Société is excited to present the second incarnation of Timur Si-Qin’s Transformers works, the first time that this series is being shown since Si-Qin created it in 2011. In addition, Société is presenting a new liquid scent work–coin smell in an industrial-grade container–by Sean Raspet.
During the Frieze art fair, Edition Société will also launch a new publication, designed by Eric Wrenn Office, New York, encompassing the two incarnations of Si-Qin’s Transformers work.
Artforum described Si-Qin’s 2011 exhibition Mainstream, his first at Société and the first time the artist exhibited his Transformers work: “The artist lined the gallery’s two rooms with thirty-two computer printout copies of posters for the movie Transformers (2007) and overlaid each with plant leaves of varying shapes, sizes, and species. […] Nature and culture, here framed in stark contrast to one another, nevertheless exist on the same plane. In fact, the logic of mechanical reproduction and the aesthetic of mass culture constitute our contemporary natural order. Si-Qin’s art, in the free rein that it takes on culture, simultaneously embodies the act of consumption and the ethos and forms of digital media. Contemporary society’s dissociation from a state of nature can be seen in the screen-tested aesthetic regime of Transformers, where lines deriving from American car production designate Optimus Prime as the kindred, benevolent protector, and organic design elements identify Megatron as an evil, foreign body threatening destruction.”
In the run-up to that exhibition, Si-Qin photographed each of the 32 collages, some more than once, and some at different stages in their development. This display consists of 22 of those photographs mounted in chrome frames; the collages’ frames are aluminum. Over the course of the 2011 exhibition, the plant matter in the collages deteriorated–wilted, browned, and began to rot, quickly, as organic matter tends to do, while the exhibition was still up. The collages incorporated the irreversible life cycle of consumption and planned obsolescence into their very nature. The second incarnation captures instances in the course of the collages’ deterioration but also preserves the moment in which some of them were new, pristine–capturing the fantasy of newness through photography’s arm’s-length remove from reality.
In the years since 2011, Si-Qin has made work that exhibits an explicit relationship to Taoism, mainly through his incorporation of the Taiji into the PEACE visual identity with which he has branded many of his recent works. Si-Qin interprets the first line of the Tao–“The Tao is not the eternal Tao.”–as meaning that nothing stays the same. No solution is ever an eternal solution. He sees he Western tradition of criticality as a conflation of truth and beauty with moral righteousness. From an Eastern perspective, right and wrong are more interconnected, mutually manifest, and situated beyond the reach of human notions of right and wrong. The Transformers works don’t reference this tradition explicitly; the perspective is still nascent, emerging, in the work.
Timur Si-Qin (b.1984) is an artist of German and Mongolian-Chinese decent who grew up in Berlin, Beijing and in a Native Indian community in the American Southwest. He has shown internationally at the 9th Berlin, Biennial, the Musée d’Art Moderne de la Ville de Paris, the Bonner Kunstverein, CCS Bard New York, the Fridericianum in Kassel, the Taipei Biennial and Magician Space in Beijing, among other places.
Beginning with reformulations of hair gel polymers and cosmetics products in the early 2000s, Sean Raspet has spent the past several years focusing on the chemical substances of industrial production–precursors, emulsifiers, surfactants, plasticizers–with a particular emphasis on the raw chemical products of the flavor and fragrance industry. Raspet’s abiding concern is the division between art production and mass-scale economy at large. While the discourse in art concerning commodities and corporate/brand aesthetics has focused almost exclusively on the finished, store-bought commodity product or on the mediated brand-image, Raspet insists on the unfinished, unprocessed precursors–on the liquidity of functional substances as pooled capacities.
Raspet analyzed the smell of coins and recreated it by manipulating chemicals at the molecular level. The result is a liquid that smells like money, both a reality and a metaphor: Liquidity is the objective of a late-capitalist society motivated by consumption and growth; it is the lifeblood of finance, an abstraction that determines our contemporary society perhaps more than any other. Liquidity is also a familiar way to conceive of the circulation (and to some degree fantasy of circulation) of goods, people, and information.
Sean Raspet (b. 1981 in Washington, D.C.) completed an MFA including work in the chemistry department of UCLA. Since 2015, he has also worked as a scent consultant for the open-source meal replacement beverage initiative Soylent. Raspet is a 2008 graduate of the Whitney Independent Study Program and has exhibited at Swiss Institute, The Kitchen, The Artist’s Institute, and Sculpture Center, among other places.