DANIELLE FREAKLEY, SANJA PAHOKI, CHRIS HANRAHAN,TODD MCMILLAN. CURATED BY JACQUELINE DOUGHTY.
In the delicate arts of conversation and social interaction, there are countless opportunities for meaning to go astray. Missed signals, crossed wires and muddled contexts all conspire to frustrate our efforts to be understood. This exhibition at Gertrude Contemproary entitled Ill Communication investigated these failures to connect between people and between the artwork and the audience. Curated by Jacqueline Doughty, the exhibition featured work by Danielle Freakley, Sanja Pahoki and Chris Hanrahan/Todd McMillan. Freakley’s work in this exhibition extended her ongoing project “The Quote Generator” through documenting her day-to-day interactions with people who are unaware of the rules and aims of the project. “The Quote Generator” presented as a 3-year performative art project where she spoke entirely in quoted and referenced statements. Freakley’s project elicited bewildered looks and uncertain pauses from those she communicated with, and lead us to reflect not only on the pathos of an uncomfortable conversation, but also on the lack of authenticity in contemporary interactions. Also in this exhibition, Sanja Pahoki attempted to bridge this gap by placing a waving hand constructed from neon in the front window of the gallery. The neon form visualized arts industry jargon about “out reach” to new audiences, reproducing a common gesture that nevertheless is easy to misinterpret - Is it a friendly wave, a plaintive bid for attention, or the desperate call for assistance from someone who is drowning? Chris Hanrahan and Todd McMillan constructed an all-knowing “super computer” that promises a truly interactive experience along with answers to all of our questions. But meaning was lost in translation somewhere between the asking and the answering, as the handwritten cards the computer ejected in response to the audience’s queries rarely related to the question, and sometimes made no sense at all.