In May 1993, Dutch producer Jaydee released Plastic Dreams, a song that has since gone down in House music history. Plastic Dreams is now also the name of a new group exhibition, conceptualised and devised by 4:3’s creative director Amar Ediriwira and Boiler Room’s senior curator Gennaro Leone, which opens today (21 June 2019) inside Manifattura Tabacchi, a disused tobacco factory in Florence.
Over the past few months, Amar and Gennaro have collected and curated video art from the likes Jacolby Satterwhite, Aphex Twin, Jon Rafman, Hannah Perry, Mark Leckey, Jeremy Deller and Cecilia Bengolea. “The exhibition is about portals; each video is a doorway, some technological, others magical, into parallel worlds, afterworlds, artificial dystopias and rave utopias,” Amar tells It’s Nice That. Plastic Dream’s aim: to transport each viewer to alternative planes of existence within the space of their visit.
“All of the videos foreground sound; in our view, they all fully exploit the interplay between audio and visual. A large portion of the videos are music videos, which is important for us because we think music videos are not shown in gallery contexts as much as they should be,” Amar tells us. The show, which will run for a month, includes a party – taking place tonight – which will feature a live AV show from Actress and DJ sets by Bill Kouligas, Nkisi, object blue and Sciahri. Additionally, each Sunday, 4:3 will host screenings of If I think of Germany At Night, a film about the German electronic scene, Flying Lotus’ debut feature film Kuso and Synthethic Pleasure, an electronic road movie from 1995. Plastic Dreams, and the careful partnership between Manifattura Tabacchi, Boiler Room and 4:3 that has brought it to life, is exemplar of the exciting creative possibilities that arise from the intersection between IRL and online curatorial spaces.
While the distribution of film and music usually moves from physical to online, much of the video art that will be screened at Plastic Dreams has already featured on experimental streaming site 4:3. It is this imaginative outlook, one that goes against the status quo, that renders Plastic Dreams so refreshing. As Amar says, “through our online video hub we’ve been platforming and premiering so many incredible videos that we wanted to take them in the opposite direction and give them a physical life, bringing them into location to create immersive site-specific experiences. All of the videos, bar Jacolby’s, can be viewed on 4:3 as part of an accompanying online exhibition.” The expansion of the physical into the digital not only increases the exhibition’s reach, it also prompts viewers to reconsider the central role context plays to the impact of art.
“We see 4:3 as a kind-of updated cultural institution that’s digitally minded, agile and DIY so it’s a really exciting new step for us to stage a group video show of this scale along with screenings and parties. We’ve been building up to this: when we launched 4:3 we presented an Arthur Russell exhibition in collaboration with New York Public Library; we screened hours of Warp videos as an installation at Club 2 Club in Turin last November; earlier this year we presented a cinema programme for three days at Palais De Tokyo with a club night in YoYo featuring performances and DJ sets; and just last month, we did our first event in NYC in collaboration with art collective DIS,” Amar recalls. Plastic Dreams, the creative director continues, is a natural extension of the innovative, boundary-pushing work that 4:3 has been releasing over the past year. “We’re keen give the project new iterations in new locations around the world, plus creating more shows around the world.”