Review of Technical-Adjacent written by Pinkxbrains (member of Art Press collective) as part of a week long work experience placement at Turf.
At first, Technical-Adjacent FOR ME was confusion. Art always seems to speak in an overly complicated way, and I was bemused at what ‘technicality’ (for some reason I thought this meant technology) had to do with being ‘for equipment’ and ‘policy’, and why ‘adjacent’ had to favour ‘the attempt’ and ‘fat violin’ (technical and adjacent’s ‘for’s and ’against’s were laid out in two Venn diagrams). I saw cream walls and black varnished boards and rly felt like I had walked into a lesson of some kind, with diagrams explaining something that seemed hard to name and between the cracks of definition. As a gen z kid my attention span is vvvv little tiny mini, but I think the words on the diagrams that initially seemed to make no sense actually served to explain the whole thing after some time and care, staring at the exhibition walls (even though this is not necessarily an exhibition).
This project is meant to be an unfinished conversation, which is why out of the ten slots on the track-list placed on the wall, only 2 tracks are named there. When giving a (really amazing) talk at turf a few days before T-A’s opening, the artist Ima-Abasi Okon stated that the suggestions that she and Taylor Le Melle made in this work only refer to where we are now, and could
change when they sit down do the the third or fourth track. The plan is to eventually have five songs conveying technicality (eg ‘I’m every woman’, which is slightly technical, because what’s a woman?), the other five possessing some adjacency (eg a Maya Angelou sample, with its focus on emotion). Personally I loved the use of music and samples because it was from these samples that the artists started to devise the ideas we see in Technical Adjacent right now.
I think their commitment not to making an ‘exhibition’ or ‘show’ means that for me, I have to really try to digest the cultural ideas presented in it rather than treat it as some nice boards on a wall which I can come away from saying it was “interesting” and, like, “created an interesting environment”. Technical-Adjacent is about ideas, and I might not totally understand the whole meaning of them (which is fine and normal) but I really want to consider where the culture I see everyday fits between ‘Technical’ and ‘Adjacent’, and to try to name peoples’ investment and proximity in things, which I think can actually explain a lot when you think about it.
imo the notion of alignment with dominance and centredness being thought of as a kind of technicality, a “proper” way of doing things, is known and real, and I’ve seen it. Adjacency too, the opposite. What this exhibition did was break down and interrogate(??) them on paper, putting Technical and Adjacent on opposing sides of a diagram with ‘Proximity’ and ‘Investment’ on another axis. Proximity and investment (introduced as opposites, though Okon herself did recognise that the truth is murkier than that) relate to distance from technicality and what stake an individual or institution may have in the idea of technicality (an example of investment may be reliance on a job at an art institution, or having paid money to learn a certain course). Across the room on another oriented strand board, this one rectangular as opposed to round, and again varnished and framed, sat a ’T.A Venn diagram spectrum’ listing values like ‘ecstasy’ and ‘indulgence’. It defined ‘black musical production’ as the grammar and ‘maybe more’ as the trait in the field of ‘ecstasy’. This, as Okon stated, was a kind of adjacency, with unashamed emotion tending to fall outside of the parameters of ‘proper’ and ‘correct’ aka technical. Seeing this thought process made me feel like I was watching the inside of a mind, a well thought out commentary but not always lesson or communicated ‘point’ to be ‘learned’.
I personally appreciate how little these thought processes tried to cater to established definitions, or lend themselves to overly detailed explanation and spoon feeding info. Everyone can kind of SEE dominance, and see centredness both in power structures and culture and tv and industry, and the notion of there being a dominantly proper, technical way of being (speaking, functioning, interacting, looking existing working n stuff) has to allow for the idea of adjacency, of not-dominance and of otherness existing at the same time. I like how Technical-Adjacent looked minimal aesthetically, though the black varnish was striking against the cream walls. The curve of the paper against the boards was intended to represent not being ‘pinned down’, but it was remarked during Ima’s talk that Technical-Adjacent actually appears very clean, and I think this somewhat organised, polished appearance (down to the use of expensive varnish on cheap material, a commentary on aspiration and hope??) forged an element of some technicality that added another skin to this whole discussion.
I (I keep saying ‘I’ because everything said here is only specific to my experience, and might be totally missing the point in someone else’s eyes) don’t know how to resolve any questions this work brought out, or what to do about the dissonance investment creates or the little technicalities present in adjacency. I don’t know idkdidkddkd. Something I really got out of Okon’s talk at turf about this work was the focus on being honest, on not putting a slick finish on her work or perpetuating things in her art that she is politically against. Maybe that’s the closest you can get to resolution? Ahhhh idk but please go see Technical Adjacent at Turf Projects open 18 jan – 29 feb YAY ;)))))))))))