Friday, February 9, 2024

Superflex: Beyond the End of the World and Artists in Conversation at ICA San Diego / North

 by Patricia Frischer

Superflex, Power Toilet Death Masks, 2024 unfired clay

As part of ICA San Diego’s 2024 Interface season, Superflex: Beyond the End of the World presents a video and exhibition installation along with a panel discussion. It was unusual for me to see the panel first and then the exhibition, but that panel colored my view of the art work on display. It was moderated by Dr. Jordan Karney Chaim, Curator of ICA San Diego with three participants.

Here is my summary:

Jakob Fenger for Superflex – In their installation and film at the ICA, Beyond the End of the World, Superflex use some humor (clay rolls of toilet paper, urinals as death mask) and metaphor to describe a future world no longer inhabited by human.    One of their big themes is recognizing that non-human species on earth are just as important as the human species. That perhaps we need to allow things (including humans) to disappear. No one wants to change. But our current society finds it is easier to imagine the end of the world, than the end of capitalism. Fenger knows that Art can’t solve all the problems. But he appreciates that art allows necessary mistakes, and we learn from those.  

Teddy Cruz, architect and art activist, has been working within the UCSD university, trying to get out of the neutrality of research and becoming an advocate. He believes we should not just be gathering information from communities of need, but constructing partnership and collaboration with those communities. There is an opportunity to leveraging the economic power of the university to aid in affordable housing.  Art can’t just be symbolic. It should not just be a reminder of the problem, but it should transcend the problem. Those communities need to own their own spaces.  Art should be able to speak to the people and should be able to cut through data-speak.

But If we continue to think taxes are evil, that politicians can only be bad, that the American dream of urban spawl and growth on steroid is a right and imminent domain is wrong, then things will never change. There should not be a war between the public and the private. We need to embrace the collective well-being. We all want to live in a world that is safe, with co-existence and empathy and interdependence. He asked, “What is the political economy that is needed?” 

Adam Aron, environmental artist, believes that climate change is a crisis and it is large institution that are guilty of abusing it. Elected officials say the right thing, but don’t do anything. The solution is a large public mobilization to demand changes need to save our environment. This means civic and volunteer engagement. But how do you mobilize in the most effective way? He says we need research so we are able to make change. The change has to happen under capitalism because it is too late to change that, but our priorities of individual ownership have to change. We need to share tools, cars, work spaces to cut down on amounts of things. We need artist to help us imagine a positive version of the future world.


As part of ICA San Diego’s 2024 Interface season, Beyond the End of the World is on view until June 2 with a video in the Education Pavilion and until July 28 in the Artists Pavilion
ICA San Diego/ North, (1550 S El Camino Real, Encinitas, CA 92024)

Interface is the collective title for the 2024-2025 exhibition season and it invites the audiences to consider how art can expand the relationship between humans and science.  The Interface season will consist of six exhibitions spread over ICA’s two campuses in Balboa Park and Encinitas with free monthly public C You Saturdays events with artist talks, exhibition tours, food and music.

The Winter/Spring exhibitions includes Turkishborn San Diego based Dr. Pinar Yoldas at ICA Central
The Summer/Fall exhibitions in the north includes solo exhibitions by Rafael LozanoHemmer, Nathalie Miebach, Manuel Alejandro RodríguezDelgado, and Melissa Walter.
In Balboa Park, the ICA Central mezzanine displays Rafael LozanoHemmer’s interactive installation, Remote Pulse (2019) and  Nathalie Miebach will occupy the main gallery space. 


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