SPEED 2 takes the form of three major new commissions by James Richards (b. 1983) and Leslie Thornton (b. 1951), alongside a show-within-the-show convened by Richards with works by Horst Ademeit, Tolia Astakhishvili, Adelhyd van Bender, Bruce Conner, Emily Feather, Terence McCormack, Vi Khi Nao, Jens Thornton and Thomas Zummer.
In the making of SPEED 2, Richards and Thornton have been concerned with specific psychic and temporal states, rushes of interconnectedness and scientific wonder, as well as a sense of ecological dread and paranoia. The oscillation between an ordering impulse, and the relinquishing of control is a central feature of SPEED 2, one that returns in the exhibitions different modes: cinema screening, video mural, sound installation, study room and group show.
Many of the works in the group exhibition were made against a backdrop of apprehension and self-destruction during the Cold War, with its at times uncanny resonances with the present moment. The atmosphere contains an obsessive energy, a recurring fascination with rays, mind altering effects and rituals and the systematic sorting and recording of experience. It is sense of frantic repetition and labour, which van Bender described as Divine Drudgery, a spirit also present in Bruce Conners psychedelic inkblot drawings.
There is an impulse of collaboration that brought about SPEED 2, one shaped by the artists joint residency at CERN. This center for nuclear research became a working site and a space for thinking artistically the largest machine in the world, seeking the smallest particle, a combination between the epic and the mundane that recurs in the logic of SPEED 2.
The exhibition comprises discrete and individual new works, from Richards large-scale video mural Phrasing and Thorntons cinema installation Cut from Liquid to Snake, to the jointly developed wall text and video installation Sheep Machine Redux, conceived for the spaces of Malmö Konsthall. It is a body of work developed from the artists individual practices but also from the third mind of collaboration, a channeling of and at times conscious unsettling of each others sensitivities.
The basic biographical contrasts between Richards and Thornton are apparent: gender, age and sexuality are all points of difference. What has drawn them together is an inclination they seem to share: that of grabbing charged material, and without apparent judgement or moralising, filling and emptying it. There is an attuned pitch for locating and unsettling any received and comfortable meaning. And at the same time, they produce works with a highly specific sense of the contemporary moment and the urgencies that it presents.
SPEED 2 is a co-production between Malmö Konsthall
and Künstlerhaus Stuttgart, where the exhibition was shown 2018.
The exhibition is curated by Fatima Hellberg and James Richards with Matt Fitts.