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Humour in the Water Coolant: A play by Olivia Erlanger
Institute of Contemporary Arts
© kunst.dokumentation.com / Manuel Carreon Lopez

Artist Olivia Erlanger’s play Humour in the Water Coolant tells the story of a woman haunted by the appliances in her new home. Performed across three domestic suburban sets in the ICA Lower Gallery, the play’s title references the aqueous humour of the eye and mechanical fluids found in engines, revising the metaphor of a body as architecture to body as appliance. 

Set during a séance to rid the home of its haunted aura, the play explores the panpsychic potential of domestic objects. The appliances, now able to speak, express their emotional lives, rife with dissatisfaction, sadness, and ultimately a desire to connect and love. The psychological effects of their declining usage and functionality antagonises the idea of technological improvement as a positive development, reframing it as a means of escape. What does aging mean for these objects ‘born’ on the assembly line, whose parts are easily replaced or whose obsolescence is already planned?

Humour in the Water Coolant 

A play by Olivia Erlanger

Honor Swinton Byrne as 'Sophie' and Olivier Huband as 'House'
with Michelle Newell as 'Crystal'
Callie Hernandez as ‘Lamp’
Amie Francis as ‘Oven’
Dani Moseley as ‘Shower’
Adrian Pang as ‘Fridge’

With an original score by Alexis Georgopoulos

Casting by Georgia Topley 

The installed set is viewable between performances on both days. 

A UK Premiere, Humour in the Water Coolant, 18-19 May, is developed from the play of the same name, originally conceived for Kunstverein Gartenhaus, Vienna as part of the exhibition Appliance, 9 September – 29 October 2022 performed on 8 September 2022.

With thanks to Kunstverein Gartenhaus, Vienna, and supported by Soft Opening, London
Olivia Erlanger (b. 1990, New York) lives and works in New York. Through her sculpture, writing, and filmmaking, Erlanger explores American dreams and delusions. Recent and forthcoming solo exhibitions include If Today Were Tomorrow at Contemporary Arts Museum Houston (2024); Appliance at Kunstverein Gartenhaus, Vienna (2022); Home is a Body at Soft Opening, London (2020); Split-level Paradise at Bel Ami, Los Angeles (2020); Ida at Motherculture, Los Angeles (2018). Group exhibitions include Nonmemory at Hauser & Wirth, Los Angeles (2023); Dream Journal at Company Gallery, New York (2023); On Failure, at Soft Opening, London (2023); The Heavy Light Show at Night Gallery, Los Angeles (2022); Shell at Del Vaz Projects, Los Angeles (2022); The Kick Inside at Museum X, Shanghai (2022); Liquid Life at Kistefos Museum, Jevnaker (2021); Psychosomatic at Various Small Fires, Los Angeles (2021); In Situ at Marianne Boesky, New York (2021); Winterfest at Aspen Art Museum (2020); Haunted Haus at Swiss Institute, New York (2020); DIS Presents: What do people do all day? at Kunsthalle Charlottenborg, Copenhagen (2020); No Space, Just a Place at Daelim Museum, Seoul (2020); and For a Dreamer of Houses at Dallas Museum of Art (2020).

Erlanger is the author of Appliance (Wild Seeds, 2022) and co-author with architect Luis Ortega Govela of Garage (MIT Press, 2018). Her writing has appeared in publications including Tank Magazine, PIN UP, Flash Art, and Harvard Design Magazine. Erlanger’s work is in the collections of the Dallas Museum of Art; KADIST, San Francisco; and X Museum, Shanghai. Awards and nominations include Cafe Royal Cultural Foundation (2023), Joan Mitchell Foundation Award Nominee (2023), BMW Open Work (2017), among others.
02:00 pm
Sat, 18 May 2024
Lower Gallery
07:00 pm
Sat, 18 May 2024
Lower Gallery
02:00 pm
Sun, 19 May 2024
Lower Gallery
07:00 pm
Sun, 19 May 2024
Lower Gallery
£15 standard, £12 concessions
All events include +£1 booking fee when booked on the ICA website.

Mixed seating and standing performance.
Wheelchair accessible
High back chairs available

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