Room for Laarni, Image Moderator (2013) [exhibition at Marlborough Contemporary]
Adam Chodzko’s solo exhibition at Marlborough Contemporary extends his ongoing exploration of the “space between us”; of remoteness and intimacy, of public and private space, and the interweaving of documentary and fiction. In this installation Chodzko’s focuses his investigation on the network of fantasies (and their associated feelings) apparent in our culture’s relentless dissemination of digital imagery that both link and disrupt the relationship between an individual and a ‘crowd’. The exhibition explores the experience of being psychologically overwhelmed by the process of relentlessly viewing imagery flowing between communities and researches this through trying to empathise with the character of Laarni, a remote image moderator for a social media site.
The exhibition takes as its starting point the character Laarni, an image moderator from the Philippines, whose job it is to vet a constant stream of images sent between users of Western social networking sites, checking the content for extreme material. A video work ( Same, 2013 ) in the style of a Skype Chat introduces Laarni and her role. Her response to the flood of images she encounters daily is further imagined, as surreal, by Chodzko through the presentation of a set of new works using modified found objects and images ranging from circus posters ( Suddenly we all began..., 2010-2013 ) to traps ( Mask-Filter, 2013 ), drawings, punctured 35mm photographic slides of sleeping people from 1960s to 1980s ( Sleepers. Hole, 2013 ), as well as a collection of dust-damaged photographs of natural disasters (Too, 2013).
The exhibition is imagined as both Laarni’s computer desktop screen as well as her unconscious reaction – her dreams, her fears – to the excessive flow of imagery she deals with and the potentially problematic subject matter those images might contain. Laarni’s subconscious counterpoises the digital pictures she filters by organising and re-viewing earlier analogue images.
Global image circulation via social media is generally perceived as either over-controlled or out of control; Chodzko engages with these concerns through notions of imagination, projection and masking seeing these artworks as being in various states of pre-moderation, post-moderation or beyond moderation. The exhibition reassesses how we construct an identity for ourselves through digital media channels. We are in fact image moderators just like Laarni. In a globalised network, Laarni is necessarily distant and ‘removed’ (for economic reasons) and yet she is the one who determines, in an all-seeing manner, the visual narrative projected by social media users in the West. A form of image moderation has appeared as a process enacted by a community or an individual in a number of Chodzko’s works (eg; The Pickers, Around, Cell-a, Expulsion from the Garden of Eden, Somewhere Else, In Order to Complete Them, The Gorgies Centre etc
Room for Laarni, Image Moderator resonates with Adam Chodzko’s two immediately previous projects exhibited in London that focused on instability, separation and intimacy (Tate Britain, 2012-13 and Raven Row, 2013). The first was a commission for the exhibition ‘Schwitters in Britain’. He imagined, (through physically pulling together apparently discrete, and disparate elements) the mutual fantasies of both the patron and the artist, in their intimate and yet distant relationship, while focusing on the inherent isolation of artistic creation. At Raven Row, Chodzko presented an absence imagining the implications of introducing into the exhibition space something that could never be permitted to exist there: a sixty feet palm tree, contaminated with an insect banned from the UK. This supposed failure opened up the work to the consequences of dislocation and relocation of living things and their serious economical and ecological realities. Here, in ‘Room for Laarni’, what “floats through space and thought” is no longer a place or an object but billions of digital images and their chaotic communication of desires and our attempt to locate ourselves within them.
Adam Chodzko’s exhibition, Room for Laarni, Image Moderator (2013), includes the following individual works:
I See Through Every Image.
(A souvenir for Laarni; A planting
template for Belladonna seeds), 2013
Fortuna poster, plywood and Belladonna seeds
Approx; 118 x 147 x 2 cm
HD video with sound
Mask Filter, 2013
Trap made from woven twigs, FireWire 800,
leather, silver and camera lens adapter
27.9 x 35.6 x 66 cm
a loose leaf falls between, 2013
Inks and pencil on paper, board, tape
36 x 44.5 cm
A series of 20 found 35 mm slides, (location and date different for each),
Dust from Geneva Airport, September 2013.
Printed as C-type
17.8cm x 25.4cm
Sleepers. Hole, 2013 . [a series of 20]
A series of 20 punctured found 35 mm slides, (date different for each)
Printed as C-type
17.8 x 25.4 cm
Suddenly we all began…, 2013
Circus posters from 1970 – 2013, wallpaper paste, window
[an ongoing series]
The sky above Fojhar, a village near Srebrenica, 2013
Still image, projected into exhibition space from outside
Room for Laarni, Image Moderator catalogue
Conversation between Jennifer Higgie, Andrew Renton, Adam Chodzko
Editor Andrew Renton. Published November, 2013
Download pdf of catalogue