The Breeder is pleased to present the exhibition Oil Gargles by Arbit City, on view until 14th April 2018.
Arbit City is a visual artists group whose work is concerned with issues relating to the public sphere, the collective unconscious, and recently, to private institutional strategies. It was formed in Athens in 2011.
Learning how to fire-breath can be tricky, as one might swallow the oil in the process. In this exhibition Arbit City swallow the bitter truth only to spit it spectacularly back out. Presenting works in marble, metal, neon and bronze, as well as mixed media prints and a multi channel sound installation, Oil Gargles fuses fact, fiction and mythological truths to highlight the dominant role of the Greek Shipping industry and its heavy-handed approach in the shaping of both private and institutional spaces in Greece. Oil Gargles investigates the infamous rivalry that took over the lives of two of the biggest tycoons in the industry, whose vow to outdo each other resulted in ostentatious displays of wealth and power that transcended boundaries of public and private and swelled to legendary proportions.
A series of mixed media paintings entitled Paradise Papers use a visual vocabulary that combines medieval emblems and symbols, with references to Greek mythology and folklore; sirens and bacchae, deities and demons all hang mid air against a backdrop of contemporary seascapes, elaborate allegories for the Contemporary Greek Maritime Family. Beside them a flag gently caresses the floor ‘All the As in this World’ is a continuation of Arbit City’s interest in the subversion of maritime signal flags – their site specific installation ‘In Search of Happiness’ continues to be exhibited on the façade of the building. Here, the nautical equivalent of the letter A has been stretched; in its elongated form it multiplies to embody the silent scream at sea.
At the center of the room two tanker ships collide on a sea of marble. ‘Salvation And Damnation Come Both From The Sea’, provides no clear winner, the ambiguity of a result becomes its most powerful visualization. Frozen in time, they remain eternally locked together to form a monument to contemporary catastrophe. The blue light of ‘Fondling Tusks’ behind illuminates the marble waters; also locked in scene of flirtatious competition.
In the basement, the time-honoured pastime of the affluent takes center stage. Cigars sit assertively between missing fingers on hands of bronze, silver and gold, gestures of unwavering devotion, bathed in the cold light of Ethereal Kiss, 2017 a neon work where the plumes of smoke from two cigars become one, the prophecy of an unlikely union. Intermittently, the silence of the darkened space is interrupted with the hooves of ghost horses, which climax with the frantic shouts of the track announcer. A new sound project made in collaboration with Stamatis Tsimpidis, ‘Tzitzifies-Mares go!’ utilizes field recordings from the old race track where now sits the newest addition to the Athenian cultural skyline.