New Sincerity

Berlin / London
Future Gallery, July 2011.
Beach London, December 2011.

New Sincerity amounted to two exhibitions, accompanying printed publications and exclusive web content.

The project dealt with speech and action direct enough to inspire social embarrassment. This embarrassment was called forth through texts, videos, performances and sculptural elements.

The first show approached embarrassment in relation to overwhelming feelings of affection. The second show dealt with anger and frustration.

Artist's Statement

The last time I had a show I got a tattoo to go along with it: a short, hesitant line on my left arm. Volcanic ash had travelled high into the atmosphere, leading to cancelled flights. I could not return. I was to stay with the work and change it. See it come down. That unplanned, destined non-time was worth commemorating. This show is marked by a cigarette burn. It's healing fast. You won't notice. You'll see me at the opening, nervous and deflated. I'll be checking my phone, carrying something. Moving quickly from one room to the other. This time home is within walking distance.

I read into things: haircuts as language, gestures and objects as language. Language as language, too. I'm interested in social dynamics. Subtle changes in room-size atmospheres.


What can I say? I want my life to have purpose and I'm subjecting you to the search of said purpose.

Possible artist's statements:
a) I'm ashamed of these attempts at looking presentable.
b) Nothing unknown is knowable.

Review: Jaakko Pallasvuo New Sincerity curated by B.C. @ Beach London, 8-18th December 2011

I wonder how the artist would have reviewed this show.

Jaakko Pallasvuo’s New Sincerity project presents a beautiful problem. For a start it’s manifestly neither; indeed the term itself has been discoursed for up to thirty years now. What’s more, the open source optimism of the notion has afforded it cult status in tumblr-led aesthetics. Sincerity seems a way of humanising emotionally detached image flow, the mantra seemingly: if nothing comes from without, we can reblog from the heart. Yet the very need to codify this exchange points to awareness of its location within a symbolic field, and the inherent structure of cultural capital within. To engage with this, to use New Sincerity as an artistic metabrand, complicates it entirely. Walter Benjamin has been woven through the project as a whole, what Pallasvuo is exploring is not the act of the artist revealing herself to a public but the aura thus associated with the artist-as-origin in this act. More simply, the aura of New Sincerity.

However Pallasvuo firmly understands this. The artist’s frustration at this show is her lack of control over this aura, the deconstruction of the personal brand; the leaked publication of this brand’s boardroom strategy. The abandoned pc monitors are the site where this antagonism is most evident. Stepping down into the exhibition, they form a void in the far corner, disconnected and empty as an old msn account, perfectly paired yet in solidarity with only themselves. Forced to contemplate the object, to fetishise the abject, we question our investment in yet another net inflected exhibition displaying photoshop squiggles alongside obsolete technology. Across the room, there is a noose.

Pallasvuo offers much more than this though. Working on no budget, and furiously last minute, neither artist nor organisers were able to procure the two identical screens specifically required for the installation. Or at least, they were, but the aforementioned pc monitors found were incompatible with the cables. Thus the monitors stand stubborn and silent, whilst the artist’s statement wails on the wall. Yet converse to the artist’s concern, these objects make for a more rather than less aggressive show. Passive yet far from impassive, the conflict here is one of the difficultly in translating integrated and complex conceptual projects into faithful sculptural entity. Yet it is also the realisation that an exhibition is much more than the physical document of a unified project, but rather a point of reference within a project’s development, a spatio-temporal location of its continuing genesis. Again I’m certain the artist understands this, this is New Sincerity part 2 and thus we can place it in time. What’s more, the ice cream melting at the fulcrum of the exhibition provides one of the most succinct visual metaphors for internet heterogeneity I think we might find. Thus aided by these carefully placed clues, the very banality of the two pc monitors compels the viewer to seek narrative beyond the object, aligning them more satisfyingly with the artist’s own process of understanding, a mechanism I see as at the heart of networked imaginative thinking.

That this is achieved through failure, and specifically technological failure, is interesting. On one level, it is something of a slip in the symbolic order by which we are given a clearer insight into the artistic process, or at least made able to believe more wholly in it. The artist may not have realised an ultimate vision, yet this lack of control liberates the viewer to insert more of her own autonomy, to dematerialise the artist myth. The viewer meets the artist half way, a collaboration which is for the most part successful because of the dystopia it frames; the artist as purveyor of unified truth. It is not technology that debunks aura a priori, but our shared and conscientious use of it. More simply, however, and perhaps more legitimately, it is in this failure that New Sincerity becomes truly sincere. This is not to critique the artist’s body of work as a whole, which offers of course the crucial context, but is more a celebration of uncertainty, an uncertainty through which the strength of the project has been revealed. The brand breaks; there is emotion, humanness within. And we can always watch the videos online.

Performance by Rebecca LaMarre
New Sincerity London Opening