Opening: Thursday 1st of December 7 to 9.30pm as part of Whitechapel Gallery First Thursdays
Hundred Years Gallery is very proud to present the first UK solo show by London based Australian artist Ben Coiacetto. The artist was the public choice winner of the Gallery`s Open Call 2016.
In ‘HyperUpcycling’, Ben Coiacetto conceives of the junkyard of our cultural effluent: an endlessly rising tide formed of society’s used-up products – physical, digital and conceptual. Defunct electrical goods are swept up alongside forgotten youtube videos, dated trends, data dumps, and abandoned ideas. Instagram photos of pets, newspaper images of war, adverts, political rhetoric and celebrity selfies, all are equalised here, gradually becoming mulch.
It is from this territory that Coiacetto’s new series of paintings, sculptures and video work emerges. He is the madmaxian nomad, picking through the detritus of the everyday in search of that which might be rescued or repurposed in the pursuit of a contemporary conception of the human experience.
In the words of the artist, “nothing we see or hear is deleted, most of it becomes waste – that which is forgotten. As the collective consciousness endlessly translates information pumping into it at an exponentially increasing volume flow rate; the waste piles ever higher. You have to plunge into this ubiquitous waste; hunting and gathering the tension of conflicting subrealities. The only thing that can permanently stain the collective consciousness is ash. So when you’ve found enough tension you set the waste on fire. And that is upcycling.”
Drawing references and modes of practice on the fly from the physical, stylistic and conceptual fragments he encounters, Coiacetto creates Frankensteinian composites, reanimating their signs in new, distorted and unsettling forms.
In Coiacetto’s video work ‘Love Tax’ a chief executive rides a shrunken HSBC building floated by a lifebuoy downstream. He halts his vessel beside an inflatable council flat in which the occupant whilst meditating on a ‘General Obsolescence’ washing machine, delivers a heartfelt poem about love. In retaliation the executive proposes a ‘Love Tax Form’, which seeks to calculate the amount of love an individual receives from casual sex partners (unofficial intercourse participants), from regular sexual partners (authorised intercourse collaborators), family members (compulsory love donors), from themselves via masturbation (measured against a UK Masturbation Policy self-love threshold) and pets. Nearby, we peer through plastic magnifying sheets into the same set of sculptures that form the backdrop of the ‘Love Tax’ video work.
Acting like a primitive Google Earth, we zoom in on distorted aerial photographs of the Thames and the corroded objects that Coiacetto has collected from its riverbank and from which the sculptures are constructed. It evokes an eerie déjà vu and a sense of time and space stretching, but it’s all hilariously undermined when we observe tiny hidden questions only viewable from certain angles. Here notions probing the totality of surveillance, capitalism and state control are ‘upcycled’ into multidisciplinary installation as absurdist dystopian comedy drama.
Elsewhere, a masterfully rendered oil painting depicts a British bulldog withdrawing 60 BB from a 24hr automatic BitBone machine installed onto a headstone in a rainy American graveyard.
On the floor, erected in the painting’s foreground are either post-internet tombstones or ‘Ebayist totems’ made of fake grass and chopped up lenticular prints of religious scenes. A wheelable painting on clear perspex sees Jeremy Corbyn morph into a weathered hardhat rescuing a stack of cats whilst Theresa May morphs into a shotgun levelled at the cats from a video game POV. The same hardhat that appears in the painting is suspended at head height from the ceiling expecting the viewer to wear it and decide why they’re aiming a shotgun at themself. George Osborne becomes a hairdryer blowing pound notes around a school blackboard and a pile of satirical promotional flyers (advertising a Post-Hummus Siamese Cat-Chair that resurrects your inner child by licking hummus from your crotch and meowing incantations) lie beneath a suicidal lifebuoy.
This visual cacophony is at first discombobulating, mimicking the experience of consuming culture and content in society today. Laced with coded narratives and idiosyncratic references, and arranged with an intentional lack of hierarchy in an act of deliberate chaos, the dialogue between Coiacetto’s work and the audience can be challenging, even frustrating and confusing. But, this is where Coiacetto feels the individual must place themself: wrestling with and engaging in the swathes of advertising and propaganda with which we are faced daily. To do so, he argues, is to reject detachment and reclaim ourselves. From this new vista, one is able to perceive the illusion of sense and the delusion of newness, to recognise the limits of rationality in the age of information overlaid and to embrace instead, a messier, human response.
Ben Coiacetto was born in 1984 and reared between infinite stretches of ocean and bushland in the remote fishing village of Brooms Head, Australia. Ben received a Bachelor of Visual Communication from the University of Newcastle, Australia. He has lived and worked as an artist and musician in Montreal, Los Angeles, Melbourne and now London. Here, Coiacetto has attended the London Method Acting School and developed his ability to access the unconscious, which informs his art practice. Coiacetto has performed and exhibited internationally in solo and group shows as himself and under the pseudonym ‘Ronnie Flotsam’ and has released a critically acclaimed EP under the pseudonym ‘PINCERS’.
Event: ‘Metaphor Hunt’ (dates to be confirmed).
Ben will spend 3 days in the gallery manually creating comical visual metaphors with an emphasis on kinetics and subverting the status of the individual. Ben will invite audience members to submit an image of a person or to have Ben photograph them in person in the gallery to be later morphed into an appropriate object. The performance seeks to reveal the ‘heady waft of metaphor guts’ and release the potent products of this process back into the wild collective unconscious. Via live video stream and in the gallery itself an audience will be able to observe and participate in this improvised process.