Ed Atkins – Recent Ouija

Lucia Lamberti - 25 May 2015

Art magazine - art news - Ed Atkins – Recent Ouija

Dave is, we may say, the kind of guy you wouldn't approach on the street.

He is a smoking, drinking, disembodied virtual skinhead - like guy, who is on the way to some kind of self-destruction.

He is a “no - victim image”  generated “from nothing, in my computer”, as Ed Atkins states.

He is the protagonist of  the British artist’s video installation “Ribbons” (2014), one of the digital video projections composing a totally immersive exhibition at Stedelijk Museum, Amsterdam.


Ed Atkins (Oxford, 1982) is, quoting Beatrix Ruf, director of the Stedelijk Museum, “one of the most interesting artists of his generation. With his work, Atkins explores the virtuality of our contemporary visual world and its profound effect on the reality of our embodied lives. His high - definition videos and powerful sound-tracks address existential questions about how love, sex,death, and relationships are experienced in the face of digital abstraction. Atkins' video works are digital performances, as it is the artist's voice and movement animating the digital world. In these videos, as well as in his collages and drawings, Atkins is asking for the paradoxical capacity of media to let our material lives be present in a progressively dematerialized world.”


Ribbons, 2014


What is being shown on large  screens,  leaning against the walls, is a world of illusion, in which the body is a digital fantasy, an avatar. Videos featuring talking heads, body parts and graphic text animations are aimed at making the observer aware of his real - world embodiment and his life in the physical world. “I want to arouse in people not the emotion of a kind of cinema where you forget yourself, but provoke feelings in a way that you kind of concentrate in reminding yourself”, Atkins states.

The artist’s hyper real virtual world confronts the observer with existential questions about mortality, love and relations. Thus the exhibition title, Recent Ouija, makes reference to the Ouija board, a vehicle to contact spirits and demons through fragments of language. The Ouija board, as Atkins says, speaks of possession, occlusion, symbolism, belief, language and genre.


Warm, warm, warm Spring Mouths, 2013


The viewer is dragged into Atkins' virtual protagonists’ world through their melancholy expressions and non-stop flow of talk and song, through their rude sentimental expressions, which prey upon the viewer’s emotions. Demanding empathy and violent identification, Atkins’ no – victim images manipulate the viewer’s feelings in the artist’s visions of attraction and repulsion, possession and rejection.



Ed Atkins. Recent Ouija

The Stedelijk Museum

Amsterdam, 21 February – 31 May 2015


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