Recycle Group Sees the Present from the Future in a New Paris Show
Despite its name, Recycle Group isn’t too concerned with environmental activism. The artist duo uses the term “recycle” a bit more loosely. Their artworks recycle not our literal junk, but the “junk” that has collected through centuries of visual culture and art history. In their hands, symbols ancient and modern are fused into humorous and mysterious sculptural objects. “Novus Ordo Seclorum,” their new show at Suzanne Tarasieve in Paris, re-envisions our age of digital connectivity from the standpoint of a future civilization, forcing viewers to engage with the pros and cons of contemporary culture as seen from the future.
Luxor Antenna (2016) epitomizes the group’s merging of temporalities. The work reimagines the classic Egyptian obelisk of antiquity, but, rather than Egyptian hieroglyphics, Recycle Group has carved electronic symbols into its sides, including a Bluetooth symbol and the Dropbox logo. Thousands of years in the future, an archaeologist might furiously attempt to crack this code the same way archaeologists once cracked the Rosetta Stone. A fog machine emits smoke that envelops the “antenna,” bestowing upon it a sense of magic.
That air of mysticism runs through the exhibit. All-seeing eye (2016) is a small stone pyramid, its top levitating as if by mysterious forces (actually, it’s magnets). The title conjures a pyramid like the one found on U.S. dollar bills, but Recycle Group swaps out the glowing eye for an empty search bar. The humor belies an eerie comparison: The words we type into these search bars are recorded and tracked by all-seeing companies like Google.
That type of incisiveness is crucial to Recycle Group’s work. While they take pleasure in imagining how the future will remember our present, it is always with the intent of illuminating darker truths for us, not our descendants.
“Novus Ordo Seclorum,” is on view at Suzanne Tarasieve, Paris, Feb. 27–Apr. 3, 2016.