Adam Chodzko is an artist working across media, exploring our conscious and unconscious behaviour, social relations and collective imaginations through artworks that are propositions for alternative forms of ‘social media.’ Exhibiting work nationally and internationally since 1991, his work speculates how, through the visual, we might best connect with others.
Adam Chodzko’s art explores the interactions and possibilities of human behaviour by investigating the space of consciousness between how we are and what we might be. Working across media, from video installation to subtle interventions, with a practice that is situated both within the gallery and the wider public realm, his work investigates and invents possibilities for collective imagination, wondering ‘how might we perceive better’? Through examining the act of seeing, Chodzko speculates on how, through art and its potential to both be visionary and blinding, we might best engage with the world, as he attempts to reveal concealed realities, ‘hauntings’, lying dormant within the everyday. His practice operates between documentary and fantasy, conceptualism and surrealism and public and private space, often engaging reflexively and directly with the role of the viewer so that the work appears to be in the process of ‘making itself’ through the gaze.
He often uses a form of ‘science fiction’ or ‘speculative fiction’, in his work, following a path in the present towards its potential outcome in order to propose alternative realities; hyperstitions. This system draws together contexts as diverse as communication, consciousness, attention, perception, disavowal, embodiment, migration, ritual, ethnography, digital technology, ecology, climate change, place, history, etc. His artworks are frequently catalysed by imagining a collapse of the category of Art, or the necessity for a ritualistic sacrificing of it (acknowledging art’s precarity whilst questioning its frequent insularity), requiring not only a new audience and new forms of artist, but also a new empowered status for the art object.
Working directly with the networks of people and places that surround him Chodzko focuses on the relational politics of culture’s edges, endings, losses, displacements, transitions and disappearances through ‘looking awry’; a provocative working with the ‘wrong’ place, or time, or question (‘taking the wrong end of the stick’ and using it as a compass needle); often ‘outsourcing’ seers beyond their usual constituencies in order to catalyse new mistranslations. The idea of the viewer being guided by the art object (more than the artist) as ‘image filter’ towards a new ambiguous and precarious vision has recurred throughout Chodzko’s practice.
Ephemeral communities are frequently generated through these processes of ‘making together’; assemblies of owners of a particular jacket and a reunion of the children ‘murdered’ in a Pasolini film; a god look-alike contest; lighting technicians asked to advise on the light in heaven; a London gallery’s archive given to a group of Kurdish asylum seekers to edit and hide outside the capital; the multi-faceted Design for a Carnival, the evolution of a communal ritual event for the future including Settlement, the legal purchase of a square foot of land as a gift to a stranger, Nightshift, a late night parade of nocturnal animals to the Frieze Art Fair, London and M-path, the collection and distribution of perception-changing footwear for gallery visitors. More recently a trilogy science fiction video and mixed media works, Hole, Around and Pyramid, have all explored a narrative of art (through a state of ‘future ruin’) becoming a vehicle for a community’s collective mythology as a way to break ‘bad patterns’ or deviate from a ‘bad path’, whilst Echo, The Pickers and Ghost elaborate these themes through excavating processes of memory, empathy and the imaginary and redressing perceptions of trust, the active and passive. Because, 2013 (at Tate Britain) and We are Ready for your Arrival, 2013 (at Raven Row) and A Room for Laarni, Image Moderator, 2013 (at Marlborough Contemporary) further develop these ideas through manifestations of the unconscious relationships between individuals and groups; their excesses, dreams, connections and disappearances. The latter work explores the relationship and flow of images between a western European social-networking site (for teenagers) and an image moderator, based in the Philippines, whose job it is to monitor this flood of digital photographs, in order to flag up those whose contents might be deemed ‘bad.’ Deep Above (2015) and Rising (2013) continues to expose this process of making sense of imagery focusing this research into our collective and individual responses to the threat of climate change. These works speculate that, inadvertently, a repurposing of ‘art thinking’ might be the only way of short circuiting the psychological paralysis to act caused by our brains’ particular path of evolution, while Sleepers (2016) explores our empathic projection towards the unconsciousness of others. Channel, Rupture, 2015 and Design for a Fold, 2015, both continue Chodzko’s speculations about the affects of flows of empathy across time and space and between the local and the remote. Many of Chodzko’s works evolve through this sense of projecting outwards from the self into the perception of, not only other people, but also the inanimate through migratory embodiments with objects, rooms, places, institutions, images.
Recent pedagogical performative works The School of Beginnings and The House of Beautifully Earned Trust (both 2018) have been developed from folding the imagined ‘end of art’ into its current reality of being actually threatened by myopic economic and ideological imperatives. Creating a group, Muster Station, from current and recent students from the University of Kent’s Fine Art department (as a response to the University’s decision to close their school) Chodzko played with the idea that in order to exercise a challenge to a neoliberal suppression of imagination a collective engagement with apposite fantasies might be our means of creative survival. The School of Beginnings (at Tate Exchange): imagined art having ‘ended,’ resulting in museums’ objects being used solely for data storage. The House of Beautifully Earned Trust (at Whitstable Biennale) proposed that in order to truly understand the scepticism about art’s purpose we need art to transform itself into a home and its family, living, somehow beyond art’s existence, yet hospitable to anyone.
Born in 1965. Lives and works in Whitstable, Kent, UK.
Since 1991 Chodzko has exhibited extensively in international solo and group exhibitions including: Tate Britain; Tate, St Ives; Raven Row, London; Museo d’Arte Moderna, Bologna (MAMBo); The Benaki Museum, Athens; Athens Biennale, Istanbul Biennale, Venice Biennale; Royal Academy, London; Deste Foundation, Athens; PS1, NY; Ikon Gallery, Birmingham, Kunstmuseum Luzern etc. Recent projects include commissions by Creative Time, New York, The Contemporary Art Society, Wellcome Trust, Frieze Art Fair, and Hayward Gallery.
Chodzko has been included in many British Council curated international exhibitions of British Art, from General Release (1995) at the Venice Biennale, to Micro/Macro: British Art 1996-2002,(2003), Mucsarnok Kunsthalle, Budapest, Breaking Step (2007), Museum of Contemporary Art in Belgrade and Private Utopia (2014), Japan.
In 2002 he received awards from the Hamlyn Foundation and the Foundation for Contemporary Art, New York, and in 2007 was awarded an AHRC Research Fellowship in the Film Department at the University of Kent, Canterbury. In 2015 Chodzko was shortlisted for the Jarman Awards. In 2016 he received a DACS Art360 Award.
Chodzko’s work is in the collections of the Tate, The British Council, The British Film Institute, The Arts Council, APT, Auckland City Art Gallery, Contemporary Art Society Collection, The Creative Foundation, Frac Languedoc-Rousillon, GAM – Galleria d’Arte Moderna, Turin, Grizedale Arts, MAMBo – Museo d’Arte Moderna di Bologna, Plains Arts Museum, North Dakota, USA, Saatchi Collection, South London Gallery, Towner Gallery Eastbourne, Wellcome Collection and international private collections.
He has lectured and, or, tutored at numerous Higher and Further Education institutions internationally including, in the UK; Central Saint Martins, Chelsea College of Arts, Slade School of Fine Art, Goldsmiths University of London, University for the Creative Arts, Sheffield Hallam University, and Ruskin College, Oxford. In the US: Carnegie Mellon University, Rutgers University. In Canada: Banff Centre. Chodzko is part of Double Agents, a Research group based at Central Saint Martins College of Art. He was Senior Lecturer in Fine Art at the University of Kent from 2014-2018.