Jon Rafman / Stan VanDerBeek
January 20–March 4, 2017
curated by Johannes Fricke Waldthausen
Memory comes to live through action in the present. We give life to memory through the present but when we do not give life to memory, it fades away. —J. Krishnamurti
This exhibition at Sprüth Magers, Los Angeles, introduces films and animations by Jon Rafman and Stan VanDerBeek, two artists from different generations, both exploring and working with associative imagery and their effect on the conditioned and the subconscious mind. Derived from the notion of screens and projections, their installations evolve around an immersive cinema and animation experience. The exhibition includes a multi-screen space by VanDerBeek that juxtaposes and conflates animated collages and projections from the late 1950s to 1968, and Rafman’s environments that recall virtual reality worlds and video games. The work of both artists together presents an enigmatic, surreal view of the world.
Projections loom around us as virtual simulations on screens across our everyday life; equally, they appear within us, as memory in our minds and feelings in our bodies. Manuel De Landa states that condition of simulation requires that, 'We need to acknowledge that we have built these layers of virtuality and that they are real, they are real virtual.' The exhibition raises questions regarding how simulated worlds change our behavior and our relationships to others and ourselves. What do we feel, here and now, in the very presence of our body, if artificial worlds enter deep into our emotions, suggesting to us what we should feel and what we should like in an unconscious, timeless present? Rafman and VanDerBeek’s art reflects a contemporary moment when digital tools, animation and virtual worlds are constant presences; they explore the impact on our identities and our understanding of life.