The exhibition entitled Deep Down in the Rabbit Hole is an organic continuation of Áron Kútvölgyi-Szabó’s complex installations made in previous years around the topic of post-truth, alternative facts, and conspiracy theories.
Áron Kútvölgyi-Szabó: Deep Down in the Rabbit Hole
June 12 – July 31, 2020
Glassyard Gallery, Budapest
These subjects are part of his long-term artistic research focusing particularly on the role of images and spatiality in knowledge creation, the formation of opposing alternative interpretations, as well as the notion of ‘fact’ as it appears in this contemporary context as a fluid, weightless phenomenon, constantly exploited by the rival narratives. The new works created for his first solo exhibition in Glassyard Gallery are dealing with the various forms of science denial (artificially induced doubt, hyperskepticism, anti-expert sentiments) in the context of the climate crisis.
The title is a twofold reference to Lewis Carroll’s Alice in Wonderland: the novel tells a metaphorical story of someone entering a surreal environment where both the main characters and the inner logic of the 'new world' seem abnormal, but it doesn't take too much time to get acclimatized and carry on within these settings. All this feels very similar to recent years’ everyday reality, where all those strange – and previously unthinkable – events and actors have shaped our life (e.g. Brexit, the presidency of Trump and Bolsonaro, the coronavirus pandemic) yet gradually we get accustomed to all of them one way or the other as normalization took place.
The other aspect of the title refers to the phrase ‘falling down the rabbit hole’ as it appears in the current slang: when someone gets stuck in an endless internet search, where unexpected twists and turns result in a trippy encounter with random but seemingly consistent information. The parallel realities of the internet – where anyone can find 'proof' and 'evidence' to whatever theory they prefer – are a crucial factor in the context of alternative knowledge creation in our post-factual era.
The exhibition consists of four new print and photo series and a spatial installation. The 10 piece collage Curiouser and Curiouser is referring to the aforementioned internet-search with the partly fragmented, partly overlapping layout of the papers and the nonhierarchical arrangement of the visual elements – evoking the invisible networks between a certain frame and the complete series. The components are varying from data visualizations to packaging design, hints from the role of republican think tanks to the fictional cartoon character of Captain Pollution.
The 5 piece print work Wonderland without Wonder draws a link between the biochemical/physical changes of our planet and a shift in the political climate we experience in the last couple of years on a mental level. The quadratic prints are merging the two fields together by using various elements like a map from the 2016 US presidential election, a magnet, and a graph that shows the CO2 accumulation as a tectonic formation to point out the slow but fundamental shift in partisan polarization.
The series Spherical Chart is based on a spatial model of the Earth elevation, which was rendered by the artist as technical drawings from a 3D software. The depiction varies from an unbiased crosshatch style to a more expressive sketch-like manner. The combination of these prints are resembling a pie chart, while trying to build up a full circle, certain aspects and factors always missed out, resulting in a not truly representative picture of the complete phenomena.
The foundation of the 7 piece photo series Counterfactual Countercharts is an installation of architectural blueprints which was composed in a way that they both resemble a dense urban planning model packed with skyscrapers and as a bar chart. Relying on Timothy Morton's concept of hyperobject, the artist points out that just like in the case of climate change certain phenomena cannot be grasped in its entirety with static, two-dimensional apparatus without falling into arbitrary cherry-picking of facts and 'counterfacts'.
The installation Pendulum of Future Prospects is an allusion of the esoteric pendulum dowsing. The elements were cast in concrete and spread across in all the 4 rooms of the gallery space, along with their modified dowsing charts only showing one of the possible predictions at a time. This separation resulted in a situation where all the potential narratives (yes, no, maybe, unknown) are present at the same time – just like on the internet – and may suggest that it's entirely up to us, which one we believe in, regardless of the ‘facts’ and ‘data’ that might contradict to the scientific consensus.
Áron Kútvölgyi-Szabó (born in Budapest in 1985, lives and works in Budapest) graduated from the University of Pécs, Faculty of Music and Visual Arts at the Sculpture department in 2013 and from 2018 he is at DLA program at Hungarian University of Fine Arts, Doctoral School. He took part in several residency programs (in Stuttgart, Bern, Berlin and Brno). He was awarded the prestigious Derkovits Gyula Prize between 2015-17, nominated for the Esterházy Art Award twice, and the Leopold Bloom Art Award in 2019. He has had solo exhibitions at Gallery Panel, Prague; G99 Gallery, Brno (2018), Collegium Hungaricum Berlin (2017) and Plusmínusnula Gallery, Žilina, Slovakia (2016). His work has been included in group exhibitions at aqb Project Space, Budapest (2020), Ludwig Museum, Budapest (2019), MODEM, Debrecen (2018), ICA_D, Dunaújváros, Kunsthalle, Budapest (2017), Trafó Gallery, Budapest; Tabačka Gallery, Košice, Slovakia; Studio Gallery, Budapest (2016), among others.
Photo: Dávid Biró; Courtesy of the Artist and Glassyard Gallery