“Evidentiary Realism” at Fridman Gallery, New York
Evidentiary Realism features artists engaged in investigative, forensic, and documentary art. The exhibition aims to articulate a particular form of realism in art that portrays and reveals evidence from complex social systems. The truth-seeking artworks featured explore the notion of evidence and its modes of representation.
Evidentiary Realism reflects on post-9/11 geopolitics, increasing economic inequalities, the erosion of civil rights, and environmental disasters. It builds on the renewed appreciation of the exposure of truth in the context of the cases of WikiLeaks, Edward Snowden, the Panama Papers, and the recent efforts to contend with the post-factual era.
Contemporary sharing and processing of information in an open global collaborative environment entails an amplified sense of reality. Leaks, discoveries, and facts are collectively verified and disseminated among numerous distribution networks. Techniques of presentation and engaging the public have been evolving in the same direction—through reconfiguration of media and languages, the evidence is presented in a variety of strategies and artifacts in dialogue with contemporary art practices.
Evidentiary Realism focuses on artworks that prioritize formal aspects of visual language and mediums; diverging from journalism and reportage, they strive to provoke visual pleasure and emotional responses. In the exhibition the evidence is presented through photography, film, drawing, painting, and sculpture, with strong references to art history. In particular, these artists also theoretically articulate the aesthetic, social, and documentary functions of their mediums in relation to the subject matter they investigate.
Some of the evidentiary realist works break down visibility to abstraction to underline the limits of seeing, while others use figuration or synthesis to enhance insight. The encoded information and nuanced details behind the works point to large, highly complex realities that come into focus through the factual evidence shown. Yet these enigmatic and seductive works serve as evidence of the opaque and intricate apparatus of our reality.
The process of translating investigations and documents into artworks underpins the exhibition. Such practices adopted by emerging and established artists of today can be traced to the works of Hans Haacke, Mark Lombardi, and Harun Farocki, who were some of the first artists invested in decoding complex systems of power and conveying them in bold artistic forms.
The creation of evidentiary artworks is the realism of today’s world, which is trying to control, predict, and quantify itself. Evidentiary realists examine such complexity to condemn, document, and inform through compelling artworks, giving form to a particular documentary and investigative art practice.
Artists: Nora Al-Badri & Jan Nikolai Nelles, Amy Balkin, Josh Begley, James Bridle, Ingrid Burrington, Harun Farocki, Hans Haacke, Thomas Keenan & Eyal Weizman, Navine G. Khan-Dossos, Mark Lombardi, Kirsten Stolle, Suzanne Treister.
Curated and organized by Paolo Cirio.