Good Weather (Off-site)
1524 S. Western Ave. Ste. 119–121, Building A Chicago, IL 60608
彼らは、透明に、爽やかに 、ただ酔い漂う目玉なのさ They’re transparent, refreshing, just intoxicated, drifting eyeballs
February 26– May 6, 2023
Design alone cannot bestow liberation. Mere options do not indicate freedom anymore than isolation grants insight into the self. Cages, boundaries, limits and authority are not always, perhaps even rarely visible or perceptible, yet often in some sense, known intuitively. The omnipresent superstructure of language, with its dominant visual component, establishes the fertile realm of common sense and grammatical expectation that COBRA naturally undermines. While nearly every aspect of the relationship of language to the senses is dripping with absurd incongruities, COBRA is choosing to conflate several distinct subjects in looping sequence. Of primary concern is the human relationship with animals (the animal), who both share the same basic needs and desires; food, shitting, shelter, sex. The key differences between birds and people as presented by COBRA are the appreciation of aesthetics, recreation (though this is debatable), and the conceptualization of time and freedom.
Ordinary human/animal relations are automatic, ostensibly complicated by the fact that humans are animals. Humans are of the same place, time and stuff as animals, we coexist at all times, directly and indirectly wether we are aware or not, conscious or ignorant. We can say that animals are not humans but humans are technically animals. These categories however are about as usably fixed as those of Art and Comedy. Humans can observe, disregard, appreciate, fear, anthropomorphize, possess, love and even consume animals, yet cannot fully be animal. We cannot experience the freedom from consciousness that a Parakeet, Leghorn or Plymouth Rock Chicken experience as their permanent metaphysical circumstances. Similarly a bird is different from a rat yet both eat, shit and reproduce automatically. Neither, as far as we humans know, can imagine an alternative to the present. At least this is what we tell ourselves when we keep them as pets or dispose of them as pests.
These speculative ruminations serve as a semiotic context in which COBRA’s material/symbolic Art objects are nested. These hybrid painting/readymades frame
and transform each other in a way that never quite synthesizes but rather suspends the deadpan contradictions. Sameness and difference echo through the layered and mixed metaphors. It’s as if the assembly line of reproduction, its purpose, has been frozen for inspection and misuse. This suite of kitsch-modern bird cages have been re-appropriated as prefab comedic sets, designed and prepared; awaiting the selection of the perfect pet (prisoner). Maybe casting is the final step before production. Compounding the situational absurdity is the delicate rendering in paint, of the adjacent subjects of Egg, Painting and Food. These ideations are meta-conflated within each little mise en scène, located inside the actual human Art Gallery-as-Stage. The resultant humor is a mix of scrambled allegory, moderately pathetic melancholia and non-linear formal juxtapositions. With this iteration of the “Bird Gallery for Birds” series, it is the tautological repetition that really kills the
pan. We are left puzzling together nonsensical notions like; “Egg as symbol of precarious freedom,” “Bird as implied prisoner or escapee,” “the pet as connoisseur of modern cage design,” and “the natural cannibalistic tendencies of birds as figurative painting motif.”
In generous and simple ways, it just doesn’t add up. Obviously this all for the best as COBRA leaves us free from the desire to count before the hatching.
Ron Ewert The Conspicuous Absence of Birds, 2023
COBRA (b. 1981 Chiba, Japan) is a Japanese artist and founder of XYZ Collective,
an artist-run gallery based in Tokyo, Japan. Using various disciplines such as video, performance, sculpture, and painting COBRA intends to present trifling contradictions hidden within both art history and our daily lives, with a dose of humour. COBRA received his BFA in the Department of Ceramic, Glass and Metal Works from Tama Art University (Tokyo). He has extensively exhibited in Japan as well as in North America at 356 Mission (Los Angeles), Springsteen (Baltimore), Good Weather hosted by Gutter Box (Raleigh, North Carolina), The Apartment (Vancouver), Brennan & Griffin (New York), Shane Campbell Gallery (Chicago), The Green Gallery (Milwaukee), and Freedman Fitzpatrick (Los Angeles), among others.
Harlesden High Street
Telemarketing Acton ‘89 - '96
Andre Morgan and Sofia Hallström
15 April 2023 - 20 May 2023
Telemarketing Acton '89 - '96, also known as the Game of Phones, initially presented itself as a serendipitous opportunity for Andre Morgan, who was under pressure from the tax office to find employment. His friend Service, known for his distinctively shaped head resembling a bean and creative use of cellophane, mentioned a well-paying job in Cracton where Andre could simply chat on the phone and chill out. Intrigued, Andre joined the call center called 'Game of Phones' without fully understanding what he was getting into. Andre and Sofia Hallstrom have both responded to the subsequent telemarketing scandal.
At 'Game of Phones', Andre and his fellow call center agents were assigned the task of making cold calls to unsuspecting customers, peddling products ranging from frost-damaged refrigerators to underwater hair dryers. Despite the dubious nature of the items they were selling, Andre's natural salesmanship shone through, and he quickly set up his own company from the back of a cab office, amassing a small fortune by closing deals left and right.
However, Andre's success did not go unnoticed for long. The police eventually caught wind of his activities and almost arrested him, threatening him with imprisonment. Andre's time as a telemarketer came to an abrupt end, but the experience left a lasting impact on him.
Inspired by Andre's story, Sofia Hallström, an artist, created a body of work in response to this project. Her artwork will be exhibited in a site-specific office space in Chicago, incorporating found images that she has intervened with, as well as VHS footage from an obscure documentary filmed in a call center. Sofia's aim is to delve into the dark and murky world of telephone scams, drawing parallels between Andre's story and the larger issue of unethical telemarketing practices.
Through her art, Sofia seeks to raise awareness about the deceptive tactics employed by telemarketers and shed light on the negative impact of such practices on unsuspecting consumers. Her work challenges the morality and legality of telemarketing, urging viewers to question the ethics of cold calling and the exploitation of vulnerable customers.
The installation is split between two office spaces, designed to mirror each other as parallels. Room 420 is a contemporary replica of Room 408, creating a juxtaposition that invites reflection on the evolution of telemarketing practices over time.