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Installation view, Martine Syms, Big Surprise, Bridget Donahue, NYC, September 26 - October 28 2018 Courtesy of the artist and Bridget Donahue, NYC; Photo credit: Gregory Carideo.

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Irena Haiduk, Seductive Exacting Realism Waiting Room, Neue Neue Galerie, 2017. Photo by Anna Shteynshleyger.

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Dialogues: Irena Haiduk + Martine Syms

Feb 16, 2019 – May 12, 2019

Galleries 2 + 3

In the inaugural exhibition of the ICA’s annual Dialogues series, artists Irena Haiduk (b. 1982, Belgrade, Yugoslavia) and Martine Syms (b. 1988, Los Angeles, USA) produce new projects for the ICA, titled respectively Tableau Économique and Shame Space. These projects extend Haiduk’s and Syms’ investment in economy and entrepreneurship through ICA-commissioned installations that invite active participation from audience members.

Inspired by the architecture of the ICA’s Markel Center, the Dialogues series pairs two artists to activate the distinctive “V” shape of the second-floor galleries. Each artist will occupy their own space, but the series invites participants to consider overlap, resonance, and difference between their practices. Dialogues: Irena Haiduk + Martine Syms is organized by the ICA. Co-curated by Chief Curator Stephanie Smith and Assistant Curator Amber Esseiva.

Irena Haiduk is the founder of Yugoexport, a corporation modeled after the self-managed, autonomous, unofficial organizations and experimental clubs within the larger state infrastructure of the former Yugoslavia. Incorporated in the United States (where corporations are people, and Yugoexport is a she), launched in Paris, and headquartered in Belgrade, she is a copy or an avatar of Jugoeksport, a defunct Yugoslav apparel manufacturer and weapons exporter. The full principles of Yugoexport are demonstrated by her founding maxim: how to surround yourself with things in the right way. Yugexport’s process of in-corporation continues with Tableaux Économique, where she possesses the ICA’s physical, technical, and interpersonal infrastructures with an economy that assumes the form of an exhibition. The tableaux is an interior architecture operating in two modes: leisure mode, in a state of rest; and labor mode, when attendants transact verbally and financially with visitors, communicating the equivalence between people and things.

Martine Syms uses a combination of video, installation, and performance, interwoven with explorations into technique and narrative, to examine representations of blackness and its relationship to vernacular, feminist thought, and radical traditions. Syms’s research-based practice frequently references and incorporates theoretical models concerning performed or imposed identities, the power of the gesture, and embedded assumptions concerning gender and race. For this exhibition, Syms will present a new project, Shame Space, which centers around an interactive video installation in which monitors appear against the backdrop of photographic wallpaper. On the screens we encounter the protagonist Mythiccbeing (my thick being) embodying the postures of a Los Angeles life, as if from the journal pages of a dark shadow. Through SMS conversation with a chatbot programmed by the artist, gallery viewers can control the appearance of animation, image, and text across the monitors, live-editing the narrative of Shame Space.

From Feb 14 to May 12, Yugoexport’s Tableau Economique transacts live from the Institute for Contemporary Art at VCU. The tableau has two modes: leisure and labor. During the leisure mode the tableau is at rest, sleeping and rejuvenating itself. During the labor mode the tableau may be contacted for transactions, either in person or via phone and web.

Go to Tableau Économique at to stream tableau’s labor and leisure modes. From there you may contact us live by calling +1 (804) 905-8443:

Friday–Sunday // 1-6 pm (First Fridays 1-9 pm)
Tuesday–Thursday // 2-5 pm