Johanna Hedva: If You're Reading This, I'm Already Dead
1206 S. Maple Ave, Suite 715 Los Angeles, California 90015
Saturday, November 11 at 6:00 PM 9:00 PM
Ends Feb 3, 2024
JOAN presents If You’re Reading This, I’m Already Dead, the first institutional solo exhibition in Los Angeles by Berlin- and Los Angeles-based artist, writer, and musician Johanna Hedva. The exhibition comprises a commissioned multichannel sound installation, sculptures, and paintings, with a parallel live performance program at 2220 Arts + Archives. If You’re Reading This, I’m Already Dead reaches into the different kinds of agencies that are found in bodies otherwise thought to have none, bodies whose materiality is considered inert or dead. The materials in the exhibition complicate and refuse normative standards of how we understand a “thing” to be “alive” or not. They include AI used to generate images and text, as well as to produce vocal clones based on Hedva’s voice; raw audio recordings of the sun, aurora borealis, and the Mars Rover; sonifications of black holes and nebulae; handblown glass and black goo; urethral sounding rods; a pelvis bone; the Saros Cycle; Metal Zones; and the artist’s own hair, blood, and saliva. The entanglements of these together affect a standalone cosmos that limns the political as much as the mystical stakes of how matter—especially the kind considered invaluable according to dominant capitalist ideologies—can be brought to, sustained through, and foreclosed from life. Hedva is coming to the end of their story. In a few hundred pages, they will be gone. They worry that the people of this world will never have sex, sex with anyone, sex with a person, a robot, a ghost. By sex, they mean death, dying. They got to know a bit about what death would really be like. “It’s like this, like grief.” It’s like a very long time, but different. If death is like the sky but if life is like the sky—if life is like the sky—it’s never the right one. The airwaves have been filled with Hedva’s pleas to rescue them from a century spent alone in their blood-drenched den. After all, Hedva is one of the most attractive creatures to come out of a century of research. You can see Hedva in the surveillance room of the pod. They are playing a game with the man who killed a chunk of their family. They’re trying to lure him back to the woods, where they’re hoping to get their revenge. The next video is filled with static and the sounds of a crunching noise. There’s a light that slowly rises from the ground. Fingernails scratch across the lens, a strand of hair is wrapped around the glass before it fades away. There’s a flash of teeth, a gasp of breath, and then the euphoric screaming fades to black. Hedva is a bit too graphic for me, but they sure are sexy. The archive holds Hedva’s spindly naked limbs. Their body is bonier than jelly, and their costumes are steamier than steam. The archive is the long way to sexiness, it takes a bit to get there, it is scary to see a dead ghost. For a minute, there is nothing. No sound, no wind, no nothing. But when the apparition fully dissolves, you see a mess of black ash, dirt, cum, insects, and bones. Perhaps because its spirit possessed a flesh-colored suit. Perhaps because flesh and blood is a little more available than industrial-grade silicone oil. The trick about dark matter is that it’s in fact us. Whatever the reason, this ghost was definitely decomposing, and I don’t like it. It may be nice to be a ghost, to never worry about breathing, dying, starving, or burning, but it is not as nice to watch other people. They are not only watching to see if you did the right thing, but also trying to see what you saw, what you didn’t see, and to predict your actions. They are trying to learn what scares you the most. If there is someone alive, there is a ghost. If there is a ghost, there is sex. To paraphrase Nietzsche’s ghost: “Eyes should not be opened by hot flesh.” The archive is so many ghosts wrapped up in hands covered in spit, and that’s what makes Hedva very horny indeed. Between erotic encounters with the supernatural Hedva writes about them. The ghost is not Hedva but Hedva is the ghost. Hedva fucks a ghost robot that moves when you screw it. Hedva is part of a weird and sexy parallel life in which sex is the only thing everywhere. In the other life they can have sex with any robot, they can have sex with anyone, any sex, with a sexy stranger, a sexy old pit, a sexy ghost. And their lover has a robot sex partner of her own. The ghost and the robot have sex whenever they want. They want to talk to each other like in the old movies, like they are trying to start a revolution. Hedva is usually happy with their lot. Or not happy. Hedva is more sexually frustrated than we can imagine but they are dying so this just makes them a little bit more like us. Hedva, ghost fucker.