‘We have a space for your every mood’ presents two bodies of work, an installed multi-channel film, like you’ve never lived before (2021) and a series of photographs and text-works, renew the wasteful force you spend with each hot convulsion (2022).
'like you’ve never lived before' was made over five months of the UK’s third covid lockdown, in a twenty-story Canary-Wharf co-living tower that I moved into in order to make a film. The building is home to around six hundred ‘young professionals’ in small aparthotel studios, as well as – in normal times – operating as an actual hotel, and is designed as a ‘total living solution’, offering everything from a gym, pool and spa to a rooftop bar and restaurant, cinema rooms, golf simulation room, lounges and co-working space. It was designed to remove any need to leave, and, in January 2021, you couldn’t (lol).
Partly, I was interested in the architecture of a space designed to explicitly offer people not only the lease of a dwelling, but the purchase of an explicitly packaged ‘lifestyle’, which was also a form of identity, and I was interested in how the economy of this transaction might be thought or felt as affective, as bleeding into the very intimacies, the emotional and desiring lives being lived, or fantasised about, or craved, in these small, supremely functional studios.
In the film itself, the structures of the building evidence human subjects only in the slight shake or wobble of the camera (with the exception of a single figure swimming), whilst the soundtrack is produced by collaging a reversed sample of Mozart’s Requiem in D Minor (1791) with a metronomically slowed sample of Dimitri Vegas & Like Mike vs Vini Vici & Liquid Soul’s Untz Untz (2019).
Somewhere between the tame and tasteful structures of this almost-high-end tower, the tears and hyperbole of Mozart’s requiem and the pounding macho absurdity of bad Belgian-Greek techno, a voice (and a text) intervene, thinking about the act of consumption as a form of self-construction, and about the interactions between, and permutations of, a certain kind of masculinity, power, violence and desire. It might be an uncomfortable voice, but one that is as uncomfortable with itself and it is discomforting to listen to.
Fundamentally 'like you’ve never lived before' is interested in what is at stake, and what might be witnessed, in the interaction between culturally or commercially constructed forms of identity and the performance of desire, whilst any judgement is destabilised or subverted by the very real, very palpable sense of need, of emotion and impulse, that is never too far away.
'renew the wasteful force you spend with each hot convulsion' (2022) is an extract from an ongoing series of photographs I have been making for several years in party resorts, hostels and events across the world, but particularly in ‘hedonistic’ tourist hotspots. The photographs in this show were all taken over two months in Thailand in 2019, although the text-works that accompany them originate in photographs of graffiti found on the walls of a Budapest party hostel in 2020.
In general, I’m interested in how these locations and venues produce and sell a space that feels like freedom, but which is conditioned by multiple intersecting economies of people, capital and commodities. In both the photographs and the found text-works in this show, I’m also interested in a certain performance of maleness, at once aggressive and needy, desiring and perhaps unintentionally evoking a certain pathos.
Much as with 'like you’ve never lived before', however, I’m not really interested in producing work that articulates judgement, but rather in work that produces modes or situations for attentiveness, or care, often trying to find ways of thinking about what this witness of affect, of feeling, that is as sincere as it is mass-produced, looks like, and about the space witnessing it might create between work and audience.
Ahren Warner works across photography, writing and film. He completed an MFA Fine Art at Goldsmiths (2021), and has exhibited, screened or performed work at galleries and institutions including Saatchi Gallery (London), South London Gallery (London), Nikola Tesla Museum (Zagreb), Centro the Cultura Digital (Mexico City), British Council (Athens) and Great North Museum (Newcastle). He has published three books of poems, with a fourth, I’m totally killing your vibes, due from Bloodaxe in 2022. Prototype Press presented an intermedia work (film and book), The sea is spread and cleaved and furled in 2020. Awards and prizes include selection for Bloomberg New Contemporaries (2020), an Arts Foundation Fellowship, Society of Authors Award and three Poetry Book Society Recommendations.