Organ Vida: Sly fictions

Organ Vida: Sly fictions 

Artists: Farah Al Qasimi, Ilana Harris-Babou, Stefanie Moshammer

Opening: September 24th at 20:00
The exhibition remains open until October 15th

Curators: Barbara Gregov, Lovro Japundžić, Lea Vene
Design: Alma Šavar
Translation: Veronika Mesić

The exhibition “Sly Fictions” includes the works of three artists – Farah Al Qasimi, Ilana Harris-Babou and Stefanie Moshammer – who are reclaiming the commodified modes of representation in order to critique the paradoxes of contemporary life. Through popular formats such as a beauty vlog or a reality show, the artists approach commonplace trends that we generally tend to consume uncritically – fast fashion, cosmetic novelties, healthy diet or spiritualism. Aware of the limitations to individual resistance and to the capacity of art to critique mass production and excessive, passive consumption, the artists turn to humor, the grotesque and the absurd. The presented works thus function as visual parodies of consumer culture.

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Ilana Harris-Babou: Decision Fatigue

In her artistic practice, Illana Harris-Babou tackles the lifestyle trends that are commonly associated with privileged demographic groups of consumers. Her work “Decision Fatigue” focuses on the wellness industry. The central point of the work is a video in which the artist’s mother parodies beauty vloggers by presenting the viewers with her bizarre beauty routine, all the while pondering the life decisions she made in order to retain her youthfulness and feel good. The vlogger’s absurd advice – a homemade face mask made of snacks or the instruction to take vitamins with Pepsi – are intended for even more absurd activities, such as the consumption of a TV dinner. By parodying popular phrases such as the “healthy diet” or “minimalist lifestyle”, Harris-Babou critiques the world in which structural failures are often presented as personal choices.

The video is accompanied by a spatial installation mimicking a perfume store with a peculiar selection of items, among others, a wax face roller, cheetos serum and borax healing crystals. The exhibited objects are evidently unusable but they are presented as luxurious commodities. Therefore, they do not function as objects of desire but rather as a grotesque manifestation of luxury. By emphasizing the absurdity of the beauty standards unattainable by many due to a lack of time and resources, in her work Harris-Babou criticizes the contemporary beauty industry in a humorous and accessible manner.

Illana Harris-Babou is an interdisciplinary artist who works in sculpture, installation and video. Her work focuses on the critique and research of consumer culture. She has exhibited throughout the US and Europe, with solo exhibitions at The Museum of Arts & Design and HESSE FLATOW, Abrons Art Center, the Jewish Museum, SculptureCenter, the Studio Museum in Harlem, the De Young Museum, Whitney Museum etc. Harris-Babou has been reviewed in the New Yorker, Artforum, and Art in America, among others. She holds an MFA in Visual Art from Columbia University, and a BA in Art from Yale University.

Farah Al Qasimi: Um Al Nar (Mother of fire)

The film “Um Al Nar” is a horror comedy in which the artist Farah Al Qasimi, through a fictional reality show, shows and exposes the contradictions of modern everyday life in the United Arab Emirates. Equally burdened by local tradition, affective remnants of the colonial past and imported Western consumerism, the cultural image of the region is presented from the perspective of the misunderstood jinn Um Al Nar, a supernatural being who has haunted the area of Ras al-Khaimah for centuries. Contrary to the typical representation of jinns as sinister creatures, Um Al Nar is wrapped in colorful fabrics with floral patterns and freely confesses her frustrations to the camera. On the one hand, she mocks stubborn traditional views and perceptions, and on the other, she complains of fatigue arising from desperate attempts to preserve visibility in a society that is increasingly losing interest in traditional forms of spirituality and neglects local history due to market emphasis on novelties.

Taking over and parodying popular film and television genres, the artist Farah Al Quasimi manages to criticize, but at the same time glorify the culture she is talking about – to create a space for the unseen, the misunderstood and the absurd.

Farah Al Qasimi (b.1991, Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates; lives and works in Brooklyn and Dubai) works in photography, video, and performance. Her work has been featured in exhibitions at Contemporary Art Museum St. Louis, St. Louis, MO; Public Art Fund, New York; Jameel Arts Centre, Dubai; the San Francisco Arts Commission, San Francisco; the CCS Bard Galleries at the Hessel Museum of Art, New York; Helena Anrather, New York; The Third Line, Dubai; The List Visual Arts Center at MIT, Cambridge; the Museum of Contemporary Art, Toronto; and the Houston Center for Photography, Houston. Al Qasimi received her MFA from the Yale School of Art. She has participated in residencies at the Delfina Foundation, London; the Skowhegan School of Painting and Sculpture, Maine; and is a recipient of the New York NADA Artadia Prize, the Aaron Siskind Individual Photographer’s Fellowship, and this year’s Capricious Photo Award. Her work is in the collections of the Museum of Modern Art, New York; the Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum, New York; the Guggenheim Abu Dhabi, UAE; Tate Modern, London; Museum of Contemporary Art, Chicago; Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Cambridge; Huis Marseille, Museum for Photography, Amsterdam; Bowdoin College Museum of Art, Brunswick; and NYU’s Grey Art Gallery, New York. She has forthcoming solo exhibitions at the Contemporary Art Museum St. Louis and the Esker Foundation in Calgary in 2021 and 2022 respectively.

Stefanie Moshammer: We love our customers

The We love our customers project is aimed at critically questioning the fashion industry and the so-called fast fashion, as well as the effect of such production and consumption on our everyday life. Stefanie Moshammer perceives garments as social objects that can convey different social and cultural meanings. Likewise, garments record bodily experiences and layers of memories that have accumulated in them over the years of wearing. The project was launched in 2017, and the artist upgrades her research locally with each new exhibition. GMK will exhibit an installation designed using second-hand clothes provided by the social cooperative Humana Nova Zagreb. The installation is accompanied by a series of photographs representing objects inspired by the second-hand market in New York. The photographs and installations simulate an aestheticized fashion image in a humorous way, acting like a fashion editorial that does not sell clothing items but speculates about the potential new life of discarded textiles.

Stefanie Moshammer (b. 1988, Vienna) is a visual artist whose practice blends photography, video, collage and installation. She is the author of “Vegas and She” (Fotohof edition, 2014), “Land of Black Milk” (Skinnerboox, 2017) and “Not just your face honey” (Spector Books & C/O Berlin, 2018).

She received numerous awards and prizes, among others the C/O Berlin Talent Award, Outstanding Artist Award from the Austrian Federal Ministry for Arts and Culture, Images Vevey Broncolor Prize, Wallpaper New Generation Prize. Stefanie Moshammer’s work has been published in various print & online publications, such as i-D, art – Das Kunstmagazin, Zeit Magazin, M Le magazine du Monde, Wallpaper Magazine, Monopol, New York Magazine, Numéro, DAZED & many more. Her work has been exhibited throughout galleries, museums and fairs around Europe, the US and China, including Foam Photography Museum Amsterdam, C/O Berlin, Museum of Applied Arts Vienna, Photo London, Webber Gallery, Red Hook Labs, Fotografiska New York.

The program is supported by:
Ministry of Culture of the Republic of Croatia and City of Zagreb – City Office for Culture