[Photos: Rob Harris]

"Astropriest burned down the dollhouse. Gave all the dolls Beta burns, scarring the cutaneous layer of their dollish bodies. Beta burns made their whole world hot."

Astropriest, a solo exhibition by Romanian-born London-based artist Catinca Malaimare, takes the form of performance, sculpture, audio and film, revealing our intimate relationship with technological tools. Together the components of the installation and the performance play with time and metaphor, building on the artist’s ongoing observation of obsolete technologies.  A multi-channel audio narrative plays from a set of speakers as the Astropriest performs an alluring Siren’s song in the exhibition space, his moans prompted through a series of acoustic cues. Using poetic, spiritual range, Malaimare’s performance facilitates an ephemeral, fleeting moment.

The Astropriest, the lead character and namesake of the exhibition, is elusive. Disguised behind a baptismal name that flaunts him as a theatrical, sculptural and satirical vessel in which divinity and technology can be linked, he awaits his turn to enter the exhibition for a fleeting moment. There is a contradiction between bodies that are by turns absent, veiled or abstracted, and the easily identifiable ones.

The stables appear to be empty as romantic maladies seem to have plagued the horses, but the exhibition is not without its inhabitants as two saddles are suspended knee-high on thoracic steel frames beneath their curved forms. Detached from their horses, they are a constant reminder within the installation of the co-dependence between bodies and devices. Practical or romantic, human touch, strokes and taps allow technologies of all forms to function. Slipping between horse and rider is the only object that moulds to one body and caresses the other.

The saddles’ sensuous constitutions, defined musculature and layered construction allow material, performative and narrative planes to intersect under the guise of a uniform. The layering of paint on the outer surface of the saddle, like the colouring on the motorcycle racing garments worn by the performers, suggests that these objects might run on horsepower instead of horses.

Anatomically complex, aniconic representations devoid of erotic specificity, the saddles embody skeletal forms, human and animal, from a wishbone to hermaphroditic and amphibious bodies.

Outside of the performance, the installation holds a history movement and bodies, even when the performers are not physically present.


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