Above the Clouds – Aryen Hoekstra

ToFallByEye_11 copy
Installation view at Gallery 44. Photo by Toni Hafkensheid

Above the clouds – Aryen Hoekstra

October 24 – December 4th, 2015
Closing reception and artist talk: Friday December 4th, 7 – 9 pm
Open by appointment

To mark the opening of the 1962 World’s Fair in Seattle a squadron of ten Air Force F 102 interceptors took off, performing flybys to cheering fans as the newly completed Space Needle towered overhead. Between the first and second pass one plane experienced an engine malfunction, sending it crashing into the residential neighbourhood of Mountlake Terrace, killing two and damaging or destroying a total of seven homes. That this tragedy occurred as a part of the celebratory raucous dedicated to American exceptionalism and technological progress, the crash eerily illustrates Paul Virilio’s concept of the integral accident, in which, “When you invent the ship, you also invent the shipwreck; when you invent the plane you also invent the plane crash; and when you invent electricity, you invent electrocution…Every technology carries its own negativity, which is invented at the same time as technical progress.”[1]

The 1962 Fair was presided over by then president John F. Kennedy, a year in which the United States teetered between its most destructive and creative impulses. In September of that year JFK delivered his “We choose to go to the Moon” speech, in an attempt to persuade the American population to support the effort to land a man on the moon. Later that fall, as the World’s Fair drew to a close, his administration had the planet on the brink of collapse, culminating in the narrowly avoided nuclear catastrophe known as the Cuban Missile Crisis. Coming on the heels of WWII, which called into question the stability of modernity’s ideological grounding, these duel impulses effectively finish the task of removing any permanent physical foundation – either by leaving the planet through space travel, or by destroying our terrestrial home through nuclear warfare. The result is the contemporary sense of groundlessness felt today, as theorised by Oliver Marchart as post-foundational thought, and later written on by Hito Steyerl in her essay In Free Fall: A Thought Experiment on Vertical Perspective.
Above the clouds considers our planet’s looming ecological crisis, which these modern ideological projections set in place and have since shown themselves incapable of confronting. Taking formal cues from the post-war ‘Space Race’, the exhibition culls references from the Seattle World’s Fair of 1962, dubbed the 21st Century Exposition, and the high-altitude nuclear tests of the same year, code named Operation Fishbowl.  The works included, when considered in relation to one another, speculate on what future conditions might be produced when Earth is considered not in correlation to human beings, but as an object in excess of humankind.


[1] Politics of the Very Worst, New York: Semiotext(e), 1999, p. 89


Originating in the formal and conceptual language of the moving-image, Aryen Hoekstra’s practice hybridizes projection, photography, sculpture, video, and drawing, through which polyphonic exhibitions emerge. Developing in relation to specific historical events and conditions, his work interrogates the remains of the last century’s ideological projections in an attempt to locate modernity’s enduring spectre. His most recent projects consider our planet’s looming ecological catastrophe, which modern ideological projections have shown themselves incapable of confronting. Through this investigation he speculates on what future conditions might be produced when Earth is considered not in correlation to human beings, but as an object in excess of humankind.

Hoekstra is the co-founder of Garden Avenue, a summer-long exhibition project occurring monthly in his shared backyard. Recent and upcoming exhibition venues include, Mercer Union (Toronto, ON); 8-11 (Toronto, ON); Scotiabank Nuit Blanche (Toronto, ON); the Art Gallery of Alberta (Edmonton, AB); Gallery 44 (Toronto, ON); Forest City Gallery (London, ON); Modern Fuel (Kingston, ON); Blackwood Gallery (Mississauga, ON); Xpace Cultural Centre (Toronto, ON); Olga Korper Gallery (Toronto, ON). His writing on contemporary art has appeared in C Magazine, Border Crossings, Magenta Magazine, andTowards Magazine. Since spring 2014 Hoekstra has served as the Director of G Gallery in Toronto, ON.

Aryen Hoekstra would like to acknowledge the support of the Canada Council for the Arts, the Ontario Arts Council, and the Toronto Arts Council.