The Man from the Internet
Massimo De Carlo is pleased to present The Man From The Internet, a solo show by artist Andra Ursuţa.
Andra Ursuţa’s practice encompasses a variety of mediums including installations, sculptures and drawings. As aptly put by Natalie Bell, who co-curated Andra Ursuţa’s exhibition Alps at the New Museum for contemporary art in New York in 2016: “Whether cathartic or just damning, fatalism reverberates through Ursuţa’s work... It gnaws on the bones of failure and folly, to be sure, but in all forms [...] it is animated by dark humour and tender irony, and wrapped in cynical puns.”
The Man From The Internet exhibits for the first time the completion of a project that the artist started in 2007, composed by a series of one hundred ink drawings on paper. Each drawing is a hand rendered version of an image found on the Internet that the artist first encountered on an ambiguous unofficial Russian-English news website, that has now been closed down. The web source presents the pixelated low-resolution image of the decaying corpse of a fallen participant in the Russian/Chechen conflicts of the 1990s as documentation of an excavated mass grave. The equivocality of the website - caught in between journalism and propaganda - leaves unclear both the identity and the circumstances of the death of this unknown human being.
The image of this dead man constantly changed possible political interpretations throughout the duration of this ten-year long project. Andra Ursuţa began working on this series in the aftermath of the break up of the former Soviet Block. The projects readings continue to shift as the events that shape the current political landscape that defined the geopolitics of this decade unfold. While the imagery of war populates ever more our laptops and smart phones via the Internet, the artist reflects on our relationship with political activism and how, as put by Andra Ursuţa, “no personal human engagement with any cause can keep up with the speed of its online obsolescence. The pressing moral issues of today become the undesirable and compromised positions of tomorrow”.
The obsessive process of reproducing this image opens a narrative that also questions the often- slippery veracity of online images and the notion of the after life of information in cyberspace. The man from the Internet is a contemporary death mask: with each click retrieving his image from data to the visible, we grant him a ghostly and eternal online life. The one hundred drawings mimic, in an imperfect way, this speed-fuelled research system where years of work are instantly surpassed by the rapidity of a click. The project also highlights a certain absurd aspect of this undertaking that associates the compulsiveness of the series to an institutionalized educational complex that uses repetition as a way to modify behaviour and enforce punishment.
The Man From The Internet exists between truth and fiction, where our reception of images of war originating both in news channels and from the entertainment industry questions the possibility of true political speech and action. It expresses both outrage at the senselessness of death in the service of any political cause and points to the futility of romanticising any freedom struggle via the channels of popular culture.