LONDON.- Ben Hunter
is presenting Mimicries, a group exhibition curated by Jan Tumlir and Jeffrey Stuker, featuring works by Hedi El Kholti, Victoria Gitman, Arthur Jafa, Clementine Keith-Roach, Louise Lawler, Lynne Marsh, Nicolas G. Miller, Christopher Page, Jeffrey Stuker, and Jeff Wall.
The curators were initially drawn together by their shared fascination with the writings of the dissident-surrealist Roger Caillois, in particular those concerned with mimicry. In 2019, they entered into an intensive conversation on the subject that resulted, first, in a seminar held at The Public School in LAs Chinatown, and second, in their co-editing of the journal Effects Number 3: Mimicries. This exhibition responds to those precedents, both of which were conducted within a more or less academic context, from an aesthetic standpoint.
While a mimetic element can be made out in all works of visual art, typically it is approached in terms of mimesis. A corresponding element of mimicry can be sought here as well, of course, but it does not appear so readily to the eye. Both mimesis and mimicry relate to the faculty of imitation, yet mimicry, unlike mimesis, is not necessarily concerned with representation, and certainly not with representational accuracy. One could say, moreover, that mimicry is precisely what troubles the practice of mimesis from within, collapsing the contemplative distance that separates a viewer from the view, a subject from an object, a first from a second.
Whether overtly or more covertly, the works featured in Mimicries all subscribe to this disquieting mode of operation, where techniques of visualization part company with those of intellection. In the space between the subject shown and the subject known, we are brought into contact with that dark space of a primal de-differentiation that Caillois observed among mimicking insects as well as psychotics. Engaged in the tactics of masking, camouflage, dissimulation, passing and travesty, the works in this exhibition invite us to reflect on forms of artifice that are not reserved for the artist, but that extend through the entirety of the natural as well as technological worlds. And here, furthermore, formal matters cannot be approached with cool-headed disinterest, as they always come freighted with some measure of a real existential stake.
- Jan Tumlir and Jeffrey Stuker