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CURRENT

ARCA

1-31 JANUARY, 2022


The ground-breaking experimental artist, Arca invites audiences to enter into a sci-fi playground for Untitled, CIRCA’s new commission which will premiere on Piccadilly Lights in London and on a global network of screens in Los Angeles, Milan, Melbourne, New York, Seoul and Tokyo on New Year’s Day and throughout January 2022 daily at 20:22.
 

Blurring the line between art and technology, Arca trained an algorithm with 31 images of her mixed media paintings, allowing these material real-world artworks to transcend the physical realm to debut her emergence as a visual artist on the global stage.
 

“I hope you are compelled by these interpolated paintings of mine to take a moment and let the visual ASMR produce pleasure, allow for a moment of respite and solace, the experience of warped beauty.” – Arca

 

Left: Arca painting Right: AI Generated Painting


 
Alejandra Ghersi Rodríguez, known professionally as Arca, is one of the most prolific and visionary artists of her generation. She has released eight studio albums, including Arca (2017), and the Kick quintet, starting with Kick (2020). She has contributed production work to artists such as Björk, Kanye West, FKA twigs and Kelela. Arca’s fluency in different media is defined by the limitless growth of her practice from a musician, producer and performer to a truly multi-disciplinary artist.

Follow Arca on Instagram

Arca, Photographed by Bruno Staub


 

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#CIRCAECONOMY


 
 
Each month, we sell limited editions by our exhibiting artists to support the #CIRCAECONOMY – a circular model we designed to fund our free public art programme and create life-changing opportunities for the wider creative community. Start your collection today and invest in the future of art and culture.

This January, a new partnership between CIRCA x Goldsmiths University will provide two scholarships worth £15,000 each for UK students to study on their MA Curatorial and MA Art and Ecology courses.

Untitled (Hand-Signed)
A hand-signed series of 4 time-limited and affordable #CIRCAECONOMY editions. Only available until midnight 31 January 2022.
Giclèe print on Hahnemühle Paper 210mm x 297mm Hand-signed by Arca + AI
Untitled (Hand-Signed)
Hand Signed Limited Edition of 21 Silkscreen Prints by AA Bronson + General Idea. Hand Signed Limited Edition of 21 Silkscreen Prints by Arca.
Silkscreen print on Somerset paper Limited edition of 22 700mm x 840mm (Unframed)

MANIFESTO

 
 

CIRCA 2022: AND NOW WE BUILD WORLDS

 

A year of collective self-creation.(1)
The year to become world-builders. A time for new dreams.(2)

Since CIRCA first broadcast on Piccadilly Lights in October 2020, a new conception of freedom and imagination has begun to take hold, one that reminds us of our collective potential to remake the world we inhabit. Together, emerging and established voices are recentring both art and social change, not as the fringe activities of elites or radicals, but as roles essential to human life. CIRCA 2022 will comprise twelve acts of revolutionary imagination, each of which will express the freedom to build worlds.

In their new history of humanity, The Dawn of Everything, anthropologist David Graeber and archaeologist David Wengrow describe three primordial freedoms that have been critical throughout human societies but are neglected in our own. They are: the freedom to escape and start anew, the freedom to disobey, and the freedom to make new social worlds. CIRCA 2022 will commission and connect visionary artists and thinkers to explore these themes through the critical and under-expressed freedom of world-building, producing new works across a global network of screens and artistic spaces in London, New York City, Milan, Tokyo, Melbourne and Seoul.

Surveying tens of thousands of years of human history, Graeber and Wengrow reveal anew the social and political creativity of our species. ‘What if, instead of telling the story about how our society fell from some idyllic state of equality,’ they write, ‘we ask how we came to be trapped in such tight conceptual shackles that we can no longer even imagine the possibility of reinventing ourselves?’ The authors join a succession of thinkers and activists who have challenged us to not simply critique the systems we find ourselves bound in, but break them, and to become world-builders again.

 

To be truly visionary we have to root our imagination in our concrete reality while simultaneously imagining possibilities beyond that reality.” -bell hooks

 

Our potential to create new worlds is not lost but sleeping. Influenced by the science fiction writer Octavia Butler, author adrienne maree brown argues that ‘all organizing is science fiction’; that together, we imagine a better world, then fight to make it real. Last year, CIRCA asked ‘Where Do We Go From Now?’, inviting voices from across the planet to respond, and finding – in the words of archi- tects Indy Johar and Jenny Grettve – that ‘art is a praxis, a tool, to reconcile and challenge our place in the world and thereby re-con- ceive ourselves’. We see this waking spirit again in Indigenous protests that challenged world leaders’ inaction at the COP climate summit in Glasgow and in the demand by Txai Suruí, climate activist of the Amazonian Paiter Suruí people: ‘It is always necessary to believe the dream is possible. May our utopia be a future on Earth.’
 

Octavia E. Butler, notes for Parable of the Talents, ca. 1996.
The Huntington Library, Art Collections, and Botanical Gardens. © Estate of Octavia E. Butler


 

Such statements invite unrestrained creativity but also coalesce as a duty. Faced with a planetary trajectory whose endpoint is destruction, we must build new worlds: seize the visionary fictions it takes to bend the future toward social justice; embrace the task set out in the pages of science-fiction to ‘terraform’ (3) our own planetary ecosystem; join and lead projects to remake our cities, our politics, and our social realities. In CIRCA’s core mission, we find the role we wish art to play in this inherently creative process.

CIRCA was born and has multiplied through screens that face out onto the very epicentres of our contemporary mode of civilization — at the heart of technological, infrastructural, and urban networks. From these points, we are cultivating a new creative ecology and economy to support the work of this imaginative transformation. The commissions of 2022 will form a roundtable of dissenting and heterogeneous voices. But this will be untied by a set of shared beliefs:

We are (all) world-builders
Now is the time to awaken this potential
New forms of justice and liberation are imaginable and achievable through collective, creative action

 
 
 
1 ‘We are all projects of collective self-creation,’ David Graeber and David Wengrow write in The Dawn of Everything. ‘What if we approached human history that way? What if we treat people, from the beginning, as imaginative, intelligent, playful creatures who deserve to be understood as such?’

2 A Time for New Dreams is the title of a book of poetry by Ben Okri, published in 2011. In 2019, Grace Wales Bonner curated an exhibition by the same name at Serpentine, London, which examined spirituality and mysticism as ‘means to imagine other spaces, other worlds.’

3 A term typically used in science fiction meaning to transform (a planet) so as to resemble the Earth, especially so that it can support self-sustaining ecosystems and human habitation. Benjamin H. Bratton turns this project back toward our own planet to analyse how centuries of urbanisation have harmfully affected Earth’s life-sustaining capacities and to visualise a ‘planetary design initiative of the next centuries’ to ensure Earth remains a viable host for its own life.
 
 


 

ESSAY I

 

OTHER WORLDS OF OUR OWN

 
The digital realm was always supposed to be a place of radical inclusion: a limitless and unmediated reality where the isolated were connected and the landscape could change – in colour and shape – at the touch of a button. “We are creating a world that all may enter without privilege or prejudice accorded by race, economic power, military force, or station of birth,” wrote John Perry Barlow in his 1996 Declaration of the Independence of Cyberspace. “We are creating a world where anyone, anywhere may express his or her beliefs, no matter how singular, without fear of being coerced into silence or conformity.”
 

Arca, Tokyo, Yunika – CIRCA 2022


 

For Arca, whose Untitled takes over CIRCA this month, such hopes are not lost. Digital technologies have allowed an artist in chrysalis — emerging from musician/performer to far-reaching world-builder — to write mythology, carve out refugia, and transcend physical form. When Barlow – himself a musician and former lyricist for Grateful Dead – wrote his Declaration, he addressed it to governments, whose interference he thought would be the greatest obstacle to web pioneer’s cyber-utopianism. Today, transnational corporations stand first among the enemies of digital optimism, and the freedoms we require are not solely against political restriction or government force, but against the binds – of agency creativity, and psychology – that accompany tech giants’ metastasising global project. As they take control over more and more of the digital realm with each passing year, voices like Arca’s point to another future for humans beyond the physical, where the lives we live when we leave our bodies are not bound and proscribed by bland visions and shrunken desires of the tech giants CEOs. Instead, in Arca visuals for CIRCA and her recent kiCK musical cycle, we begin to see a new vision that exists in mirror-world to the robotic transactions promised by the Metaverse: without gods or shackles, unstructured by profit-seeking and lived in bodies not standardised but liberated beyond anatomical limiation.
 

Untitled, Acrylic on Canvas by Arca. CIRCA 2022


 

For the early web pioneers, it was information that would set us free. Wikipedia, wrote Evgeny Morozov, is one “painful reminder of what the web could have been had the early vision of the internet as a shared, communal space not been co-opted by big business.” What, though, if we require more than mere information and more than a space to speak our beliefs? Arca is among those optimists who look through the screen to digital space beyond, and find not a dead-end or a future foreclosed – but a still fertile ground for genuine world-building: a creative landscape for freedom to be explored, for identities to be played out, and for appetites to be grown and sated. In the Arca-verse, it is creation that frees us. Her work hints at a living world we could inhabit, less in debt to techno-utopian whose hopes and fears of structured our earliest understanding of the internet, than to deeper questions of humanity’s next chapter – utopian or catastrophic – that inspired her mentors Octavia Butler and Ursula K Le Guin.

As the new year begins, the visuals that form through AI as part of the process Arca has likened to ASMR fall like fresh snow on the internet we have negotiated to the point of despair, prefiguring a new age that might be once again be written in hope.
 


 

TIMETABLE

TIMETABLE: CIRCA PRESENTS ARCA, 1-31 JANUARY 2022
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