“Why the fuck is it so radical and impossible for a machine like me to have access to love?”* *Apparatus 22 channeling the musings of their Atletica Ideal
On how many feet will you enter the stage to consult the Oracle of Apparatus 22?
- Performance on Saturday 07.01.2022 from 2 p.m. until 6 p.m.
- Louis Pasteurlaan 2, 9000 Ghent
- Free entrance
- Fifth Oracle of the exhibition Oracles, curated by Koi Persyn (komplot x KIOSK)
Annemarija Gulbe: Could you tell us more about the project you are working on right now? How did you encounter the sources of inspiration that led your artistic practice to this moment or idea?
Apparatus 22: The project we are working on started in 2015, and we didn’t have the intention to make it into a large series. It’s a reflection on desires from non-human perspectives, a courageous plunge into the future, the unknown, or utopia in many different ways. As we don’t have an Oracle to ask for answers, we tried to ask ourselves: what is love, sex, and pleasure from perspectives that are non-human?
We invented a character, Atletica Ideal, an artificial intelligence machine wandering between the Suprainfinit utopian realm and our earthly realities. Now Atletica is appearing in quite a lot of works and exhibitions—a solo show just opened all around this character: OF PLEASURE: THE LEARNINGS AND STRANGE FORTUNES OF ATLETICA IDEAL in Bucharest (open until January 28 at Suprainfinit Gallery). It is queer, fierce, and puzzling proposition for a slice of kinky science fiction that unfolds via sex tapes, installation, and leather sculptures. And a radio installation that is expanding the exhibition in the town, a piece we also presented in private homes in Ghent via Kunsthal Gent in 2019.
AG: How do you navigate in this exhibition’s collective cycle of narratives and how does your voice exchange with the other stories and artists? How will your project interact with the other artworks, the approach of oracles, and/or the space of KIOSK?
A22: This is a funny question because we have only snippets of the entire image that is in fact still in the making even for Koi, the curator. But insights from Koi, the other artists, and the team of Komplot, and KIOSK have made us feel part of the process. We adore being part of group shows with artists who are generous with each other in terms of trying to enter into conversations with their works in space. It will be exciting to see how this exhibition unfolds over time, because this aspect is very important—with weekly performances, questions for the Oracle, and different ways of looking into the future. A couple of the artists involved are well known to us and we are curious to learn more about the practices of all involved.
This show is a provocation—engaging with the Oracle and the space. Because it’s such an amazing but also a difficult space. KIOSK as an institution has changed a lot in terms of experimentation and courage, and that adds another layer of excitement.
We’re fascinated by Koi’s approach of testing formats as it is both intense play and serious reflection—let’s say serious experimentation. In addition, working speculatively about futures expands our mental space and thoughts, building up various temporary and fragile but very strong layers in a way that departs from the everyday, which is needed more and more, because right now it’s crashing. In order to make possible changes we have to make courageous departures from everyday life. It’s a continuous process of trial and error because it doesn’t happen overnight, you have to do keep doing it. And when you do this exercise with other people, it is interesting to see what comes out of it—especially because we have been practicing such interactions already for many years as a collective.
AG: The Oracle’s spell heralds a turning point in someone’s life. We are curious to know what you envision for the future and how your performance will predict a shift in the narrative.
A22: There’s so much to learn from the big events of 2020–22—this period is already a turning point. We think the recent crises represented an opportunity to act in more radical ways in relation to the climate, universal basic income, and so on, but that opportunity was lost. The exhibition’s riddles are mini-shortcuts for potentially better worlds, a way to bring up something that does not yet exist and turn it into the possible and tangible, leaving seeds for conversations with people coming to see our work. Imagination is the starting point. Then we have to translate that into reality. We like the idea of this provocation very early next year, putting us in a certain mood and on an adventurous track for the upcoming months.
Sometimes the future we imagined as far away comes closer faster than expected, and we get new readings for our work in just a few years. That’s what we want: to think about better futures that can be translated into the present faster. And what we can bring as artists are reflections, in a way poetic, but very precise. We call ourselves daydreamers, researchers, and poetic activists, but also failed futurologists. We are looking into utopia to learn something or imagine ideas to improve or to crack certain things that are not working today.
AG: What is your question for the Oracle?
A22: “Why the fuck is it so radical and impossible for a machine like me to have access to love?”*
*Apparatus 22 channeling the musings of their Atletica Ideal
About Apparatus 22
Apparatus 22 is a transdisciplinary art collective founded in January 2011 by current members Erika Olea, Maria Farcas, Dragos Olea together with Ioana Nemes (1979-2011) in Bucharest, Romania. Beginning with 2015 they are working between Bucharest, Brussels and SUPRAINFINIT utopian universe.
They see themselves as a collective of daydreamers, citizens of many realms, researchers, poetic activists and (failed) futurologists interested in exploring the intricate relationships between economy, politics, gender studies, social movements, religion, and fashion in order to understand contemporary society. An important part of their work is dedicated to shaping queer futurities.
In their very diverse works - installations, performances, text based-shapes, reality is mixed with fiction and storytelling and all merge with a critical approach drawing knowledge & experience from design, sociology, literature, and economics.
The work of Apparatus 22 was presented at La Biennale di Venezia 2013, Kunsthalle Wien (AT), MUMOK, Vienna (AT), BOZAR, Brussels (BE), Museion, Bolzano (IT), Académie Royale des Beaux-Arts de Bruxelles (BE), Kunsthal Gent (BE), Lentos Kunstmuseum Linz (AT), Akademie Schloss Solitude, Stuttgart (DE), Contemporary Art Museum (MNAC), Bucharest (RO), La Triennale di Milano (IT), TRAFO Gallery, Budapest (HU), Futura, Prague (CZ), Ujazdowski CastleCCA, Warsaw (PL), Onomatopee Eindhoven (NL), TIME MACHINE BIENNIAL OF CONTEMPORARY ART, D-0 ARK UNDERGROUND, Konji (BIH), Osage Foundation (Hong Kong), Closer Art Centre, Kiev (UA), Brukenthal Museum Contemporary Art Gallery, Sibiu (RO), CIAP, Hasselt (BE), Barriera, Turin (IT), Survival Kit festival, LCCA Riga (LV), Autostrada Bienniale Prizren (XK), MAK, Vienna (AT), Steirischer Herbst, Graz (AT), Drodesera Festival, Dro (IT), TRIUMF AMIRIA. Museum of Queer Culture (Ro) etc.