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Art | 48 | Basel | Art Unlimited

June 15th – 18th 2017

Team Gallery is pleased to announce Cory Arcangel’s participation in the 2017 edition of Art | Basel | Unlimited. This projected is presented collaboratively by Team Gallery and Lisson Gallery.

For his debut participation in Art Unlimited, Cory Arcangel will present his landmark 2005 work Mig 29 Soviet Fighter Plane and Clouds. This piece comes from the body of work for which the artist first became known, his much-lauded “8-bit hacks.” These works consisted of cartridges for various 8-bit gaming platforms, such as the Atari 2600 and Nintendo Entertainment System, which the artist manually altered so as to modify their functionality, primarily by removing elements, which has the effect of imbuing them with a sense of tragic futility, as well as isolating the games’ visual vocabularies by foregrounding certain of their frequently-ignored formal aspects. Other notable examples include Super Mario Clouds, 2002, Totally Fucked, 2003, and Super Slow Tetris, 2004. This collection of works constitutes one of the earliest, and most influential, confluences of Fine Art and Internet-era digital media practices.  

Arcangel created Mig 29 Soviet Fighter Plane and Clouds by altering an early 90’s video game in which the user played as a Soviet fighter plane embarking on bombing missions in the Middle East. Projected onto four discrete, floating screens, the piece displays an ominously hovering fighter plane and clouds, the rest of the game’s content removed. This artwork was the first of the artist’s cartridge-hacks to be designed with the specific intent of physical installation – previous examples were originally created for display on the artist’s website, and subsequently retrofitted for gallery settings. In this respect, it represents a foundational development in the artist’s practice: one of the oeuvre’s central, unifying gestures has been the placement of technological ephemera – which, otherwise, has an extremely brief cultural lifespan – into the galvanizing, conservational context of fine art.

While the original cartridge was intended for play on a Nintendo system, Mig 29 Fighter was in fact itself a bootleg, manufactured by a Canadian company called CAMERICA, which produced unlicensed games and accessories for the NES platform. This illicit provenance perhaps accounts for the unorthodox subject matter, its glorification, rather than the more typical vilification, of Soviet militarism. The image of the jet seen in Arcangel’s work is taken from Mig 29 Fighter’s introductory screen, while the clouds are plucked from later in the game. By placing the Soviet plane in the setting of an empty sky, devoid of potential targets, the artist highlights our cultural tendency to fetishize objects of war, while simultaneously neutering representations of violence – a practice that is particularly manifest in the content of mass-market video games.

The 38-year old Arcangel has been the subject of numerous international monographic exhibitions at both galleries and major museums, including The Carnegie Museum of Art in Pittsburgh, The Whitney Museum in New York, The Hamburger Bahnhof in Berlin, The Barbican in London and MoCA in Miami. His work is included in many public collections, including those of the Hammer Museum in Los Angeles, MoMA in New York, The Tate in London, Berlin’s Neue Nationalgalerie, the Smithsonian Museum of American Art in Washington D.C. and the Migros Museum für Gegenwartskunst in Zürich. 

For further information on this artwork or images of the installation, please contact Alissa Bennett (alissa@teamgal.com) or Tom Brewer (tom@teamgal.com).

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