MacDougall took into account detailed factors including the amount of air in lungs, loss of perspiration and consistently was able to account for a mass loss of 21 grams after the death of his patients. For the Ursula Kuiper it is not so important whether this study is true but the fact that it feeds into a bigger picture of a shedding of the corporeal self. And, facilitating this thought process, the physical signifier of a holy water and tears can stand in for a soul and the fragility of human life.

DSU.jpg
       
     
DU.jpg