The exhibition Hurricane/Time/Image reroutes a new line of understanding around Francis Ruyter’s painting practice. Curated by Mohammad Salemy, it will consist of drawings, paintings and objects, dated from 1990–94 and 2015–19 as well as new display treatments including projections and reproductions of the archival source material. The project takes place at FRANZ JOSEFS KAI 3, an exhibition space programmed parallel to the Angewandte Innovation Lab, a program of the University of the Applied Arts in Vienna Austria. The project was inaugurated 10 April until 9 May.
Hurricane/Time/Image is meant to disrupt narratives of artistic, aesthetic and career developments as well as social conditions surrounding the production of art and subjectivity specific to Ruyter. It suggests that the chaotic force of technology is always at work throughout an artist’s oeuvre, rearranging the relationship of past, present and future into new constellations. Rather than using the recent works to make a new sense out of Ruyter’s earlier practice, it brings to light embedded concerns, themes and motifs which have been resonating in the artist’s practice since the early stages of his career.
Since 2009, Ruyter has been focusing his work on photographs he has found in the digital archive at the Library of Congress of Unated States, using the search keyword “machine”. This particular filtering of the archive highlights how the artist’s thoughts on machines have informed his oeuvre since his drawings and paintings from the early 1990s. While the older works signal the transformation of the analog media to digital and the persistence of older technologies of presentation and modeling embedded in digital technologies. On the other hand the newer works go even further by investigating the abstract, geometric and, essentially, inhuman essence of representation. The exhibition showcases Ruyter’s visionary outlook towards the connections between art and media technologies, insisting on the primary role of painting in meditating their similarities and differences.
The exhibition’s abstract indexing of the analog, the digital and the algorithmic, parallels an equally important transformation in the artist’s own life. Starting in 2016, Ruyter began a gender transition. In this respect, Ruyter’s work, past and present, can be considered a plea to set aside the question of human identity in order to understand the storm-like qualities of gender. Approached from this angle, the strongest thread binding the artist’s earlier works to his latest practice is the struggle to sequester the “natural” appearances of analog representation, from its inhuman, cybernetic reality. The exhibition deemphasizes human experience in favor of chaotic and cosmic shifts which are at the heart of the evolution of language, reason, and logic amongst animals, humans and machines alike.
Mohammad Salemy is a Berlin-based artist, critic and curator from Canada. He holds an MA in critical curatorial studies from the University of British Columbia. He has shown his works in Ashkal Alwan’s Home Works 7 (Beirut, 2015), Witte de With (Rotterdam, 2015) and Robot Love (Eindhoven, 2018). His writings have been published in e-flux journal, Flash Art, Third Rail, and Brooklyn Rail, Ocula and Spike. He has curated exhibitions at Tranzit Display (2016) in Prague. Salemy’s curatorial experiment “For Machine Use Only” was included in the 11th edition of Gwangju Biennale (2016). In 2018, Salemy cocurated Sofia Queer Forum with Patrick Schabus at the Sofia City Art Gallery’s Vaska Emanouilova branch.