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09 September, 2013

Katara Art Center Presents ‘Standalone Tools’

Katara Art Center (KAC) presents Standalone Tools, the second solo show in Qatar by Director of Painting and Printmaking at VCUQatar Rhys Himsworth. Funded by a VCUQatar Faculty Research Grant, the exhibition is scheduled from 15 September to 27 October 2013 with an opening reception on Sunday, 15 September from 7:00pm to 9:00pm at the KAC, Building 5, Katara Cultural Village.

This latest body of work - the culmination of a one-year research project funded through a VCUQatar faculty research grant - consists of ten new pieces through which Himsworth continues to explore the subjects of technological autonomy, surveillance and communicative media that have dominated his work in recent years.

Throughout the galleries of the center the artist has constructed a series of installations that spill out various live feeds of information physically on to the floor and sonically throughout the space, slowly consuming the galleries, the humming and whirring of the various machines and contraptions that form the work, being echoed round the walls of the galleries. Himsworth has appropriated a series of printing technologies, some antiquated, some lifted from the everyday contemporary, all of which have been adapted in one form or another to take on an existence of their own.

The shows title, Standalone Tools, is taken from the name given to equipment and software that does not require connection to a network in order to operate. Himsworth’s machines, in contrast, are all networked in some form or another to the web, and the title therefore takes on a different connotation. The works are connected to a wider community whilst at the same time isolated from meaningful interaction, their autonomy turning to alienation. The works take an anthropomorphic quality, trying to both articulate and understand their existence, fragile in their appearance, and at times romantic in their gestures.

In Civilization, the artist takes a set of DJ turntables and plays them through a computer, their mixing and scratching determined by the flux of Wikipedia updates that relate to the content of the two records, Kenneth Clarkes ‘Civilization’, and the user manual for the computer game of the same title. The two are linked by a google search for the term ‘Civilization’ bringing together high and low culture, the culture of the manual vs critical thinking and analysis, and knowledge vs. information. The piece, Art Bot, is a self-generating series of artworks produced by the scouring of online artists rankings, theoretical content of art magazines and attempts to digest and link this content to a wider cultural context through search engines, picture libraries and online encyclopedias. In Panopticon, an abstraction is created through the mapping of cellular devices as visitors log on to the local web network, only to become discernable in a later work, which captures and etches the image of viewers as they pass through the galleries.

Rhys Himsworth received his BA in Fine Art from Central Saint Martins College of Art and Design in 2003 and his MA in Printmaking from the Royal College of Art in 2009. Since the completion of his masters he has taken part in residencies in the United States such as the Fountainhead Fellowship, and the Virginia Center for the Creative Arts, and in China where he researched ‘painting factories’ in the southern village of Dafen, exploring the changing nature of printmaking as it relates to painting.

Himsworth has presented at The Royal Computer Society in their annual symposium- ‘Electronic Visualization and the Arts’ and served as a panel member for ‘Fast Media/Slow Knowledge’ at SGC Philigrafika, in Philadelphia, 2009. As an artist he has exhibited extensively in Europe, North America and the Middle East including solo shows at Reynolds Gallery, Richmond Virginia and ‘Entropy’ in Doha, Qatar. He also took part in the biennial ‘Locws International’ in Swansea, UK, 2011. Himsworth has been a visiting lecturer at Central Saint Martins College of Art and Design and the University of Hertfordshire in the UK and The University of Sao Paulo, Brazil. He also taught as a faculty member at Virginia Commonwealth University, Richmond campus, and is currently the director of Painting and Printmaking at VCUQatar. In 2009 Himsworth was awarded the Conran Foundation Award.

Standalone Tools is hosted at the Katara Art Center from 15 September to 27 October with an opening reception on 15 September from 7:00pm to 9:00pm. The event is open to the public.