February 15, 2014 - Kunsthalle Zürich - Ed Atkins and Slavs and Tatars
February 15, 2014

Ed Atkins and Slavs and Tatars

Ed Atkins, Warm, Warm, Warm Spring Mouths (still), 2013. HD film with with 5.1 surround sound, 12:50 minutes. Courtesy the artist; Cabinet, London; and Isabella Bortolozzi Galerie, Berlin.

Ed Atkins
Slavs and Tatars: Lektor

15 February–11 May 2014

Opening: 14 February, 6–9pm

Kunsthalle Zürich 
Limmatstrasse 270
8005 Zurich

T +41 (0) 44 272 15 15 
F +41 (0) 44 272 18 88
info [​at​] kunsthallezurich.ch


Ed Atkins
In his work, which includes videos, video installations, texts and drawings, British artist Ed Atkins (born 1982, lives and works in London) explores the virtuality of our contemporary visual world and its profound effect on the reality of our embodied lives. His high-definition videos and powerful soundtracks question their own technical accomplishments, promises and ideologies. Atkins begins, often with the idea of his chosen media’s paradoxical capacity to realistically reproduce our material world in decidedly dematerialized ways. The latest digital imaging technologies provide something of a starting point for Atkins’ work. The high-definition (HD) format of the videos and their soundtracks present a succession of incredibly precise images to the viewer, all unintentional imperfections eradicated, along with any semblance of real anima. This unilateral focus on technical representational perfection is contrasted starkly with the invisible, incorporeal absence digital formats, which can no longer be perceived tangibly. The disembodiment of the medium—the stripping of its physicality, the work’s indexicality—is partnered with a process of “living” reality becoming “dead” digital code. This deferral, this flattening, spiriting away of a somatics of media and its consequences is physically avenged in Atkins’ works, attempting to reconcile this discrepancy formally and thematically, through metaphoric extensions of terminologies and techniques. Atkins’s digital compositions are characterized by rich, saturated colors, high-precision editing rhythms, languorous fades, tight shifts in focus, and the montage of a wealth of material, much of which could be characterized as having the quality of stock. The multi-faceted interrelations between text and image play an important role in Ed Atkins’s work. The artist’s interest in implicit and explicit visual and physical word games is widely evidenced in his works: in the course of his search for a grammar of visual representation that desires a sufficient representation of a real body, but which cannot avoid repeatedly failing, obscuring it. It’s at this limit, on the brink of semantic and syntactical collapse, that he writes.

Alongside the last four videos Atkins has produced, and a selection of collages and writings—he will premiere the large-scale installation Ribbons (2014) for this presentation, which is his first institutional solo show in Switzerland.

Slavs and Tatars: Lektor
For the future public library space of Kunsthalle Zurich the artist group Slavs and Tatars invites to the installation and programme Lektor. The project comprises an audio work of the same title, as well as Mother Tongues and Father Throats, a carpet on a platform for visitors to pause, to listen, and to reflect on the notions of language and translation, geography and governance, past and presence. Language is fundamentally dependent upon translation, from the written word to its sounding in space and vice versa, or in the transfer from one geographical space to another. These facts bridge the centuries as well as latitudes engaged by the piece; Lektor outlines the mechanisms of power at work in the translation inherent to language. At the same time this cycle of investigation by Slavs and Tatars into the different practices and techniques of translation looks for the cracks that moments of imagination may cause. In addition to these artworks, a series of events is launched, furthering the dialogical framework of the project: three screenings of screwball comedy movies, live interpreted to German; an encounter between a scholar of medieval political literature and a contemporary political commentator; and a lecture-performance by the artists themselves, followed by a conversation with a translator of theory. Encouraging a constant shift of speakers and listeners Lektor welcomes a wide audience to engage with its subjects and situations.

To mark the opening of the Ed Atkins exhibition, a first artist monograph including texts by Ed Atkins, a conversation between the artist and Beatrix Ruf and an essay by Joe Luna is published by JRP|Ringier, Zürich, in cooperation with the Julia Stoschek Collection, Düsseldorf and the Kunsthalle Mainz.

Theory & programmes
For both exhibitions a special series of theory and programmes has been developed with the artists.
For further information please contact our website.

Kunsthalle Zürich is generously supported by:
Stadt Zürich Kultur, Kanton Zürich – Fachstelle Kultur, Zürcher Kantonalbank – Partner of Kunsthalle Zürich, Luma Foundation

The Ed Atkins exhibition is generously supported by:
george foundation, The Henry Moore Foundation

Ed Atkins and Slavs and Tatars at Kunsthalle Zürich
Kunsthalle Zürich
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