Aria Dean: Abattoir at ICA, London

Aria Dean: Abattoir, is the New York-based interdisciplinary artist’s first exhibition in the UK. The presentation includes two artworks related to the artist’s investigation of the foundational relationship between death and modernity on conceptual and material levels.

The ICA’s main gallery features Abattoir, U.S.A.!, an immersive film installation with 8-channel sound. Commissioned by the Renaissance Society at the University of Chicago where it was presented in 2023, the film traverses the interior of an empty slaughterhouse. The film was rendered using the 3D computer graphics tool, Unreal Engine, and is mimicked in the ICA’s gallery through physical echoes of the virtual space. Composer Evan Zierk’s accompanying score samples field recordings, cinematic instrumentals, algorithmically generated sound, as well as a familiar pop cover. In the US context, the way an industrialised slaughterhouse establishes and perpetuates a particular relationship between human, animal, and machine resonated with the structrualised violence against Black Americans. Presented in the UK at the start of 2024, Dean recognised the capacity of the analogy to accommodate broader architectures of modernity – colonialism, industrialisation, fascism – and has created a new sculptural installation for the London context.

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