New York exhibition invites viewers to take a nap

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An aerial camera remains fixed on several asymmetrical, reddish tables. Atop casual tables sit neat groupings of items – a grid of plastic bags; a line of paper packets – the details of which are not discernible from this camera angle. The uneventful scene is streamed live on Twitch as part of Sprout Nap Wobble Hinge, a collective exhibition at EFA Project Space curated by Dylan Gauthier, Radhika Subramaniam and Marina Zurkow. The deadpan, Warholian stream is the polar opposite of the action-packed video game content the Twitch website is known for. This anti-sensational inclination is part of the logic of the broader exhibition and the work disseminated, Take, Leave, Knoll* … *arranging a group of objects parallel or perpendicular to each other (2003-ongoing), a plant exchange organized by Eating in Public, a long-standing collaboration between artist Gaye Chan and researcher Nandita Sharma dedicated to creating a cultural space for anti-capitalist free exchange.

Installation view, Gaye Chan and Nadita, “Eating in Public” (2022), plant and gardening material, plywood, monitor, live camera feed

The other works in the exhibition, with a playful title, also create spaces for alternative forms of relationship, particularly bodily. Anna Rose Hopkins and Marina Zurkow’s dimly lit installation, “Languishing at the End of the Ocean” (2022), consists of three desk chairs converted into makeshift spa chairs, where visitors can sit and listen, via headphones, to an “audio theater” piece. Sal Randolph’s cushioned benches Slowdown time (2022) are for visitors to lie back and watch a waterscape projected from the ceiling, or even take a nap. Del Hardin Hoyle’s U-shaped modular wooden chairs (One or two seats2022), and festive planters (June 1998 and The renovation of the Museum, both from 2022), served as the setting for a sound and light performance at the end of April. Engravings of the funny Marina Zurkow animal revolution series (2022) — drawings made for the recent book of the same name by philosopher Ron Broglio, like a jellyfish in the shape of an atomic bomb cloud — hang in a room with quirky furniture, including a wall shelf where visitors can prepare a cup of kombu tea.

Installation view, Marina Zurkow, ‘Animal Revolution’ (2022), archival digital prints of a selection of 25 charcoal drawings created for Ron Broglio’s 2022 book, ‘Animal Revolution’; top left to right: “Revolutionary Antlers Break Chains”, “Atomic Jellyfish”, “Bull and Teacup”, “Fucking Bonobos”, “Hirsute Pair”, “Dionysian Fauns Dancing”, “George’s Extractivist Teeth”, 18 x 24 inches, digital prints on Hahnemühle German Etching 310

For all its quirks, Sprout Nap Wobble HingeThe immersive elements of never feel fancy, like Instagram-friendly art. Each set of works has its own dedicated gallery space and was designed for pausing and resting rather than selfies. The exhibition includes a few art objects to see, but the focus is on activities that visitors or artists can do. Most of these activities are slow and contemplative: drinking tea; listen to a guided meditation; lie down and take a nap. The installations seem strangely silent, open, spacious, as if the galleries were stages awaiting the actors. The linguistic ambiguity of the show’s title – each of its words can be read as a noun or a verb – hints at a back and forth between things and actions, inertia and liveliness.

The invitation to a siesta, in particular, reflects this tension. Napping is a distinctly passive form of physical activity, a rest taken during a usually productive time of day. Napping can provide much-needed respite, a way to recharge your tired body, but it can also be disorienting, causing you to feel drowsy and lazy when you wake up. The invigorating and defamiliarizing senses of “napping” are at play in Germinate, and their implications are elaborated through the exhibition’s eclectic programming schedule. Eight events took place over the two-month run, ranging from readings and conversations with artists and scholars, like queer theorist Heather Davis, to performances that activated specific works of art. Programming has an eco-social orientation that reflects the conservation team’s commitment to shared values ​​in their own distinct practices. (In her “Weedy Talk,” artist Ellie Irons defines “ecosocial art” as “work that combines ecological and socially engaged art through a multi-species lens.”)

Installation view, Anna Rose Hopkins and Marina Zurkow, “Languishing at Ocean’s End” (2022), audio, audio players, bucket, compression boots, digital prints, emergency blankets, found furniture, moss, fountain , headphones, massagers, seaweed, surgical tubes, tea bar, video and video player

The show I attended, that of Anna Rose Hopkins Acts of service, an unprofessional spa whose treatment menu options (such as “Weigh Me Down” and “Forgive Me”) corresponded to different ocean depths (the abyssopelagic and hadalpelagic zones respectively), threw me off balance in the right sense. When I arrived at the gallery, Hopkins was lying with his eyes closed on one of the Slowdown timeThe upholstered benches of , dressed in a navy bodysuit, black boots and seashell snap nails – a sort of steampunk ocean art spa technician costume. She asked me if I wanted to listen first Languish at the end of the ocean‘s audio, then settle me into one of the jerry-rigged spa chairs. The lushly written second-person audio guides the listener through a 30-minute fictional narrative in which you transform into various aspects of an aquatic environment, blurring the lines between self and others.

For my spa treatment, I chose “Compress Me”, a service corresponding to the bathypelagic zone of the ocean, a dark zone from 1,000 to 4,000 meters deep “characterized”, according to the menu, “by a great pressure and bioluminescent marine life”. “I signed a waiver, had a little chat with Hopkins, then underwent the seven-minute treatment, which involved a massage of the performer’s shoulders while I wore compression leg massagers. . The massage didn’t make me think of the ocean, or the bioluminescent marine life, or even the boundaries between self and others. Truth be told, I had dozed off for a few minutes during the audio narration, which seemed to fit the spirit of the exhibit but also left me a little dazed.

I was therefore all the more surprised that at the end of the treatment, Hopkins wrote me a receipt for a reciprocal act: “Cost: hold my head in your lap for 2 minutes.” I hadn’t realized that performance involved a reciprocal exchange; the surprisingly intimate cost felt like a gesture of trust from Hopkins. Now I was definitely thinking about the boundaries between me and others, intimates and strangers, as this person I met less than an hour ago and had barely conversed with knelt down next to my chair and rested his head in my lap, his costumed torso rising and falling like the breathing of a vulnerable animal.

As strange as it may seem, the avant-garde of past and especially present eco-art will not necessarily appear so ecological or even artistic in the future. Germinate contains works that involve plants and water and animals and food, but what makes them eco-friendly is not their subject matter, nor their medium, but their awareness of the intimate, tense connection of everything with everything else. Hopkins’ performance and exhibition more broadly explores the conditions that might make small acts of care between strangers, humans, and others possible, as well as how that care might occur on a larger scale.

Installation view, Sal Randolph, “Slowing Time” (2022), ambient sound, language, video projection, cushions; Anne Randolph, “Slowing Time: Hudson 1/27/22 4:59-5:00 (reflecting the city)” (2022) iPhone Photographs: Dye-sublimation prints on muslin

In response to the many crises of the moment – ​​climate, Russian invasion of Ukraine in 2022, democratic backsliding in the United States – this approach may seem impractical, an infinitesimal balm applied to a planet that is not lacking in pain. But curators, who in their own practices are creating brave and alternative relationship structures — from a boat-building and publishing collective to a collaboration that designs climate change emoji — are under no illusions about the fact that individual consciousness translates into action on the necessary scale. They simply do the work they can, in the way they can, leaving room for sweetness and fantasy in their dealings with others.

Sprout Nap Wobble Hinge continues at EFA Project Space (323 West 39th Street, Garment District, Manhattan) until May 14. The exhibition was curated by Dylan Gauthier, Radhika Subramaniam and Marina Zurkow.

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