Postmasters Gallery is pleased to present “Reality is Overrated” by Italian artists Eva and Franco Mattes aka 0100101110101101.ORG. The exhibition will include several new net-based performances as well as their very first work together, a project that has been kept secret for 14 years.
The works in this exhibition engage in charged, high resonance issues of crime, sex, war, and death.
What we see in “Reality is Overrated” is a slow process of disintegration of some of our core beliefs about art and culture: the need for material objects, the authority of institutions, the uniqueness of an artwork and the distinction between reality and simulation. Museums have been mysteriously robbed and art objects become dust gathering, obsolete commodities. In order to get real and spontaneous reactions the artists are looking for their audience outside of traditional art spaces, confronting groups of unaware viewers.
In their work Eva and Franco Mattes manipulate video games and Internet technologies creating a permanent state of insecurity by blurring borders between reality and fiction, art and confrontation, intent and its often unexpected consequences.
In “No Fun” Franco Mattes simulated his suicide in a public webcam-based chat room. Thousands of random people watched while he was hanging from the ceiling, swinging slowly, for hours. The video documentation of the performance is an unbelievable, at times very disturbing, sequence of reactions: some laugh, some are completely unmoved, some insult the supposed corpse, some take pictures with their mobiles. Notably, out of several thousand people, only one called the police.
In “Freedom” we are faced with a live performance set within the popular first-person shooter videogame “Counter Strike”. Here the artist, Eva Mattes, is refusing to accomplish the basic role of the game: kill the enemy. She instead tries to convince the other players to save her because she is “trying to make an artwork”. The result is the performer being endlessly and brutally killed and abused by the other players.
The artists’ earliest work “Stolen Pieces” is shown here for the very first time : over a period of two years (1995-1997) Eva and Franco stole dozens of fragments of works of art – masterpieces by famous artists, such as Kandinsky, Duchamp, Beuys, Rauschenberg, Warhol, and Koons – from the most renowned museums of contemporary art in the United States and in Europe. For 14 years they have never revealed its existence. Besides the fragments themselves, the exhibition features a video, shot with a hidden camera, documenting their last heist. Making a mockery of our fate in the sacred nature of art, this controversial work is an open question: where does the value of a work of art lie? Are objects overrated?
The title of this show refers to the actual human condition in which the perception of reality is more and more filtered by the media. Humanity abandoned reality to live in front of screens, concerned only with media attention disguised as communication, and narcissistically hoping to be the protagonist of this spectacle, while chatting compulsively. For their recent works Eva and Franco went down the dark side of the Internet to meet this humanity.
This is the Matteses third solo exhibition at Postmasters. Their work has also been show at Performa, P.S.1, the Walker Art Center, Manifesta, ARoS Kunstmuseum, The National Art Museum of China, the New Museum and the Venice Biennale. They have been recently invited by Marina Abramovic to perform in “The Pigs of Today Are the Hams of Tomorrow” at Plymouth Art Center, UK. A monograph on their work has just been published by Charta.