Page 1

with texts by

Lauren Altman Laura Devereux Rachel Fox Wafa Gabsi Maria Lanko Wyatt Niehaus Lauren Reid Kristin Thretewey Olga Sureda Guasch

conceive construct consume developing approaches to curatorial practices

on works by

Node Center for Curatorial Studies

Anjali A-B Melanie Bonajo Boris + Natascha Manuel B端rger Chris Collins Felix Experimental Group Assaf Gruber Alevtina Kakhidze Justin Kemp Martin Kohout Ola Lanko Malcom Levy Daniel Michel Ada Van Hoorebeke Jeremy Rotsztain Gregor Rozanski Marinella Senatore Nathaniel Stern Santiago Taccetti The Telepathy Project

conceive construct consume developing approaches to curatorial practices

Node Center for Curatorial Studies

foreword Perla Montelongo

The following publication is a compilation of individual research developed by the group of curators at Node Center for Curatorial Studies during the Autumn Residency, 2011. One of the objectives of Node Center is to widen the possibilities of curatorial practice. For this publication, the resident curators were encouraged to explore different methods within their own practice: from the conception of a project, its actual construction or production, and the presentation of its outcome to the wider audience. Conceive, construct, consume: developing approaches to curatorial practices contains contributions in different formats according to the focus of each resident curator. It includes essays, interviews with artists and curators, working discussion sessions, conversations with a psychic, and legal contracts. Those explorations also took the form of three group exhibitions presented in Grimmuseum - Berlin, during December 2011. As experiments often are, this publication doesn’t intend to have a varnished outcome but rather aims to open entry points into the residents’ further practice. 2

conceive construct consume

approaches to curatorial practices


o n e _ c o n c e i v e

_7 Wafa Gabsi

interview with marinella senatore

_ 12 Laura Devereux

i n d e x

In collaboration: The Benefits of an Artist/Curator Relationship


_ 17 Lauren Reid

conversations with shadows BORIS+NATASCHA / The Telepathy Project Ada van Hoorebeke Felix experimental group

_ 22 Maria Lanko

Materiality Check melanie bonajo / alevtina k akhidze ola lanko / gregor rozanski

Marinella Senatore S P E A K E A SY 2 0 0 9 - M U S I C A L o n DV D E s pa ñ a – H ig h D e f i n iti o n V i de o o n DV D, c o l o r , S t e r e o 15’ P r o d u c ed b y 12 0 0 c i t i z e n s of Madrid Courtesy Galleria Umberto Di Marino, Napoli ( I )


Marinella Senatore, How Do U Kill The Chemist, 2009, video on iPod, color, sound, 8', courtesy Galleria Umberto Di Marino, Napoli (I)


focus of your work. MS:

In my projects, often developed in collabora-

tion with institutions such as museums and universities, I involve entire communities in the creative process, for example a community of retired miners from Sicily in 2010; a group of rappers from Harlem, NYC in 2009. The viewer becomes the participant and the hierarchy between the artist as author and the public as recipient can be questioned and rewritten. The public is involved as co-writer, actor, set designer, camera operator, director, sharing time, experiences and skills, acquiring new knowledges in an atmosphere of

berlin, 2011

Wafa Gabsi

Interview with Marinella Senatore

wg: Please introduce yourself and tell us about the main

ongoing laboratory, in contact with the contents they find in their environment and according to the level of involvement they want. The public is also involved as producer of public projects through a micro-credit system: with a contribution of one euro each, the latest videos were entirely produced by thousands of people – 1200 citizens of Madrid produced the musical, Speak Easy in 2009. How do you approach your questions and themes in your current work? Do you follow a defined process?

It is a whole which comes from a precise process – planning, discussion, sharing, collective participation, considering the film of photographic result as the arrival point of a much more dynamic activity. My work is not exactly just video or film in the classic sense: I seek a wider base for co-operations, a dialectic that uses different languages ​​as a tool and not as an end. Working 7

with painting, video, film, performance, installation and design in a conscious but free way, because what I’m really interested in is to embody a strong sense of reality, using the line between objective and artificial constructions of vision. Moreover, it is not a coincidence that in order to to investigate existential, everyday experiences and social conflict, I also focus my attention on aesthetics and contents usually far from my background. Connecting personal events with collective processes, fact and fiction, history and chronicle, my work fosters the construction of an archive of shared narratives that create a sense of community. The result is always the culmination of an even more dynamic and large scale effort – the result of cooperation with an audience that is involved as actor, producer and even co-author, where the value of a shared experience is more significant than a mere stylistic choice. We are not talking about a very straight, finished product, but works that give the viewer the possibility to contemplate, and the possibility of interpreting the whole process as a political point of view, reconsidering the role of the artist and the production system of the artwork itself. What is your main interest as an artist? Where do you get the ideas for your work – is it an experience, an inspiration, a representation of yourself, of the others in the world?

The sociopolitical dimension of my work has been strongly substantiated in the last few years, especially in terms of practice. I am interested in the role of the artist as an “activator” of processes, without coercion of any kind, or false moral education. In these participatory projects, I see the artist as a director with a script that any participant can negotiate, contest, or use in a different way. In this sense, I try to implement an exchange of affection, passing from history to history, voice to voice. The story becomes a place of exchange, and in a manner which will inevitably change through the different contexts; very often it builds an open laboratory situation, an ongoing open workshop where participants learn something and take it with them together to remember their experience on set, so I am interested in reversing the position of the viewer from passive participant. I do not work only on the imaginary vision of the communities with which I 8

work, but rather with their different forms of storytelling. It is a political duty for me that the work has to be carried out, and aesthetics and emotional aspects, which are written in films, are proof that there is a way in which the film (or installation, or photographs or any other final work) can tell the human relations which produced it. The goal is often to create a sense of community, where I believe the value of sharing can be a significant factor. In 2009, for the project Speak Easy, citizens of Madrid produced the movie by joining the fundraising campaign “1 euro to be a producer”, which has characterized many of my projects in Spain in recent years – through the donation of one euro, more than 1200 people entirely produced the latest videos giving us the opportunity to interpret the whole process as a political key, reconsidering the role of the artist and the production system of the artwork. The video is the result of the cooperation of almost 1800 citizens, with over 94 students from the Complutense University who learned all the roles of filmmaking from costume to set design, to direction of photography, direction and production. Women’s organizations made ​​the costumes with students, groups of retired craftsmen built the set – the musical is set in New York in the 50s. Three neighbouring communities from three very different neighbourhoods in the outskirts of Madrid wrote the original screenplay, with students being responsible for the role of writers.

Marinella Senatore, Speak Easy 2009 - MUSICAL on DVD España – High Definition video on DVD, color, stereo 15’ Produced by 1200 citizens of Madrid courtesy Galleria Umberto Di Marino, Napoli (I)


All participated in an open laboratory, continuous, sharing time, experience, learning, dancing, writing the lyrics of original songs. The students and citizens are involved in the creation – or are the protagonists – of some works; with such possibilities, the artist is able to bring authentic collective practices to life, making it evident that the pedagogic activity has strong confirmation in my poetic methodology. What are the main mediums or techniques that you use?

I work with photography, drawing, video, painting and sound; my aesthetic is characterized by light and its iconographic choice, accompanying sparse emotional tonalities stories which appear to be both autobiographical and objective, a mix of references (often by chance) in which formal precision and citation go from Stan Douglas to Tacita Dean, even to Karen Cytter and Manon De Boer. After two degrees in art, I wanted to study film just to understand light. Among all the elements that build the film composition and the language itself, light was always the one that attracted my attention and I admit I have a special relationship with lighting that is very intuitive in the first phase. Undeniably, the figure of Giuseppe Rotunno (cinematographer for Fellini, Visconti, Fosse films among others) has been really important in my training, in particular in understanding the evocative possibilities through the construction and translation of light itself; important was also his particular point of view about the cinematographic role of the photography, where “photography is more beautiful and has more value if it helps and supports messages that already are in the story”. The narrative dimension of illumination is a fundamental point of my work, it can create a sense of expectation and a certain narrative tension. I find these suggestions in the “verbal light” in David Cronenberg’s film practice for example. Light, the language of film per se, has always been the eye through which I look at the world, and the invention of narrative, even the fictional constructions, tell even more and better about how reality is. What brought you back to the narrative as a mechanism that generates your work? Is it because of your cinematographic approach? 10

The characters that appear in my stories are excuses to talk about something else, useless heroes appearing fleetingly in the pages of a newspaper of the 50s or so. Throughout time, the narrative plot are made by citizens as well, so I just suggested to use very comfortable places, providing a platform for things to happen, instigating the beginning of a process that is always fluent and very democratic. Through a mix of references, I’m very much inspired by the micro-narrative, local news and all the emotional tones of scattered events that blend autobiography and history. The narrative is certainly one of the fulcrums of my work; it is probably the mechanism that generates the vision, but the way in which we use it is deliberately free, always hovering between the poles of reality and fiction, between truth and invention. For the video How Do U Kill the Chemist, for example, produced in 2009 in New York, I worked with a group of rappers from Harlem who wrote the script with me and performed the story with their peculiar slang. The construction of the narrative in all its forms is really fascinating for me – the format of the musical and the use of the song are part of my research on narrative modes. The story, in all its forms, became the fuse that allows people to loosen around a series of images, often centered on the tension, expectation and excitement, that the light (and its sometimes hard cuts) strongly underlines. In 2010, the video Nui Simu (That’s us), showed at the 54th Biennale of Venice, Illuminations, curated by B. Curiger, was written by a community of miners from Sicily (Italy) and made by the entire city of Enna: any citizen could participate according with his/her background, negotiating the level of involvement, sharing skills, achieving new ones, in producing an intense perception of the reality. I always maintain contact with all of the participants; through the years, people recall me, asking me about new experiences, because money or economical systems are never the place where we exchange anything. The miners told me that at the end of the shooting, that the movie was like a monument of their dignity, without which they wouldn’t able to reveal their memory and the visions of their stories to share with the world. 11

As an aspiring curator, I am intrigued by the relacan this relationship benefit the artist? What does an artist require from a curator? How can a curator help present an artist’s work in the best possible light? I have interviewed artists and curators to ask their perspectives on the subject. All the curators interviewed were asked the same question: As a curator, what are your greatest contributions when creating an exhibition for the work of an individual artist? All the artists interviewed were asked

two questions: Do you believe there is a benefit in work-

Laura Devereux

In collaboration: The Benefits of an Artist/Curator Relationship

tionship between artists and curators in 2011. How

ing with a curator? How is this relationship beneficial to you? The following are their responses, which have

naturally formed conversations, even though I posed the questions to each artist and curator individually.

➜ Elena Veljanovska, Curator, Macedonia

My contribution is setting a framework, reworking the structure of the exhibition, maybe giving suggestion about it’s final format of display and general communication of the work with the audience. Content wise, I am always giving the lead to the artist, but of course there are different kind of collaborations. If it is a more collaborative situation, and I have a greater insight or interest into it I am giving suggestions for the content as well, and it is up to the artist whether she/he will accept it or not. Writing of a text is something I see as important, since this is the way that the curator mediates the content with the 12

audience. Of course, it is not necessarily important that the same curator writes the text, but in my case I tend to do it, since this is how I can put the works, their meaning and the reason why I am making this exhibition in a wider context. ➜ Hendrik Paul, Photographer, USA

My answer would be an instant yes, however with that quick yes comes along a calculated response. The curator I would work with would have to work with my vision (I know this is not always possible, but I am responding with an “ideal situation”). We would have to have a clear vision of what we want to present. I would not want to work with someone who does not have a clear understanding of my images or someone who does not believe/like what I photograph. Sure, our visions will not completely gel, and that is healthy and will likely add beneficial viewpoints. What I am against is a forced collaboration between an artist and a gallery or museum curator. Do not get me wrong, I see and know that these pairings happen all the time, but if I as the artist have a choice, it would be to work with a curator that supports and believes in my work. For me the benefit of working with a curator would be the help it would provide me with selecting images for the specific project, an additional pair of eyes. In the past I have overlooked some of my now “better images“ only to have them “discovered” by professors (equivalent of a curator). Simply put, a curator would help me sort through my images and help me with the organization of my project. ➜ Song-Ming Ang, Artist, Germany/Singapore

Yes, definitely. A good curator who is involved with my creative process can inspire me with ideas, and provide useful, alternative opinions to my own perspectives. A good curator can help enhance the materialization or presentation of my work, and tease out meaningful aspects that may be hidden. More importantly, a good curator can instill confidence, encourage risk-taking, and offer advice that contributes to my artistic and personal development. ➜ Pilar Cruz, Curator, Spain

I like and try to work directly and closely with the artist when I’m making the project, if the work of the artist is an already made piece, my 13

contribution is to give some points of view and interpretations about that work, and if possible how this work fits in the rest of his/her production. I try to give interpretations and an approach comparing their work with pieces made by other artists, so perhaps the biggest contribution consists in the relationship that their works create with each other and how the meaning and interpretation of the works can change or be enriched when reading under the concept of an exhibition or when reading after/before other artist’s works. ➜ François Martig, Sound & Video Installation Artist, Film and Photography, France

I have had some different experiences with curators during the past few years, as good as bad. The two last were great because the curator’s choices gave my work an interesting relation (not necessarily esthetic proximity) with the other artist’s artwork; the dialogue between the artworks and not in a big museum with a lot of stuff. The curator doesn’t transform the artist’s work, it’s more to create a common dialogue more than the sense of each art pieces. ➜ Juan Canela, Curator, Spain

My work as a curator is focused in propitiating critical thinking, either through concept or formalization. My aim is to question established ideas or concepts, suggesting or provoking moments of reflection not only for artists but also for the public. I’m always trying to move forward to places of amazement or to be amazed. One of my main goals is to investigate the relationship between different agents involved in an artistic project: curator, artist, designer... even researchers from other disciplines: historians, psychologists, philosophers... That is why I like your question. In that sense, I’m always interested in breaking boundaries between different profiles and also to overstep borders, contaminating each other.  I look to work with artists in order to re-think their practice, trying to transform their usual “making” or common places by proposing certain exercises which produce this “estrangement” as a way of avoiding redundancy. When I think of the process of working with an artist for a solo show, the most important issue is to work really closely with him. Thinking together as a way of develop14

ing the project from the concept to final feedback of results. In the end, it’s about building a complicit space in which the artist can crystallize a work process that enables critical thinking of other’s and oneself, in order to contribute with different perspectives. ➜ Daniel Palacios, Multimedia Installation Artist, Spain

Something I don’t accept is the character of artist-curator (or curator-artist), at least when you are curating an exhibition and also showing your work in it, I think they are two different professions and the border must be clear. My approach is, if I don’t have the skill or don't have the time to do something, I’m going to hire somebody to make it, but if I find somebody that is working actually in the same subject and that work is very related with that portion of mine where I need extra hands, then of course I’m going to ask for a collaboration and include him/her in the project which is more interesting for both and the project; but it’s different this way to cross points of views to create a work, than to curate an exhibition. (...) A curator should have the same kind of interests, obsessions and passion for learning about the world that an artist has, they just simply don’t produce, don’t collect, they generate events where they combine work from different people that mix and share a point of view all together about a concept, the curator’s concept. ➜ Wyatt Niehaus, Curator & Visual Artist, USA

I think the most important aspect of this, for me, is to act as a bridge between the artist and the audience. By this I mean adding appropriate context to the work, and representing it in a way that illuminates the piece as best I can (or the opposite of that, if that is the goal!). Context and background can be a principle concern in showing a solo artist – because where in a group show, the other artists exhibited are partly adding the context for you, a solo artist does not have that safety net. It is important for the curator to act as a kind of liaison. ➜ Mark Soo, Multimedia Installation Artist, Canada

Absolutely, and it often depends on the nature of the working relationship. But rather than building the relationship around ideas of “benefits” 15

and values, I think a more descriptive notion for me would be that a curator is a participant in the artistic process. Nonetheless, a curator to me occupies and participates in many roles. And this depends largely in what capacity and what context you are both engaged in. It’s difficult to pinpoint, but I think among the myriad ways a curator participates is in the conception of exhibitions; helping to facilitate an artists vision; helping to give an artistic, cultural, and historical context to the work and ideas; collaborating in envisioning new possibilities for the work; guiding readings of the work; creating new relationships between other works and ideas; promoting the work; mediating between audience, institution/gallery, and artist; finding new ways to imagine what the work can be; and so on... It really depends, because everyone has different intentions, methodologies, and backgrounds. Working with a curator in the context of the Venice Biennial is going to be very different than working with a curator who is fulfilling an acquisitions mandate for X National Gallery, which is going to be very different than working with a curator programming a festival of outdoor performance art. ➜ Lauren Reid, Curator, Australia

As a curator I think that the greatest contribution that I can provide to an individual artist is a specific context for which to view the artist’s work and to form a dialogue around the artist’s practice and particular pieces. Curating a considered exhibition of work can create a framework or platform to develop and draw out threads of thoughts that exist within an artist’s practice. This in turn, creates the opportunity for the artist’s work to connect with different audiences in potentially new and layered ways. ➜ Cortright Devereux, Painter, USA

My opinion is that curators know perhaps more than artists do, the current happenings of the world and the arts so they have a greater understanding of the context in which art takes place. I think a curator is a bridge between an artist or a piece of art and a greater number of people in the community at large. So, a curator can be a useful tool for ‘packaging’ art for public use.


Dear Lauren, my name is Natasha and I have performed your reading for you. I hope that you will find your

BORIS+NATASCHA / The Telepathy Project Ada van Hoorebeke / Felix experimental group

Hello. My name is Lauren Reid. I am a curator from Sydney,

Lauren Reid

conversations with shadows

reading to be helpful. Love and Blessings.

Australia and am putting together an exhibition for the first time in Berlin. I am working with artists who are exploring the inexplicable through conversations: with immortals, with the subconscious, with materials, with the dead who were, in turn, contacting the dead. The aim is not to prove or disprove the existence of these dialogues but instead to examine the desire to transcend our measurable reality and question the different connections that we might have to the intangible forces in our world. I would like to be able to understand the exhibition more clearly and ask you about the artists who I am working with. These artists are: Ada van Hoorebeke, The Felix Experimental Group and two different collaborative duos: Boris+Natascha and The Telepathy Project, Sean Peoples and Veronica Kent.

What can you tell me about the connections between the artists and the works?

I felt that it is fate that all of these artists are present at this exhibition. I felt that each one has been lead to the exhibition for a very important reason. I felt that each artist has a gift to give others and in time their work will bring about positive spiritual change–a positive awakening to the spiritual realm. I felt that each artist is fulfilling their life purposes by doing the work that they do. New doors are being opened for the future of spiritualism. 17

BORIS+NATASCHA facilitate messages from the famous dead by creating frottages or ‘grave rubbings’ using the letters of the name on their tombstone. They visit the graves of artists, philosophers, musicians and writers whose work continues to impact us today. During the act of physically creatBORIS+NATASCHA Making of 'Oracle: W.A. Mozart, St Marx Cemetery, Vienna, 2010, still from video, courtesy the artists & Yasha Young Gallery

ing the frottage, they feel that they are communicating directly with the dead

and experience at times surprising internal conversations. This particular piece has been formed from two gravesites: W.A. Mozart and his rival composer and rumoured murderer, Antonio Salieri. The resulting oracle is ‘lisTen:’. What do you think the message means and who is it for? What can you tell me about BORIS+NATASCHA’s connection to the dead and to each other?

The first thing that came to me Lauren was that both Natascha and Boris are mediums, but instead of performing readings they pass on messages through the art they do. I feel that Natascha is very passionate about the work she does and truly does connect with the dead. I am not sure why I am receiving this but I felt a different feeling with Boris though, that he does connect but is not always as truthful as Natascha and there is something about him that cannot be trusted. I felt that Natascha and Boris are very close and that their relationship is or has gone further than just work. BORIS+NATASCHA Making of 'Oracle': Antonio Salieri, Zentral Cemetery, Vienna 2010, still from video, courtesy the artists & Yasha Young Gallery


Perhaps you might have some insight into the other artists that I am working with, The Telepathy Project, Sean Peoples and Veronica Kent. They have been investigating the possibilities of telepathic communication in their art for the last five years. Earlier this year on a residency in Spain, they attempted 20 days of Dream Telepathy. Each evening they would choose something to place in an envelope and put it under the other’s pillow in their separate beds. The next morning they would write down and recount that night’s remembered dreams with each other, then open the envelope to see if the image or object had impacted on their dream. Do you think that they will be able to achieve telepathy and how?

The Telepathy Project, Sean Peoples and Veronica Kent, 20 days of Dream Telepathy, 2011, Dream # 2, photograph, post-its, tape, Dimensions variable, courtesy the artists

The first thing that came to me was that yes they will be able to achieve telepathy in the future. Their guides tell me that they have done a great deal of research and studies but they are looking in the wrong places. They both just need to look at simpler methods of doing things to find the answers. The number 3 stands out strongly and so does the month of August. I feel that both of these are significant to your question.


Ada van Hoorebeke works in a very intuitive way where each piece builds upon its past, changing with each exhibition depending on the site that it’s installed in. The work that she will be exhibiting has already been shown in the same building but this time it will take a different form.

Ada van Hoorebeke, Spirits and Landscapes/ Traces, 2011, O Tannenbaum Berlin, Installation, dimensions variable, courtesy the artist

I wonder if the memory and the history of the piece is somehow imbued within it and whether it matters if it was never seen before. What can you tell me about her spiritual connection with objects and space?

The first thing that came to me was that Ada has a beautiful spirit. She has many wonderful spiritual gifts and her energy is positive and vibrant. I felt that she works so very hard and puts so much energy into everything she does. I felt that her spiritual connection to objects and space is very strong. Her guide also tells me that she can see energy fields around people, objects and nature. She also astral travels at night when she is asleep. I felt that out of all the artists you mentioned, she has the strongest vibration and her gifts are most developed.

Ada van Hoorebeke Untitled, Spirits and Landscapes II, 2010 Grimmuseum Berlin, installation Dimensions variable Courtesy the artist


My questions continue to relate to the exhibition that I am curating. The Felix Experimental Group is a group of sitters, based near Frankfurt, Germany who experiment with ‘Séance Room Phenomena, Physical Mediumship and Spirit Contact’. During one séance, they received a letter from Einer Nielsen (1894–1965), a Danish medium. The letter had written on it what translates to: ‘Once again a gathering, It’s like a homecoming Marion, Monday – Greetings Regards Einer Nielsen’. It seems strange to me that a group of mediums are in contact with a dead medium who in turn was in contact with the dead. Why do you think that Einer Nielsen is trying to communicate with the Felix Experimental Group in particular?

Felix Experimental Group, Apported Letter from Einer Nielsen (front and reverse) , received 2010, Pen on paper, dimensions variable, courtesy Felix Experimental Group

I strongly felt that the reason Nielsen was trying to communicate with the Felix Experimental Group and Marion in particular is because he is one of her spirit guides. Nielsen can see a great deal of potential around Marion and is trying to guide her in the right direction on a daily basis. She does not even realise that this is happening. The guidance that Nielsen passes onto Marion comes through in her dreams, feelings, instincts, songs being repeated in her mind, thoughts and ideas. 21

teriality of an art object we have constructed this

melanie bonajo / alevtina kakhidze / ola lanko / gregor rozanski

Maria Lanko

A Few Notes on the Economy of an Art Object

Following the century-long discussion on (im-)maexhibition around Jacob Lillemose argument that dematerialization is not merely dismissal of material body itself, but rather “a transformation of art from being formally constituted as an object to be working conceptually with materiality”. Yet the participating artists go beyond just thematizing art objecthood in its institutional, economic or social aspects–they also make statements on the system of contemporary art production as an integral part of late capitalist society, subtly undermining the later. In her Most Commercial Project that has been running since 2004, Alevtina Kakhidze makes smallscale drawings of things that she sees in shop’s windows and counters. She only draws objects that she herself likes and would like to buy, thus subliming her own consumer desires. But Kakhidze as well goes further–attributing the prices for the things depicted to the drawings themselves, she gives an unambiguous comment on an artwork’s symbolic and economic value. The project has been running for seven years already but had its logical culmination when the artist presented it in the context of art market. In May 2011 she exhibited 5 drawings priced from 3 to 3000 euros at Vienna Art Fair. On introducing them with a talk at the V.I.P.-preview days Kakhidze witnessed an almost physical fight between well-dressed respectable collectors losing their faces so easily in order to buy the cheapest drawing. In the end, she only sold two 22

pieces –for 3.49 and 14 euros correspondingly– no one was ready to pay even 300 for a small drawing. Melanie Bonajo who mostly works in the medium of photography undermines the photograph-as-an-object approach in her exhibition practice by adhering to take-away policy and promoting principles of gift economies. A conceptual climax of this artistic strategy came into being at the 86 Details of Paradise exhibition when Melanie presented to the audience 86 objects that she had owned for more than ten years and been attached to, yet which hadn’t been of any practical use to her. This collection constituted of such personal treasures as paper cups collected from the artist’s first visit to NYC or plastic text from the hood of her first car was exhibited at the gallery suggesting visitors to take away one thing they liked. Deconstructing her personal life through explicit comments to the objects, the artist also contextualized the notion of value in the existential as well as artistic sense. In the Restoration project Amsterdam-based artist Ola Lanko investigates the layers of an artwork introduced by its institutionalization and market appropriation. Studying video records of auction bidding, the artist uses transcripts of the auctionist’s speech to create textual compositions, thus commenting on the artwork’s decontextualization and alienation from both its subject matter and artist. The project is constituted of several parts. Lanko started with reinterpreting the sold works: while keeping their formal characteristics (medium – oil on canvas and measurements) she painted the bidding transcripts that fill the whole canvas surface appropriating the subject of the work. The prints and books presented in the exhibition space are project’s layer No 2. Working with transcripts, the artist extracted from them simple words (grouped semantically and spatially) that demonstrate the relations between buyers and artworks as well as dynamics of the auction process. In his conceptual tribute to Seth Sieglaub, Berlin-based artist Gregor Rozanski becomes a millionaire (conceptually) in the process of selling/purchasing his own artwork. The project is made up of two legal agreements between artist, collector and other collector, all played by the artist himself. In the first agreement of Original Transfer of Work of Art Rozanski-artist sells the work (which is the agreement 23

itself) to Rozanski-collector for 1 us dollar. In the Transfer Agreement and Record Rozanski-collector transfers the work to Rozanski-second-collector for 1 000 001


dollars, who has to render 1 000 000


dollars to Rozanski-artist on the

base of earlier accepted rule about 100% participation of artist in the amount of Value Appreciation. In this process Rozanski almost simultaneously gets and looses 1 000 000 us dollars, just for a moment becoming a millionaire. And finally, materiality manifests itself in the exhibition’s spatial delivery: exposition-wise, the focus is shifted from the artworks to the artists themselves with an audio record of the interviews revealing artists’ personal economic strategies being central to the show.

➜ Melanie Bonajo (Born 1978 in Heerlen, Netherlands. Lives and works in Berlin and Amsterdam)

In your exhibition practice you try to avoid photograph-as-an-object approach distributing your works in affordable publications or even take-away materials. What are the grounds for this policy?

When I started to make exhibitions a couple of years ago I realized that there was a big gap between people who acknowledge the work, support it, love it and desire to have it and those who can actually afford it. It was then that I decided to always accompany the exhibition with a publication or a poster, which would be affordable for everyone who wants it as something you can put on the wall, look at and enjoy; something that belongs to a certain time and will eventually disappear. Also it is of course absurd that a medium like photography works with limited editions because one of the qualities of the medium is the fact that it is reproducible. The construction is based on a need for uniqueness on some historical agreements, which is probably an ok desire to long for uniqueness, but personally I don’t experience this desire, I prefer to live light. So it’s also very hard for me to relate to this desire of others. If not selling works, how do you ideally see making living with your artistic practice?

I am not per se against selling works, but I do think it is impor24

tant to question the system, in which we move ourselves as artists. I believe that two centuries of capitalism, technological development and market capitalism have produced the most extreme alienation from ourselves, from others and from our environment. It has also increased the feeling of helplessness and frustration. Now we are in the West being challenged by counter-cultures to return to a simple living because we are confronted with the consequences of our behaviour. I am interested in the ways to change the contemporary material-organized system of economics by questioning it. I cannot solely agree with the value system surrounding art fetishism because it implies an artificial system of value often based on status and greed. I stand for development of an alternative system based on a more simple and honest Melanie Bonajo 86 Details of Paradise, 2011 Courtesy the artist


intention/meaning/reference (what I mean is another source of origin in which you relate yourself to the a system, opposing the one based on a personal gain and individual benefits, by relating to your community or interest in preservation etc) like the system of donation or exchange of goods, as in natural economic societies. Do you consider artist’s work to be a particular kind of labour. How do you see a “fair” mechanism of compensation for artistic work?

I am pro a massive experimentation with new economic arrangements – to ultimately diverge from our material artistic dystopia and reconnect people again with each other and their environment. What allows people to care and love each other is also what makes them lovable. Why nothing ever gets old again like it used to be? We are progressing ourselves to death. And that is maybe a good thing, so all the other species will have a deep sigh of relief if we won’t have already taken them and their habitats down with us in the abyss. Economy is not neutral, it’s a moral code placed in the social structure and it’s a state of mind. For generations we have been disciplined, pacified and made into subjects productive by nature and content to consume, but now in this economic crisis with so many natural disasters what we were compel to forget is revealed –that economy is political. As an artist I always work for myself and my motivation is totally my own responsibility. Everything is connected –there are no real time schedules, I am my own organization, I represent every part of it. The responsibility is in my hands. As a rule, nobody is waiting for my goods, so doing an economic act in my situation is already so different from a standard transaction. My drive is beyond money, also because money as main motivation would be an unrealistic goal. However, I am a supporter of unrealism to a certain extent. Money comes from the strangers’ corners in the most unexpected moments. I am interested in the question when you start asking money for something you do and when you reject to receive money. In case of rejection it is always something bigger than just personal gain implied – it is for the benefit of the other or the community or if something comes from an impersonal pledge unable to be compensated or in any need of that. In my opinion, you start to ask money for something you do not really want to do –the money 26

compensates for the restrain and after the deal you are free again –you belong to yourself. It’s all about the intention– you sell your time and energy in order to get high status, iphones and so on or you contribute to something you believe in or are connected to and devote your time to it in a mutual act of support. ➜ Alevtina Kakhidze (Born 1973 in Zhdanovka, Donetsk region, Ukraine. Lives and works in Muzychi, Kyiv region, Ukraine)

In your Most Commercial Project you ironically attribute price for the thing (subject) depicted in the drawing to the drawing (artwork) itself. In your opinion, what would be a fair way of price formation for an art work?

Would be a fair to sell a drawing of art work by Jeff Koons for a price of the art work by Jeff Koons? Would be a fair to sell a drawing of a spoon for a price of the spoon? The work of Jeff Koons can cost 1,024,000 us dollars, the spoon you can hang on a glass can cost 3,48 euro. Those questions are connected to the Most Commercial Project. You may answer “yes” or “no”. Sure, “yes” are to both questions. Or “no” are to both questions. Those two questions have the same variation. Why? In our world something is wrong with the ways of price formations for all: for goods, for art works… The way of price formation becomes art. That is why The Most Commercial Project exists –the drawn price in the project looks more absurd then in reality.

Alevtina Kakhidze, from The Most Commercial Project, 2004-now Gel ink pen on paper, 15x11 cm, courtesy the artist


Do you make money enough to support yourself/family with your artistic practice? If not, how do you manage it?

During 2011 I have earned 1550 euro by writing texts about art for a fashion magazine, giving lectures about art for mainstream audience, excursions about art for children, fees for my performances and installations. So, doing all mentioned I have 141 euro per month. At first I need to pay electricity (25 euro), gas (23 euro), internet (10 euro)*, telephone (40 euro). Paying this as first I have only 43 euro per month for the rest. I am lucky that I don’t have to pay rent for my accommodation. I live in a house with my husband, which he, a businessman and a developer, has built. The house is nice, it is around 250 m 2, there is also a medium size lawn around. I do clean the house and cut the grass on the lawn. I have never thought: how much would it cost? Until I got neighbours who moved in an absolutely similar house as we do live. I notice a cleaner coming there on Mondays, also a man to care after the garden once in two weeks. I asked my neighbours: “How much do you pay for this service a month?” They said: 142 euro. After I informed my husband that half of this sum can be counted as my income. So, actually I have 212 euro per month. Paying electricity, gas, internet, telephone as first I have actually 115 euro per month for the rest… It is more than the subsistence minimum in Ukraine. But if my husband cleaned the house and cut grass during this year together with me I would not have this amount of money. Do you feel that you wouldn’t be involved in artistic practice if you couldn’t afford it?

When I decided to be involved in artistic practice I actually was 4 years old –I believe having a wish is pretty enough. Since then I seriously wanted to stop artistic practice only once. And many times I have had this decision just flirting with myself. How do you ideally see the system of compensation for artistic labour?

Once I got perfumes as compensation for my artistic labour. I liked it. Many times I got fame and attention. I loved it. I got also money, food, materials, memory sticks, lipstick “Lancôme”. I accepted all those things. Sure, I am talking about my feelings and human needs and not about the ideal system 28

of compensation for artistic labour. It doesn’t exist because an artistic labour gives a lot of fun, even meaning in life… Should I find an ideal system of compensation for me having a fun, feeling a meaning in life? But I have needs as a human being… a contradiction is here!

➜ Ola Lanko (Born 1985 in Chernigov, Ukraine. Lives and works in Amsterdam)

In your project Restoration you define the artwork through the sum of money it was bargained for, thus commenting on the way how is it inevitably treated by the market. In your view, what is the ideal fate of the work as an object. Does its material body have a chance to escape this transformation into a commodity?

I think that the situation you described is unavoidable for a particular type of artworks. Looking at the top 10 of most expensive paintings ever sold, we can notice that there is something that unites them. I am simply talking about their formal qualities. All of them definitely have a decorative advantage. So I think for this sort of artworks a transformation into commodity would be unavoidable. But of course in contemporary art practice evaluation of an artwork has become a problematic issue. That’s why I think there is a way to get beyond just commercial value and find a final realization of the work on other levels. In my work I am looking at different layers of meaning, which accure in the artwork after it is made. I am interested in the relation between the sacral area of art, which we are trying to preserve, and the non-romantic and very artificial act of selling it. I don’t want to criticize it in such a way that I think it is wrong, I would like to change the perspective of looking at art and realize that there are more layers in it than we can comprehend. I am exploring different ways of how we can look at and interpret things around us. For me, the ideal fate of the work is when impression that work makes on the viewer stays with him and he can never get rid of this feeling, can never be the same again. In this case the question of material value is totally vanished, because there is no way you can estimate it, neither hang it on your wall. So in my opinion, an object 29

of art should transform into a non-material kick that will shake the audience on different levels of perception. Does your artistic practice have an economic basis under it? In other words, do you expect to make your living being an artist? If so, what are desirable ways of doing so– through fees or grants or sales or anything else?

Oh yes! I hope my practice would have an economic basis under it! I think that it is possible to make a living being an artist. There are lots of opportunities, but you have to know the rules of the game. If you want to receive financial support from the government or other sources, I think it is extremely important to be able to address them in “their” language. You should be aware of whom you are asking, what and how. It is possible to describe the same project in many different ways, but the actual realization of the work will remain unchanged. There are of course different ways to make money being an artist. I really would like to teach. I think it can really work well together with artistic practice. I am not sure about sales. Recently I’ve got some contradictory feelings about them. Do you consider the artist’s work to be a particular kind of labour– how do you see a “fair” mechanism of compensation for artistic work?

Nice question, it has some kind of Orson Welles’ tone. Well, of course art has a clear social function. That’s why we can place the artist’s labour in the same system as other types of labour. We shouldn’t underestimate the influOla Lanko Lichtenstein "Ohhh... Alright..." from Restoration project, 2011 Courtesy the artist


ence art has on cultural development in general and on the level of one particular individual. It is simply impossible to see the consequences of removing art from the social structure and treating it as something independent. So that is why I guess there should be a clear system of compensation as for any kind work. It is difficult to say how it should function, because thinking about it we are meeting the problem of evaluation of art, which continues to be problematic. I think such a system will be developed together with the general shift in social development where the desire to enrich will be replaced by the idea of common extend. But up till now that is an ideal situation, so the ways of compensation remain the artist’s own responsibility.

➜ Gregor Rozanski (Born 1988 in Wroclaw, Poland. Lives and works in Berlin)

Artistically using the tool of a legal agreement, you managed to become a millionaire in the process of selling/purchasing an artwork –at least on paper. Is earning a real million among your lifetime goals?

This contract was prepared to show flexibility and uncertainty of values –the same contemporary art faced during infamous “art market bubble”, pumped up irrational prices, high risk investments and expectations, art market was like insane stock exchange. To earn a million is not my lifetime goal, vision of being the richest dead conceptual artist in cemetery doesn’t make me happier. But seriously, it wouldn’t be bad to achieve such amount of money or bigger. Money isn’t bad in itself, pecunia non olet, only the use of money could be sometimes senseless or trouble-making. If an institution/collector wanted to purchase your Conceptual Million, how would you negotiate the price for it?

Commercial galleries use sometimes very simplified formula to estimate price of an artwork, for example: width x height x X (which “X” means something like “general value level” of an artist, like from 1 to 10). Such evaluations can be crazy and super-relative like: These are six A4 sheets so let’s sell this 31

work for 21cm x 29 cm x 6 x 23 (my age and favourite number) then its around 14.000 euros or lets say 2012 because someone said world will end in this year. My prices depend on complexity of offer, not only money but also perspectives, what will potential buyer do with my work –hide in archive or support its circulation and future presentations. Do you make money enough to support yourself with your artistic practice? If not, how do you manage it?

Being wealthy and from Central Europe sounds like a contradiction for many Westerners, but I can take care of myself as an artist. In taking opportunities I’m not picky, but also I’m not a slut. I’m well supported by S.p.e.c.t.r.e. organization to finally destroy James Bond and by vicious corporations to annihilate natural environment, and in meanwhile I do some art stuff. Do you consider artist’s work to be a particular kind of labour. How do you see a “fair” mechanism of compensation for artistic work?

It is creative work (or at least should be), sometimes immaterial and intellectual, loaded by stereotypes and funny overrated public image, and I don’t find it generally particular or special. But to be honest, for me there’s nothing better or more interesting to do in my life. I like this specific nature of artistic labour to be on the moving border between theory and practice, between concept and production, and nothing is strictly defined –it gives a lot of freedom. And I know many people have a problem how to regulate art economy, set firm principles or structure. Fair mechanism works when both sides of this economical relation are “mutually satisfied and agreed” – any more complicated “dream solution” can be too subjective and discriminating for one of the sides. There is no ideal form of such mechanism as there is no ideal form of definition of art. I believe in freedom of agreements, not in oppressive regulations or laws on artist’s wages. The art must flow.


conceive construct consume

approaches to curatorial practices


Lauren Altman an adaptable structure for connectivity: a working discussion and exhibition

_ 42 Wyatt Niehaus place crisis Martin Kohout / Manuel B端rger Justin Kemp / Daniel Michel Chris Collins / Anjali A-B

Manuel B端rger T e n de n cy T o w a r ds C o mple x ity ( B oys K n o ts ) , D i g ital p r i n t, 2 010


t wo_ const ruct

_ 37


_ 47 Kristin Trethewey the digital gesture nathaniel stern / jeremy rotsztain malcolm levy / santiago taccetti

_ 52 Rachel Fox traces of utopia



an adaptable structure for connectivity: a working discussion and exhibition L au r en A l t m an

Monuments have been a means to reflect a singular, unified cultural and national identity for centuries. Sculptures and monuments have been erected in public squares in honor of victory and sovereignty while snuffing out tainted periods of history. Symbolizing power in size and control by position, monuments are established from a top-to-bottom mentality, that dictates movement through public space. With the rapid spread of information technology, cities have become outposts of hyper-connectivity through which multiple publics pass both physically and virtually. Cities now have the capacity to be local and global


platforms for multicultural exchange through integrated hybrid space. The reflection of a singular cultural identity has become irrelevant as online social media forums provide new spaces for a plurality of dialogs across geographic and cultural borders. The integration of these communication platforms into society calls for a new model of representation that flattens the hierarchical monument and provides a fluid structure that is shaped by multiple publics. Public space need no longer be transformed to reflect the concerns voiced by a homogenous group, but rather those of multiple entities. Multicultural national identity requires a structure that facilitates a dialogue between peoples to understand multiple and different value systems. Hannah Ardent, a significant theorist of ‘publicness’ of her time, believed that ‘each of us only ultimately comes to know ‘who I am’ in the process of political discourse with peers-or, for that matter, with adversaries-as each of us makes attempts to persuade them of the rightness of the views we are expressing’.1 Culture is ideas, language, thought, food- all of the senses. One’s physical location doesn’t necessarily reflect one’s culture. The dynamic between people, space, and geography is in constant flux. The meaning of culture and identity shapes the relations between people, between both ideological and geographical entities. Now, similar people coexist within different spaces at the same time that different people coexist within the same space. Theorist Claude Lefort once said that public space is actually multiple spaces, oscillating between both the political and the non-political. He states: “…A space which is so constituted that everyone is encouraged to speak and to listen without being subject to the authority of another, that everyone is urged to will the power he has been given. This space, which is always indeterminate, has the virtue of belonging to no one, of being large enough only to accommodate those who recognize one another within it and who give it a meaning, and allowing the questioning of right to spread.”2 Lefort’s assertion is relevant now more than ever, as physical and virtual space currently runs parallel to one another. The role of the body as generator and receiver of digital information has changed the way we live and interact. The phenome38

nological engagement with real space is changing quickly to adapt to the virtual world. There is a need for a structure that can transform public space to reflect the social make-up of a particular city, and to promote intercultural exchange to help people collectively adapt to the changing urban environment. The structure needs to reflect the needs of different cultural groups during this continual process of adaptation, as well as utilize public space to promote exchange between coexisting cultural entities. It would transform public space into a common ground between peoples in a ‘new hybrid space’. This structure, that defines and provides a ‘new hybrid space’, changes depending on its context. A multicity public structure, called An Adaptable Structure for Connectivity, develops the concept of a mobile, transformative structure that can adapt to the ever-changing structure of cities. Traveling from one city to another, the structure visualizes the themes of adaptability and connectivity on two scales: through both individual and collective interaction. The structure visually transforms with the 39

changing dynamic of connectivity between people and cultures both physically and virtually, as it adapts to different spatial contexts. While cultural entities shape the city they inhabit, they also have to adapt to the changing context of the city. What do these different layers of cultural entities look like? How are they connected to one another? What does the dynamic between people and public space reveal about the physical and social framework of the city? How can urban space be more utilized and integrated into these layers of hyper-connectivity? There are two goals for this adaptable structure for connectivity: To transform public space to reflect the social make-up of a particular city, and to promote intercultural exchange to help people collectively adapt to the changing urban environment. During a working discussion, a curator, an architect collective, and an urban mapping specialist analyzed different approaches to this concept starting from a series of four key words: adapt, interact, connect, and exchange.3 Through rigorous examination of these working components, the group searched to define what integrated hybrid space was, and how a structure of this capacity could take form. The group found that this structure, which sought to break barriers of communication networks while defining social connections, could manifest in very different physical and abstract formations as it moved from city to city. By formulating a bottom-up rather than top-down formation in public, decentralized space, while blurring physical and virtual connectedness, people could potentially shape the space they are in by the way they communicate with one another, rather than through a singular, overarching, defining identity. To examine how the present can be visually defined, local, foreign, national, cultural, and regional groups must be taken into account. The way people communicate, and to whom, reflects multiple and conflicting value systems built by multiple constructed cultural identities inhabiting one space. Communal activity and participation can provide a means to disintegrate and disassemble both tangible and intangible constructed barriers between coexisting groups by facilitating hybrid exchange. A maze is a puzzle-like structure that consists of a series of complex, branching passageways that requires a solver 40

find a route through to exit. A maze provides a space for multiple and different choreographed activities. It creates a space for individual and collective experiences facilitated by participation. The group developed the concept of an abstract structural maze that can be placed within any urban plan. Within this juxtaposition of walls, barriers, and entryways, individuals can connect to others within the maze within a constructed network that integrates physical and virtual communication. Themes of displacement, alienation, and disorientation are all shared feelings between coexisting cultural entities within a city. Having to overcome obstacles is the very foundation of how a city is formed. While the maze creates these feelings for an individual, it also provides a communal, unifying experience by facilitating communication to break barriers as a means to achieve a communal goal – finding the exit. Analyzing how cultural entities communicate within a shared space informs how a city is shaped. Placing an abstract maze within different cities, and observing how users communicate and alter the maze to find a way out from place to place, visualizes multiple identities through different approaches to hybrid interconnectedness. From this working discussion, an exhibition documented the collaborative process of exploring the possibilities for an integrated hybrid space as a means to facilitate exchange and de-hierarchize existing models of singular national and cultural identity. A visual recording of the discussion documented the ideation process of defining how to integrate hybrid connectivity into public space, that which resulted in realized renderings of the imagined new model of An Adaptable Structure for Connectivity, by Hither Yon, in response to the initial proposal.

1. George Baird, Public Space: Cultural/Political Theory; Street Photography (Amsterdam: Sun Architecture Publishers and George Baird, 2011), 29. 2. Baird, Public Space: Cultural/Political Theory; Street Photography, 42. 3. Exchange refers to hybrid exchange, both physical and virtual.


place crisis Wyatt Niehaus Place Crisis focuses on the material shift in space and objecthood in the advent of new media– taking into account virtual exhibition models, hybrid-objects, dual sites, and other emerging concepts regarding the visual display of new media objects. This exhibition addresses






Martin Kohout /// Manuel Bürger Justin Kemp /// Daniel Michel Chris Collins /// Anjali A-B

materiality and immateriality. To define materiality post-internet is to define objects and spaces which, simply put, have the capability to affect and interact with other objects and spaces. This denotation is necessarily broad in order to deliver accurately all that we must consider “real”, in contemporary imagemaking. To parse these terms in the 21st century is to redefine virtuality and physicality as being two pieces of the same experience. Assigning this criteria to the production of contemporary art allows us to radically redefine the ways in which we group and disseminate art and media, and under which standards pieces are gathered and contextualized. In this circumstance, a shift has occurred, and data (in the form of actions, objects, situations, and spaces) flows in between physicality and virtuality with little to no distinction. Our goal is a kind of trend analysis and forecasting– taking into account the brief history of this exchange and exploring old options, new options and current manifestations of net-spaces, physical spaces, and textual spaces. 42

Manuel B端rger, Tendency Towards Complexity (Gilrs Water, Boys Knots, Face Metal, Bricks), Digital print, 2010


Daniel Michel, Google Vase, Ceramic powder and printer ink, stabilized with cyanoacrylate, 2011


Justin Kemp, Adding to the Internet: Hot Dog Under a Pillow, 2011

Justin Kemp, Adding to the Internet: Coexist bumper sticker wrapped in a Livestrong bracelet, 2011


Chris Collins, Pony, Looping video w / sound, 2009

Anjali A-B, Pony Response, Looping video w / sound, 2011

Martin Kohout, Robert with Handrail, Photograph, 2011


the digital gesture Kristin Trethewey

“Our time is a time for crossing barriers, for erasing old categories – for probing around. When two seemingly disparate elements are imaginatively poised, put in apposition in new and unique ways, startling discoveries often result.”

McLuhan Gesture, a physical expression of human emotion, signals a personal perspective and intention through action. The term “artistic gesture” usually refers to a painter and the production of pictorial art. It describes the combined effort between the internal and external human faculties. There is a flow between the physical process and the internal conscious and/or subconscious. This gears the actions and defines the art object’s meaning. The Digital Gesture explores the comparison between this traditional artistic notion via digital born processes and its artistic presentation. At a time when the cultural influence of digital production and the internet are ubiquitous, the works in The Digital Gesture reference earlier periods of art history, aligning digital imagery and tools within the broader and somewhat distant world of art and Nathaniel Stern, Tattered Gorse, Archival print on watercolor paper, 2007


its history. Negotiating the connections between past and present, these works make digital gestures towards a more complete and current notion of art. As the first quote by McLuhan suggests, startling discoveries can be made when the canons of art history are juxtaposed with digital art practice. The discoveries provide insight into the past revealing that we are still debating similar ideas of gender and identity. They also find aesthetic relationships within the tools of today and yesterday and realize that perhaps the history of painting can speak to code. Jeremy Rotsztain uses Google search results for violent films linking the cultural representation of masculine violence to the destructive art legend, Jackson Pollock. Parsing out images of explosions and gunfire he reveals strikingly similar bursts of colorful expression to the famous abstract painter. The connection draws some common links between the popularity and economic success of masculine expression in both art history as well as popular culture. In Malcolm Levy, Nathaniel Stern and Santiago Taccetti’s work misusing digital tools becomes the focus for artistic inquiry. Building unique processes with digital scanner beds and video cameras the emergence of new aesthetics occurs while the machine attempts to perform under duress.

Jeremy Rotsztain, Pitter Patter Splatter, Action Painting, 2008-2010


Malcolm Levy, Istanbul Series, Three channel video


Santiago Taccetti, Presets (photoshop CS5) series II, 100cm x 75 cm, C-Print, 2011


Nathaniel Stern Coma in Composition, Archival print on Watercolor paper, 2007 Bella And Bloom, Lambda print, 2007 Tag And Capture, Lambda print, 2007


traces of utopia Rachel Fox

Not one square inch of earth goes un-policed or untaxed… In theory.

Hakim Bey

1 The Greenhouse is a temporary territorial space erected by Rachel Fox within the private space of the Grimmuseum and with their permission.

2 Upon entering the Greenhouse, and until they leave, visitors agree that the normal rules of behavior expected of a visitor in a space for exhibiting art no longer apply. Visitors are free to interpret the phrase ‘normal rules of behavior expected for a visitor in a space for exhibiting art’ as they see fit, but examples might include: being quiet, not touching the art, not sitting on the floor. 52

traces of utopia r achel fox

Not one square inch of earth goes un-policed or untaxed‌ In theory. hakim be y

3 Any information found by visitors in the Greenhouse is freely accessible, both in terms of money and liberty i.e. there is no charge for using it and you can do whatever you like with it, including sharing it with others. 53

4 Normal hierarchical systems, for example that of an employer and employee, cannot be continued upon entering the Greenhouse. Social hierarchy is not permitted in the Greenhouse territory.

5 All of the above is invalid once you have left the Greenhouse.


conceive construct consume

approaches to curatorial practices


t hr ee _ consume

_ 59 Olga Sureda Guasch {register} {co-creation} {reception} santiago taccetti assaf gruber

_ 62


White Opinions


_ 60 Smoke & Mirrors Re-blogged

Assaf Gruber Getti n g E ve n , 2 0 0 8 Courtesy


t he a r t i s t

Santiago Taccet ti, Smoke & Mirrors Re-blogged , 4 c-prints 50cm x 70cm, 2011 Courtesy the artist


{register} {co-creation} {reception} Olga Sureda Guasch

Artists have started to interfere in the perception process itself by anticipating the audience’s movement, and slowly this practice is gaining ground and artists have to decide to what level they want to keep control over their work or in what way they wish to present it. Even though the audience is left as free as possible to engage in this interpretive process, the artwork is still the creation of the artist. It is a considered space of engagement into which the artist invites the audience, not an entirely free domain of action and interpretation in which participants have an influence on the works final form and meaning. Artist condense production and reception into the same space constructing flexible mechanisms of participation and creating different interpretations and options according to the dialogue between the art work and the public. The work of art is entwined with its documentation and registration, which are a way of making the work of art visible and remain in the time and our memories. Can include photos, video, audio, transcribed conversations, interpretations, provocations, and theories. Documents are not simply recordings of what happened but iconic artworks in themselves, and their interpretation depends not only on the own image but where and how are exhibit. The registration tackled specific questions around originality, authorship, the boundary of the artwork, and the role of art itself. We have now entered a phase in which artists’ distance themselves further from the object in order to develop zones of interpretation. The audience is invited to view the development of an art project or participate in it outside of obvious art contexts; in their homes, workspaces, or in public space. The models by Assaf Gruber shown in this exhibition comment on the idea of a keepsake, what happened and what was exhibited but does not exist anymore, 59

a memory and a trace of the old work, asking about the nature of the piece itself. His works can be understood as a sort of “performative sculpture”. From the documentation that the artist took from the pieces Gettin even, We don’t want White opinions and Avgossepère, he proposes a new way of being, a new condition of site-specificity that, beyond the immanent and the autonomous – the object, the intention of the artist – is expanded to a wide range of questions including its interactive dimension, making space for a new role of the spectator’s figure.The collages and the video by Santiago Taccetti shown in this exhibition are a wink to the digital and on-line culture. From the documentation of Smoke & Mirrors, the artist proposes a new review throughout the unlimited universe of the Internet, paying attention to the choices and decisions of the public that is invited to decide to use and reinterpret these images or to leave them as they are. The reaction experienced by the spectator in relation to the work is essentially relative and open to new interpretations.

Smoke & Mirrors Re-blogged Santiago Taccetti Through the actual experience of running a gallery, I

the passer-by walking in the public space. From the

learned that if a work of art wasn’t written about and

street, the viewer could get a glimpse of something

reproduced in a magazine it would have difficulty re-

occurring on the inside of the gallery space, but if

taining the status of ‘art’. It seemed that in order to

they did not have enough interest to actually enter

be defined as having value, that is as ‘art’, a work had

the building they would just catch a partial image or

only to be exhibited in a gallery and then to be written

only the blurred sensation that the painted windows

about and reproduced as a photograph in an art maga-

filtered through. The action of either entering the

zine. Then this record of the no longer extant installa-

space or finally remaining outside was the essential

tion, along with more accretions of information after

unpredictable part of the piece that was left entirely

the fact, became the basis for its fame, and to a large

to the public’s decision. The installation inside was

extent its economic value.

a hoax, a kind of bait intended to catch the public’s

Dan Graham: “My Works for Magazine Pages. A

eye, what in the end made some people come inside

History of Conceptual Art.” In: Dan Graham: Exhi-

and some stay out was the real focus of the work. If

bition Catalogue, Art Gallery of Western Australia,

cultural systems are open to everyone, why do they

Perth, 1985. [Reprinted in: Kunst en Museumjour-

make some people feel free to participate while man-

naal, 1993.]

aging to alienate others?

The installation Smoke & Mirrors was exhibited dur-

of documentation; videos and photographs of the

ing the month of March 2009, in the vitrine space at

piece were taken with the intent of communicating

the Centro Cultural San Martin in the city of Buenos

the sensation of having actually been there. These

Aires. The piece worked with the participation of

images, like the piece itself, exist in the public do-

The work was documented via common formats


Santiago Taccet ti, Smoke & Mirrors Re-blogged Single channel video, color, stereo. Duration 5 : 59 : 00, 2011 Courtesy the artist

main, therefore maintaining the essential dynamic of choice proposed by the original installation.

between the artist, the public and the art. The work thrives on the tension between the

This new piece, Smoke & Mirrors Re-blogged, is

planned and random factors, errors and accidents

based on the idea of retracing the path of the images

omnipresent in our everyday life, essential ideas

used for documenting the piece – Smoke & Mirrors

in our current social structures while establishing

through the vast universe of the Internet, drawing

a subtle but sharp statement on the contemporary

attention to how the individual people who post and

concept of authorship.

use these images do this on behalf on their own interpretation.

Santiago Taccetti lives and works in Berlin. He has exhibited work in contemporary art centers and

Presented are four collages made from screen

galleries such as Centre d’art Santa Monica, C ccb

grabs of different blogs where the information refer-

Centre de Cultura Contemporanea Barcelona, Kultur

ring to the image shown is distorted and sometimes

Buro Barcelona, Istituto Italo Latinomericano in

completely reinterpreted.

Rome, La Panaderia in Mexico City, Centro Cultural

Santiago Taccetti

San Martin and Centro Cultural Recoleta in Buenos Aires as well as .H bc and L e ap in Berlin. He has recently participated in the Fabra i Coats Residency

Everyday objects and commonplace materials

2010, the 2010 Proyectos Ultravioleta Residency


in Guatemala, the C ia Centro de Investigaciones

unexpected poetic juxtapositions that revolve around

Artisticas Residency 2010 in Buenos Aires and the

the ideas of art creation. Aspects of daily life such as

2011 Watermill Center Summer Residency in New






production and communication processes, both in

York. In 2009, Santiago Taccetti founded Twain , a

the real world and virtual worlds, are transformed to

collective project that is open to collaborations with

become the working foundation for pieces that make

various artists from around the world. The Twain

a precise comment on contemporary culture.

project received the Generaciones 2011 Art Prize by

The presence of the relational and performing factors,

Caja Madrid.

evident in the interaction with the public, the detritus of these events and the actual piece that undergoes a certain mutation during its lifespan, are all parts that function as a whole, they complete a sequence


White Opinions Assaf Gruber In Spring 2011, I was invited by Adam Budak to take

from the Dead Sea, and a D vd cover of the film Pierrot

part in the exhibition Passion of an Ornithologist

le Fou by Jean Luc Godard (1965) with the iconic print

–about Myth Making in the Sokól Gallery of Nowy

of Jean Paul Belmondo faces covered in blue paint.

Sacz. In this unique “Orchestra” led by Adam, four-

The two identical images appear to be small blue

teen artists exhibited new and pre-made artworks

points of dirt upon the vast slick pedestal. The three

revolving around two main topics: the first was the

obstinate elements are subverted to suggest a dis-

historical and social context of the Galicia region,

cussion about cultural prejudices and identity, as the

now torn between the states of Poland and Ukraine.

installation was intentionally set right in front of the

The unique and intimate literary universe of the

main entrance of the museum as an unwanted obsta-

Polish writer and artist Bruno Schulz, by whom draw-

cle “welcoming” passersby coming for the show.

ings were exhibited, was the second. The three principal works that I showed were:

In our correspondence for the exhibition, Adam suggested that I try to challenge my practice with an

• The Avgossepère video from 2009, in which my fa-

interactive “happening” with the public: “Your work,

ther plays the main character: a person who decides

your form of speech is as sculptural as it is performa-

to take action and change his landscapes by marking

tive – why won’t don’t you try to engage people to put

his territory and building personal monuments. He

on a project of a participatory nature? ” He wrote me.

is totally dedicated to these activities, he is his own

I acceded to his intriguing proposition and continued

would-be Savior, driven by preposterous motives.

to follow the “absurd road” in between Schulz’s im-

• The site-specific installation entitled Getting Even,

aginary world and the charged history of the Galicia

composed of several dozen cut and whole bowling


balls scattered throughout a space, already present-

For the opening day I composed an arbitrary

ed in various venues. The work and its title invoke

arrangement of Getting Even seemed like a labyrinth of

the equivocal absurdity inherent in Getting Even –an

ammunition left after the battle upon the vast

idiom that designates an act of revenge while imply-

totemic rectangle of We Don’t Want White Opinions.

ing arithmetic evenness.

That evening we invited my father to reprise his

• The third was We Don’t Want White Opinions, an

role from Avgossepère: he wandered, naive but

outdoor sculpture made specially for the exhibition:

determined, around the maze of balls seeking help.

a wide rectangular wooden form (400 cm x 1200 cm)

In his broken Polish (a language he used to speak

painted with shiny white acrylic paint. Two anecdotal

during his childhood with my grandparents) he then

objects were placed in the right corner: the C d cover

kindly asked the children in the audience to assist

of Zeev Tene greatest hits (a relatively unknown Is-

him in “disarming” and disposing Getting Even out

raeli singer) with an image of his face covered in mud

of the “white opinions”. He explained that inside the


museum they would find his son, who was awaiting the

his sculptures, installations, photography and video,

delivery of balls in order to reinstall the piece inside.

he has developed an individual approach to aesthet-

This event released a burst of energy: I could barely

ics and production values of intercultural commu-

handle the whole museum space alone. The children

nication. His works are an analysis of the conflicts

and the other artists joined me and we transformed

of modern civilization, an attempt to understand the

the show almost without speaking. This time, next to

sense of the absurd, which is located in the flesh and

the other artworks, the balls looked like colorful fruit

intensity of human activities.

waiting to be touched, or broken eggshells after the chicks had already hatched.

Assaf Gruber was born in 1980 in Jerusalem. He lives and works in Berlin, a graduate of the École

While father pored over his large ornithological

Nationale Supérieure des Beaux-Arts de Paris. Assaf

textbooks and studied their colored plates, these

won the 2008 ‘Les amis des Beaux–Arts’ Prize in Paris

feathery phantasms seemed to rise from the pages

and is a Laureate of the H isk (Higher Institute of Fine

and fill the rooms with colors, with splashes of crim-

Arts of Ghent). His work is included in number collec-

son, strips of sapphire, verdigris, and silver. (From

tions in Europe and has been shown in numerous venues

the short story Birds by Bruno Schulz, Street of Croc-

in Buenos Aires, New York, Paris, Dublin, Lyon, Berlin,

odiles p. 21)

Vienna, Istanbul, Tel-Aviv, Amsterdam, Verona, Dres-

For the exhibition Wunderblock: Traces of proc-

den, Ghent and Sarajevo among other cities. During

ess, document and memory we selected to show the

2011 Gruber participated in the A ims Residency in

first model I made in my studio for We don’t want

Saint-Ouen, a social project that aimed to connect

White opinions, a segment of one cut ball from the

children with the contemporary art culture. He is cur-

final installation of Getting even and a video docu-

rently resident at Künstlerhaus Bethanien in Berlin.

mentation of the ‘happening’ during the opening day. Assaf Gruber

pag. 62 Assaf Gruber, We don’t want white opinions, Wooden form, CD and DVD Covers, 4 00 cm x 1200 cm, 2008 Courtesy the artist

Exploring materiality through the tension between the mythic and the epic, the subjective and the

pag. 63 Assaf Gruber, Getting Even Cut and whole bowling balls, 2008 Courtesy the artist

universal, Assaf Gruber’s spatial configurations deconstruct a diversity of formal vocabularies. Through


This publication is initiative of Node Center for Curatorial Studies, Berlin. w w

Graphic design + cover image : w w Print : PinguinDruck : ht tp : / / /

Printed in Berlin, Januar y 2 013

Š 2 013 The authors for the tex ts and images

Thanks to : All the ar tist who contributed to this publication Alan Cunnigham Sven Kruger - Visual recording Urszula Lewicka Grimmuseum : w w KĂźnstlerhaus Bethanien : w w


Conceive Construct Consume: Developing approaches in curatorial practices  

Publication realized by Node Center Resident Curators, Autumn 2011.