Jeremy Shaw | Quickeners
CAPRI, Düsseldorf, Germany | 17.5.–30.6.2018
Jeremy Shaw

Opening: Thursday, May 17th, 2018, 7 – 9 pm
May 17th – June 30th, 2018

Incorporating elements of science fiction, ethnographic survey, neuroscience and belief systems, Quickeners collates these disparate themes into a succinct whole to discuss varying notions of evolutionary progress with clinical indifference. This alchemical fusion suspends disbelief of the fantastic situation by its use of familiar, outmoded technology, meticulous audio editing and subtitles. As the piece builds to a cathartic climax of media techniques and special effects - caught in limbo between ritual documentary and music video - the Quantum Humans surrender to this evolutionary throwback of perceived biological transcendence, while the film attempts to incite a similar phenomenological response in the viewer.

The video work “Quickeners” (2014) by the Canadian artist Jeremy Shaw is a kind of sci-fi pseudo-documentary. It’s source material comes from the 1967 film “Holy Ghost People”; a cinema verité film that depicts the worship service of a Pentecostal church in a small American town. In these churches that emerged in America at the start of the 20th century, speaking in “tongues”, laughing out loud, bursting into tears, or experiencing twitching fits was commonplace. Shaw’s re-worked video is presented by a BBC-like narrator who details the story of the Quickeners in a deadpan tone. It is accompanied by subtitles that translate the Quickeners scrambled language and a soundtrack that embellishes the events until the film itself falls into a state of ecstasy. Jeremy Shaw's work revolves around altered states of consciousness—whether triggered by religion, drugs, dance or technology. For the istallation “DMT” (2004) he documented subjects under the influence of the ultra-psychedelic drug, dimethyltryptamine, and translated their immediate recollections of the experience into subtitles. In “Best Minds Part One” (2007), he shot footage of straight-edge hardcore dancers who consciously abstain from alcohol and drugs in order to go into a kind of puritanical ecstasy through music and dance alone. Shaw then slowed down the footage and added an ambient soundtrack, drawing parallels to shamanic and balletic dances. Ethnographic studies, neuroscience and belief systems play a recurring role in Shaw’s work. “Quickeners” fits snuggly into this universe by fusing many of Shaw’s interests into a succinct, alchemical whole.

„Quickeners“ is the predecessor to “Liminals”, which was shown at the 2017 Venice Biennale, and is followed by „I Can See Forever“, that will premiere at the Kunstverein Hamburg in May 2018 and complete the „Quantification Trilogy“. Jeremy Shaw was born in 1977 in North Vancouver, Canada and lives and works in Berlin. He currently has a residency at the Hammer Museum, Los Angeles. His solo exhibition at the Kunstverein Hamburg opens May 25. He exhibited at the 57th Venice Biennale and Manifesta 11, and has had solo exhibitions at the Schinkel Pavilion Berlin (2013) and the MoMA PS1 (2011).

Text: Gesine Borcherdt, Curator of CAPRI