Forum: Bread and games

27, 28 and 29 February 2020 at Ugly Duck


Thursday 27: 6-9pm – Live act Louise Ashcroft 7pm 
Friday 28: 6-9pm – Live act Rosa Doornenbal 7pm and Lea Collet 8pm 
Saturday 29: 2-6pm – Live act Radek Brousil 3pm, Teal Griffin 4pm and Caz Egelie 5pm

Curator: Natalija Paunić
Artists include: Louise Ashcroft, Radek Brousil, Lea Collet, Rosa Doornenbal, Caz Egelie and Teal Griffin

Guest curator Natalija Paunić is invited to develop an experimental discursive project, titled Forum: Bread and games which explores notions of fiction and trust. The project comprises a sequence of six consecutive acts which interpret the artworks each time in a different way, questioning the possibility of neutral spectatorship on the one hand, and the precariousness of the original idea and authorship on the other.

Bread and games derives from the Latin phrase panem et circenses, which in some languages is a popular idiom for distraction, appeasement and mass manipulation. Drawing on themes of living in our society, the phrase illustrates the format of the project, as it repeatedly manipulates and deconstructs the viewer’s experience. In this way, it resonates with Open Space’s 2020 programme Manufacturing Memory, which examines the dichotomy between memory and technology. The project allows even the most personal memories to become compromised by a fictional, unpredictable narrative.

The sequence is initiated by individual projects that explore different modes of storytelling in relation to the real and the intended, the remembered and the known – in public, political and private life. In coming together, the artworks bring forth the reality of fiction itself as they become part of someone else’s narrative. The six artists fictionalise the exhibition, so that the audience experiences their new interpretations, rather than the original voice of the curator. Therefore, all control over the mediated is given up as a concept within the original idea, allowing the audience to create memories dependent on chance and choice, rather than the structures of a fixed exhibition.

The dynamic of the project varies between an intention to bring together and break apart, most visible in Louise Ashcroft’s work. She will engage with landscapes that relate to the practices of other artists in the show. This creates one possible, yet highly fictionalised, truth about their work, which guides both the audience and the artists into an interpretation of what should be seen. The series of her journeys will be documented through various media, creating a map for an odyssey, as though she were voyaging through others’ imaginations.

This playful, yet illusory sense of knowing the artists’ practices gives an uncanny feeling of faux familiarity, which provides a good introduction to Lea Collet’s work. Collet, performing together with artist Swan L’haoua, considers an environment that explores collective disconnection induced by technology through a phenomenon she calls online emotion and affiliations with other species. She navigates towards a digital ritual, focusing her work between intimations of the future and personal stories.

Digital means and personal relationships also appear as a motive and method in Caz Egelie’s work. Egelie transforms art history into a place of affection, confusion and fiction. This is a way for him to meditate the relationships between authenticity, originality and memory – mapping the place where a digital glitch inevitably shakes the identity of the original.

Radek Brousil brings together the natural and virtual with works on fabric with a specific geopolitical origin and geographic trajectory. With an abundant visual language, Brousil constructs a narrative suggestive of colonial and quasi-colonial histories. In the context of Open Space’s 2020 theme, Brousil works with the memory of objects and spaces, questioning ways of existing and “collective generational nostalgia”.

Nostalgia provides a segue into Rosa Doornenbal’s work around the experience of hauntology in contemporary urban and domestic landscapes. She is interested in how people identify with their surroundings and how this relates to feelings of security and intimacy. Fictional identities are created from an early age, with toys and children’s games being the initiators. Doornenbal focuses on the way objects, buildings and even clothing can be seen as ghosts that envelop us with their wordless presence and influential capacity.

Finally, Teal Griffin thinks of the contemporary moment, in which bodies (both human and non-human) are caught between climate catastrophe and uncertain futures. Shaped by personal experience, Griffin’s work presents a cast of characters, performing their own fiction as a reference to a ballet ensemble, yet removed from the music which gives the characters purpose. This “tragicomic sound of silence” as Griffin writes in his own words, wraps up the project’s narrative with something closer to a question than an answer, towards a potential for a new platform created together with the audience.

Venue: Operating since 2012, Ugly Duck is an arts organisation that revitalises underused spaces by opening them up for creative uses. Their programme enables makers, community groups, professionals and the public to come together. By hosting unique cultural experiences and curated events they promote and support under-represented and emerging artists.