That Which Awaits
A collaboration with Karolina Prom, Shown at Hošek Contemporary Berlin, 2020.
'To be human is to constantly be torn between your appetites and the social realities that surround you.' (Karolina Prom, artist statement, 2019) So may one envisage the many layers of tension that produce the continuous flow of action and reaction that narrates our existence. To disentangle these layers would be to comprehend one of the alchemies of life. Yet in the participatory exhibition That Which Awaits, these boundaries appear so indistinguishable that one may only marvel at their complexity.
Presented during an experimental and one-evening reception, That Which Awaits features work by performer Karolina Prom and multidisciplinary artist Abie Franklin, who offer analogous stories of social behaviour, spaces wherein contemplation emerges through engagement. The participatory exhibition acts as a playground in which the tensions of human interaction are laid bare, with flesh and mind stretched at the whim of both performance and sculpture.
The constant negotiation of agency amongst human and non-human life can be thought of as an intricate network or web. That Which Awaits embraces its inevitable position within this web, employing this image both metaphorically and materially. Beyond a curtain lies the participatory performance Pull developed by Prom in collaboration with Franklin. Designed to be engaged with by a singular visitor at a time, or in small groups of two or three, the work considers the possible sources of our deepest impulses. Do they come from within, our own underlying emotion, subconscious or even cellular processes? Are they driven by algorithmic, virtual or mechanistic forces? Or are they formed through social interaction itself? Beyond the curtain of our desire, Pull asks us to imagine the multifaceted assemblage that constitutes our inner drive in everyday life.
Pondering on similar questions, Franklin’s sculpture series The Dancer and the Butcher consists of forms that are at once flesh-like yet artificial, heavy and confronting, yet also delicate. These seemingly polarising elements reference the personal story of a friend of the artist, whose health complications were finally found to originate from a piece of microplastic floating within their bloodstream. When organic material has hybridised with capitalist-consumerist society, our inner impulses likewise merge with the disturbing reality around us. The viewer is invited to touch and move Franklin’s sculptures, that float weightlessly and whose delicate movements parallel the fragile balance of survival itself.
As an experimental environment that questions the state of human interaction, That Which Awaits asks visitors to arrive at Hošek Contemporary not as a passive onlooker, but rather an active player. Upon engagement with the sculptures and performances presented during the evening, the space becomes activated. The work may be touched, it may be made malleable, and it may respond to you. The objects beckon you. You are vital to their awakening, as they are to yours.
Text by Curator Oliver Dougherty. Photos by Hue Hale.