Over the past several years, collaborative duo New Noveta have developed a series of kinetic performances during which the two artists physically struggle, often frantically, to mutually accomplish an urgent yet Sisyphean task. Responding to what they perceive to be a pervasive atmosphere of conformity and control within high-pressure, primarily metropolitan societies, New Noveta reproach everyday ‘task-fulfilling’ within the now-mandatory management and regulation of the self, magnifying the dual poles of labor and estrangement that put the body in Capitalism under duress.
Following a debut performance at MINI/Goethe-Institut Curatorial Residencies Ludlow 38 on February 16, New Noveta extend their performative practice and ongoing collaborations with musicians and fashion designers into the exhibition space. Rather than documentation after the event, however, ‘live-ness’ is presented through a static display of remnants, a sound installation, and a large-scale photographic print. Props are left untouched – the floor scattered with glitter, ink, and faux crystal shards while lengths of rope pulled taut across the space during the performance remain fixed to metal ring pulls.
Fitted Prussian-style white leatherette jackets worn during the performance, designed and custom-made in collaboration with fashion designer Xenab Lone, have also been left discarded in the space alongside ornamented handbags. This informal practice of couture is typical of New Noveta’s working relationship with friends and peers. Another frequent collaborator, the musician Vindicatrix, has reconfigured fragments of a soundtrack produced for their performance into a new audio work broadcast on a radio frequency in real time during the show.
Installed at the far end of the space, a large commercially printed vinyl banner functions as a backdrop to both the performance and the exhibition. It depicts an enlarged low-grade photographic image of the artists in costume on a beach in Sopot, a coastal town on the Baltic Sea in northern Poland, directly on the other side of which is the Kaliningrad Oblast, a Russian enclave and formerly East Prussia. Taken in January, the bodies of New Noveta merge with the white of the snow while their enervated demeanor could be seen in light of recent political upheaval; the combination of landscape and expression representing a discarnate sense of loss at a time when the fabric of a unified Europe is becoming undone.
New Noveta was formed by Ellen Freed and Kiera Fox in 2011 and are based in London, UK. They recently performed Ryzyk Fizyk at the Annual Bipolar Performers Meeting in Sopot, Poland (2017), Nxjerr Ate at Forde in Geneva, Switzerland (2016). They will perform as part of the Performance Project curated by Eva Birkenstock at this year’s LISTE – Art Fair Basel, and have an upcoming exhibition at Kunstverein Freiburg in 2018.