Agatha Valkyrie Ice

Enacting a group-designed digital identity

img_1141_600.jpg

Door of Oslo 10, Basel for the group show ‘Episode: The Lair’, 2016

Door of Oslo 10, Basel for the group show ‘Episode: The Lair’, 2016

Agatha Valkyrie Ice started life in 2014 as a collaboration between artists Dorota Gawęda and Eglė Kulbokaitė. Ai (Agatha also has a preferred pronoun) began as a character that the duo created in part through social media. Anyone with the relevant password is able to shape Agatha’s ‘personality’ by using profiles created on, among others, SoundCloud, Tumblr, Facebook and Twitter, to communicate anonymously and collectively as Agatha Valkyrie Ice.  This iteration of the ‘multi-platform, multi-user, participatory, self-performance project’ took place as a part of the Eva Birkenstock curated LISTE Performance Project, which aimed to render visible artistic trends towards post-identitarian thinking.

A small crowd gathered around a clearing in Basel’s Solitude Park for the chance to to see Agatha in real life. Shaded by trees, we stood in a semicircle as we watched the model and actor Lukas Von Der Gracht wander through a minimal set to a bass heavy soundtrack. His costume, which consisted of gathered material that was fixed around his waist with neon orange tape, suggested he could be prehistoric or from the future. As I watched Von Der Gracht slowly move painted stones around the clearing, sometimes hitting them against trees but without any sense of urgency, I struggled to equate the banality of the performance with the plethora of texts written by the artists about Agatha online. Specifically it was difficult to see the character as post-gender, or what could be revolutionary about that, when it was tied to the (albeit androgynous) body of Von Der Gracht.

More compelling was the exhibition at Basel’s artist-run space Oslo 10, where Agatha Valkyrie Ice is named as artistic director alongside Daniel Iinatti. ‘Episode 8: The Lair’ is a follow up to the group show ‘NeverWinter: BorderLands’, in which artists were invited to make work around the creation of an avatar and display it in the gaming basement of a shop in Stockholm. As the title of the Basel show suggests, the exhibition space is dark, mysterious and messy. But it works better when Agatha lurks in dark corners, able to question gender and authorship while remaining a productive site for fantasy, possibility and imagination.

Chloe Stead is a writer and critic based in Berlin.

Most Read

With the 12th edition of the itinerant European biennial opening in Palermo, what do local artists, curators and...
In the age of Brexit, why Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn’s pledge to return the ‘stolen’ Parthenon marbles has never been...
The museum director, who resigned last year, acted with ‘integrity’, an independent report finds
In further news: study finds US film critics overwhelmingly white and male; woman sues father over Basquiat
With the government’s push for the controversial English baccalaureate, why the arts should be an integral part of the...
From Bruce Nauman at the Schaulager to the story of a 1970s artist community in Carona at Weiss Falk, all the shows to...
Sotheby’s and Christie’s say they are dropping the practice of using female-only staff to pose for promotional...
For the annual city-wide art weekender ahead of Basel, the best shows and events to attend around town
For our second report from BB10, ahead of its public opening tomorrow, a focus on KW Institute for Contemporary Art
The curators seem set to ask, ‘how civilized is the world’s current state of affairs?’
In further news: declining UK museum visitors sees country fall in world rankings; first winner of Turner Prize,...
The Icelandic-Danish artist’s creation in Vejle, Denmark, responds to the tides and surface of the water: both artwork...
In further news: Emperor Constantine’s missing finger discovered in the Louvre; and are Van Gogh’s Sunflowers turning...
The opening of a major new exhibition by Lee Bul was delayed after one of the South Korean artist’s works caught fire
The LA-based painter’s exquisite skewing of Renaissance and biblical scenes at Stuart Shave/Modern Art, London
Lee Bul, Abortion, 1989, performance documentation. Courtesy: the artist and PKM Gallery, Seoul
In a climate of perma-outrage has live art self-censored to live entertainment?

A tribute to the iconic New York journal: a platform through which founder Andy Warhol operated as artist, hustler and...
A distinctively American artist who, along with four neighbourhood contemporaries, changed the course of US painting...
From Assemble’s marbled floor tiles to Peter Zumthor's mixed-media miniatures, Emily King reports from the main...
From Ian White's posthumous retrospective to Lloyd Corporation's film about a cryptocurrency pyramid scheme, what to...
Kimberly Bradley speaks to ‘the German’ curator on the reasons for his early exit from the Austrian institution
In further news: #MeToo flashmob at Venice Architecture Biennale; BBC historian advocates for return of British...
German museums are being pushed to diversify their canons and respond to a globalized world – but is ‘cleaning up’ the...
Sophie Fiennes’s new film Bloodlight and Bami reveals a personal side of the singer as yet unseen 
‘At last there is a communal mechanism for women to call a halt to the demeaning conventions of machismo’
The German artist has put up 18 works for sale to raise money to buy 100 homes
The novelist explored Jewish identity in the US through a lens of frustrated heterosexuality
Artist Jesse Jones, who represented Ireland at last year’s Venice Biennale, on what is at stake in Friday’s Irish...
‘I spend more time being seduced by the void … as a way of energizing my language’: poet Wayne Koestenbaum speaks about...
To experience the music of the composer, who passed away last week at the age of 69, was to hear something tense,...
In a year charged with politicized tensions, mastery of craft trumps truth-to-power commentary
In further news: women wearing rainbow badges beaten in Beijing’s 798; gallerists Georg Kargl and Richard Gray have...
‘Coping as a woman in France is a daily battle: the aggression can be subtle, and you always have to push harder to...
Toyin Ojih Odutola’s portraits of a fictional aristocratic Nigerian family push toward an expanded definition...

On View

Latest Magazines

frieze magazine

April 2018

frieze magazine

May 2018

frieze magazine

June - August 2018