Western Front is pleased to present an exhibition of work by multidisciplinary artists Lex Brown and Geo Wyeth, who each respectively engage with broadcast mediums in their practices. With so many of us having now taken up the task, “broadcasting” is less a technical question of sending transmissions than a way of being in the world: a broadcaster subjectivity, which is always in one space while performing for another. What forms, poetics, and idioms are available to us that think through such a multiply-emplaced subject?
Geo Wyeth’s Muck Studies Dept. (2017-ongoing) is a fictive municipal agency whose protagonist gets in touch with what stinks beneath the surface. The project merges inherited Black Atlantic American funk and folk poetics with techniques of investigative journalism, and connects mud, water, metal, gas, ass, rocks, coins, extractive industry, deep coloniality, and sensual expression of belonging. In Wyeth’s work, local histories, speculative narratives, and black hole stories intertwine in poetic performances and sound works. Speakers or radios bring Wyeth’s voice into the gallery from an elsewhere that is made fully present. For this exhibition, they have created a work out of the gallery space itself, opening up its hidden spaces, to create a site-specific iteration of Muck Studies Dept., including a performance on January 22.
In her thirty-minute video Communication (2021), Lex Brown assumes multiple characters as parodic renderings of a telecommunications company, Omnesia; and its next residential target for development, New Greater Framingham. Aspen Van Der Baas (a gen-something girlboss), Jordie (her tech bro analyst), and Sylvie (an impassive and sentient AI) use their extensive technological powers to displace the consumer-citizens of New Greater Framingham. Finding their strategies insufficient, they enlist the help of B. Marbels, a fast-talking, ambivalent film director who is tasked with creating plotholes, further confusing the minds of New Greater Framingham. To Omnesia’s chagrin, one such consumer-citizen, Marie, discovers the power of her inner voice to interfere with the algorithmic forces of Omnesia and its plotholes. These characters, the argots that they speak, and the scenarios they play out are reminiscent of the speculative fictions of the present, but Brown’s video also questions the way that speculation (as capital) and fiction (as a constructed narrative) work. Communication suggests the many ways that we are drawn, cajoled, and coerced into “the future”, at the expense of what (and who) exists here and now.
Please note that Communication by Lex Brown screens hourly, on the hour. Geo Wyeth’s audio works, No Stars Found Waving Signs at Muck Studies Dept. (2021-22) and Not a Dime at Muck Studies Dept. w/ Wilma Subra (2021), are broadcast alternately on the half-hour.
Broadcasts from Here is curated by Becket MWN and Susan Gibb.
Lex Brown is a Philadelphia-based artist who uses poetry and science-fiction to create an index for our psychological and emotional experiences as organic beings in a rapidly technologized world. She has performed and exhibited work internationally, and teaches as a Media Fellow in Art, Film, & Visual Studies and Theater, Dance, & Media at Harvard University. She is also the host of the podcast 1-800-POWERS. Brown is a 2021 recipient of the USA Fellowship. She is represented by Deli Gallery (New York).
Geo Wyeth is a Swampy Pessimist Yearning (S.P.Y.) artist and educator based in Rotterdam and working in music, performance, narrative sculpture, and video. Wyeth has shown work internationally and they are co-founder of the queer social space Tender Center in Rotterdam. They also compose original soundtracks for film, including by the artist Tourmaline. In 2021, Wyeth was awarded the Dolf Henkes Art Prijs, and the Hartwig Foundation Grant.