PREM SAHIB (GB)

Man Dog

2020/2023
Audio; sound exciters; coloured wires; obsidian mirror; staircase   

The hostile monologue which constitutes part of Man Dog was recorded by Sahib during an online exchange in a gay chat room. The hate speech is distorted and slowed, rendering it mostly incomprehensible but for small sections of clarity. The audio is then played, using a sound exciter, through a mirror made of cut and polished obsidian: a dark surface reminiscent of a cracked screen. Obsidian is a natural glass formed under immense pressure and heat, with associations with early tools and technologies, spiritual practices and, more recently, the cleansing of “negative energy”.  

This new multi-channel version of Man Dog, produced for GIBCA 2023, allows the force of the words to be embodied by the building and the viewer, transmitted through the staircase that forms the spine of Röda Sten Konsthal as well as the obsidian mirror: the space possessed with a voice to explore the resonance of hate speech and the online spaces in which it thrives. 

Courtesy of:  Phillida Reid Gallery  

Alleus

2023 
Audio; amplifier; sound exciters; coloured wires; metal staircase 

Alleus extends Sahib’s presentation of a lone person hiding behind a screen in an online chat room to the rhetoric espoused by those in the public eye, drawing attention to the broader consequence of these attitudes as they reverberate beyond the individual. Using a speech made by the British home secretary Suella Braverman, Sahib experiments with the gesture of reversal as a means of “sending back”; at once a refusal of such sentiment, as well as a commentary on the anti-immigration policies advocated by those such as Braverman. The title, Alleus, continues the motif of reversal, punning on the trope of online conspiracists seeking hidden messages in reversing words.  

Through the vein-like network of speaker cables and sound exciters that line the underbelly of the stairwell, Alleus becomes sonically entangled with Man Dog. Similarly conceived as a portrait, the two works enter an imagined dialogue through their co-existence on the staircase of Röda Sten Konsthall; itself a form that embodies ascent and descent, suggestive of hierarchical power dynamics and flows.  

Commissioned by: Göteborg International Biennial for Contemporary Art   

Courtesy of:  Phillida Reid Gallery  

Bruise 

2023
Light sculpture 

Extending Sahib’s use of light as a sculptural material, and exploring its physicality, Bruise theatrically casts a spotlight on Röda Sten Kontshall from the outside in, utilising a minimal gesture to penetrate and personify the architecture of the building. Further suggested through its bruise-like colouration, this public facing work invokes time as an indicator of a projected trauma, relaying a repetitive echo of supposed violence or force, that becomes more prominent at night. The work is contingent on the electrical power provided by the institution, as well as the shifting conditions of night and day. 

Commissioned by: Göteborg International Biennial for Contemporary Art 

 

Liquid Gold

2016/2023
Light installation; LED flood lights, yellow gels   

In title and form, Liquid Gold is suggestive of substances deemed both precious and worthless, raising questions about the fluidity or tangibility of value, and the malleability of the forms in which value is held. The title simultaneously refers to precious metals in states of material flux, bodily effluence, and a popular brand of poppers, forming a web of associations that hint at alchemical processes of transformation and transcendence.  

Liquid Gold occupies space through the codified use of colour, turning its site into a vessel and expanding like a fluid, to fill – or overspill – its proportions. The light acts as an unruly substance that leaks beyond the windows, positioning the viewer outside of the vessel.  

For the first time, in Hammarkullen Konsthall, Liquid Gold will be illuminated permanently for the duration of the biennial. Usually, this work has materialised as a nocturnal light source. The intention has been to invert the traditional museum models of audience engagement, deliberately engaging the audience during hours when the museum is closed. In Hammarkullen Konsthall the time structure is more diffuse. The space is one of transit, never entirely visible or accessible. With the presence of Liquid Gold, this subterranean passageway simultaneously allures and holds its visitors at arm’s length. 

Liquid Gold was first conceived as part of Sahib’s White Cubicle installation spinning lil’ white lies about his crepuscular time in yellow at The George and Dragon, London, in 2013, and has since been exhibited at Grand Union, Birmingham; Whitechapel Gallery, London; and Sharjah Art Foundation, UAE.  

Supported by:  Hammarkullen Konsthall   

Courtesy of: Phillida Reid Gallery, London 


BIOGRAPHY

Prem Sahib mixes the personal and political, abstraction and figuration into a formalism suggestive of the body as well as its absence. Sahib’s work embodies a poetic and provocative “destabilised minimalism”, referencing the architecture of public and private spaces and structures that shape individual and communal identities, senses of belonging, alienation, and confinement.  

Sahib has recently exhibited at: Phillida Reid; Magic Stop, Kunstverein Hamburg; ICA London; Sharjah Art Foundation; Migros Museum; Whitechapel Gallery; Hayward Gallery; KW Institute of Art; Des Moines Art Centre and the Gwangju Biennale 

In September 2023 Sahib will publish the book “That Fire Over There”.  


VENUE

Röda Sten Konsthall & Hammarkullen Konsthall



Artist talk – Prem Sahib and George Chamoun

Video, 1 hour and 12 mins
Language: English

I kind of like to think about them like veins or artery

Prem Sahib about the soundwork Alleus at Röda Sten Konsthall

I’m interested in how it might just arrive in an area and disappear again, and the poetics of that

Prem Sahib about the light installation Liquid Gold at Hammarkullen Konsthall

 

Listen to a conversation between artist Prem Sahib and curator George Chamoun about Sahib’s works in “forms of the surrounding futures”, GIBCA 2023, and see documentation from the exhibition. The conversation also touches on previous works and exhibitions by Sahib where he recurrently investigates our time, relationships, power, community, and alienation, all stemming from his own experience of being queer and racialized as non-white growing up in a suburb of London..

George Chamoun works as a curator, art educator, DJ, and club organizer based in Stockholm. He is currently working in the field of education at Tensta konsthall and is the initiator of the drag festival Stockwig, as well as several other queer clubs and platforms in Stockholm.

The video is produced by Hammarkullen Konsthall.