Secret Agent | Guest Projects, London | 9 – 30 Jan, 2016

Sarah Beddington
Beth Collar
Aleksandra Domanović
Ye Funa
Mathilde ter Heijne
Aura Satz
Maud Sulter
Niina Vatanen

Guest Projects | Sunbury House, 1 Andrews Road E8 4QL
Private View: 9 Jan 2016, 6-9pm

Secret Agent is a group exhibition composed from the viewpoint of feminist authorship in contemporary art practices. The artists in the exhibition actively challenge the institutional structure of history and patriarchal authority – and imagine alternative narratives, often through the specificity of lens-based media. Acts of image-making, archiving, or guerrilla information tactics enable visibility and challenge relationships between author and authority. Each artist utilises language and the literary in dialogue with image-making to harness the intertextual, as archival photographs and stock footage are transformed through repetition, re-staging and re-imagining. Representation of western history through both image and text, with the inherent parallels between historical and photographic truth – and the legacy of radical image/text practice in the 1970s and 1980s – are central to the development of this exhibition.

The enabling of voice(s) of authorship whereby subjectivity is activated in order to challenge the ideology of individualism and the singularity of the art historical canon and history itself, is what Janet Staiger describes as the ‘technique of the self’. This consideration of the self in relation to, and together with others, draws away from the photographic as exacerbating difference or the implicated position of a directed camera, and generates an argument for collaboration and collectivity.

The exhibition title, Secret Agent, is inspired by artist Oreet Ashery and academic Catherine Grant, who describe feminist cultural production as an ‘invisible agent’ and generative informant for ‘different kinds of subjectivity and agency under patriarchy’. Grant suggests broadening notions of what constitutes primary texts, and exploring more rigorous methods of interactional, inter-subjective, or interdisciplinary approaches to critical analysis, also for artists’ to broaden auteurial imaging.

Sarah Beddington is a British artist and filmmaker now based in London, whose work investigates the intersection between the historical and the contemporary, often in relation to journeys and migration, traces in the landscape, the power of the collective voice and walking as a means of affirming presence.

Her work has been shown in many museums, galleries and film festivals including: City States, Liverpool Biennale; Les Rencontres Internationales, Centre Pompidou, Paris and Reina Sofia Museum, Madrid; Eastern Standards: Western Artists in China, MASS MoCA, USA; FIDMarseille International Film Festival; LOOP film and video festival, Angels Gallery, Barcelona; Vanishing Point, Wexner Center for the Arts, Columbus, Ohio. She has recently been shortlisted for the Paul Hamlyn Foundation award in the UK as well as the Artangel Open Commission, and she received a Bloomberg LP special commission in 2008. She had a research residency in 2014 at the Henry Moore Institute in Leeds and previous artistic residencies include the International Studio and Curatorial Program (ISCP, 2002 – 2003) and Cité des Arts in Paris (2009 – 2010). She is currently working on a feature-length documentary film that uses birds and bird migration to look at stories of human migration in the Middle East.Her work is represented in a number of public and private collections including Arts Council England.

Beth Collar currently lives and works in Bristol, UK. She studied Sculpture at the Royal College of Art. She works in performance, drawing, video and installation. Recent projects and performances have been presented at The Rijksakademie, Amsterdam, NL; Raven Row, London, 2015; The Serpentine Gallery, London, 2015; David Roberts Art Foundation, London, 2014; Hayward Gallery, London, 2014; Modern Art Oxford, Oxford, 2014; and Flat Time House, London, 2014. Recent exhibitions include Fig.2 at ICA, London, 2015; The Cipher and the Frame, Cubitt, London, 2015; Anatomy of Anxieties at Edouard Malingue Gallery, Hong Kong, 2014; SOME CHTHONIC SWAMP EXPERIENCE at Tintype, London, 2014; Edition One residency at Detroit, Bristol 2013/14; From script to reading to exhibition to performance to print, Rowing, London, 2013; ANCIENT BRITAIN at The Woodmill GP, London, 2012; and The London Open, Whitechapel Gallery, 2012.

Aleksandra Domanović’s work is concerned with the circulation and reception of images and information, particularly as they shift meaning and change register, traversing different contexts and historical circumstances. Her works create strange taxonomies and manic associative chains that poke and prod at copyright laws, unpack the geopolitical implications of web domains, or explore, for instance, the model of exhibitions (the co-creation of the collaborative exhibition platform Domanović has been awarded the 2014/15 ars viva Prize. The ars viva exhibition series presents a selection of works by the three award-winners through 2015 at the Hamburger Kunsthalle, Galerie der Gegenwart; Bonner Kunstverein; and Grazer Kunstverein. Domanović’s recent solo exhibitions include: Glasgow International 2014, Gallery of Modern Art, Glasgow, 2014; Aleksandra Domanović, firstsite, Colchester, 2014; The Future Was at Her Fingertips, Tanya Leighton, Berlin 2013; Turbo Sculpture, SPACE, London, 2012; and From yu to me, Kunsthalle Basel, 2012.

Ye Funa is a Chinese artist born in Kunming, now based in Beijing. She studied at Central Academy of Fine Arts, China and Central Saint Martins College of Art, London. Funa’s work has been recognised internationally, and presented as solo exhibitions at MoCA Pavilion, Museum of Contemporary Art, Shanghai; V Art Centre, Shanghai; Galerie Piece Unique, Paris; Dialogue Space, Beijing and in group exhibitions at institutions such as the Chinese Pavilion, La Biennale de Venizia, Italy; Beijing Minsheng Art Museum, Beijing; 798 Art Factory, Beijing; Hubai Museum, Wuhai; Ray Art Center, Shanghai; University of Toronto Art Center, Canada; Yuz Museum, Jakarta; 2nd Asian Art Triennial, Manchester; Arcadia Missa, London; Fondazione Claudio Buziol, Venice, Rotterdam, Taipei; E.J Contemporary Fine Art Museum, Dali and others.

Mathilde ter Heijne is a Dutch artist living and working in Berlin. Primarily working within the media of video, performance, and installation practices, she studied in Maastricht at the Stadsakademie (1988-1992), in Amsterdam at the Rijksakademie van Beeldende Kunsten (1992-1994), and since 2011 has been a professor of Visual Art, Performance, and Installation at Kunsthochschule Kassel. Recent solo exhibitions include Performing Change, Museum für Neue Kunst, Freiburg, 2014; Woman to Go, Deutsche Bank VIP Lounge, frieze Art Fair, London, 2013; Olack!, DEPO, Istanbul, 2010 and Long Live Matriarchy!, Stedelijk Museum Bureau, Amsterdam, 2009.

Aura Satz has performed, exhibited and screened her work nationally and internationally, including Tate Modern, Tate Britain, the Hayward Gallery, Barbican Art Gallery, ICA, the Wellcome Collection, BFI Southbank, Whitechapel Gallery, (London); Experimenta, London Film Festival (London); Oberhausen Short Film Festival (Oberhausen); the Rotterdam Film Festival (Rotterdam); the New York Film Festival (NY); Festival du nouveau cinéma (Montreal); Gallery 44 (Toronto); Gertrude Contemporary (Melbourne); De Appel Art Centre (Amsterdam); and Baltic Centre for Contemporary Art (Gateshead). Recent and upcoming group shows include Mirrorcity at The Hayward Gallery, They Used to Call it the Moon at Baltic (Newcastle); 20th Biennale of Sydney: The Future is already here – it’s just not very evenly distributed (Sydney). Recent and upcoming solo shows include Chromatic Aberration at The Gallery Tyneside Cinema (Newcastle); Eyelids Leaking Light at George Eastman Museum (Rochester NY); The Trembling Line at John Hansard Gallery (Southampton); Her Marks, A Measure at Dallas Contemporary (Texas).

Maud Sulter (1960–2008) was an award-winning artist and writer, curator and gallerist of Ghanain and Scottish heritage who lived and worked in Britain. She exhibited widely and represented Britain at Africus, the Johannesburg Biennale of 1995. Her art has been acquired by numerous private and public collections, including the Scottish Parliament, the Arts Council Collection, the Victoria and Albert Museum, the British Council Collection, the National Galleries of Scotland, and the National Portrait Gallery in London. She wrote several collections of poetry, and edited a pioneering collection of writings and images, Passion: Discourses on Black women’s Creativity’ published by the imprint she founded, Urban Fox Press, ‘a revolutionary new press for the more radical 90s’. She was active in the Black feminist and lesbian movements, often inspired by African-American activists, artists and writers. She founded at gallery a gallery, Rich Women of Zurich in London’s Clerkenwell, and curated nearly 20 exhibitions. A recent retrospective of her work Maud Sulter: Passion was held at Street Level Photoworks, Glasgow in 2015.

Niina Vatanen lives and works in Helsinki, Finland. She studied photography at the University of Art and Design Helsinki, Academy of Fine Arts in Helsinki, and the Department of Fine Arts at the University of Barcelona. Vatanen often uses simple, playful interventions to point our gaze directly at the photographic surface, revealing the act of seeing as an inherent element of photography, and explores perception in the interaction between the visible and the not visible. Her solo exhibitions included Beyond the Visible Surface, C/O Berlin, Berlin, DE; Archive Play, Golden Thread Gallery, Belfast, GB; Cloud Hunter’s Eyes, TR1 Kunstalle, Tampere, FI; in addition to group exhibitions at Athens Photo Festival, Brighton Photo Biennial, Danish National Museum of Photography, Palais des Beaux Arts de Lille, and others.

Guest Projects, founded by Yinka Shonibare MBE, and is located in East London. It provides an autonomous space for exploration and experimentation, and challenging work, which might not be shown otherwise due to commercial pressures in the market.

The exhibition is a touring and evolving composition, which follows from its previous presentation at the Finnish Museum of Photography, Helsinki to examine feminist positions of revisiting histories through lens and time based media.

Related Events:
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16 Jan 2016, 2pm
A symposium on collaboration and authorship in partnership with (play)ground-less, Space in Between and Hi Barbara that will include talks and discussions with artists, curators and academics including Dr. Stevphen Sukaitis (University of Essex), followed by an evening performance reflecting on the subject of collaboration.

(play)ground-less is an exhibition of new and collaborative work by Sarah Bayliss, María Angélica Madero, Ninna Bohn Pedersen and Belén Zahera taking place at Space in Between from 4 December 2015 – 16 January 2016.

Film Screening:
Most conscious beings lack a permanent physical form
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In their assemblage and individual subject matter, this collection of films approaches the subject of disappearing. As a performative act to assume the identity of the other, the banishment on the accusation of being ‘too real’, or the disappearance of a web domain amongst political shifts, each film articulates the difficulties of producers who ‘speak to transform reality, and no longer to preserve it as an image’. The title of the screening is borrowed from a text written by Aleksandra Domanović.

Artists include Marie Yates, Pilvi Takala, Mikhail Karikis, Aleksandra Domanović, Oreet Ashery,

Wiki-edit-a-thon: Exhibition Histories
23 Jan 2016, all day

Join us and take part in a day of creating and editing histories online. We will be focusing on neglected exhibition and institutional histories, ensuring that there is greater access to information about radical, collaborative curatorial and visual art practices via the web.

All events are free and open to all. Please RSVP to [email protected] for further details.

Exhibition Assistants: Ninna Miranda, Ksenia Belash, Herman Rahman, Coralie Malissard, Flavia Dannunzio, Celin Bodin, Sze Wong, Laura Thompson, Megan Nixon, Dorothy Spencer

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