Evil Genus: Joey Bryniarska

15 March - 4 April 2020

There is a plant in the Kalanchoe genus that reproduces in a very specific way: along the length of each leaf generates miniature versions of itself, plantlets capable of independently photosynthesising complete with little dangling roots, which will detach from their mother when disturbed. Common names for the Kalanchoe Daigremontianum include ‘Mother of Thousands’, ‘Devil’s Backbone’ and ‘Evil Genius’. These vernacular titles are symptomatic of both the success and vilification of this reproductive strategy, where a surplus of babies can be produced on demand, especially in times of threat or stress. The ‘Evil Genius’ has adapted its genes to completely bypass the seed-making and pollination processes in favour of externally producing embryonic versions of itself, asexually. These genetic carbon copies fall from their mother to take root in the ground below; any space that can be, will be, taken up and occupied, until the crowd transform from babies into vigorous adolescent competitors. Other notable plants in the Kalanchoe genus include Kalanchoe blossfeldiana, also known as ‘Widow’s-thrill’, and Kalanchoe tubiflora, also known as ‘Mother of Millions’. 


Broadcast media has been transformed beyond recognition by new co-authored spaces of digital networking and newsfeeds. The press interview, however, remains the format for significant political or economic events that call for a verbal or physical witness; a voice emerging from a mouth or a visual surrogate for what is not said, but might be... a politically-muted medium. Often implicit within these moments is the paradox of the desire for privacy countered with the collective catharsis of self-exposure. 


For Joey Bryniarska’s solo show Evil Genus at Kupfer, the artist will be showing work focussing on specific moments of (unwilling) public exposure. Appropriating screen shots of press interviews (Yulia Skripal and Prince Andrew), these are cut and reconstituted as gridded silver gelatin prints toned in Miraclegro fertiliser, alongside blocks of unexpanded coir compost: visual manifestations of mediums of growth and dissemination, yet with no intrinsic nutritional value, in and of themselves. An ‘Evil Genius’ plant remains in a perpetual digital loop of gallery publicity documentation.   


Joey Bryniarska (b.1981, Swindon) is a British/Polish artist based in London. Recent exhibitions include Serpent and Shadow, the Royal Academy of Arts, London (2018); The Materiality of the Invisible, Marres House for Contemporary Culture, Maastricht (2017); Give Way, Wexford Arts Centre, Ireland (2015); ‘A Union of Voices', Horatio Junior Gallery, London (2014); 'On Reflection', Postbox Gallery, London (2014); 'Stopped Clocks in Places of Busyness', Fold Gallery, London (2013); and'Mind Rhymes', Hidde van Seggelen Gallery, London (2013). She has received a number of high-profile awards and residencies: the Jan van Eyck Academie (2014-17); the British School at the Rome (2009-2011); and Spike Island (2005). She completed her undergraduate degree at University College Falmouth in 2004 and received a postgraduate diploma from the Royal Academy Schools in 2009. She is a tutor on the BA Fine Art course at Central Saint Martins, UAL, and is a Visiting Artist at the Warburg Institute, London.