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13 Jan 2012

City Museum Ljubljana presents SPECTRAL METROPOLE

Martin Fletcher Systems House
'Garden City' 2010
courtesy of the artist

City Museum Ljubljana, gallery Vzigalica


Private View:
Thursday, 12 January 2012 7.00 p.m. Exhibition continues until 5th February 2012
Open: 10.00 am - 6.00 pm Tue-Sun, closed Mon

Marija Skocir, head of Vzigalica gallery
+ 386 (0)1 2412 513
+ 386 (0)1 2412 540

City Museum Ljubljana, gallery Vzigalica
Trg francoske revolucije 7
1000 Ljubljana

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artists: Carla Arocha & Stéphane Schraenen, Jasmina Cibic, Michelle Deignan, Martin Fletcher, Alex Hudson and Sadie Murdoch

curated by Ken Pratt

Certain discourses tend to dominate in recent exhibitions addressing notions of urbanism and urbanity. Urbanism is often approached as a de facto phenomenon, the contemporary city arising almost spontaneously, approached with the quasi-documentary stance. Or, there are artists addressing urbanism as the mise-en-scène for addressing social relationships relating to Globalism. There is also a tendency to focus on urbanism as a failed Utopia, where Modernism becomes a cipher for naiveté, easy judgements ignoring any transhistoticism.

By contrast, Spectral Metropole examines the work of a handful of artists where complex and visceral ideas of an urban culture after Modernism are implicit - even when this is not the core intention of the work - that introduce the idea of spectral associations and historic residues that become more important to informing our current histories of 'the urban'. Often in contrast to the stated rationalism of Modernism, their works evoke the metropolitan through a lyrical, intuitive triggering of meanings and associations that often contradict the seemingly pragmatic tenets of mainstream Modernism arising in the twentieth century.

We feel it in the sense of altered state in Carla Arocha + Stéphane Schraenen's work that traditionally makes use of optic phenomena to heighten the sensory experiences of what must also be approached rationally. We encounter it in the sensual aesthetic and ethereal beauty of the works by Jasmina Cibic or Sadie Murdoch, both of whom draw directly on neglected histories of modernist practitioners and icons. We find it in the works of Martin Fletcher or Alex Hudson, each of whom approaches Modernism's urban dreams with a certain elegiac approach to its penchant for monumentalism despite working in very different media. And we find it in the work of Michelle Deignan where the seemingly matter-of-fact theatre of action soon reveals a complex reinvented history in which these new stories reveal much about the psychic detritus that litters an apparently familiar metropolis.

In the work of each of these artists, the unheimlich is a mechanism that draws down the spectres of Modernity to complex and varied ends. However, embedded deep within in them are complex discourses that implicitly rely on a Modernist history to the urban as a reality that must inform our contemporary understanding of exactly what urban life is now. We can engage in this entirely rationally, as we are invited to do. Or we can engage with it on a much more intuitive level, perhaps even a metaphysical level, by communing directly with the ghosts of the Modernist metropole.

Ken Pratt

Carla Arocha (b. 1961) & Stephane Schraenen (b. 1971) have been working together since 2007. Their solo exhibitions and projects include Koraalberg Projects, Antwerp; Vegas Gallery, London; Arte Contemporaneo, Periferico, Caracas; Andre Schlechtriem Contemporary, New York. Amongst their group exhibitions are projects at Bozar, Brussels; Espai d'Art Contemporani de Castello, Castello; Ambika P3, London; and Hessenhuis, Antwerp. They live and work in Antwerp.

Jasmina Cibic
(b. 1979) graduated from the Academy of Fine Arts in Venice (2003) and gained an MA in Fine Art at Goldsmiths College in London (2006). She has exhibited her work in various group exhibitions and solo shows (among others at Škuc Gallery, 2011; the California College of the Arts, San Francisco, 2009; Maribor Art Gallery, 2008; International Festival of Contemporary Arts – City of Women, Ljubljana, 2008; Künstlerhaus Graz, 2007; Goldsmiths College, London, 2006; Bevilacqua la Masa, Venice, 2005; Art Gallery of Bosnia and Herzegovina, Sarajevo, 2004). She lives and works between Ljubljana and London.

Michelle Deignan (b.197o) graduated from the National College of Art and Design in Dublin (1992) with a BFA in sculpture. She has since completed postgraduate studies at the School of Media and Imaging in Duncan of Jordanstone College of Art Dundee, Scotland and at the Visual Arts Department of Goldmiths College, London. Her video, digital and photographic works have been exhibited in various national and international exhibitions and festivals including: 'New Work UK - Trust Yourself', Whitechapel Gallery, London; 'Europart - New Contemporary Art from Europe', Vienna; 'transmediale.08', House of Cultures, Berlin; 'Sunday Screening', Milton Keynes Gallery, UK; 'Film Programme 1', Badischer Kunstverein, Karlsruhe; 'Black Box Programme' at the Edinburgh Film Festival. She lives and works in London.

Martin Fletcher Systems House (b.1974) graduated from the Nottingham Trent University (BA Fine Art 1997) and gained an MA in Fine Art at Goldsmiths College in London (2006). His works have been exhibited internationally in solo exhibitions in galleries Michael Janssen, Berlin; Gallerie Nicolas Silin, Paris; Gallerie s.e., Bergen and in group exhibitions in the Central House of Arts, Moscow; ICA, London; The Saatchi Gallery, London; The Hermitage, St. Petersburg; Victoria Miro, London, The Henry Moore Institute, Leeds; the Barbican Gallery, the Chisenhale Gallery, London and the Hayward Gallery, London. He lives and works between London and Moscow.

Alex Hudson (b.1979) gained an MA in Painting at Wimbledon College of Art (2007). His exhibitions include 'Golden Mean', Vegas Gallery, London; 'Apopcalypse Now', Nieuw Dakota, Amsterdam and 'In Case We Don't Die', Helene Nyborg Contemporary, Copenhagen. He has been a nominee for the Jerwood Contemporary Painters award (2009) and featured in the Bloomberg New Contemporaries (2008). He lives and works in London.

Sadie Murdoch
(b.1965) received her phD at Leeds Metropolitan University and graduated from the Whitney Museum of American Art Independent Study Program (2004). Her interdisciplinary practice spins from painting to video and her works have been presented in solo exhibitions at the Apartment Gallery, Athens; the Agency Gallery, London and at the Henry Moore Institute in Leeds. Her group exhibitions include the New Museum of Contemporary Art, New York; Timothy Taylor Gallery, London; Redux, London; Norwich Gallery, Norwich; Cubitt, London and Taipei National Fine Art Museum, Taipei. She lives and works in London.

Ken Pratt is a curator and writer whose practice spans the arenas of contemporary art, creative publishing and innovative means of cultural production. He was previously both the Intendant for the gallery space of the Dutch Embassy in London and Adjunct Curator at MAMA, Rotterdam. As an independent curator, he has curated shows for European museums and institutions amongst which are the first Luc Tuymans solo exhibition in Scandanavia at Vestfossen Kunstlaboratorium in Norway, a sprawling project with the Stedelijk Museum s-Hertogenbosch and two other institutions and the 2008 joint Dutch/Flemish exhibition for the biennial London Festival of Architecture. He also established Projector Art Fair whilst at MAMA which now operates as Trajector Art Fair in Brussels, showcasing the work of international non-profits and independent project spaces. He is the curator of the invited artist's projects for one of the largest public art initiatives of the London 2012 Cultural Olympiad. 2012 will also see him once again curate the joint Dutch/Flemish contribution to the London Festival of Architecture and undertake a number of museum exhibitions in Scotland. He lives and works in London.

Private View: Thursday, 12 January 2012 7.00 p.m.
Curator & Artist talk: Friday, 13th January 2012 6.00 p.m.

Production: Waddington Studios Projects and Maribor Art Gallery
Co-production: Museum and Galleries of Ljubljana
Supported by the British Council

Jasmina Cibic's performance Bird Cage (After Pierre-Émile le Grain) featuring Gripper, a Harris Hawk, and its trainer Ben Long from Monkshill Falconry School in Gloucestershire, UK, will take place at the following times:

Thursday 12.1.2012 between 7.00 p.m. - 9.00 p.m.
Friday 13.1.2012 between 5.00 p.m. - 7.00 p.m.
Saturday 14.1.2012 between 4.00 p.m. - 6.00 p.m.
Sunday 15.1. 2012 between 11.00 a.m. - 1.00 p.m.