welcome to the new EXILE space in Vienna and to our inaugural exhibition A Return to Sweetness by Pakui Hardware.
Now: Slowly breathe in – then out, while wandering around the space and looking at the works installed within. Inhale – exhale – repeat. At times, this most fundamental rhythm of bringing oxygen into your lungs and flushing out carbon dioxide can be enhanced or distorted depending on one’s prefered additive intake, a ritual as old as humankind. The gallery’s wooden walls are the lasting result of such a chemically enhanced ritual breathing enhancement:
“Chain smoking is the practice of smoking several cigarettes in succession, sometimes using the ember of a finished cigarette to light the next. The term chain smoker often also refers to a person who smokes relatively constantly, though not necessarily chaining each cigarette.” (Source: Wikipedia)
Prior to our move-in, the space was the office of an unknown tenant, locally referred to as ‘the Russian’. For three to four decades (accounts vary) he would sit in this wooden cube behind a grand desk and endlessly smoke. Cigarette after cigarette, inhaling, exhaling, decade after decade, while taking care of unknown business. As smoking is quite often not a solitary but a social action, his office became a smoker’s lounge for the neighbourhood, a partial communal space, where many stories were shared, discussions and conversations held, all over the course of a (Viennese) Tschick.
The exhaled smoke of roughly half a million cigarettes took its part to fumigate these walls and give the space its specific patina and lasting ordeur. While the walls patiently soaked-up the nicotine, the lungs of the Russian disintegrated and eventually collapsed.
In a sense these organic wooden panels are a mirror image of the Russian’s internal organs. The space itself is a breathing machine, that temporarily stopped with the previous tenant’s death of lung cancer a few years ago. Ever since, these spatial lungs laid bare and empty, devoid of function.
From today, these rooms start to breathe again. Without the need for nicotine-intake itself, we continue the legacy left to us. Pakui Hardware’s installation is a first reaction to these walls, to their infused histories. A Return to Sweetness relates to the metabolic obsession of capital reproduction as it does to the need for conversation and exchange. The artists’ own inside-out organs adding another chapter of stories, actions and myths to be experienced, this time though -if smoking – only outdoors.
Now when in this space, surrounded by its nicotine-soaked walls, feel warmly welcomed to this new chapter of EXILE’s trajectory and to engage and participate in our upcoming journey.
Undo opacity. What do we have here? It’s not the heart but the belly of the matter. Belly up. Belly out. Turn the problem inside out and expose it’s guts. To see the thing exposed – the belly of the beast… Crystalline gall. Artist duo Pakui Hardware help us edge towards a new choreography of care.
Pakui Hardware are concerned with the vulnerability of the horizon. Their work collapses the difference between human and non-human actors through installations of ‘hybrid ecologies’ that confuse any immediate impulse as to where loyalty or affinity might lie. Their compositions, amorphous, organic-industrial forms, examine the role that technology, economy and materiality have in shaping each other. Inspired by ‘case-studies of tensions’ including High Frequency Trading, automated futures and the idea of ‘Second Nature’ (biological futures, synthetic biology), Pakui Hardware takes cultures – and by extension culture – off the assembly line to check in – how is everybody feeling? The duo’s palliative approach softens the industrial hardware and along with it our own feedback response to their bill of health. Under the roof, things are looking a bit fragile. New alliances formed through a familiar vulnerability. Must care better.
Pakui Hardware present a new configuration that zones in on the ‘metabolic rift’ (Mckenzie Wark). This is the crisis point of irreversible ecological imbalance, the era of the Anthropocene in which we now live. Working through the metaphor of metabolism, the duo speak from the heart – or rather the belly of all, itself a grossly augmented system, engineered for maximum output, but fatally out of sync. Take it all in. Consumption, extraction. Consumption, extraction. Metabolic process amped to the max. Cables sluice inside wet, fresh extractions on support. A sacrificial victim of the gastric economy. The organism lays exposed. Glass, copper pipes, heat-treated PVC film, latex, saliva and chia seeds. Silicon guts. Interconnected parts lace through the space in an install hung from the rafters, sleek droop system. Eyes slip down rubber tubes and curl around glacier-rounds. Molecular red forms crystallize in thermodynamic moments that look like big boiled sweets. Some parts cinched round the middle like a gastric band… looks a little loose though. Someone should check on that. Stitches coming loose too on the part below, and that bit hanging like the Sword of Damocles above it all. So you breathe in a little as you pass by the formation, suck yourself up and shrink a little. Careful, or shards will be everywhere. Watch your step. Working out how to stay intact together by augmenting your flow. Something a little more symbiotic this time. It’s all in the balance.
Tamar Clarke-Brown. Originally commissioned for Baltic Triennial 13: Give Up the Ghost, May 11 – September 21, 2018.
Pakui Hardware are Neringa Černiauskaitė and Ugnius Gelguda. The artists are based between Vilnius and Berlin. Recent and current exhibitions include The Return of Sweetness, Tenderpixel, London; Solar Bodies, Musée d’Orsay, Paris; Give up the Ghost, 13th Baltic Triennial, Contemporary Art Centre, Vilnius; Peer to Peer, Muzeum Sztuki, Lodz; Somewhere in between, Bozar, Brussels, and L’esprit Souterrain, Domaine Pommery, Reims. Upcoming institutional exhibitions include Orient, Bunkier Sztuki, Kraków; Low Form, MAXXI, the National Museum of 21st Century Arts, Rome; Bielefelder Kunstverein (solo), Bielefeld; Ideal Standard, Zeppelin Museum, Friedrichshafen, and Museum der bildenden Künste (solo), Leipzig.
Pakui Hardware have last exhibited in Vienna in 2016 at mumok, Museum of Modern Art Ludwig Foundation Vienna.
→Spiegler, Almuth: Rückkehr zur Süße, Süddeutsche Zeitung, Sept 21, 2018
→Spiegler, Almuth: Galerien: Berlin zieht nach Wien, Die Presse, Sept 13, 2018
→Watzl, Paula: Neuzugang unter den Wiener Galerien, Kunstmagazin Parnass, Sept 10, 2018