Adam Chodzko is a contemporary visual artist exploring the interactions and possibilities of our beliefs and behaviours. Investigating the space between how we think we are and what we could become his heterogeneous body of work ranges from video, performance, drawing and sculpture to socially-engaged processes and is situated both in the gallery and ‘non-art’ public sites beyond it. His art invents possibilities for collective imagination, wondering how, through our play with the visual, we might perceive more deeply in order to transform our connections with others?
Through questioning the act of seeing, Chodzko explores how, through art (with its potential to both be visionary and blinding; an ‘image filter’) we can reveal concealed realities, ‘hauntings’, lying dormant within everyday life. Working between documentary and fantasy, conceptualism and surrealism and public and private space Chodzko engages reflexively with the viewer with the intention that the work appears to ‘make itself’ through the act of looking. Often adopting processes of storytelling his practice warps his everyday personal experience and memories into science fictions, following a speculative path in the present towards its alternative realities, its hyperstitions.
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; ‘getting the wrong end of the stick and using it as a compass needle! ’. His artworks often involve ‘outsourcing’ perception to others so that they become ‘seers’ and ‘image moderators’ with the aim of accessing imaginative spaces beyond a field of knowledge’s usual constituencies and experts, in order to catalyse new productive mistranslations of our everyday environments.
Chodzko’s creative system weaves together, into a single body of work (imagined as a living body and a garden), contexts as diverse as communication, consciousness, attention, perception, disavowal, embodiment, belief, magick, ritual, ethnography, digital technology, ecology, climate change, migration, place, identity, history, community, etc. His artworks are often catalysed by envisaging a collapse of the category of Art, or imagining a necessity for a ‘ritualistic sacrificing of Art’ in order to create an existential change. Acknowledging art’s precarity, whilst questioning art’s frequent insularity, Chodzko wonders whether art might require not only a new audience and new forms of artist, but also a new empowered status for the art object?
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. A trilogy of science fiction video and mixed media works, Hole, Around and Pyramid, have all explored a narrative where art (through a state of ‘future ruin’) becomes 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, and active and passive states. 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, beliefs, 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 in relation to 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 our brains’ evolutionary hard wiring to bypass the psychological paralysis we experience over taking the necessary action in order to avert the climate emergency , while Sleepers (2016) explores our empathic projections in relation to the spectacle of 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 apparently inanimate, through migratory embodiments with objects, rooms, places, institutions, images (see also the permanent public sculptures a way from heaven and Holding the Earth this Way ).
The School of Beginnings andThe House of Beautifully Earned Trust(both 2018) developed from folding the imagined ‘end of art’ into its current reality; the neoliberal ideologically driven erosion of art education. The School of Beginnings (at Tate Exchange): imagined art having ‘ended,’ resulting in museum objects being used solely for digital 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’. Recent works have continued explorations into the ecological relationships between place (particularly the idea of ‘the garden’), perception, identity, mythology, ritual, language, the body and the unconscious (eg; A Hostile Environment (2019), Fluid Dynamics; The Quail is Rising (2020), O, you happy roots, branch and mediatrix [live] (2020), Thru hole I blind/O/Thru hole oui see (2020), The Return of the Fleet Spring Heads (2021)), The Valley Unfurls its Song (2021), and the The Green, the Flow, the Path of the Game (2021).
More recently Chodzko has explored aspects of his past body of work through writing. Examining our capacities for attention, shame, awkwardness, care and perception, his book Ah, look, you can still just about see his little legs...is staged within his long relationship with Pieter Bruegel’s sixteenth-century painting Landscape with the Fall of Icarus. Current major projects include a process to turn descriptions of a community’s nocturnal dreams into visual animations; Dream-Seer, the dreaming ecology of an island (initially the Isle of Sheppey, Kent, close to where Chodzko lives), is visually co-created between its inhabitants and AI, and guided by indigenous Malaysian dream knowledge.
…Or, for another way of approaching this particular artist’s practice, perhaps try this 2.5 mins trailer for: An artist’s talk, by Adam Chodzko?
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 Paul 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. In 2023, he was awarded a British Council Connections Through Culture Grant to create a project focused on collective dreaming in Malaysia, an Arts Council National Lottery Project Grant for a project evolving from a community’s collective dream descriptions, translating them via Artificial Intelligence into animations, and a fully funded Practice-Led PhD from the School of Arts at Leeds Beckett University to extend the research for this project.
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 Occitanie Montpellier, 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 taught 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, Open School East 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 and was part of the Faculty of Fine Arts for the British School at Rome. He was Senior Lecturer in Fine Art at the University of Kent from 2014-2018.
Adam Chodzko’s selected moving image work is archived on Vimeo.
“I’ve tried weaving it; could we now use it as a sail?” ; 2.5 mins trailer for an artist’s talk by Adam Chodzko.
Book a studio visit with Adam Chodzko on StudioVisit.
Adam Chodzko’s archive of selected moving image works for exhibition, with LUX.
Image licensing for selected works through DACS
Information about Adam Chodzko’s archive of artworks, via Art360 Foundation.