Opening soon!! | Alrey Batol
Dates: 13 - 30 November
Where: Seventh Gallery's Workers Window
From: Current Projects
Materials: Newspaper and vinyl
Writer: Jess Launder
Following on from fictitious schemes by Marcel Broodthaers, Peter Hill, Guillaume Bijl and Sydney group Greedy Hen, Batol's installation at the Seventh Gallery window located at the Workers Club in Melbourne, exercises a similar philosophy with some distinction in that his works set out to specifically critique our ubiquitous habits and predispositions. Alrey Batol's practice embodies a critique of complacence in our way of living by employing multifarious techniques to subjugate our disinterested relationships with objects and technology as well as our reliance on abstract systems such as time-keeping, cartography, among others.
Jessica Launder is an emerging freelance arts writer who has written for various publications including Artlink, UN magazine, Time Out and RealTime Arts. Jessica holds a Bachelor of Art Theory from the College Of Fine Arts, UNSW in Sydney and is now based in Brisbane, doing post-graduate study at the University of Queensland.
Semiocaptialism and Superfiction
by Jess Launder
The Art movements; Dada, Surrealism and Constructivism simultaneously arrived around the same point in time. The former are for the imaginary and irrational and the latter for a pragmatic reality and the rational. Yet these two opposing thoughts have one thing in common; they are bound by their opposition.
Fast forward to the 90's and there is no longer a distinction between fantasy and reality as Baudrillard prophesied, ‘something has disappeared: the sovereign difference, between one and the other’.
The generation of today can give an image more essence than the real thing it represents. It could be a famed celebrity or distant fantasy which may not even be accessible and we are too connected through technology that we never think twice about whether it is really our friends on the other side or if there is even a psychological distinction of space, of an 'other side'.
Since doubt has been an enemy of logic, we are at bliss without doubt and we adapt and accustom to a point where we will find ourselves taking a map more seriously than the territory. But what if the map is wrong? This is the superfiction of Alrey Batol.
Superfiction is a term coined by artist/columnist Peter Hill to describe a type of art that uses a method of subversive deception usually mirroring systems that are already in place as a heightened form of commentary. For some, it may just as well be a hoax, but for Batol, the hoax is a psychological call to arms; a challenge for the viewer to question what is real and to take responsibility as Alrey explains ,
When I use it (superfiction) I push it to an extreme so much that the measure of success is derived less from viewing an artwork and more about the viewer getting duped. For me it's just another tool for effective engagement with the viewer. In some ways I have to deny myself that pleasure from aesthetic decision in favour of the viewers' expectations. At the end of the day, nobody likes getting duped, and if you did, you should really be asking yourself how.
Providing more context, he underlines the reasoning behind his practice and why consumer culture plays an important role,
I grew up at a time when Philippines was still undergoing American colonisation in the form of commercialisation and consumer culture. This was before Air-Jordan sneakers; I'm talking toothpaste and video- cassettes. I remember I honestly thought that aluminium soft drink cans, which just came out, were astronaut food. Even though I'm in a different culture now, I still have this third-world mindset that Capitalism is a hero that saves people out of poverty. So it's quite a sensitive critique that runs throughout my practice. On a deeper level I explore how people are affectively and phenomenologically 'hooked' onto certain things like objects, branding, buying and more universal stuff like time and technology.
Where past generations have been bombarded with semio-capitalism, ours has climatised to the anarchic bog where new ontologies can manifest, are distributed and then intertwine in ways nobody can possibly notice; the exchange of symbols and value, the mixing of affect with economy, that it isn't so much Baudrillard's 'sixth sense for fakery' anymore, it has now simply become a sixth sense.
Yet in our midst we have certain artists who remind us to endeavour to have an acute awareness or engage us to form opinions. They make works that no longer focus on the formal and the aesthetic qualities of an art object but instead incite a reaction to the art object as a means of self-empowerment.
 Baudrillard, J 1983, Simulations, Semiotexte Inc. Columbia University, New York. p. 2
 Peter Hill, artist and art columnist, born in Glasgow 1953 now based in Australia, coined the term 'superfiction' in 1989 as a word to describe a well intentioned hoax usually in the field of contemporary art.
 Batol, A 2014, pers. comm., 29 March
 Semio-capitalism is a term coined by Franco Berardi (born 1948) to define the specific financialisation of symbols within information technology and the media.
 Baudrillard, J 1988, The Hyper-realism of Simulation', in M Poster (ed), Jean Baudrillard: Selected Writings, Stanford, California, pp. 143-7.