The exhausted body of a thoroughbred horse, soil upturned through geopolitical voodoo, blinking lights conjuring irrational thinking, the song of sirens, the demise of a linear future.

Luna Eclipse, Oasis Dream is the culmination of Revital Cohen and Tuur Van Balen’s Stanley Picker Fine Art Fellowship and first act of their long-term project, Nearly Winning, which considers gambling as a contemporary condition. Imagining the exhibition as an organism, the artists bring together sculpture, film, light, sound, scent and text to create a space inspired by the subliminal strategies which induce self-delusion as a way of seeing.

Taking inspiration from Brown and Venturi’s ‘Learning from Las Vegas’ as much as Brian O’Doherty’s ‘Inside the White Cube’ – both examining how spaces are conferred symbolic meaning and structures – the exhibition is arranged as a space in which the lighting, sound, scent and atmosphere all follow subliminal strategies devised by the gambling industry.

A trance-like soundscape hangs in the air, oxygen levels are raised as the lights occasionally break into blinking patterns echoing the ‘siren song’ of a slot machine display (The Dancefloor, 2019). A scent commissioned from a marketing company (The Restraint, 2019) overlays musk with synthetic molecules that mimic human pheromones and the stress-like smell of the Dead Horse Arum Lily.

The new film work The Odds (part 1) brings together racehorses anaesthetised and collapsed on ketamine in a ‘knockdown box’, showgirls from a casino in Macau belonging to the world’s biggest political donor, and Steve Ignorant from anarcho-punk band Crass performing in a bingo hall originally built as a cinema designed to look like a church. Produced specifically for a large LED screen, the footage is overlaid with pulsating light formations inspired by Vegas techniques of visual seduction. The interconnections evoked draw logic from apophenia – a psychiatric term describing the tendency to perceive meaning connections between unrelated things or patterns in random information. The resulting assemblage is eternally based on luck, and responsive to the other elements in the space.

Elsewhere is a constellation of objects, a sculpture made from scans of the collapsed bodies of thoroughbred racehorses (The Fall, 2019), casino chips made in China from clay dug out in Jerusalem (The Circuit, 2019), a subtitle track projected on the wall and a glass replica of one of the artists’ eyes (The Opening, 2019), hovering somewhere between commodity and amulet.


Photographs by Lewis Roland

The Odds (part 1) is co-commissioned by Stanley Picker Gallery, The Philadelphia Museum of Art, Walker Art Center and The Art Institute of Chicago.

Supported by the Flemish Authorities

Many thanks to Stan Bidston-Casey, Stella Bottai, Oisin Byrne, Chris Cairns, Francine Chan, Naomi Esser, David Falkner, Hannah Fasching, Daniel Fernández Pascual, Adam Gibbons, Fabienne Hess, Yasmin Hepburn, Lily Mccraith, Alexander Paveley, Lucia Pietroiusti, Elizabeth Price, Georgina Rae, Daniel Rothschild, Alon Schwabe, Dani Smith, Pierre Tardif, Jan Van Balen, Jan Wade, Jeremy Waterfield,
Steve Williams.