New Aliens: Agency

12/7 – 23/8/2019

New Aliens is a hybrid collective of bodies and ideas that function in several mutually interrelated modes. As a commercial modeling agency, a performative collective, and an activist group, New Aliens is a dynamic force on the interstice between art, fashion, and activism. The central concepts for New Aliens are the diversification of beauty, a focus on physicality as an artistic medium, and the activization of LGBTQIA+ ideas.
New Aliens’ artistic creations to date have taken the form of processual and performative actions. The goal of New Aliens: Agency is to present the broad multigenre range of creativity found in the collective and its various members.

New Aliens was founded in 2017 as an agency with a focus on trendsetting and modeling. It also functions as an artistic performance collective. Nevertheless, the ideas on the basis which the group was established had been germinating with its founders Jakub Ra, Monina Nevrlá, and Peter Susan Šagát for quite some time. Above all, these include a redefinition of the measures of beauty. The group understands individual beauty as a personal choice and the concept of beauty as the sum of these individualities, which, taken together, produce its diversity. This counting – or better said, outgrowth – is best reflected by the modeling agency’s portfolio, which is characterized by a colorful mosaic of human types (in terms of skin color, gender, sexual orientation, or – for instance – people with alopecia). In the end, the idea of diversity is also associated with the rejection of an exclusive focus on the human species: The non-model Karel (an Achatina snail) has already been used in various campaigns, and you can see him in the exhibition as well. But it’s about more than external symbols. Every non-model is characterized by an originality resulting in particular from the volume of its own ideas, opinions, and expressions.
New Aliens believe that there is no difference between self-expression in the form of speech, actions, dress, habits, or art as it is generally understood. And this relates not just to the design of life; it also relates, for instance, to tearing the act of dressing out of context and raising it to the level of artistic event. From a certain point of view, we here see echoes of the Fluxus movement: everyday life becomes an artistic act if we consider it to be one.
One of the group’s members has the word kalokagathia tattooed on his finger. This term from antiquity refers to the ideal harmony between inner and outer beauty. Coming as it does from ancient Greek philosophy, kalokagathia does not yet know Christian dualism in which body and soul are strictly separated, with the body mundane, low, and evil, while the soul is heavenly, eternal, and good. The conviction that inner and outer beauty are mutually related is one of the main ideas behind the agency’s activities.
New Aliens are convinced that the body and its expression on the basis of intellectual and emotional reflection are currently the most suitable artistic medium. For the group’s members, authorship no longer means coming up with original tools of expression; it means using and reshaping oneself in the spirit of one’s own perception of the world. The Self is no longer something static but is constantly changing in response to global culture. The Self is constantly reinventing itself. This reinventing is a necessity today, for only in this way can one properly respond to a world in which there no longer exist permanent categories of traditional concepts.
Tradition disguised as naturalness is in reality an attempt by institutions to create fixed definitions of normativity. This normativity is forced upon us by the state, family, school, and much of popular culture. New Aliens question this universality’s claim to normativity. Instead, they emphasize otherness and emancipation of difference though alienation from others. Normality does not exist; only otherness exists, except that it is always manifested without questioning others.
Another important element is the concept of collectivity. It may seem that individuality and collectivity are antithetical concepts, but this is not true with New Aliens. Individuality flourishes as a part of the collective.
New Aliens present themselves as a collective, but the intensity of this collective results from strong individual identities whose forms result from the mutual formativity of all the parts. New Aliens Agency is an overarching platform of intermixed energies, and its unity results from the changeable outlines of individuals changing in relation to time and place.
All these ideas are activated in performances that, for the most part, function as organic combinations of bodies and gestures in an artificial environment consisting of projections, music, and the reading of manifestoes. The body is manifested with other layers that make up its natural expressions and technological-aesthetic extensions – words, shouting, dance, song, clothing, make-up, tattoos, piercing, anything. Choreography becomes catwalk individuality: I am here and now in my own particular way.

curated by František Fekete

interview with Jakub Ra and František Fekete at UMA

interview with Jakub Ra at A2larm