A New Threads project
EXIT STRATEGY locates a suite of projects that breach and exceed borders, concerning conflicts of identity and value. These works, executed against a backdrop of globalisation and political conflict, achieve arbitrary resolutions that elaborate the arbitrary divisions from which they arise.
William Wiebe’s work uses the legal and technological protocols that regulate the movement of objects and individuals to examine the futures these protocols smuggle into existence: the white, black, and grey markets that govern international migration. Untitled (当量) takes Wiebe’s Fulbright stipend as the seed investment for a sub-economy of cultural exchange. The photographs Lily, Zahra, and Erika, in turn, trade in biometric counterfeits, integrating features from passports and national identity cards obtained on the dark web.
These allusions to contraband find their counterpoint in Wiebe’s collaboration with Daisy Charles. Their auction catalogue, Hubert’s, springs from a European Council regulation that permits goods to be moved from the occupied north of Cyprus into the sovereign south provided that they are publicly exhibited. The materials’ passage through the green line and subsequent exhibition at the NeMe Arts Centre effectively transubstantiates them; it is not the artist but the law (a law of exclusion) that converts them into artworks.
For his part, Jesse Meredith refracts unequal meaning through language. 9 Drawings… follows a score in which the artist physically performs a different relationship on each drawing as it is made: hiding, protecting, coveting, loving, saving, seeking, and so on. Registering these actions, the drawings gesture towards the political and personal leverage of a word.
Probing the formation of belonging and exclusion in contexts of transience and home-making, irregular pieces of cardboard come together to form a makeshift one-person shelter in a London airport, in which the artist slept during an overnight stay on his way to Cyprus from the United States. Exhibited in its disassembled components, hand-lettered messages fluctuate between military designations, a poem speculating on cultural origins, and ideology-enforcing home decor. They ask us to consider the protective shells we build to mythologize our own identities, from what or whom we protect them, and how we carry them as we move through the world.
Meredith and Wiebe’s collaborations investigate the high/low opposition of citizenship-by-investment schemes and forced migration. In Pathway Groundbreaking Scheme for Naturalisation of Investors in Cyprus by exception, the two propose a luxury land art product. Dispensing with the pretext of the Cypriot Citizenship by Investment Programme, Wiebe and Meredith invite foreign nationals to invest in a groundbreaking ceremony that is an end unto itself. Liquid Allowance follows a more subdued approach, repurposing air travel-compliant resealable bags into a cache of potable water. How do the material outlays of one imaginary emergency persist in and give form to another?
William Wiebe, Jesse Meredith, Daisy Charles