‘A History of Irritated Material’ includes Group Material, Inspection Medical Hermeneutics, Sture Johannesson, Ad Reinhardt, and Lygia Clark, from Object to Event, produced by Suely Rolnik. Activist films from Disobedience, an ongoing video archive will also be shown.
The exhibition samples art’s relation to politics and the archive, using examples from each decade since the Second World War. The archive of the New York artists' collective Group Material has been made available for the very first time to record four of their radical exhibitions from the eighties and early nineties. Sture Johannesson’s Cannabis Gallery from Malmö in the sixties is revived, and the exhibition also includes two installations by Inspection Medical Hermeneutics (a collective from Moscow of the ‘Glasnost’ years), as well as both the abstract and graphic political work of Ad Reinhardt. Significantly, Raven Row has commissioned the translation of part of Suely Rolnik’s compendious research on Lygia Clark, Lygia Clark, from Object to Event, which documents the otherwise invisible culmination of Clark’s life-art project. Sections of this video archive are shown for the first time in English.
Alongside these positions, a selection of activist films from Disobedience, an ongoing video archive is shown within a structure designed by Xabier Salaberría, and political films made by collectives in the UK from the seventies and eighties are screened and discussed in a programme of events during the course of the exhibition.
Usually an archive draws its value from being placed in chronological relation with a past event. What, then, characterises these archives, with their unruly documents that are more concerned with activation in the present? The positions in this exhibition are borderline or subterranean, sitting at the edge of art history, or at the boundary of art proper. The title of the exhibition refers to the charged relationship plotted here between art and psychological and social reality. Art that criticises and confronts problems in the social world, but is also sceptical towards itself, can appear anxious and volatile as well as positively critical.
The exhibition is designed by John Morgan studio, Gorka Eizagirre and Xabier Salaberría, and curated by Lars Bang Larsen, with Petra Bauer, Dan Kidner, Alex Sainsbury, and Marco Scotini.
Artists, activists and filmmakers included in Disobedience at Raven Row are: Atelier d’Architecture Autogérée, Gianfranco Baruchello, Bernadette Corporation, Chto Delat?/What is to be done?, Critical Art Ensemble, Department of Space and Land Reclamation, Dodo Brothers, Etcétera, Marcelo Expósito, Harun Farocki and Andrei Ujica, Alberto Grifi, Grupo de Arte Callejero, Ashley Hunt, Laboratorio di Comunicazione Militante, Park Fiction, Oliver Ressler and Zanny Begg, Mariette Schiltz and Bert Theis, Eyal Sivan, Hito Steyerl, and Nomeda & Gediminas Urbonas.