Recycle Group: Sapient, 2023. Courtesy of Gazelli Art House, London


Recycle group’s thought-provoking show in London

Russian artist duo Recycle Group are showing their vision of hope, Sapient, at Gazelli Art House in London until 18th of March.

If you asked my Italian sons-in-law whether they are looking forward to the age of driverless cars they would put up their hands in horror and drive faster, both at the same time. Most people’s reactions to an Artificial Intelligent Government would be similar, but Recycle Group’s current exhibition, Sapient, looks as if it is asking the rhetorical question, ‘Wouldn’t it be great if we were governed by artificial intelligence, rather than the people in Government we have now?’ You can almost hear the subtext of the title: Is Homo Sapiens anymore?

Those signing up to the Sapient experience walk off Dover Street in London’s Mayfair into a jungle. I was met by Andrey Blokhin (b. 1987), one half of the Recycle Group, to guide me through the Forest of Expired links. They look like plants, waiving in a non-existent breeze, but they are in truth a mass of computer links, printed on rubbery, plasticky surfaces that are like tire tracks in the air. You can be lost forever and buy the NFT, but there is a path through this Freudian wood. Blokhin and the other half of Recyle, Georgy Kuznetsov (b. 1985), were both born in the mid-eighties in the south of Russia. They do not seem to share the recent generation’s long overdue rebellion against the clear linear path of Greek art, they offer it as a carrot of certainty. They recognize the despair of living in the forest of long dead thoughts and the desire for the sure thing. We see boxes, containing mesh, but backlit, so they give us the dreams of the past, dressed up as the future. Upstairs there is a gallery all in white, a veritable heaven, an unholy alliance between a Church and State algorithm.

At first sight of that junky forest, one might think that the artist duo is concerned primarily with environmental recycling, but no … it is the recycling of ideas. In Sapient they offer a vision of hope – a utopia where (in theory) in a Facebook profile people can live forever. There was a certain element of irony when Thomas More invented the word Utopia in the sixteenth century to describe an idealized way of living. The word came from the Greek ou-topos meaning 'no place.'

The Sapient light boxes have been created with algorithms, made from the artists feeding in their dreams of crowds living happily together, of their utopia. There is an echo of Acteon catching a glimpse of Diana about to swim naked in her pool. As we are talking of Greek myth we can talk of men and male fantasy, but perhaps if men were wiser, they would be able to choose a way of governing themselves that does not divide us up into warring nations. We still have not taken heed of Acteon’s fate for spying on a naked Goddess: to be turned into a stag and torn to pieces by his own hounds.

Recycle Group: Sapient

Gazelli Art House

London, UK

10 February – 18 March, 2023

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