Women of the ’20s - opening in London Oct 5, event Jazz the Known Oct 13 × group show at Belmacz on view, opening Oct 5 event Oct 13 Women of the ‘20s opening reception Oct 5, 6-8pm 6 October 2023 — 22 December 2023 On the location of Frieze London please join us for Jazz the Known: Artistic Experiments on Women of the ’20s, an evening of dynamic conversations at the Goethe-Institut London. Friday 13 October, 4-8pm Belmacz’s Autumn 2023 exhibition, Women of the ’20s celebrates artistic practices that jazz the known. Echoing the radical freedom often associated with the ‘twenties,’ a sense of innovation, desire and sparky new found life, the artists ensembled [sic] here each utilise processes of subversion in order to shake up ways of seeing. That is, through covert operations, observations, re-re-stagings, exchanges, and vivacious plays each of the artists in Women of the ’20s embraces epochal subversion. And in this way, their works metaphorically sidestep what has come before, demanding that we feel the beat in life’s shift changes. We are not in the business of looking back with fondness nor nostalgia. And neither are the artists in this exhibition. Their artworks do not operate through fantasy or romance. Rather, embracing syncopation and artistic porousness, their works speak beyond arbitrary material categories and positions. Here, the grains of media and mediums shift and shake, not knowing where to stop, they writhe with a gold-tipped energy becoming their own after-glow, their own recumbent sound and legacy. From their investigations around historical figures and radical modernist movements the works of Sadie Murdoch and Ines Weizman appear to set the tempo for Women of the ’20s. The visual remains of archival history are given new life through Sadie’s large photo print. Here, working with an iconic photograph of the Bauhaus’ weaving department, Sadie uses 21st-century process of image enhancement to give the lives held in the off-white pages of the canonical archive a new sense of aliveness, one that glitters close by but that retains the starlit-quality of temporal mystery. In this way, Sadie’s work repositions the off-hidden eminence of Modernism’s female protagonists. Ines’ video essay (first installed as part of her exhibition at the Biennale Architettura 2023, Venice, Italy) traces Joséphine Baker’s militant connections in North Africa and the Middle East. Co-opting the freedom afforded to her as a performing body, Baker’s underground activities for the anti-fascist Allied forces in the region operated through entertainment. Held in relation to contemporary events, both bodies of work convey the radicality offered through a performative sleight of hand. Sculptural gestures by Agata Madejska and Coco Crampton echo something of this performativity. Each artist operates through a distinct set of aesthetic references, often meaning their works don a particular face, be this cool (Agata) or playful (Coco). Rather than being definable however, the way each artist deploys material subversion allows their works to speak in pointed double talk. For Agata, this subversion arrives in this exhibition through a fabric-based work. Echoing both the language of architecture and that of the body, this light form fundamentally questions the way a political surround effects ways of life. Also displaying a fabric-based work, for Women of the‘20s Coco takes the associative history of knitting to create a performance caprice, a bodily portrait of herself alluding to domestic norms and gendered positions entrenched in conservative society. A conceptual collaboration, materially divergent artworks by Lydia Ourahmane and Daniel Blumberg appear together in this exhibition. At an interpretive level, both artists work through process. For Lydia process can be seen as the almost forensic logging of exchanges, how arcane trades and translations operate across differing socio-cultural contexts, so as to call out the space of the human body in autonomous systems of power, whilst for Daniel process has more to do with the way a body can record its glimmering presence. Rather than depicting a caricature of life, his figurative drawings teeter the line between what is seen and what is felt. As an experiment in process, and in recognition of their intimate proximity, for Women of the ’20s both artists were given an almost exact length of 18ct gold through which to produce a work of art. Shown together these differing records of that transaction’s afterlife riff off one another to convey the agency of bodies once free from didact means of production. Contingency and the potentials for juxtaposition are given a materially loaded form in the works of Anna Wachsmuth and Ronit Porat. In this exhibition, part of Anna’s 2022 installation Eiche Brennt [Oak Burns], two aluminium frames holding lengths of raw pebbled concrete, are affixed to the gallery’s walls. In their jutting presence, this heavy pair hover counterintuitively haunting the space with something of its material fabrication, its history. Ronit’s cut-up photomontages echo something of this haunting. Composed from archival photographs, these images have a surreal presence, one that is strangely inviting, harrow and quiet. Often working from traces of history, Ronit’s images allude to the voices sequestered or effaced by the churning of time. Here, they linger in our present as twisted reflections, not myths or legends but as evidence of lost narratives. For Hanna Mattes and Devin T. Mays lingering with the everyday has a particular power. Working with seemingly natural phenomena, the landscape (Hanna) and the sun (Devin), each of their lens-based works present us with a vision of existence that is softly stilted. Hanna’s photographic works picture the horizon, the meeting of swathes of water and sky, bubbling. Looking at these scenes closely, it becomes apparent that these are not records of a singular place. Hanna’s images are composites, seas and skies from elsewheres brought together to manufacture a sense of tranquillity. And in this way, they question a human desire to render the world linear and known. Devin’s ambient video depicts an orb of glowing yellow light tentatively touched by a green-tipped beam. Like a moth circling a flame or a solar flare, this green vessel tiptoes around its burgeoning companion. Alluding to the artist’s wider practice of wandering, a practice of encountering, here this simple recording becomes a melodic gesture, a revelatory intervening, something sparking life.