Josèfa Ntjam
swell of spæc(i)es

★★☆☆☆

On until 24 November 2024

Ntjam’s Biennale presentation has all the hallmarks of world-building ambition. For one, it boasts two separate locations, one dedicated solely to the work’s public programme. The main feature is housed in a giant purpose-made structure which occupies a third of an exceptionally spacious courtyard. The shiny blue surface of this installation plays here the part the monolith from Kubrick’s Odyssey and gestures at an epic inside.

The scenography and the screening room’s seating are equally lavish. The giant image, too, breeds high expectations, billed as it is as a retelling of an obscure creation myth sourced from Mali’s Dogon people and remade with AI backing for a mythleas generation.

Whatever the AI did here entirely breaks the spell. Ntjam’s animation holds the appeal of a lacklustre PC screensaver from circa 2015 and so not because of its budget but due to the artist’s lack of narrative prowess. 

Sea creatures and stones drift across the screen, beating no life into each other, let alone the world. This is what transhumanism looks like when it tries to root itself in pseudoscience and half-digested tales. Ntjam’s project suffers also because her chosen subject matter, unlike the creation myths of lasting civilisations, has little application in the world it gave rise to. 


notes and notices are short and curt exhibition reviews. Read more:

Sylvie Fleury, S.F. at Sprüth Magers ★★★☆☆

Sylvie Fleury

S.F.

★★★☆☆

In Fleury’s car workshop cum womenswear boutique, everything is ready-made and ready-to-wear. But you can’t touch any of it and you certainly can’t afford it.

Alexandre Canonico, Still at Ab Anbar ★★★☆☆

Alexandre Canonico

Still

★★★☆☆

Conanico’s slight structures look like they could take flight at any moment.

Miranda Forrester, Arrival at Tiwani Contemporary ★★★☆☆

Miranda Forrester

Arrival

★★★☆☆

Forrester’s project is timely when foundational concepts like ‘mother’ and their ‘as-though’ counterparts are readily confused.

Cui Jie, Thermal Currents at Pilar Corrias ★☆☆☆☆

Cui Jie

Thermal Landscapes

★☆☆☆☆

The exhibition feels like a lecture on climate change sponsored by the designers of The Line, Saudi Arabia’s dystopian plan for a 110-mile linear city in the desert.

Marina Abramović, 7 Deaths of Maria Callas ★☆☆☆☆

Marina Abramović

7 Deaths of Maria Callas

★☆☆☆☆

Abramović wants to destroy all performance and all women until she holds the monopoly over stage death.

Meeson Jessica Pae, Secretions & Formations at Carl Kostyál ★★★★☆

Meeson Jessica Pae

Secretions & Formations

★★★★☆

Oil paint can cause cancer.

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