Under the roaring disquiet of the freeway, concrete and steel enclose an ambitious new arts space. INCA (The Institute for Neo Connotative Action), founded by the artists Aeron Bergman and Alejandra Salinas in Detroit three years ago, has expanded to find a home in SODO.
With an agenda no less expansive than propagating conversation between art, design, text, poetry, politics, and community, INCA has provided some of the most conceptually stimulating programming available in Seattle. The name itself quasi-seriously suggests a search for greater plurality.
INCA Detroit welcomes artists from all over the globe, and INCA Seattle has an equally international draw. Opening in December 2013 with Swedish artist Ulrika Gomm, the space became a location to realise the potential of language as a liberating tool. A flag declared “WE HAVE COME TO RESTORE DEMOCRACY”—a phrase loaded with the violent history of US foreign policy, and powerfully seductive Platonic ideals. A second piece compiled speeches from the annual address delivered by the King of Sweden for the last 100 years, forming a text that covered one wall of the space. By following lines of repetition, this fragmented collection offered a glimpse of an ever distant horizon line: “That women and men shall have the same opportunities and the same responsibilities…” The exhibition exposed the role of language in perpetuating violence and maintaining dominating power structures, but also identified that the very nature of language lends itself to redefinition. It is up to us where the conversation leads.
In April, fresh from the Whitney Biennial, Chris Kraus, the writer, critic and co-editor of Semiotext(e), flew into town for an exhibition of her Film and Video works produced during the 1980s and 90s. Those attending the opening night were treated to an introduction from the artist to her 1996 feature film Gravity and Grace. The film brought together apocalyptic cults, anthropology and struggling artists against a backdrop of desperation in the face of increasingly obvious economic failure, which the work itself suffered. With a knowing humor, the film grapples with the dissonance between ambition and reality, the undeniable drive that forces many artists to explain their actions “because I must.” There is no argument against that here, but rather an acknowledgement of the situation and its own dark comedy, and that to continue nevertheless is at least a decision.
For the most recent INCA event this past weekend, the gallery was cloaked in darkness for a reading by Bay Area poet Tom Comitta. Illuminated by a single candle, the air was filled with the hot intensity of the freeway zooming by outside: the steady pulsing ‘thrumzzzz’ a fantastic accompaniment to Tom’s performance. Titled “The City of Nature,” Comitta appropriated descriptions of landscapes from the history of English literature, forming one continuous pan from sea to sky, taking in all the details between. This reconstitution of myriad fictional realities into a surface composite—minus temporality or plot specifics—reflects the copy/paste of gaming and virtual reality construction. (See Harun Farocki’s video art, Parallel I-IV) It was this relation of the performance to video art that most captivated me. As Comitta steadily spoke, the stream of words formed a moving image in my mind. In this individual meta-landscape, the natural world, a traditional signifier for ‘the real’, is an autocentric paracosm.
Coming up next is a collaborative installation by Oslo-based artists Richard Alexandersson and Lina Norell, “Blind the gap”, combining sculptural and architectural forms with painting and digital animation. The opening is 6:30pm this Sunday 15th June, and maybe I’ll see you there.
INCA Seattle is at 1900 Airport Way S, Seattle, WA, 98134. incainstitute.org
Blind the gap featuring Richard Alexandersson and Lina Norell (Sweden/Norway) opens Sunday, June 15, 6:30 – 9:30 PM. Open after June 15 by appointment only. Contact: firstname.lastname@example.org