Do the right thing

Ariel E. Ashbel

I chose to stay with the two themes closest to my heart: FAKE and LOVE. In a way one can see them as opposites - I love fake stuff but I can’t fake love - but for me they’re also productive forces relevant to my work. 

I love making shows, I love the people and things I work with, I love to make beautiful problems and learn new ways of thinking. In many ways the work I make is oriented towards carving out a space of love without being hippie about it. Ok maybe a bit hippie but it’s not a stance I would commit to. And that’s where LOVE comes together with FAKE for me: in making images and positioning them together, my colleagues and I open up a playful platform for meaning to emerge upon. Never authentic but always honest, we build a fake reality and speculate links that if we would be concerned with “keeping it real” wouldn’t be possible. The energy between us and between us and the audience could then elevate the performative situation to allow some transformation. I am fully aware of the esoteric undertones which come with words like “energy” and “transformation”, and I am of course also aware (maybe even attracted to) the unease they could cause to “us”, i.e., educated, critical, enlightened artists and art professionals, busy constantly not only with the quality of our work but also with formulating the most "appropriate" discourse about it so that we know we’re doing the right thing. I am and always was a big admirer of knowledge, I LOVE educating myself and engaging in discussions, and I also always believed that art was never there to make anyone feel good about themselves. There’s a contradiction here, I know; but whereas LOVE is a big motivation and a driving force for me, reassurance is not and has never been. It’s almost the opposite: whenever I feel like I “get” something, I lose my interest. The elusive liveliness of LOVE in this sense, the lightness and depth of it that somehow live peacefully together (wasn’t peace also one of the Stichworte..?) make it into a productive if ambiguous moment. So I’d say no to irony but also no to new-age, PC affirmations; No to essentialist logic and yes to unexpected entanglements; No to empty declarations and yes to dialogic sensuality; no to self-reflection and yes to the dynamics of the space, no to identity and yes to the body.

The three samples I chose to share are part of the research process of my next piece DO THE RIGHT THING, and they show different ways of linking the body, space, technology and society, using different levels of abstraction. 


The first is a collage by the Swiss artist/architect/designer Xanti Schawinsky, who studied at the Bauhaus under Oskar Schlemmer and developed throughout his years of work in Europe and the US (where he moved in 1933) the concept of the “Spectodrama”, a unique amalgamation of images, words, bodies, machines, objects and sounds in various obscure ways. This image is from the study for his piece “Play, Life. Illusion” and is dated 1924-1937 (it was a long process).

Xanti Schawinsky


This video is a techno-hippie utopian manifesto by Italian conceptual architecture group called “Superstudio”. It’s from 1972 and details their idea for a worldwide grid that would solve humanity’s energy problems, introducing a new, just way of living

Supersurface - An alternative model for life on the Earth


And this little instagram video is a test for a video of the singer and rapper Sharaya J, Missy Elliott’s protege and a badass on her own right. This is from a remix to the Missy track “I’m better” and is one of the most inspiring things I’ve seen in a long time 

Dope Tavio Screenshot

More about the process and my work: