Ballon Rouge is excited to present Alchemies - a solo exhibition of works by YXXY at Project ArtBeat in Tbilisi, Georgia from January 31 - March 15, 2020.
YXXY is from somewhere in Europe. They live a rural life away from the art world and consumerism and they do not have an instagram or a website.
This is their first exhibition, solo or otherwise, though they have been making music, mixed media and performance works for many years - decades, even.
If a tree falls in the woods and no one is around to hear it, does it make a noise? Alchemy is an ancient practice, and a naturist’s philosophy. It’s goal was to transform
metals into cure-alls and elixirs with the belief that all things curing and good come from the resources of the earth. YXXY’s Alchemies are, too, about transformations; yet, they’re transforming not what is considered precious and worthy by man, like golds and silvers, but instead they transform trash and discarded or out-of-date materials into a kind of spiritual and aesthetic cure-all.
The series “TRANSFIGURÉ,” is the artists archive of alchemies. Each is a photograph taken of an object or scene found on, or observed from, the street - whether a smashed cucumber on the sidewalk, or a man in the nude ironing in his apartment as observed from the street. The artist then prints the photograph on the reverse and wrong side of the photo-paper, causing the image’s colors to spread. While still wet they manipulate the image with her fingers and other tools, scratching and pushing and pulling to create a wholly different scene and universe. The series is an ode to the forgotten and rejected and discarded - the inanimate given a soul. The photos are a declaration of love for what is typically destined for disdain like sewers and landfills. They are restored under a loving eye into something attractive.
The artist’s "TREE SOUVENIR” series is made from audio and VHS tapes (a lost and wasted material in the age of internet and streaming) and scotch tape on tissue paper. The long scroll-like trees hang from the ceiling and mimic a forest. These works, like the “TRANSFIGURÉ” series, speaks to our era of what should be mandatory recycling if we do not want to end up in a sordid planet of trash. It is important to know how to appreciate the "second hand", the old, rotten, degraded and the dead and to give yourself the chance to breathe new life and find joy in resurrecting things. YXXY pulls the film out of the landfill bound VHS and audio tapes and instead makes them into a forest - trees and natural life being the precise thing these VHS and audio tapes destroy in their garbage dump destinations. The use of these materials that are used to record and remember is paramount.
Ambient in the gallery is YXXY’s "THE LAST COW,” a hybrid sound piece by the artist, 88 minutes long. With this is the "FOSSIL BOX” series, small white sculptures made of stone powder and latex that are meant to be touched and explored by the viewer while listening to the music amongst the "TREE SOUVENIR” series.
The story of "THE LAST COW" appeared to the artist while modeling the sculptures, which transformed into forms reminiscent of fossilized dung. They imagined the last cow on our current earth, struggling for breath and life; these forms being the only remnants of its life found in the distant or not-so-distant future. They are the non-food elements, simple minerals and plastics that it had to desperately eat on an unplush and ruined-by-man earth. The sound is the last 88 minutes of its life, transmuting into a mind-over-matter state of trance like introspection - hearing the music instead of the pain of decline.
YXXY’s Alchemies is a meditation and perhaps even a prophecy. The works are both of the future and the present; they ask you to imagine an alternative reality as well as fully consider the everyday things and trash and life around you right now. Like trees, rooted in one place, alive now but also so prescient for the future far beyond our own short lives.
This exhibition is part of Ballon Rouge's Club, an exchange program whereby Ballon Rouge invites international galleries to take over their space in Brussels and they are likewise invited to show in their guest’s space, wherever that may be. Project ArtBeat is currently showing NaiveSuperstar (Gvantsa Jishkariani) “Permanent Adolescence” at Ballon Rouge Club in Brussels until March 21.
Photos by Angus Leadley Brown