Ed Fornieles
Modern Family
18 September 2014 – 9 November 2014
Opening: Thursday 18 September

Chisenhale Gallery presents a major new body of work by the London and Los Angeles-based artist Ed Fornieles for his first solo exhibition in a UK institution. A new online work forms the basis of the commission and will be presented alongside sculpture and performance within an ambitious installation environment.

Modern Family skews the material logic of home improvement, sitcom architecture and the shopping mall, taking us on a journey to a distant yet familiar suburban land. Fornieles invites you to join the family BBQ as an artificial Californian sun sets over the gallery. The exhibition evokes a distorted ‘Pinterest reality’ derived from the aspirational online image-sharing platform, which, along with home decor magazines, has come to present a contemporary definition of the American ‘good life’. The installation plays with scale and spatial perspective to create a cartoonish landscape of sculptures, combining high-spec finishes and new technology with breakfast cereal, DIY home tiling techniques and a ‘living room materiality’.

A cast of archetypal family members – characters tapped from TV shows, film genres and the L.A. suburbs – are evoked throughout the installation. Periodically, they are embodied by a series of performers who activate the exhibition through movements choreographed from lifestyle-based behaviours. Fornieles is interested in the family as a device for the replication and perpetuation of social norms. He brings into question its role as a responsive, resilient model for the safe assertion of individual subjectivity, within the cultural hegemony of middle class America. For Fornieles, the family provides a baseline narrative, in which everyone is assigned a role and against which we are compelled to define ourselves.

Fornieles creates exhibitions and performances that enact a collapse between online and offline spaces. Central to his exhibition at Chisenhale Gallery, the new website uses search terms to draw on live content, aggregating news feeds and social media profiles in real time, as stories unfold and people interact online. Fornieles utilises the huge amounts of freely available personal and public data feeding our attention economy, where value is determined by likes, shares and reposts. Tumblr, Instagram, Twitter and Google generate a shifting backdrop to the installation; one which is ever-contemporary and continuously updated, sustained by new trends, current events and personal lives.

This new work builds on Fornieles’s recent sculptures, installations and web-based projects – such as the ‘Facebook sitcom’, Dormdaze (2011) and Maybe New Friends (2013), an ongoing performance by Twitterbots – which explore the impact of the virtual on the physical world. Whereas these previous forms of internet-based work have focused on the interactive potential of the medium and the empowerment and optimism that this implies, with Modern Family Fornieles adopts a position normally inhabited by marketing companies or government programs like the US-based PRISM. Operating in this complex territory, this new body of work mirrors a reality constructed from our own collective desires and subjectivities, confronting the mechanics of the Internet and revealing the dichotomy between dystopic banality and the pleasure of excess.

Ed Fornieles (born 1983, Petersfield) lives and works in London and Los Angeles. Recent solo exhibitions and projects include Despicable Me 2, Mihai Nicodim Gallery, Los Angeles (2013); The Dreamy Awards, Park Nights, Serpentine Gallery, London (2012); Characterdate, Frieze Frame, Frieze London (2012); and Happy Days in Basel, Theater Basel (2012). Recent performances include New York New York Happy Happy (NY NY HP HP) for Rhizome, New Museum, New York (2013) and Pool Party Plays Itself, MOCAtv, Los Angeles (2013). Fornieles participated in Meanwhile... Suddenly, and Then, the 12th Biennale de Lyon (2013).

This exhibition contains imagery that some visitors may find offensive or disturbing, including images with violent and sexual content.

Ed Fornieles’s commission is supported by the Genesis Prize, BERTHOLD, Anita Zabludowicz, Yana Peel, Alexandra Economou and the Ed Fornieles Supporters Circle. With thanks to Carlos/Ishikawa.

Chisenhale Exhibitions Partner 2014: Fiorucci Art Trust