Sensual Politics, Stars Around Scars at 3:e Våningen / Gothenburg International Biennial of Art

“Sensual Politics, Stars Around Scars”,  GIBCA Extended (Gothenburg International Biennial of Art)

Curated by: Ashik & Koshik Zaman (C-print)

Participating artists: Anisha Baid, Carrie Chen, Isabelle Frances McGuire, Constantin Hartenstein, Éva Ostrowska, Janosch Feiertag, Pontus Pettersson, Malin Westin, Queenning Zhao

Installation view, Ekaterina Lukoshkova. Courtesy of 3e Våningen

Installation view, Ekaterina Lukoshkova. Courtesy of 3e Våningen
Installation view Anisha Baid

Installation view Anisha Baid

Installation view Carrie Chen

Installation view Constantin Hartenstein

Installation view Eva Ostrowska

Installation view Eva Ostrowska

Installation view Eva Ostrowska and Anisha Baid

Installation view Eva Ostrowska and Malin Westin

Installation view Eva Ostrowska

Installation view Isabelle Frances McGuire

Installation view Isabelle Frances McGuire and Eva Ostrowska

Installation view Isabelle Frances McGuire

Installation view Janosch Feiertag & Isabelle Frances McGuire

Installation view Janosch Feiertag

Installation view Janosch Feiertag

Installation view Pontus Pettersson

Installation view Queenning Zhao

Installation view Queenning Zhao

Installation view Queenning Zhao

Installation view Quenning Zhao and Eva Ostrowska

Installation view Quenning Zhao

Installation view, Ekaterina Lukoshkova. Courtesy of 3e Våningen

Installation view, Ekaterina Lukoshkova. Courtesy of 3e Våningen

Installation view, Ekaterina Lukoshkova. Courtesy of 3e Våningen

Photos is taken by C-Print and Ekaterina Lukoshkova. Courtesy of 3:e Våningen

Daily Lazy: What was the starting point of your exhibition?

The exhibition Sensual Politics, Stars Around Scars extracts its words from the music of Taylor Swift and already this choice is intended to signal a deviation from the scopes that mark the biennials of the 2000's. If with biennials in recent years discourses around collective trauma, injustice and global affairs have come to be commonplace, then this exhibition presents itself as a breathing space and a rest from the growing pains of life today. Instead, emphasis is circled around the individual as the center of all things; her corporeal and sensuous doings, memories and desires. The cornerstones and building blocks at hand are made of humour, pop culture, zeitgeist, and recent nostalgia.

Daily Lazy: What can be said about what you are presenting for GIBCA Extended in the exhibition “Sensual Politics, Stars Around Scars”?

Constantin Hartenstein:
Presenting as a slick-sexual fetishized shrine from a fast-approaching future, the sculpture “All the Problems in the World” displays a resin block infused with penis enlarging lotions in the exact size of the average erect white male penis. Embedded and held by a penis stretching device, the work speaks about the interconnectedness between penis-centered masculinity, resulting discriminatory attitudes and narcissistic ideologies; theorizing that sexist behaviors and a desire for validating response to the penis size in white heterosexual men represent compensatory ways of acting to reaffirm masculinity status. Recent psychological studies confirm that endorsement of penis size importance acts as a prediction of discriminatory attitudes. If size matters, how could this correlation between penis-centered masculinity and prejudiced ideology be deconstructed?

Malin Westin:
” I’m only here for the beer” is a sculptural work that came about after a recent trip to Roswell, New Mexico. The narrative of this town has been familiarized and popularized through TV and pop culture after the alleged UFO crash in 1947, which the town has monetized in the form of tourism. On the main street the old alien tourist traps are barely hanging on and I stumbled right into Alien Zone, just to realize that even UFO merchandise has been affected by what is a hypersexualized society. A green T-shirt with the text ”Crashed in Roswell and all I got was probed!” hung on a wall, reflecting most of the people I saw working in alien-themed shops looked miserable. I feel like that town is stuck in a time warp. It’s a small community and far from everything. Isolated in the past in a wet T-shirt era.

Éva Ostrowska:
My series of tapestries at 3:e Våningen for GIBCA Extended serves as an emotional roadmap through love and loss, a universal experience that has no cultural boundaries. These works examine the highs and lows, questions, and anxieties that come with heartbreak. In a swipe-right culture where conversations often remain superficial (at least at the beginning), my tapestries explore the struggle of freeing ourselves from the persistent shadows of past relationships, even as we hope, hesitate, and take tentative steps into new ones. As we navigate this complex recovery journey, it becomes evident that the echoes of past lovers linger, shaping our hopes and hesitations in pursuing new relationships. This raises the question: do we ever truly move on, or are we just fooling ourselves into thinking we're over it? By using ancient techniques like knitting and crocheting to depict the challenges of modern digital dating, I aim to tell a universal story of love and loss that resonates with us all.

Anisha Baid:
I'm showing two works in the exhibition, both connecting by the idea of the computer mouse. The first is a set of a multiple where a webcam photograph is reproduced on a series of editioned foam mousepads designed to help prevent carpel-tunnel syndrome and wrist pain. The work appropriates a digital vernacular culture of anime character’s bodies appearing on similar ergonomic mouse pads, replacing it with a low-resolution image of me in my studio as I was struggling with occupational pain. In a way it is a lament for my own practice up to that point, which was based on the computer a lot, and had caused a lot of chronic pain because of it.
The video piece alongside this work is something I made much earlier, as I was thinking about the sound of the click as a physical sound that punctuates all computer work. This found footage video work traces the gesture of clicking across various media and cultural associations. The “click” functions firstly, as an onomatopoeic word, being applied to various events and situates that involve the click sound. Using the form of a click – a touch that transforms its object into another surface, the video work that unfolds in layers of clicks. The video ends on a clip from the 1962 film, “The Longest Day” where an American soldier is fooled by the sound of a locking gun. The film tells the American narrative of WWII paratroopers who were issued clickers to differentiate allies from enemies. Viewed today, on the surface of the interface, the click carries this poetic and immediate symbol of the military histories of many common-place technologies.

Janosch Feiertag:
My sculptures bring memory back to amusement park ride tokens, such you might have had if you ever visited such parks in Germany. I asked ChatGPT for a poem about it. Here’s what I got:

“Unspoken yearnings, held inside,
Knowing they won’t be satisfied,

Not as much as I had wished,
Just two rides, but all I missed.

A dazzling world, sparkling bright,
Where everything spins, moves in delight,

But as we age, its magic fades,
How sorrowful, as its charm cascades”

Pontus Pettersson:

The work is called “Out of the binary / Is a read” and as the title might suggest it's a play on words, it's gay and it is queer. Gay also as something light, queer as something that organizes meaning differently. Working on the idea of binary constructs and antonym words, the work is a list that tries not to be, in this, a reflection of yourself is always present while reading. The works stems from my previous work on poetry and the work ‘Writing wounds to heal’ as well as my own type font Pancor which is used to write with.

Carrie Chen:
This 3D animation is the latest artwork from my ongoing Eye Exercise 眼保健操 portrait series. In most countries, this practice of eye exercises is unheard of, but it is really enforced within Chinese school systems. As a child, I remember seeing posters around the school building that read, “If you don't protect your vision, you'll lose at the game of life before it even begins.” It was a lot of pressure, packaged within this institutionalized wellness routine. A question that comes up for me is whether this is care, or control. I think of this series as a way to process these childhood experiences, where each exercise was less about vision protection and more about uncovering different fantasies related to identity, girlhood and power.

Isabelle Frances McGuire:

For Sensual Politics, Stars Around Scars, I present iterations of days from my pandemic era plushy calendar titled P**** B**** Arena. After experiencing my solo exhibition in 2020, Sara Hotchkiss reflected on the experience of P**** B**** Arena by stating (KQED, June 10, 2020):
"The work itself was made under Chicago’s stay-at-home order, during which McGuire created a diaristic set of embroidered textile works, the date of each piece’s making stitched into its fabric. The show marks time: 50 days of making, 50 days of anxiety, loneliness, boredom, and steady production. It’s a state McGuire sums up in an accompanying text as “Stressful Leisure Limbo.”
Viewed now, with the world still in the throes of the COVID-19 pandemic, but within the context of a nationwide and urgent movement for racial justice, P**** B**** ARENA functions as a highly specific and already dated time capsule, documenting one artist’s experience of working alone in physical stasis, fashioning plush proxies for friends and garments for absent audiences."

Queenning Zhao:

The work explores the significance of memories and places through objects as memory carriers, dealing with the shifting nature of recollecting. Both my late grandmother and I were born in the Year of the Wood Dog in Chinese zodiac. This served as a special bond between us, often expressed through my grandmother's dog-themed gifts. Following my grandmother's passing, objects that I relate to her came back to life, by new layers of meaning. The sculptures are upscaled reinterpretations of a dog figurine and a tiger cowrie shell, both gifts from my grandmother. The carved characters “狗” (dog) and “⼀⽣平 安” (a peaceful life) on the shell, symbolize our connection. The manhole cover in the sand serves as a dream artifact, typical of the merging of places that occur in dreams. Similarly, memories lack a fixed point of proof in the present. Each time we attempt to recall our memories, they are recreated anew.