GOOBLE GOBBLE ONE OF US

Artists Roger Ballen and Asger Carlsen’s project No Joke can propel a fragile psyche into a state of vertigo. While Carlsen is known for his digitally-contorted silhouettes, Ballen’s work has long focussed on interior projections of the ego. This mind-body duality is the surface on which the hallucinogenic theater of No Joke takes form.

Through layering Ballen’s prehistoric-looking collages and sketches upon Carlsen’s liquified portrait photography, the artists created an enigmatic series in black-and-white. Grimy blankets cover bodies that rest serenely against bedroom walls. A bare-chested Ballen poses as a ventriloquist, propping his Carlsen dummy up on his lap. A large hand reaches for a crouching woman’s pelvis, her face painted and her body smeared with gaping smiley faces. A fishbowl-faced woman, whose outstretched arms have been replaced with a second torso, is pinched by a bystander’s smudged fingers. The masked subjects are rendered deformed, misshapen, with clubs for arms and wooden prostheses, as if created by a deranged Photoshop god.

10_Stretching
"Stretching"
8_Sniff
"Sniff"
26_Goatface
"Adjustment"
36_Carlsen and Ballen
"Carlsen and Ballen"
Scared Cat
"Scared Cat"
33_Listening
"Listening"
21_Morphed
"Morphed"
11_Crouching
"Crouching"
18_Threesome
"Threesome"
16_Outstretched
"Outstretched"
14_Up and Cover
"Up and Cover"
5_Slumbering_REPRINT
"Slumbering"

A creepy intimacy hovers over the spaces and figures in No Joke, yet the result is oddly whimsical. With Ballen residing in Johannesburg and Carlsen living in New York City, these images were the product of a digital correspondence that opened up the space for a kind of kinship. “I guess I always had a feeling when I was growing up that I wasn’t part of the group in a way. I think that photography and making art has helped me get closer to a sane world, so to speak,” Asger Carlsen said in an interview, “It’s like you have this awkward feeling, you don’t feel comfortable around people, and for me, these images are getting rid of this feeling a little bit.” Taken as such, the works reflect an attempt to deal with interpersonal awkwardness by pushing it into a physical presence. Like the Quantum Zeno Effect, a theory wherein particles only come to a stable form when examined under a microscope, Ballen and Carlsen’s bodies seem to explore the contours of what the body looks like in the dark – before it is wedged into form by social codes. This is the realest form of surreality, that which turns into something normal when it steps into the light.

 

No Joke was exhibited at Dittrich & Schlechtriem (Berlin, 2016). A catalogue documenting the work was published by Mörel Books.

no joke
dittrich & schlechtriem
asger carlsen
roger ballen

Published in

Issue #32 — Summer 2017"US vs. THEM"

How do you find truth in an age without facts? The answer: wake up and stick together. In this issue’s dossier “US vs. THEM,” creative director RICHARD TURLEY explores how the Global Right Wing’s blatant disregard for reality has given us all a license to become Nonsense Warriors. Turning away from “them” and towards “us,” CATHERINE OPIE, NICOLAS GHESQUIÈRE, and STEFANO PILATI take us into their inner circles of friends, while COLLIER SCHORR turns BELLA HADID into Lisa Lyon. We revisit the work of MICHAEL SCHMIDT, and how his community workshops turned Berlin into a cauldron of contemporary photography. JACKIE NICKERSON shows us what Robert Longo looks like with a faster Internet connection, while CARSTEN HÖLLER takes us into his kitchen to explore the post-digital nature of food. We speak with VIRGIL ABLOH as he plots a fashion industry coup d’état and follow JASON DILL on a skate odyssey to hell and back to Fucking Awesome. And, last but not least, we make a pilgrimage to Santo Sospir, the villa on the Riviera where JEAN COCTEAU created his greatest Gesamtkunstwerk.

Also included with the issue, our “HEAT UP HADID” TRANSFER KIT which allows you to create your own t-shirt emblazoned with this issue’s BELLA HADID cover.

Learn more about the issue below:

Nothing makes sense. Nothing ever will again. The year 2016 marked a total rupture in the theater of politics. Even if the damaging effects of Donald Trump’s election somehow prove to be short-lived, his rise indicates a crisis wherein digital acceleration has led to political regression. In our dossier “US vs. THEM,” creative director RICHARD TURLEY creates a handbook for our new political paradigm. Its central hypothesis: Only within the chaos of this media overload will we discover what is real again.

“I am not sure if the sculptures were even subjects for her photographs …” For her first ever magazine editorial, “Heroines: Paris/Los Angeles,” artist CATHERINE OPIEteamed up with artistic director NICOLAS GHESQUIÈRE to create a study on the power of classicism and ambiguity. The exploration begins on the beige stone of the Louvre’s sculpture garden and continues to Opie’s studio in Los Angeles, documenting a sprawling circle of friends and acquaintances.

On a surrealist journey into the past, Martin Mosebach visits the summer retreat of JEAN COCTEAU. At the Villa Santo Sospir, the artist spent a decade’s worth of summers smoking opium and creating his largest total artwork.

Back with a vengeance for her third 032c cover story, COLLIER SCHORR teams up with fashion director Mel Ottenberg for “Smith & Wesson Blues,” a shoot with BELLA HADID, inspired by the body builder and Robert Mapplethorpe muse Lisa Lyon.

“Duchamp is my lawyer.” From his fortress of irony, designer VIRGIL ABLOH is set on turning fashion into the industrial arm of the art world. In conversation with 032c’s managing editor Thom Bettridge, he explains how streetwear is not just a fad, but a logic inspired by Dada and destined to dominate the digital age.

Accompanied by a re-print of MICHAEL SCHMIDT’s 2002 story for 032c, Kolja Reichert explores how the photographer’s community workshops from 1976 to 1986 create a style born out of the “Gray Island” of Berlin.

For the story “Energy Crisis,” photographer LUKAS WASSMANN and designer STEFANO PILATI shoot an editorial inside Michael Sailstorfer’s exhibition “Hitzefrei” at St. Agnes. As his first for a magazine editorial, Pilati’s styling includes garments from his own personal wardrobe.

“It’s an exhausting reality,” laughs JASON DILL. In an odyssey documented with drawings and pictures from his personal archive, the skate legend takes us to hell and back to Fucking Awesome.

In “Push Me Shove You Oh Yeah Says Who,” photographer JACKIE NICKERSON, along with fashion editor Marc Goehring and 032c apparel creative director Maria Koch, presents a yogic meditation on a white collar dystopia.

“I’m very bad at killing, in general.” As an antidote to postmodern culinary mediocrity, artist CARSTEN HÖLLER takes us to his concrete perch on the seaside of Ghana and guides us through the 11 points of his “Brutalist Kitchen Manifesto.”

In the “SSENSE Files,” we bring you scenes of cross-platform madness, including interviews with RICARDO BOFILL, PLAYBOI CARTI, CHITOSE ABE, CHRIS KRAUS, HENRY STAMBLER, AMINA BLUE, and 69.

In our second-ever “BERLIN REVIEW” section, we speak with JEFF KOONS about Plato, retrace MARTIN MARGIELA’s reign at Hermès, dive to the underwater tombs of PHARAOHS, and explore our favorite books of the season.

All this and more on 296 pages!