with Wells Fray-Smith
‘The point of departure is if a contemporary greenhouse can be understood as a cinematic device, almost as a film set, where images intervene in the arrangement and growth of flowers and vegetables inside the greenhouse.’
Listen to the full interview here:
I’m Gerard Ortín Castellví, I’m an artist, filmmaker and researcher. I situate my practice at the intersection of art and ecology, working through performances, installations, sound and moving image work.
What are you showing in The London Open 2022?
I am showing a film called Agrilogistics (2022), which is part of my current practice-based PhD. My research inquires into the ‘Technologies and Ecologies of Food Regimes’. Filmed in the Netherlands, Agrilogistics looks at high-tech greenhouses as cinematic devices, as film sets where operational images intervene in the arrangement of agricultural production regulating the growth of flowers and vegetables. In the daytime sequences, the camera is a sensor among sensors, moving across the growing trays and recording the cameras that in turn record the plants. At night, the greenhouse ventures into fiction to become a dreamlike set where animals gain agency, where interior and exterior are confused, and where processes no longer follow a productive logic.
In the film we see tulips, chrysanthemum stalks and tomato vines that are being grown in these automated greenhouses. Is this where you think the future of where food production is at now and where it’s going?
My research speculates about the emergence of new food regimes. These are characterized by an increasing digitalization at every step of the supply chain, from production to processing, transportation, retail, and consumption. In my previous film Future Foods (2021), I was looking at a protein produced in the lab by a company that advocates for the ‘end of agriculture’. In Agrilogistics, I focus on the intensification of agriculture through the use of machine vision, automation, robotics, AI and the algorithmization of harvests.
Work in the exhibition:
Colour, 2K digital film, sound
Gerard Ortín Castellví (b. 1988, Barcelona, Spain)
2019-current PhD Goldsmiths, University of London
2021–2 Tutor at MA Art & Ecology, Goldsmiths, University of London
2019 MA Artist’s Film and Moving Image, Goldsmiths, University of London
2015 MFA Sandberg Instituut, Amsterdam
Selected exhibitions and screenings: Berlin International Film Festival (2022); Centre Georges Pompidou, Paris (2022); Potential Agrarianisms, KHB Kunsthalle Bratislava (2021); Open City Festival, London (2021); Visions du Réel, Nyon (2021); LUX, London (2019); Reserva, Fundació Joan Miró, Barcelona (2017); Anthology Film Archives, New York (2016); Fictions. Caves/Cascades. Blindness of love, Stedelijk Museum, Amsterdam (2015); Love letter to mars, Office for Contemporary Art, Oslo (2014)
What makes London’s art scene so vibrant? What are the concerns of the next generation of artists? What insight does their work offer in challenging times?
This triennial exhibition showcases a cross-section of the most dynamic artistic talent from across the capital. Established in 1932, this much-celebrated open submission show features 46 London-based artists working across painting, sculpture, moving image, installation and performance.
Since the last London Open in 2018, the city has experienced the COVID-19 pandemic, the UK’s withdrawal from the EU, demonstrations demanding racial and climate justice, and widespread questioning of institutions and their structures.
The London Open 2022 traces the ways in which artists have witnessed and responded to these events with resilience and heart. In times of hardship and crisis, and when exhibitions were cancelled and moved online, these artists experimented with new sites of production and means of dissemination, from the kitchen table to the back garden.
The exhibition is loosely structured as a journey from the personal to the social, moving from individual to collective concerns, the cathartic to the poetic, the political and the environmental.
The artists were selected from over 2,600 entries by a panel of experts including collector Maria Bukhtoyarova, artist Shezad Dawood, curator and art historian Christine Eyene, gallerist Stephan Tanbin Sastrawidjaja, with Whitechapel Gallery curators Emily Butler, lnês Costa and Wells Fray-Smith.
Gallery 1, Downstairs
The relationship between our bodies and the material world kickstarts the exhibition. Rafał Zajko‘s wall-based reliefs appear like hybrid beings, processing the gluten found in wheat and barley flour, leaving us unsure if this is for machine or human consumption.Likewise, Madeleine Pledge‘s stretched fabrics and ceramic boots imply absent bodies and their physical role in manufacturing.
Materiality and belief systems intersect in Candida Powell-Williams’ handmade objects. A unicorn and swing inspired by medieval tapestries are fenced off by a trellis, prompting questions about the divisions between what is mythical and real. Alicia Reyes McNamara‘s paintings feature non-binary, shapeshifting figures drawn from various mythologies, from Meso-America to Ancient Egypt, to consider alternative notions of time and embodiment.
Gallery 9, Upstairs
This gallery features works that delve into the impact of technology, algorithms and quantification on our lives. In his series The Spectre of a World Which Could Be Free 2019, Ben Yau looks at the parallel rise of Neoliberalism and the CIA’s role in sabotaging the socialist government of Salvador Allende in Chile in 1973, bringing together both economic data and declassified documents.
Set in a parallel present reminiscent of sci-fi films such as Blade Runner 2049, The Underlying by Ami Clarke considers the implicit role of capitalism in environmental disaster.
Meanwhile, Rory Cahill and George Mackness offer a walk through a dystopian, corrupted digital landscape of the future, with an immersive soundtrack. They consider: what does a digital wasteland look like, what happens there and what is its afterlife?
Gallery 8, Upstairs
The artworks in this gallery reflect on family, identity and community. Seema Khalique travelled to Bangladesh to photograph two communities of transgender people called hijras. In this behind-the-scenes series, she questions the prejudices they face, revealing the economic hardships they endure alongside the strong network of mentorship and care they create.
Pioneering photographer, curator and writer Sunil Gupta took photographs of his neighbourhood on Walworth Road during lockdown. This work celebrates the increased relevance of our localities during the pandemic, as well as reflecting on the processes involved in created photographic images.
On three vintage TV monitors, Hussina Raja‘s short narrative films look at the subject of migration to the UK from post-Partition India, tracing the continued experiences of displacement and exploring nuanced notions of identity.
The works in the last part of the show focus on our relationship to and impact on the environment. In Agrilogistics (2022), Gerard Ortin Castellvi films in an automated greenhouse, in which the growth of tomatoes, tulips and chrysanthemums is controlled by cameras and sensors, in order to question the future of food production.
Having spent lockdown excavating her back garden, Maria Roy Deulofeu meticulously records each layer of soil like an archaeologist, collecting artefacts and ecofacts, before assembling a kiln to fire hand-thrown urns with the different layers of clay. The process is recorded in a video shown alongside the objects. Finally, a flock of parakeets cast in lead are scattered on the ground in Patrick Goddard‘s Blue Sky Thinking (2019).The parakeet exemplifies a non-native species increasingly common in London parks and hints at a mass extinction event, highlighting mankind’s role in the impending climate disaster.
See the full list of works here.
An illustrated catalogue is available to purchase from the bookshop.
Artists have generously made limited editions to coincide with the exhibition to support the Gallery’s education programme.