And The World Will Naturally Settle – Paul Feigelfeld

Ariel Hassan — And The World Will Naturally Settle

June 22 till August 27, 2022

We are delighted to present the first solo exhibition of Argentinian-Australian artist Ariel Hassan at our Viennese location. Under the title “And the World Will Naturally Settle” he shows paintings, drawings and sculptures, in which remnants of postcolonial, postdigital and postdiscoursive worlds collide and produce a new visual universe.
Ariel Hassan’s works perform movements in different extremes and velocities: The large-scale paintings
seem like meteorological satellite images of the storm systems that formed our world when Gaia and Uranos created the first athmosperes and paleocontinents – when from eternal violence emerged, though not the primordial conditions of life, nevertheless those of primary existence. It is the time when Saturn devours his children, far away from human witnesses, and yet still Hassan has managed to record these conditions and their evolution over the course of aeons. Or maybe the artist has, as
the air demon Ariel in Shakespeare’s “The Tempest”, on orders of some sorcerer “perfom’d to point the tempest to that I bade thee”?
We find ourselves in magnetic storms beyond human experience, because they would instantly tear us to pieces. We land in the deep time of geological formations, the folding of mountains, the infinitely slow yet brutal movements of tectonic plates, crushing each other until the release of a quake. Lightning and series – event and thunder.
Between these intensities and before lightning and thunder discharge, a dark precursor builds up and defines their paths ex negativo. These precursors have been released into three objects, which can be found as fulgurites – the forms created when lightning strikes into earth or sand and spontaneously vitrifies – in the gallery space. Again, we find ourselves uncertain about whether Ariel Hassan has been a mere witness, or an archeologist or technical medium of these processes – or rather
creator, spirit, demon, sorcerer or lightning-throwing god. “All is steered by lightning/Tὰ δὲ πάντα οἰακίζει Κεραυνός“, says Heraclitus.
Ariel Hassan’s art is not an art of the Anthropocene. If it is concerned with humans at all, then only with regards to our cannibalism: The stormy series bears the title “Antropofagia” (eating humans), which is a reference
to the “Manifesto Antropófago” published in 1928 by writer Oswald de Andrade, a key figure of Latin-American Modernism. “Tupi, or not to Tupi: That is the question“ – is the second sentence of the manifesto. Andrade offers Shakespeare up to the ritual cannibalism of the native tribe of the Tupi. Ariel takes off.
Between Goya’s “Saturno devorando a su hijo“ from 1819, the children-devouring titan, and the anti-colonial theory of Andrade, according to which the colonizer
has to be devoured, digested and substituted through rituals and symbolic processes – neither assimiliated, nor wounded but ground up entirely – Ariel Hassan develops an artistic practice in which art devours itself, in which entangled artefacts perform Artefagia.
If we invert our view of Hassan’s “Antropofagia” series, we see an already decades old movement of generative art, which especially in recent years and because of the improvements in the development of machine learning processes – such as so-called generative adversarial networks, GANs for short – have colonized galleries, fairs and museums across the globe, with works pretending to be the artistic reveries of so-called artificial intelligences. In reality, they are products of a technocapitalist colonialism, which is built on resource extraction and exploitation, immense energy use, surveillance-based data economy and discriminating classification systems.
All those entrancing, enchantingly wobbling image tapestries cloud the uncanny valley that we are currently stumbling through instead of allowing perspectives onto the technical world opening up in front of us. In the form of NFTs, they have found their final tulip form and the colonial viciously circular economy is perfected.
Under these conditions it becomes clear that Arial Hassan’s images are the anthropophagic counter- images to GAN-art: They are GANNIBALS in Andrade’s sense, art world Luddites, whose practice and cult is “entropofagia” rather than “antropofagia” – the devouring of technical chaos through art. Entropy is the enemy of order: The world is everything that is a mess, to mess with Wittgenstein.
The exhibition’s title – “And the World Will Naturally Settle“ – is taken from chapter 37 of the 道德經 Daodejing by 老子 Laozi. The sentence can also be found on one
of the assemblages compiled from fragments, scales, shards or puzzle pieces, which hold the planet together as tectonic plates, and eventually shatter it. What settles in the word “settle” is not only the settling down of storms or affairs, but the colonialism of a world which settles
on and eradicates itself. “Naturally” carries the idea of a world governed by and striving for natural order, as long as this order is exhaustively understood and human made its helmsman.
In the 1950s, not only the Beatniks, but first and foremost the thinkers and tinkerers of Cybernetics, which had settled in Big Sur, California after emerging from shadowy WW2 military projects – Norbert Wiener, Gregory Bateson, Warren McCulloch, R. Buckminster Fuller and others – had read Laozi’s philosophy and from it had reverse engineered a technocapitalist world, which they were certain was the best of all possible worlds: self-regulating, algorithmically just, perfectly wired and naturally controlled. Techno-harmonic, so to speak. On board Spaceship Earth, there would be no distinction between art, technology and nature. Entropy and chaos would solely be technologically regulated variables in information systems and their channels. A harmony
that director Werner Herzog, when shooting his film “Fitzcarraldo” smack in the middle of the Amazonas,
from whence Andrade also came, called: “The harmony of overwhelming and collective murder“. And to which
he added: “We have to become humble in front of this overwhelming misery and overwhelming fornication… overwhelming growth and overwhelming lack of order. We have to get acquainted to this idea that there is no real harmony as we have conceived it.”
“But those who came were not crusaders. They were fugitives from a civilization we are now eating, for
we are strong and vengeful like the Jabuti.” This is Andrade’s response in 1928, looking ahead into this new, exhausting cybernetic colonization of the world. From anthropophagia we move towards autophagia, the self- devouring of the planet. Ariel Hassan is the chronicler of these movements of flight. In various roles – as air spirit Ariel, as the Old Man of the Mountain Hassan I Sabbah, as modern medium, as satellite, as anthropologist and -phagist – he observes times and spaces in his art.

Text: Paul Feigelfeld