press release

The international group exhibition Superficial Hygiene brings together a set of practices of a generation of artists who adapt, mould, and corrupt the grammar of our contemporary accelerated environment in order to propose a new understanding of the relation between the mediated image and the physical body. Coming from various artistic trajectories, and employing a variety of media, these artists share a common interest in the surface as a site for conflict and desire. The polished seamlessness and increasing virtualization of our daily surroundings have complicated our relation with the material world of objects and things. The works in Superficial Hygiene both celebrate and critically reflect on our changing physical and psychological relation to materiality and substance.

Superficial Hygiene is bookended by two works from the collection of De Hallen Haarlem: a series of physically and digitally manipulated prints by Erik van Lieshout & Kelley Walker, from their collaborative exhibition I am scared of America at De Hallen Haarlem in 2007; and the 2012 video installation The Woolworth's Choir of 1979 by Elizabeth Price. In diverging ways, the relationship between surface and substance, between representation and the body, is negotiated in these works. How do you relate to an image that is increasingly thin, endlessly reproducible, and no longer supported by a physical body? What happens when you tinker with the contemporary image surface, and try to touch what is underneath?

The exhibition traces these concerns in different media (sculpture, print, painting, video) and connects material practices to the virtual realm. Accessibility to hyper-sharp HD video, lifelike 3D-animation, crisp surround sound, and powerful image editing software has created formal and aesthetic possibilities that give new impetus to our relationship with reality. The shiny seamlessness of the digital surface has brought about a new kind of realism—a realism that creates a heightened bodily awareness, both seductive and disturbing. The ubiquity and mobility of the screen, and the architecture of operating systems and software have become an internalized part of daily experience, causing a paradigmatic shift in the intuitive approach to the production of images and the organization of information. Superficial Hygiene brings together works in which these new relationships between the artificial and the real are addressed, focusing attention on the artists' fascination for the surface as a loaded, paradoxical space.

Artists: Ed Atkins (UK), Tauba Auerbach (US), Nina Beier (DK), Nina Beier (DK) & Simon Dybbroe Møller (DK), Erik van Lieshout (NL) & Kelley Walker (US), Helen Marten (UK), Marlie Mul (NL), Erkka Nissinen (FI), Elizabeth Price (UK), Florian & Michael Quistrebert (FR), Magali Reus (NL), Anne de Vries (NL)

Curated by Xander Karskens

only in german

Superficial Hygiene

Ed Atkins, Tauba Auerbach, Nina Beier, Nina Beier & Simon Dybbroe Moller, Erik van Lieshout & Kelley Walker, Helen Marten, Marlie Mul, Erkka Nissinen, Elizabeth Price, Florian Quistrebert & Michael Quistrebert, Magali Reus, Anne de Vries

Xander Karskens