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That Which Cannot Not Be
Camae Ayewa, Ella Barclay, Marley Dawson, Catherine Pancake, Mike Parr, Adri Valery Wens, Wilmer Wilson IV
September 2 - October 23, 2016
Wilmer Wilson IV, First Decision (2015), courtesy the artist and CONNERSMITH
Wilmer Wilson IV, First Decision (2015), courtesy the artist and CONNERSMITH

Vox Populi is pleased to present That Which Cannot Not Be, a group exhibition of artists working in Philadelphia, USA and Sydney, Australia: Camae Ayewa, Ella Barclay, Marley Dawson, Catherine Pancake, Mike Parr, Adri Valery Wens, Wilmer Wilson IV.

These seven artists are connected here by their practices that are rooted in action. Using process-based methodologies across mediums including installation, sonic activism, performance, photography and video, each work is an assertion of presence. That Which Cannot Not Be considers the combined resonance of each artist’s activity as a means of bringing divergent content together to adjust our spatial and temporal subjectivities.

That Which Cannot Not Be takes its title from Ella Barclay’s artwork and research tool writing03.gif that traces the etymology of ‘necessary’ through the latin ‘necessarium’ back to ‘that which cannot not be’. This etymological process mirrors the exhibition’s premise that the act of doing something that feels necessary generates space in which information systems can be augmented.


Sunday, October 9th 4:15-5:00 pm: Camae Ayewa peformance
Saturday, October 22nd 2:00-5:30 pm: Nature is Hungry: a screening of films by Catherine Pancake
Sunday, October 23rd 4:00-6:00 pm: Ella Barclay performance and participatory light installation

Adri Valery Wens, 'The Wanara', courtesy the artist and Kronenberg Wright Artists Projects, Sydney
Adri Valery Wens, ‘The Wanara’, courtesy the artist and Kronenberg Wright Artists Projects, Sydney

Artist Biographies

Camae Ayewa is an interdisciplinary artist based in Philadelphia. A musician performing under the name Moor Mother fka Moor Mother Goddess, she has toured in Europe and the U.S., and has performed at numerous festivals, colleges and universities sharing the stage with King Britt, Islam Chipsy, Bell Hooks and Claudia Rankine. A soundscape artist with work featured at Samek Art Museum, Metropolitan Museum of Art Chicago, and Everson Museum of Art, OCAD Toronto, New College FLA. Camae is also a singer in punk band The Mighty Paradocs. Camae is a Leeway LTG & ACG grantee. Camae is co-founder and organizer of Rockers! Philly, a 10-year long running event series and festival focused on marginalized artists. As a workshop facilitator she works with youth centered programs, non profits and shelters. As a curator of fundraising events, Camae has worked with and serves on the board of Girls Rock Philly, and is assistant coordinator of The Afrofuturist Affair, Philadelphia’s premiere afrofuturism organization. Camae is also a poet and author of the forthcoming poetry book Fetish Bones and is an avid zinemaker and collector. She is a member of Black Quantum Futurism Collective, which released its first book, Black Quantum Futurism theory and practice Vol. 1 and another Space-Time Collapse Vol. 1. and has been featured at the Schomburg Center, as well as presented installations at the Rebuild Foundation and Temple Contemporary at Tyler School of Art. In 2016, Black Quantum Futurism were awarded a fellowship by A Blade Of Grass to create Community Futurisms: Time & Memory in North Philly, a collaborative art and ethnographic research project exploring the impact of redevelopment and displacement within the North Philadelphia neighborhood known as Sharswood/Blumberg.

The installations of Ella Barclay serve as technological tableaus, directing us to the physicality of hardware, the ethereal nature of data and the alchemic transformation of ideas into matter. She employs a range of media to explore some of the less tested contentions of our time – the power of text as technology, the erraticism of network architectures, myth making and the internet – as well as offering a reflection on 20th century techno-utopianism.
Barclay has exhibited extensively in Sydney, as well as solo and group exhibitions in Tokyo, Taipei, Edinburgh, Brisbane, Kassel, Melbourne, Bathurst and New York. She has been the recipient of numerous scholarships, residencies and awards and has been a finalist in the Helen Lempriere Travelling Arts Scholarship, the New South Wales Visual Arts Fellowship (Emerging) and the John Fries Award. She is a current PhD candidate at the University of Technology, Sydney. This year she is a resident artist at both the Australia Council Studio, London and Casula Powerhouse, Western Sydney.

Marley Dawson (b. 1982, Wellington, NSW) works across sculpture, installation, and performance and uses readily available materials and self-taught techniques to construct scenarios. Dawson often deploys motion as a material to make work that absorbs and reflects the circumstances under which it is made. Dawson received a Bachelor of Visual Arts (2004) and Master of Fine Arts (2008) from Sydney College of the Arts, Sydney, Australia. He currently lives and works in Philadelphia.
Dawson’s recent solo projects include: Construction (Barangaroo), Stargazer Lawn, Barangaroo (2016); Palethorp, Roslyn Oxley9, Sydney (2016), Construction (T Street NW), 5×5 Project, Washington DC (2014), Marley Dawson (performance), Kreeger Museum, Washington DC (2014); Statics and Dynamics, HEMPHILL, Washington DC (2014); Big Feelings (going nowhere), Hillyer Art Space, Washington DC (2013); MCR (with Christopher Hanrahan), Museum of Old and New Art, Hobart (2011); HEAVY INDUSTRY/LIGHT COMMERCIAL, Roslyn Oxley9 Gallery, Sydney (2011); Box of Birds, Roslyn Oxley9, Sydney (2009); Trick Shop, Locksmith Project Space, Sydney (2009); Untitled (shed), Chalk Horse Gallery, Sydney (2008).
Dawson has presented work in group exhibitions at: Walters Art Museum, Baltimore; Australian Centre for Contemporary Art, Melbourne; Embassy of Australia, Washington D.C.; Performance Space, Sydney; Para/Site Art Space, Hong Kong; Artspace, Sydney; Australian Centre for Photography, Sydney; Casula Powerhouse, Sydney; Roslyn Oxley9 Gallery, Sydney; Gertrude Contemporary, Melbourne; Pointe Ephemere, Paris; and in public spaces across Australia and in the United States.

Catherine Pancake is an award-winning filmmaker and sound artist. Her work has been presented nationally and internationally in a wide variety of venues, including the Museum of Modern Art, Royal Ontario Museum, Baltimore Museum of Art, Academy of Fine Arts Prague and Big Screen Plaza, Herald Square NYC. Her awards include the Paul Robeson Independent Media Award, Jack Spadaro Documentary Award, Maryland State Arts Council Individual Artist Award, the Silver Chris, and Edes Foundation Emerging Artist Fellowship at the School of the Art Institute of Chicago. Her films have been broadcast in the U.S.A. and Great Britain (Sundance Channel, PBS, FreeSpeech TV, CommunityChannelUK) and are distributed by Bullfrog Films and the Canadian Filmmakers Distribution Centre. Sound art releases can be found on Ehse Records and Recorded in Baltimore. Pancake completed her MFA at the School of the Art Institute of Chicago in May 2012. She is currently a Visiting Assistant Professor at Temple University in the Film and Media Arts Program. Pancake’s recent video work for Citizen Sense (Goldsmiths/University of London) was instrumental in the Pennsylvania Dept. of Environmental Protection’s allocation of $1.25M for air pollution monitoring around natural gas extraction and compression sites (fracking) in Northeastern PA. Pancake’s work has recently been covered by Vice, Artforum, and NPR.

Mike Parr is a performance artist, draughtsman and printmaker. Born in 1945 in Sydney, Parr grew up on a farm in rural Queensland. He moved to Sydney in the 1960s with his partner Felizitas and in 1970 co-established Australia’s first artist collective Inhibodress with Peter Kennedy. A fierce critic of the Australian art world and a vital link to its international counterpart, Parr has been a divisive and highly influential figure for almost fifty years.

Parr has exhibited prodigiously both in Australia and internationally and been represented in important exhibitions in Brazil, Cuba, France, Germany, Hungary, Japan, Korea, Taiwan and the United States, including at the Musée d’Art Moderne de la Ville de Paris and Museum of Modern Art, New York. Parr represented Australia at the Venice Biennale in 1980 and presented the installation The Ghost who Talks at the Palazzo Mora in 2015. His performance practice was the focus of the retrospective Edelweiss at Kunsthalle Vienna in 2012, and will be included in the forthcoming Kochi-Muziris Biennale, India in 2016. Through November 2016, Foreign Looking, a major exhibition of his work across mediums will be on view at the National Gallery of Australia, Canberra.

Adri Valery Wens was born in Jakarta, Indonesia 1974 and lives and works in Sydney, Australia. He completed a Bachelor of Fine Arts degree majoring in Photomedia (2013) from the University of New South Wales Art and Design (formerly College of Fine Arts), Sydney.
While studying at the university, Wens was interested in performance documentation photography such as that of the Viennese Actionists, Hermann Nitsch, Gunter Brus and Otto Muhl. He was also interested in the works of Zang Huan, Ai Weiwei and Mike Parr. Further, he has a strong fascination with modernist artists such as Kasimir Malevich, Marcel Duchamp and Robert Rauschenberg.
Wens has had one solo show and one collaborative exhibition: Cinta Mati (Crazy Love), 2012 at MOP Projects and Monyet Gila: Episode One with Crazy Monkey at 4A Centre for Contemporary Asian Art, 2016 curated by Natalie King and Mikala Tai. Wens has also participated in major art prizes in Australia such as the Redlands Konica Minolta Art Prize (Highly Commended) in Sydney, Josephine Ulrich and Win Schubert Photography Award (acquired) in the Gold Coast and several times in the Fisher’s Ghost Art Award, Campbelltown. He has had several publications, including catalogue essays by Rachel Kent, Natalie King and Mikala Tai and a journal article by Emma O’Neill, ‘Sociological Structures’, Art Asia Pacific, Issue 96, Nov/Dec, 2015

Wilmer Wilson IV is recognized internationally for his interdisciplinary investigations of the naturalized logics of cultural meaning. His work aggregates everyday objects into layers of skin or film, which then cover a body and augment its identification. He received his BFA from Howard University in 2012, and his MFA from the University of Pennsylvania in 2015. In 2012 he was commissioned to complete a suite of three public performances, collectively titled “Henry ‘Box’ Brown: FOREVER”, for the 5×5 Public Art Project in Washington, DC. Wilson completed a fellowship at the American Academy in Rome in 2014 and a residency at NLS Kingston in 2013. Recent exhibitions include IDENTIFY: Performance Art as Portraiture at the National Portrait Gallery (2015), Performing Portraiture at the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston (2015), and State of the Art at Crystal Bridges Museum of Art (2014) among others. His work is in public and private collections internationally.

Ella Barclay, 'Writing03.gif' Looped animated gif, 5MB, 2015
Ella Barclay, ‘Writing03.gif’ Looped animated gif, 5MB, 2015

That Which Cannot Not Be is supported in part by the Australian Embassy, Washington DC