Drifting in digital purgatory with Omsk Social Club

In​ ​her​ ​latest​ ​exhibition​ ​‘Traction​ ​Flesh-Hold’​ ​at​ ​Exgirlfriend,​ ​post-human​ ​Omsk Social​ ​Club​ ​(alter-ego​ ​of​ ​Penny​ ​Rafferty)​ ​shifts​ ​a​ ​gallery​ ​space​ ​seamlessly​ ​from white​ ​cube​ ​to​ ​stage​ ​to​ ​ego-death-platform​ ​and​ ​back​ ​again.
Unlike​ ​the​ ​previous​ ​work​ ​I​ ​have​ ​seen​ ​of​ ​Omsk​ ​Social​ ​Club,​ ​there​ ​are​ ​no​ ​performers, but​ ​bare​ ​walls​ ​and​ ​a​ ​near-empty​ ​floor​ ​instead.​ ​As​ ​people​ ​fill​ ​the​ ​sparse, glass-fronted​ ​gallery,​ ​it​ ​becomes​ ​clear​ ​who​ ​the​ ​performers​ ​are.​ ​We​ ​find​ ​ourselves​ ​at the​ ​centre​ ​of​ ​the​ ​piece,​ ​a​ ​3-metre-high​ ​freestanding​ ​arch​ ​awkwardly​ ​framing​ ​us,​ ​an expanse​ ​of​ ​social​ ​yet​ ​dissociative​ ​space.​ ​The​ ​structure​ ​balances​ ​at​ ​unsettling angles,​ ​constructed​ ​purely​ ​with​ ​wood​ ​and​ ​painted​ ​in​ ​muted​ ​tones​ ​which​ ​are​ ​lit​ ​by soft​ ​pink​ ​fluorescent​ ​lights.​ ​It​ ​slices​ ​and​ ​divides​ ​the​ ​space,​ ​creating​ ​a​ ​splitting tension​ ​in​ ​the​ ​room​ ​and​ ​between​ ​the​ ​people​ ​lingering​ ​on​ ​either​ ​side​ ​of​ ​it.​ ​Eyes awkwardly​ ​meet​ ​through​ ​the​ ​arch,​ ​and​ ​dart​ ​away​ ​again.​ ​​Bass​ ​hums​ ​quietly​ ​over​ ​a speaker,​ ​intermittently​ ​accompanied​ ​by​ ​the​ ​soft​ ​voice​ ​of​ ​(presumably)​ ​Omsk​ ​Social Club​ ​herself,​ ​an​ ​eerie​ ​sound​ ​collaboration​ ​with​ ​Berlin-based​ ​sound​ ​artist Vonverhille​.​ ​​As​ ​is​ ​signature​ ​in​ ​her​ ​work,​ ​subtlety​ ​is​ ​key:​ ​the​ ​hallway​ ​is​ ​lit​ ​with​ ​a yellow-green​ ​glow,​ ​two​ ​doorways​ ​leading​ ​there​ ​casting​ ​colour​ ​fields​ ​adding​ ​to​ ​the confusion​ ​and​ ​questions​ ​that​ ​the​ ​show​ ​poses​ ​just​ ​by​ ​outlining​ ​space.​ ​They​​ ​highlight the​ ​extremity​ ​of​ ​the​ ​space​ ​in-between.
The​ ​accompanying​ ​text​ ​written​ ​by​ ​Karim​ ​Crippa​ ​details​ ​characters​ ​whose​ ​shoes​ ​you could​ ​fill-”You​ ​understand​ ​the​ ​wink​ ​at​ ​Baldessari,​ ​(Luciano,​ ​not​ ​John)​ ​in​ ​this​ ​show, but​ ​you​ ​refuse​ ​to​ ​acknowledge​ ​it​ ​because​ ​you​ ​dislike​ ​Baldessari​ ​(both​ ​of​ ​them)”. Acting​ ​as​ ​choreographer​ ​and​ ​gallery​ ​guide,​ ​Crippa​ ​instructs​ ​you​ ​to​ ​play​ ​a​ ​role,​ ​or five,​ ​under​ ​the​ ​name​ ​of​ ​Andrea/s.​ ​Most​ ​of​ ​the​ ​characters​ ​are​ ​familiar.​ ​Crippa’s​ ​text interrupts​ ​the​ ​reverie​ ​of​ ​meta-abstraction​ ​pervasive​ ​in​ ​the​ ​gallery​ ​and​ ​acts​ ​as​ ​a reminder​ ​of​ ​the​ ​humanity​ ​living​ ​inside​ ​the​ ​flesh​ ​suits​ ​occupying​ ​it.​ ​You​ ​find​ ​yourself inadvertently​ ​in​ ​a​ ​Real​ ​Game​ ​Play,​ ​under​ ​the​ ​varying​ ​absurd​ ​entities​ ​of​ ​Crippa’s imagining,​ ​although​ ​somehow​ ​you​ ​know​ ​these​ ​characters​ ​exist​ ​in​ ​real​ ​time​ ​at​ ​any one​ ​of​ ​the​ ​gallery​ ​openings​ ​tonight​.​ ​​Crippa​ ​includes​ ​an​ ​excerpt​ ​of​ ​a​ ​note​ ​scrawled during​ ​the​ ​‘Traction​ ​Flesh-Hold’​ ​conception:​​ ​“Gossip​ ​is​ ​the​ ​new​ ​mindfulness.”
A​ ​wall​ ​note​ ​penned​ ​in​ ​liquid​ ​chalk​ ​on​ ​floating​ ​perspex​ ​is​ ​a​ ​chart​ ​of​ ​earth,​ ​fire,​ ​air​ ​and water.​ ​Various​ ​combinations​ ​of​ ​elements,​ ​“Fire​ ​x​ ​Digital​ ​=​ ​4chan.​ ​Air​ ​x​ ​Emotional​ ​= sonic​ ​linguistics.”​ ​The​ ​piece​ ​reads​ ​as​ ​intuitive​ ​logic,​ ​a​ ​contradiction:​ ​It’s​ ​not​ ​a

coincidence​ ​that​ ​the​ ​perspex​ ​is​ ​transparent,​ ​as​ ​Omsk​ ​Social​ ​Club​ ​invites​ ​you​ ​to analyse​ ​nothingness​ ​as​ ​our​ ​state​ ​of​ ​existence,​ ​drifting​ ​between​ ​IRL​ ​and​ ​URL.
‘Traction​ ​Flesh-Hold’​ ​is​ ​a​ ​palpable​ ​force​ ​somewhere​ ​in​ ​between​ ​a​ ​mind-fuck​ ​and​ ​a heady​ ​dose​ ​of​ ​ketamine,​ ​an​ ​unsettling​ ​place​ ​where​ ​dissociation​ ​takes​ ​a​ ​physical form.​ ​​Omsk​ ​Social​ ​Club​ ​entertains​ ​the​ ​difficult​ ​with​ ​ease​ ​and​ ​a​ ​polished​ ​aesthetic. I’m​ ​reminded​ ​of​ ​the​ ​accompanying​ ​text​ ​to​ ​the​ ​current​ ​group​ ​show​ ​at​ ​Gr_und,​ ​‘Core Remission’,​ ​curated​ ​by​ ​Rafferty,​ ​“Be​ ​it​ ​a​ ​colour​ ​field​ ​​or​ ​a​ ​re-verb,​ ​the​ ​process​ ​of abstraction​ ​is​ ​ultimately​ ​an​ ​extension​ ​of​ ​the​ ​customary​ ​room​ ​with​ ​a​ ​view,​ ​a​ ​suicide of​ ​the​ ​now,​ ​a​ ​stage-death​ ​that​ ​just​ ​stood​ ​up​ ​for​ ​the​ ​encore.”​ ​Our​ ​room​ ​is​ ​one​ ​with​ ​a green​ ​view​ ​and​ ​it’s​ ​pulsing;​ ​the​ ​encore​ ​would​ ​seem​ ​to​ ​be​ ​right​ ​now.​ ​Whenever​ ​you begin​ ​to​ ​feel​ ​comfortable,​ ​you​ ​find​ ​another​ ​element​ ​of​ ​the​ ​space​ ​designed​ ​​to​ ​​stop you​ ​from​ ​reaching​ ​any​ ​sense​ ​of​ ​solid​ ​reality.​ ​The​ ​delivery​ ​is​ ​unapologetically​ ​obtuse and​ ​severe,​ ​the​ ​instructions​ ​are​ ​in​ ​the​ ​subtext;​ ​you​ ​don’t​ ​need​ ​to​ ​understand relational​ ​aesthetics​ ​to​ ​become​ ​a​ ​conduit​ ​to​ ​the​ ​(anti)social​ ​experience​ ​created​ ​by them.

Text​ ​by​ ​Naomi​ ​Bisley




 

Exgirlfriend
Drifting​ ​in​ ​Digital​ ​Purgatory​ ​with​ ​Omsk​ ​Social​ ​Club Text​ ​by​ ​Naomi​ ​Bisley
​OmsK​ ​Social​ ​Club
​​14.10.2017​ ​-​ ​04.11.2017
Holsteinische Straße 18
Berlin (Steglitz) , 12161