issue nr. 6 /
NOWISWERE contemporary art magazine
Cover commissioned by Cevdet Erek Cover Design by Veronika Hauer
Cevdet Erek, Ruler 0-Now, 2008 Object: Laser cut on transparent plexiglas 3 x 21.2 x 0.4cm Courtesy Akinci Gallery Amsterdam The Second prototype for the ruler set. It shows a period of time from 0 to ‘now,’ it could be used for interpreting one’s life or any other collection of temporal events. 0 to now takes 20 centimeters without the connotation of neither a fixed scale nor units. Previously shown in 2009 at: > Artists Space, New York, NY, “Columns Held Us Up” > Open Space Art Fair, Cologne, “AFROS (A Few Retrospectives in Open Space)” > REIS, Antwerp, ‘Reset to Zero’ > Extra City, Antwerp, ‘Manifest Destiny’ > Museum Paviljoens, Almere, “Unknown Territory” and in 2008 at: > Galerie Akinci, ‘A Few Retrospectives,’ Amsterdam > The Bluecoat & Open Eye Gallery, Liverpool, UK, “New Ends, Old Beginnings’’
nowiswere was founded in January 2008. Copyrights of the magazine are the property of Veronika Hauer & Fatos Ustek. All rights of the contributions are the property of their contributors. Impressum: Editors: Veronika Hauer & Fatos Ustek Layout: Veronika Hauer Contributors: Cevdet Erek, Maartje Fliervoet, Daniela Paes Leão, Eline McGeorge, Adeena Mey, Rana Ozturk, Manuel Singer, Tatia Skhirtladze, Lisa Skuret, Fatos Ustek and Manuela Zechner. Editorial comments and proofreading: Mary Jane Miltner, James White Contact: email@example.com www.nowiswere.com
EF Maze.......................................................................................5 Fatos Ustek TH Zero Panorama....................................................................10 Maartje Fliervoet TH Notes On Dashed Lines (In Their Relative Importance)............................................13 Manuel Singer CC After Talk...............................................................................16 Manuela Zechner TH Nature Morte - The Cycle the Autobiographical Show..................................................23 Tatia Skhirtladze CC The Time Between the Two: Simon Pope’s ‘A Common Third’ Danielle Arnaud, London......................................................26 Lisa Skuret TH Psycho Studies......................................................................29 Daniela Paes Leão CC Old Ideas - Museum für Gegenwartskunst Basel/ Curated by Silberkuppe...........................................34 Adeena Mey CC THematics: hosting texts up to 1000 words or im- DeLorean dream back to life in a gallery age material of up to four pages focusing on a single Sean Lynch, DeLorean: Progress Report Kevin Kavanagh Gallery, Dublin..........................................37 theme. Rana Ozturk EF Expecting Future: sub section of THematics, hosting TH texts pointing out possibilities of future and position- Mirror Montage....................................................................42 ing the potentials of the to-come-true. As expecting Eline McGeorge future requires awareness of the present, the section will be the gathering of the today’s variety of practices, attitutes, tendencies... AS Artist Specials: hosting evaluations on or interviews with artists. CC Critics’ Corner: hosting reviews on current exhibitions, performances, events, happenings...
MAZE I have always been fond of multiple choice crime novels, where the narrative is broken into parts for the reader’s active involvement.That is to say, while you are reading a story on a burglary you come across a note: ‘if you think the cook is the thief then jump to page 64’, and you are asked to continue reading from that assigned page; but if you think the gardener has committed the crime you are asked to continue reading from page 47. I have never been good at this. I could never follow the instructions because I was always so curious about the other possibilities; hence I would read the whole book which would make no sense in the end since the narrative would be overly fragmented and repetitive. And then I would force myself to decide on one of the options and try to go from there and finish the book. But that has never been the case. In this text I will be introducing several arguments around the tricotomy of artist, curator and critic while visiting other positions and roles in the domain of visual cultures. While I am asking you to follow my line of thought I would like to provide you with a sense of freedom through marking jumps for the cases of agreement and disagreement, interest and indifference, curiosity and disengagement. Here we begin. If you are involved in the art scene please start with section A, if you are a follower of the arts please go to section B.
ic… Hence, several combinations are leading towards a variety of positions. Let us investigate the nature of this variety. Is it a multitude that Negri&Hardt depict in their milestone book Empire? Or is it an alternative methodology of branding arts for its market value? Section B: Each day a new vocabulary, a new perspective is piling up in our dictionary of visual cultures. It is enriching to see the increase of art events, museums, biennials, publications; or the recent discursive investigations on curatorial, artistic, authorial knowledge; or the expanding education field for curators, artists and critics. Visual culture is establishing its factory of mass production. Besides the recent economic crisis, overproduction spans the artistic environment, thus the social and public. Critics like Hanno Rauterberg inform us of an uneasiness on the expanded space of arts with these words: ‘Today this role (the role of the critic) as developmental aide and frontrunner has been abandoned. Present-day art no longer needs these persuaders. Everything as well as its opposite is possible, the great ideological debates have peacefully passed away, and the great battles of aesthetics have been fought. Today art is everywhere. Never was it more current, never so omnipresent. Whether on the Zugspitze (the highest mountain in Germany) or in the underground parking zone near Siemens in Munich, exhibitions and project presentations are everywhere and nobody can escape from art any longer.’1 *
From one way or another we are facing a significant fact: overgrowth. The field of arts is now a well-functioning industry with I have been meandering through the new vocabulary its growing economy and financial significance in macthat is in immense use in the arts: the new vocabulary, ro politics. We can call it an industry: it is composed hence the new positions that are resembled by those of museums, large-scale institutions but also schools terms. Today we are engaged in a composition of so- and academies, printing and publishing houses, as well cial roles in the course of the arts. It is not unusual as fairs and festivals. Each sector is displaying growth to attend an exhibition curated by artists, nor receive in its own terms, for instance the number of curating an invitation to a gallery exhibition put together by courses and research degrees are increasing every year, a curator, nor hear a speech by an established insti- new museums are being founded in various cities in the tution director praising alternative structures and a world, numerous awards and residencies are emerging parasitic nature of arts. All these examples are among for young and exciting artists… In parallel to the openmany that do not surprise us anymore. Maybe surprise ing of new venues, schools, fairs, biennials, independent is the wrong wording to use in any case. The issue of spaces, the sphere of interplay accelerates. Institutions this text is not to condemn any practice that is be- invite artists to curate shows, galleries commission cuyond its entitled position but to discuss the condition rators for attractive exhibitions, writers are asked to of new terminologies and their current productivity. compile events, publishers provide more opportunities The trichotomy of artist-curator-critic is expanding its to artists to publish artist books. margins where additional vocabularies add up to the dictionaries of visual arts, such as art dealer-curator, For statistical validation please continue to read, if uninterartist-writer, curator-critic, artist-curator, gallerist-crit- ested please jump to ‘**’ Section A:
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Thomas W. Eller in his text Criticism in a Specialized Public Service Industry informs us about the statistics in Germany: ‘In a 1999 study of the employment market for artists and publicists, the Social Science Research Center Berlin has traced this development and examined whether models for future working world realities could be divined from it. The good news to be gleaned from the study is this: art is a growth industry. In Germany, ca. 240,000 people were employed in 1995 in the broad cultural sector. The prognosis is that the number will almost double to 433,000 persons by 2010. This means that today already 1.3% of the labour force is employed in this sector, producing an estimated 4% of the gross national product. Between 1978 and 1995, the number of visual artists alone climbed by 118%. In the year 2002 there were officially 46,161 artists registered with the artists’ health insurance plan, the Kunstlersozialkasse, making up 38.25% of all those working in the creative fields registered there. According to the Federal Association of German Galleries, the revenues of the artists they represent increased by 6 to 10% annually between 1996 and 1998. These are rates of increase which one can dream about in their venues in Germany.’2 ** In this beautiful picture something is challenging. In other words, the interplay is not a naïve one but a play of power and introducing influence over the masses (the audience). Before we start to elaborate on who this audience is, I would like to turn your attention to what is really happening in this picture. As a curator and critic, I do enjoy visiting exhibitions curated by artists or various art events with a different nature than I am used to.The phases of production grasp my interest and that is where I would like to take you. Besides the excitement that comes from new influences and new approaches towards notions of display and making things public, the formulation of attitude stays within the existing anthology. That is to say, although we are floating over the positions and exchanging stances, the way it is realised is mostly taken as wearing the dresses of the other. Mostly, also in the line of commissions, when an artist is curating a show, he or she tries to become like the curator he has idealised and follows the imaginary steps of that curator. Hence the interplay does not expand the horizons of curating, nor exhibition making, but stays within its territories. Another example of staying within the territories is the institutionalisation of the curator for the sake of being able to make things public on a larger scale. Hence we approximate towards the genre of cinema where we are surrounded by blockbuster exhibitions, and/or exhibitions that want to be like them. And the responsibility of this is not singular. We are all in it and
we are all part of the current situation. Interruption. Quoting Boris Groys: ‘At least since the 1960s, artists have created installations in order to demonstrate their personal practices of selection. These installations, however, have been nothing other than exhibitions curated by artists, in which objects by others may be – and are – represented, as well as objects by the artist. […] In short, once the identification between creation and selection has been established, the roles of the artist and of the curator also became identical. A distinction between the (curated) exhibition and the (artistic) installation is still commonly made, but it is essentially obsolete.’3 The Encounter. The picture I am drawing now is not an overly pessimistic one unless we restart to value the course of encounter with the arts. Under the rain of events, projects, exhibitions, openings, biennials, festivals, fairs, conferences, it seems to me that we have given up our excitement about art. We are following the methodology of colonialism through mapping, charting and categorizing everything we see, which we see in a snapshot. Under the heavy rain, we are running out of time; there is always another exhibition to see, a conference to attend, a party to mingle at.The encounters in timelessness span the experience of art. Additionally, due to immense textual explanations embedded in the spaces of exhibitions, there is a lesser need to see what is to be seen. In other words, with the help of each explanatory text, as the audience we are introduced to what we are seeing, what the set of references are and why the piece is important, challenging, spectacular, striving and sexy. An encounter for the curious reader. Irit Rogoff stresses the potentiality of looking away4 from art onto its audience. In a recent talk at The Showroom in London, Rogoff also expressed her interest in the unhappy audience: the audience that turns away from art and participates in the space of the spectator as the spectator of art. This moment was a crucial moment to think upon the notion of happiness while questioning the possible reasoning of asking for unhappiness in the encounter. What draws me into art is the resonance that sparkles with the encounter and that lasts in an undefined period of time. Let it be a minute or an hour or some years or a lifetime. I might sound overly romantic about my ideas on art but let me be so. For me a happy audience is not the one who only leaves the space of arts joyously, but also the one who experiences an engagement through feeling, thinking, questioning, which leads him or her to an urge to share.
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The Partners in Crime. Following the fault lines in this picture, let us talk about some factuality: economy, relations, interest and benefits. Artists are continuously being asked to activate the spaces of encounter and so mostly create a site-located work with an interactive nature. Curators and critics are demanded to produce texts that are more of a translation than an articulation for the sake of reaching a wider public. (But where is this massive body of public? Whom are we reaching actually?) Institutions expect from their curators to continuously produce opulent volumes of exhibition catalogues that will praise the name of the institution through displaying its financial strength, its visionary choice and its wide umbrella with visual and conceptual density. Large-scale exhibitions mostly appear as a gathering of images around a meta-narrative or a grandiose idea that the exhibition is structured upon. Institutions race towards becoming the most prestigious spaces for showing art. Art fairs compete to gather significant (powerful) galleries on their premises. Countries (with strong economical power) start up new funding possibilities to support their fellow artists’ continuity of production. Art schools introduce postgraduate studies to further intellectual engagement. Corporate companies support festivals, biennials in order to strengthen their patronage.
tion of cities through tourism; accordingly, the role of the curator is increasingly promotional.’5 Artist Facilitates + Curator as Auteur => Critic in Schizophrenia BE Magazine’s thematic part in the 15th issue intends to perpetuate their tradition of activating current debates on and around art and pays a visit to the curator as auteur. The editors announce their polemical tone of questioning this dying friend as: ‘It asks what is left of the heritage of art’s historical free thinkers in this global system, which function as neatly and fluently as the assembly line in the Transparent Manufacture.’6 Auteur director draws a metaphor between the parallel industries of film and art. ‘In doing so, it asks what has become of the auteurs of curating who would be able to bring about a breach in the shallow consensus that prevails among the protagonists between Gwangju and Berlin.’7 Additional. ‘The auteur theory arose in film discourse in the 1950s out of the frustration felt by an emerging generation of critics and filmmakers at the lack of recognition granted to directors who worked in the big studios, personified by stars and overseen by name-above-thetitle moguls. Under this system studio heads held all the cards, actors were the glamorous ‘talent’ and directors were moved from project to project at the whim of managers and were sent packing when they pushed their own vision too hard. All in all, it was an assembly line from which the ‘art of cinema’ issued like brandname goods of collective or anonymous design. … With this parallel in mind, it is unsurprising that many curators feel disgruntled. (The fact that most are also underpaid while being obliged to witness orgies of spending doesn’t help morale.) Correspondingly, the thought that advocates might rescue their reputations from oblivion like those of Sam Fuller, Ida Lupino, Douglas Sirk and William Wyler is understandably appealing. In the fullness of time scholars may yet argue the case on behalf of a handful of those now crowding the curatorial ranks. By general agreement the late Harald Szeeman has probably attained auteur status already. Applying a metaphysical aestheticism, an agile craftsman’s ingenuity and cheerful political shrewdness to making exhibitions that covered a staggering range of work over a period of nearly 50 years, his achievement was palpably shaped by a sensibility that transcends the contingencies and occasional opportunism that otherwise inflected it.’8 -> Further reading recommendation:
Interruption. ‘In their 1989 essay “From Museum Curator to Exhibition Auteur”, the French sociologists Nathalie Heinrich and Michael Pollak argue that within the space of a generation, the role of the curator has changed from a depersonalised profession, oriented around the fourfold task of ‘safeguarding the heritage, enriching collections, research and display’, to a position of singularity in one area in particular: the presentation of works to the public. In their eyes, this change took place as a result of a rise in the number of exhibitions in museums (both permanent displays and temporary shows), a diversification of disciplines that can be exhibited (from natural history museums to commercial art fairs), and the growth of exhibitions by cultural institutions (monographic, thematic, geographical, historical, etc). The latter in particular requires new functions, which they describe as ‘an enlarged administrative role, determining a conceptual framework, selecting specialised collaborators from various disciplines, directing work crews, consulting with an architect, assuming a formal position in terms of presentation, organising the publishing of an encyclopaedic catalogue, etc.’ It is significant that all of these roles are also a question of competition and marketing: there are more exhibitions because there are more venues for contemporary art, which in turn play an important role in the regenera- http://www.frieze.com/issue/article/reading_circle/
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*** The crisis in criticism has long been announced. In 1963 Albrecht Febri, and in 1977 Mieczyslaw Porebski denounced their uneasiness about the ongoing production of critics and their position in the society (of arts). In the year 2000 Maurice Berger published the book The Crisis of Criticism where he brought together a delicate study of the currency. Criticism emerged as an agent of modernism introducing the avant-garde, according to Hanno Rauterberg, and needs a core of credibility that is self-reflexive without being self-referential. In the condition where curators are positioned as the guardians of the ‘new’, there emerges the schizophrenia of the critic: the critics’ fear of criticism. Unlike curators or artists, critics are asked to obey a certain set of rules in order to fulfil their role. Hence the critic shall, at all times, develop criteria, and argue on it logically with the categorical self-isolation of a guild of critics. Over production On a deserted land Of criticality. Receiving e-flux mailings are beneficial not only to get to know what is happening in established institutions, but also to catch up with the latest styles of press release writing. All texts are different from each other on a very fine line. An installation artist’s work might also be the work of a performance artist on the very basis that their issues are alike and the way their works are described resemble each other.The language of guiding the audience into the works is so similar that we can almost talk about a new tradition in creative writing: copy & paste. I actually do not want to be so harsh on the recent press releases. My consideration stems from their unconnected nature with the works. We no longer look at the work, we read the text that accompanies it, we hear the curator or director talking about it, we read the critic’s descriptive review on it. Moreover, mainstream media function as disseminators and documenters of exhibition calendars, thus as chronicles of the art industry that they are ‘the’ trend announcers, statement issuers and audience attractors; hence the critics work for them shall fall in line of their stance. If you think the future is of the artists please stop reading the text and visit an exhibition immediately. If you think the future is of the curators please purchase the recently published book A brief history of Curating by Hans Ulrich Obrist. Reviews say it is very enjoyable to read.
When we try to make a broad definition of the last half decade and the changes that were introduced throughout, we can say that the 70s have been marked with installation art which also influenced independent curating, the 90s have been the era of the curator as the gatekeeper of the ‘new and exciting’, the 2000s are marked with various institutional approaches into the domain of the arts. Where do we go from here? In the midst of overgrowth, artists, curators and critics with a stance are asking for a criticality. We, as cultural producers, are praising the criticality and the significance of having a critical stance. The near future is in need of elaborate articulations, independent perspectives and the embodiment of productive togetherness. Lastly, the future will be of the critic because of the shifting balance in authorial positions. The artists, through involvement in collective initiations, and the curators, through theorizing the potentiality of cooperation, have moved away from having an authorial position on their own towards a shared (mostly negotiated) one. Today, the critic who has been distanced from the public and the artist scene holds the potential of introducing an authorial position. That is to say, in the 60s the critics were much closer to the public and they were the agencies of art through their involvement in the public discourse. The critic’s embraced state of being in society shifted as they moved closer to the artist and started a flirt, though the artist was not as open as the public to host someone who is like a friend with a sharp pen. Hence a metamorphosis started; critics who wanted to stay closer to the artists produced pieces that were more in line with what their friends expected from them, and critics who wanted to go back to the societal space were left alone and thus started to grow a bitter feeling about writing on art. Although I have told you this story like a soap opera plot, please consider reading between the lines. Thus, I personally believe that the future will be of the critic since he will be the one who renews the authorial positions. And it is not a singular happy story; we will all go along as far as we allow ourselves to invent new ways of producing and sharing, as far as we allow ourselves to step out of the narrowing circle of institutionalisation for the sake of sharing the growing cake of economy. Conclusion: Many of you might think that I cannot be a multiplechoice-crime-novel writer.You might have a point.
If none of the above, or you do not have a choice, please continue reading.
1 Hanno Rauterberg, Critic’s Turn The crisis of criticism – and how to avoid it, Be Magazine, Issue #11, Kuenstlerhaus Bethanien Publications, 2004, p. 8 2 Thomas W. Eller, Criticism in a Specialized Public Service Industry, Be Magazine, Issue #11, Kuenstlerhaus Bethanien Publications, 2004, p. 26 3 Claire Bishop, ‘What is a Curator?’, Be Magazine, issue #15, Kunstlerhaus Bethanien, Berlin, 2008, p. 121 4 Looking Away: Participations in Visual Culture. In: After Criticism—New Responses to Art and Perfomance. Blackwell Publishing, 2004 5 Claire Bishop, ‘What is a Curator?’, Be Magazine, issue #15, Kunstlerhaus Bethanien, Berlin, 2008, pp. 131 – 132 6 Editorial, Be Magazine, issue 15, Kunstlerhaus Bethanien, Berlin, 2008 7 Patrick Boris Kremer,The Auteur. Preface and Obituary, Be Magazine, Issue #15, Kunstlerhaus Bethanien, Berlin, 2008 8 http://www.frieze.com/issue/article/the_exhibitionists/
This piece has first been published in the five-year book of press to exit project space,THINK! THINK! THINK! Expanding the present, launching the future. Published by press to exit project space / Idealist, 2009. ISBN 978-9989-2776-3-4
Maartje Fliervoet Zero Panorama, 2010 Pages 10/11
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NOTES ON DASHED LINES (IN THEIR RELATIVE IMPORTANCE)
hall’s foyer area, a material space un-representable in the ground floor plan by continuous lines. Because orthogonal projection is not capable of depicting materialities lying behind the viewer, dashed lines indicate the existence of this void in the ceiling. They signify materialities which are geometrically invisible but have been included in the drawing nonetheless. As depictions of architectural elements, which would otherwise be absent in the floor level a plan seeks to represent, dashed lines form representations of representations. An essential part of architectural practice is the en- They indicate building parts, which are represented in deavour to make buildings visible by means of drawing. another drawing. Architectural projects aim to challenge (contemporarily and historically) how lines can be deployed as corre- In the case of the philharmonic hall, dashed lines depict lates for the position, form and scale of building parts, a hexagon in the middle of several floor plans, only as conveyors of the spatial organization of a building as to reveal its actual nature through fully becoming a yet to come or already existing. Lines embody material continuous line in the sixth floor (+15.57 to +16.00m). matter as much as they incorporate the procedures by What is represented here is the envelope of the auwhich they are formed. The meaning of lines derives ditorium being the centrepiece of the philharmonic from what they represent and how they do so. hall. Dashed lines register how the auditorium expands from floor to floor until it reaches its maximum width The most thoroughly applied drawing process in archi- and the whole space is contained by an external wall. tecture (particularly for plans) is orthogonal projec- In the plans from ground to fifth level, continuous lines tion. It geometrically defines how building parts can represent many spaces located below the stands, but be represented in unambiguous and measurable terms. fail to represent the presence of the auditorium above. Drawings are determined by idealized arrangements It is dashed lines, which are used supportively in conof one view point and a plane of projection to make stantly referencing this space. materialities visible without distortion of proportions or shortening of distances. The act of seeing is differ- Dashed lines allow us to comprehend the changes a ently constructed here, as lines of projection intersect building undergoes floor-by-floor. If a building were in infinity and are directed orthogonally to the plane organized unvaryingly from bottom to top, no dashed of projection. All architectural elements will always lie lines would exist. An external wall that is vertical in front of the viewer, but never behind her/him. Vis- throughout, which does not bend, does not fold, does ible edges of architectural elements are eventually ex- not cantilever, will be represented as a continuous line pressed through continuous lines whereas materialities in all floor plans. Floors that have the same form from hidden behind other building parts are conventionally bottom to top, without openings, perforations, balcodepicted as dashed lines.1 nies, will be represented as a defined area throughout. Continuous lines could then represent a building most In the plans of Hans Scharoun’s Berlin philharmonic effectively. Despite concise procedures for renderhall2, dashed lines attain a very different meaning which ing buildings visible, dashed lines depict building parts contradicts the rules of orthogonal projection. In the which are regarded as relevant as to be shown in limground floor plan (-0.32 to +0.64m), rectangles and ited, not comprehensive, but indicative manner. They lines made of dashes appear seemingly undefined in speak of a buildings nature that exceeds to be repretheir representational character. They float between sented by geometrically defined means. continuous lines, are connected to them, intersect one another and sometimes fade out abruptly. They do not Buildings like the philharmonic hall require to be reprealign to represent the walls of the building’s foyer or sented by unambiguous visibilities like continuous lines. the vastness of space lying between them as do contin- By the same token dashed lines will indicate the overall uous lines. Nor are they representing a basement floor scheme of a building. Refined, accurate and unambiguin its hidden nature as orthogonal projection would ous depictions may be well equipped to give a detailed suggest. A level below the ground floor simply does insight into the organisation of a building’s floor, but not exist. It is in the plan of the second floor (+4.16 they can only depict an edifices complexity in conjuncto +6.08m) where dashed lines suddenly start to make tion with signifiers of the whole building. Only when sense through what they become. They transform into a floor plan indicates its position within a sequence continuous lines that represent passages and balco- of floor plans, a comprehension of a building can be nies intersecting the air space above the philharmonic obtained. Then a building appears as an aggregate of TH + 13
many architectural layers and dimensions and not as a repetitive stacking of standard floors, as an edifice indeed consisting of varied spaces and ambiences, qualities, which cannot be summed up through procedures of geometrical measurement. Dashed lines support visibilities, which defined rules of orthogonal projection, are incapable to produce, which continuous lines are unable to cater for. By being of complementary nature, dashed lines reveal the limits of normative drawing procedures and point out how important it is to relativise the definite in representation. In their form and knowledge implied, dashed lines exemplify visibilities, which require the obvious to be supported by the subtle, the fore with a background, and the one with the many. Dashed lines are of relative importance.
References: 1 For a detailed discussion of orthogonal projection: - James Ackerman, Origins, Imitation, Conventions: Representations in the Visual Arts (Cambridge, MA: MIT Press, 2002) - Robin Evans, “Architectural Projection“, in Architecture and its Image: Four Centuries of Architectural Representation, ed. E. Blau, E. Kaufman (Camrbdige, MA: MIT Press, 1989) - Gaspard Monge, Géométrie descriptive (Paris: 1847) 2 The plans referred to hereby are reprinted in: - Eckehard Janofske, ed., Architektur-Räume (Braunschweig & Wiesbaden:Vieweg & Sohn, 1984) Figure 2: Plan of second floor (+4.16 to +6.08m) p.83 Figure 3: Plan of third floor (+7.04 to +8.80m) p.84 Figure 4: Plan of sixth floor (+15.57 to +16.00m) p.87 - Peter Pfannkuch, ed., Hans Scharoun – Bauten, Entwürfe, Texte (Berlin: Gebr. Mann, 1974) Figure 1: Plan of ground floor (-0,32 to +0.64m) p.295
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Poster ‘After Talk’
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After Talk1 They had reached the top. But now, at the very edge of the big top, they didn’t know what to do next. Effort means nothing by itself.2 This is a text about a theatre-dance piece. Artists in the big top: three performers enter stage. They’re listening to an audio track through headphones, we see them listening. As the artists come onto the stage, they plug themselves into these headphones, the output of which the public won’t hear. They’re too high up for us to grasp what’s in those headphones, or for them to hear us breathe for that matter. That distance, the question of that ‘we’ – down there, up there – has been subject of many of the works of these artists. Again they do it – they climb to the big top. But this time they’ve got headphones to direct or distract them once they’re up there. There’s also a microphone on stage, transmitting the live noise that the artists are producing up there – squeaking shoes, muffled cries, amplified and sometimes even distorted by a sound mixer. While the visual dimension appears pretty straightforward – a room, three bodies, dresses, a table, some action - the aural dimension troubles us somewhat.The linear progression of the visual is what we hold on to, even if we can’t make sense of it. The sounds are just too intangible and mixed - speakers blast anything from barking to squeaking to whispers at us, as the performers go about their business. What business? They seem to be very busy making this spectacle happen for us, acting out this show, exercising their performing capacities. We don’t have a clue what it’s all about, but it almost seems they’re exorcising something, so we keep gazing on respectfully, assuming we’ll get the code sooner or later. They perform, mute like little worker bees, who hum and flap their wings to entertain, or like dancing elephants, whose acrobatics and growling is key to the piece. All this we see and hear, and are perplexed. They’re not perplexed: they brought their headphones this time. Some sounds amplified, some remixed for us, but their aural dimension is autonomous from ours: they’re listening to a different chorous. Some gestures repeated, rehearsed, for us. A woman kneels and barks into a microphone, repeatedly, trying to get it right: two men encourage her to try again. They seem to know what they’re aiming at, up there, while we are left clueless and suspended. These performers may be listening to a series of instructions or to a score, via their headphones. Maybe this is their support for performing, an aid to memory.
Or they may be listening to music, maybe even the radio, bad pop or the classical channel, we don’t have any idea. Maybe music is their support for performing, after all they are dancers. But we don’t see the dance. What the hell are they doing? It seems so clumsy yet so coordinated and precise.We soon realise that it will be complicated to answer that question, to figure out who is directing whom, or what parts are improvised. Those headphones are inaccessible to us, a big mystery. We are left to speculate, to our own fantasy. We have to find another way to answer the question about their clues for performing. Initially we wonder: is the guy at the mixing desk the master of ceremony, is the girl some kind of sexy slave, or is she leading the game, are they directing each other via pre-recorded audio? Or maybe these headphones are just fake, mere decoys? So many objects and moves to deceive us, so much effort to present something to us, at the big top. At work, people are busy We soon realize these people are busy. Sweating. We leave them alone, observe. They’re obviously working their asses off for something – perhaps for us. Why? Aside from speculation about their true intentions and emotions, we can tell this is obviously work and it’s obviously directed at us, performed for us, the audience. These people are producing an experience for us. They make that production visible because they want to reveal something about it, for sure. But they’re probably also up there because they got funding, they need to make a living. Compared to other theatre experiences, that production is uncannily visible. As with much work – cleaning, caring, serving - we usually consider theatre work well done if its efforts remain invisible, if things just flow, but here they don’t at all. There’s more than a hint at the work behind the scenes here. There is nothing left of this piece but work: it is work. Compulsive work, or cynical work, we don’t know. Granted, maybe they sincerely couldn’t be bothered to figure out how to disguise all the technical aspects of the piece, such as headphones and mixer. Maybe they really are lazy workers, bad workers, B-workers, socalled unskilled workers.We don’t know how this messy scene came about.We ‘re faced with people performing some kind of script, just as Jehova’s witnesses do at our door, driven by something we can’t fathom. While the theatre is supposed to reveal to our eyes works of art, here it reveals something that looks rather like effort, desperate even. We’re used to claiming that if that happens, something must have gone wrong in the making of art – unprofessional! Crap! No illusion, no cinematic effect, no sublime! But let’s not forget: these are clever workers, they know what they’re doing –
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they know they’re out of breath,they know the difference between a B-movie and a Hollywood blockbuster.They know they’re performing a B-movie when they could have made a blockbuster. What stopped them from making one? The mysterious indications provided by a computerized voice at the beginning, telling us about our possible expectations and disappointments, only reinforce our confusion about the plot, while giving us the sense that we’re in a bad dream, one of our B-dreams. It’s strange to be told about ones possible expectations: makes any experience uncanny, makes one want to think that one had no expectations. But… Half an hour into the piece, if we’re still around, we face it: no idea what’s going on. We see what we see, we see what we get, we take what we get, we’re not sure if we’re getting what we wanted. But we paid for this. And who could disregard so much effort, who could disrespect so much work. It’s almost endearing. And scary. Annoying. And maybe clever. Not sure if we should be charmed or offended. In any case we can’t really pull the ‘too clumsy, no magic’ argument on these folks, because they’re obviously not out to get us that kind of magic, the cine-magic. This is another kind of circus, realism beyond itself: reality. Effort. Contracted work. The performers brought their own Ipods to get through with it. Those headphones make me think of the function of the radio at building sites.
effect. It’s almost like they’re amateurs. But we know they’re not. They’ve danced on prestigious stages and been funded by state and private bodies. Something must have gone wrong with the contract here, seemingly. Maybe the theatre-institution contracted them unaware of the acts of sabotage they were capable of - or unaware of their tiredness, maybe their laziness. Perhaps the performers got so sick of working with each other or with the big top that they decided to pull this one off quickly, to not care. Or maybe we read the programme wrongly, or read the wrong programme, or maybe these folks have lost their mind and forgot what’s at stake in a contract . A contract, not least of all between performers and audience. We expect magic. We deserve entertainment, at least. But again we must hesitate – it’s not like there is no magic here. Perhaps there’s plenty. And it’s not like there’s no dance, no show, no ritual. Jose Gil says of the function of dance in tribal societies: We know that dance is one particularly effective way to get into a trance, at the same time as it initiates all the destructuring effects ethnopsychoanalysis talks about (loss of sense of direction through confusion of the balance mechanism, disorientation and distressed feelings of space and time, and so on). Dance exfoliates the body for a metamorphosis for a becoming-other that will be possession.3
Indeed these guys seem possessed. Ha. By an unknown soundtrack perhaps. Those artists are strange animals. We don’t know what’s directed and what’s not, by The artists are too busy or tired to make us believe they whom, what the lion heads are doing there on the are loving their work, or that they are truly engrossed floor. It looks like the performers are, exorcising, in feeling it. The lion head comes on and off without but what, why? What are they becoming, or what much ado. Nothing builds up except our perplexity. But do they want us to become? We’re disoriented. So these folk are dancing to their own music, somehow. many signs, so little determination. Or rather - total It’s not the usual attitudes we know from the art world overdetermination, multiplication of possible meanings – sublimely disengaged or wholeheartedly engaged - to no end – exhaustion of our capacity to make sense. no, these artists are unspectacularly busy, but they’re Crazy dance, crazy bodies. We have to find another getting on with it. They’re providing a service. What do way of inhabiting the magic of this work – that is, of they know that we don’t? What’s in those headphones? work - if we’re going to get beyond the demons. What truth is spoken in there, what do they know about us that we don’t? There must be some truth if But the brutal uncertainty as to its direction just this institution authorized the performance... this is a smacks us hard. We’re used to things being done correctly, transparently. No trace of that on this stage. theatre, we paid for this, for crying out loud! We believe that political correctness protects us from violence, and for a while we see this view justified in What’s in a contract? the chaotic display of violence before us. They broke Whatever punctual moments of expressiveness we the contract! But in more than one way, there’s more glimpse, they seem to come at random times, and in transparency here than in a policy document: we follow such cliché ways that we feel they’re just a bonus for us, every gesture, we see all the persons involved in the a little meat as a treat, for having paid the fee to come play, we witness the disjunction of sight and sound, we in.The artists roar at us like lions, and jump around.We observe the alienation and possibly also the failure. No pity them for doing so much work with so little magical intermediary bling-bling effect, no fantastic rhetoric. CC + 18
There may be forces, but they’re not the forces of bling-bling - they’re pretty immanent, right here, forces of labour, somehow. We see what you don’t see: and it’s called work We hear what you don’t hear: and it’s called management It’s a bit like going into a supermarket, where all should be clean, ordered and friendly, but then we see puddles of blood accumulating at the bottom of packages of meat, we see black rings under the eyes of cashiers, rashes on their hands, CCTV cameras, backdoors opening onto dirty yards where outdated produce is locked into bins while coughing staff smoke.Yet we walk in there and we want to have it nice. Shop a bit.We know there’s plenty of monitoring processes generating the experience we’re having, but we’d rather leave it hidden, because we agree with the managers that certain things work best when invisible. Reproductive work, mise en scène. Work and management tend to be two key objects of hiding, either concealed in nice rhetoric or literally stuck behind a wall. We don’t know how many layers of management underpin this experience. We don’t know if our experience coincides with that of the performers. No idea whether the girl at the cashier is bloody angry, whether she’s contractually limited to a set of scripted phrases, if she genuinely meant to address us with her smile, if the lion shirt was imposed on her by the animal welfare lobbying committee of the supermarket, whether she has slept sufficiently, whether she is counting minutes or seconds silently, whether she is reciting Mille Plateaus silently, whether her manager is watching her on CCTV. After Talk is a piece that resembles a Ryanair flight: work being done with little pretense, with minimal efforts at hiding. The few attempts at a service with a smile, at affectively correct labour, at hiding the crappiness of everything, pass almost on the register of the comical because they are so sparse, so rushed. Staff don’t have time for good attitude, even though they are instructed to perform it. Costs have been cut so much that there’s no minute of extra time on anyone’s hands, nor anything resembling fair pay or workers rights. Of course in the theatre we may expect to get a good dosage of serious artist attitude, someone providing more than a service, because this is a space of encounter after all, of genuine confrontation, these are people with rights, liberties, ideas, fees... But where there’s not time, there’s no creative magic. After Talk is a piece that hands us back our expectations in a strange way. Deal with this yourself: this is your expectation. Look, we
Still from: ‘Artisten in der Zirkuskuppel: ratlos.’ (‘The Artists in the Big Top: Perplexed’) Directed & written by Alexander Kluge, 1968
are holding on to our dignity even if we know this isn’t working for anyone anymore. Fake smiles and mediocre service: so what? I’m doing my job. In after talk, that job becomes visible, the entire piece has the charm and character of a blow job.And so: maybe once we’ve accepted that, we can talk...? Like the lions in the circus, and the ‘The Artists in the Big Top: Perplexed’’4, the deal is ambivalent: we’re here to produce this experience for you, passionately, and indeed that implies work. This frankness comes across as an insult to some lovers of theatre. Who are we in this? ‘We’ audience and ‘we’ altogether in the room... how does the framework of service provision impact our sense of ‘we’ in the theatre? What techniques and rules are actually at play here? Who’s managing this performance, who’s managing us? Is this irony, or cynicism, or merely opportunism? Just a job? It feels like we need to invent a new register of being in common in order to find ways to relate to each other across all this crazy dancing. How could we expect this not to be a B-Movie, when everywhere else in the world the same logic seems to take over too: crappy attempts at keeping efforts and contracts invisible.We’ve seen that play so many times, let’s have a different conversation after this show. Postscript: Self-management and work In the arts, as we know, people are mostly engaged in work that is flexibilized, temporary and self-managed
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– precarious – much service work functions similarly. Doing this work, we check ourselves all the time, and refer to all kinds of techniques of self-management to make sure we succeed: to gain skills and to project goals for example. Self-management techniques help us assure we produce the right aspirations.This production is part of our work. We produce our own desired levels of performance – more, faster, better - which mostly correspond with the industrial standards.We’re not sure which of our desires are produced on a mass scale and which ones derive from our own processes: this distinction seems increasingly problematic. And mostly pragmatism wins when it comes to deciding: we know what it takes to survive. We need to perform in order to survive, we need to play the game, we need to make a living.
make a point of it.
We realize we know very little of the working conditions of these performers. What kind of money, how much? What temporality? What other jobs on the side, what problems, what rights? No idea. Not sure if these performers reflect much on this either, but for sure they seem very tired. They wear themselves out completely, they knock themselves around the stage in attempts to produce movement, dynamics, they wear fancy gear, they produce effects.They’re broken theatresubjects, art-machines that no longer work. They seem hopeless in looking for a shared movement: one sees them repeat scenes and gestures, trying to be in tune. They’re trying to be virtuosic, to improvise well. But they know that’s where they’re at, and they seem to
There’s much violence in the fact that the performers in After Talk don’t raise their voice and ask us to help address this. Perhaps this is most shocking in experiencing AfterTalk. Not because we are any more hopelessly dependent on others, on the state or on technologies than we used to be, but because we are supposed to repress the fact that we indeed depend on things. We think it’s either total autonomy (no strings, or only self-held strings) or absolute dependency (all strings held by another). Why did these artists climb to the big top? They do need a few strings up there, to keep them from falling down, to hold them together in what they’re doing. To care for eachother, too. They know this, and maybe the audio they’re listening to is a
Similar to the puppet master in Pasolinis’ ‘What are the clouds’, they themselves hold the strings that direct them, yet those strings are constrained. They only reach as far as the stage goes: come off the big top, and you’ll notice your self-motivating strings don’t work anymore. That’s because these strings are indeed attached to something more than the selves of the actors. To their phones, their facebook page, their funding applications, their unemployment benefits, their lovers and pimps. Contemporary technological forms permit it, contemporary paradigms of networked and flexibilized labour pretty much prescribe it: thinking oneself as ones own master while avoiding to trace back the strings.
Still from: ‘Che cosa sono le nuvole’ (‘What are the clouds?’) Directed by Pier Paolo Pasolini, third part of ‘Capriccio all’italiana’, 1967
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manifestations of their shared strings. Why don’t they share it with us? This leads us to question the conditions for speaking out at the big top, a question we’re familiar with. We need to invent the answer anew every time. The experience of being given supposed spaces representation whilst feeling utterly hopeless, unable to make them meaningful, the struggle to organize our own doings without at the same time micro-managing ourselves in complicity with the powers of spectacle – that’s what life is like at the big top. And it’s a truly big top, much bigger than the stage. In the end, After Talk confronts us with pretty challenging questions around power, dependency and autonomy. It doesn’t matter if we like the piece: the negative affect it produces is part of the problem the piece lays out. The feeling of being caught in loops and layers of management just isn’t a nice one. If After Talk pushes the stage performance beyond the dimension of polite dialogue or nice show by confronting us with the violence of what we may call postfordist work, control society, or many other things, it also invites us to inhabit those spaces differently. If it pushes us beyond the interpretative framework of the usual after-talk format, because the loops of feedback, discipline and control are so tightly woven in this piece that we can’t easily fall back on the authorship narrative, then the question is what kind of engagement we want now, after this.
1After Talk’ is a piece by Paz Rojo, Ricardo Santana and Doctor Korugo, premiered in 2009 2’Artisten in der Zirkuskuppel: ratlos.’ (’The Artists in the Big Top: Perplexed’) Directed and written by Alexander Kluge, 1968 3 Jose Gil, Metamorphoses of the Body, University of Minnesota Press, 1998, p.167 4 ‘Artisten in der Zirkuskuppel: ratlos.’ (‘The Artists in the Big Top: Perplexed’) Directed and written by Alexander Kluge, 1968
This piece is published under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-Share Alike 3.0 License.
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Nature Morte - The Cycle The Autobiographical Show 2010
The following two photographs are two-dimensional drafts of the autobiographical show, which has not happened yet. The paintings, 1998-99 and the photograph, 2008, both display a â€˜Still lifeâ€™ genre. They are to be exhibited on two walls opposite each other. Background as well as frame, image legend, barriers, coloring, and lighting should back the essence and specifics of the displayed artworks and create one artistic and biographical space partitioned by time and approach.
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The Time Between the Two: Simon Pope’s A Common Third
certain senses - thereby effecting the way in which we perceive the environment and directing us onto readymade paths of a certain understanding.
15 January - 28 February 2010 Danielle Arnaud, London
What moves as a body, returns as a movement of thought.1 Walking is often engaged in as a solitary, reflective, yet public activity. Walkers in the urban environment, camouflaged against the speed of the city, perhaps can only be singled out by attention to their velocity in opposition to it. In other words, perhaps those walking can only be recognised by others sharing a certain speed of the body and so implicitly comprise a temporary society. A society of perambulists, solitary explorers on foot, perhaps exchanging observations and stories at lines of intersection. In his book London Walking (2000) Simon Pope set out to write a practical manual, a toolkit, or as the cover sleeve puts it, a “handbook for survival”, for potential fellow urban walkers. Not intended as a series of directions but offering different ways of attending to or understanding the city, the handbook, which could be read as an invitation to walk with Pope, is currently still in progress. It is presently open to revision via contributions on a wiki linked to his ‘ambulant science’ website. These publications aren’t Pope’s first forays into the more speculative and networked aspects of knowledge-production. As one of a trio forming the British artist collective I/O/D in the late 1990’s, Pope produced a series of what he called ‘speculative software’ the last of which was I/O/D 4: the Web Stalker. The Web Stalker, a free stand-alone program downloadable from the collective net.art server Backspace, exposed the object status of the html page as a “latent fluid structure” by making visible, or dynamically actualising the encoded (or decoratively camouflaged) structure and network of linked pages. The group in a 1998 interview with Rhizome described the work as a ‘sensorium’, or a mode of sensing on the Internet, and suggested that the Web Stalker, by engaging the Internet in a different speed and mode of visualisation from other browsers, acted to unmask the commercially motivated drama of the mouse-click.2 In doing this, the work questioned the mask or the medium as a political structure managing our speed of movement (and perhaps as McLuhan and others have suggested, the disclosure of information) by hierarchically framing
In the terrain of contemporary art, perhaps still ambivalently buzzing in the aftermath of framing terms such as relational aesthetics, the art of the everyday, and in particular, wandering without a object goal in mind as a mode of production, is not an unusual phenomenon; this can be traced back to the concept of the flaneur and to psychogeography as coined by Debord. Although these ideas may not be new, practices which engage the body, be they playful or mundane, such as in walking as art practice, continue to invoke alternate modes of perception within the politics of the contemporary visual horizon and seem especially relevant when the practice becomes collective. Since 2000, Pope has taken his walking towards instigating a variety of projects into modes of sensing, transmission and in particular into ways of ‘being together’ in the present and (re)visiting or embodying through recollection. His latest project, A Common Third, is a series of improvised walks in which invited guests (who are all in the business of framing things) embark with the artist on a one to one negotiation of unfamiliar territories. Neither the artist nor the fellow walker have ever been physically present in the locations, but bring with them a culturally historic knowledge of the area. In A Common Third (2010) at Danielle Arnaud in London, Pope revisits the material generated through two these of these walks in a series of audio installations during the duration of the exhibition. The audio used in the installation is not documentation made during the time of the walk. Rather it was made some time after the event, and is further (re)located at a temporal distance from it. In the first walk of an ongoing series, A Common Third (Pamela Woof, 2010), Pope invited Pamela Woof, a lecturer in literature and president of the Wordsworth Trust, to walk with him in the Lake District –their eventual negotiated trajectory was a loop between Grasmere and Easedale Tarn. This landscape is significant in that it represents that associated with and once inhabited by the English poet Wordsworth whose creative process was in keeping with the Romantic practice of “being together through walking together”.3 In the installation, the pair in turn, reanimate sites of memory, (re)constructing the course of their walk through dialogue with each other. The installation itself was physically comprised of a pair of speakers, with the two voices panned hard left and right, giving at once point-source localisation, and participating in the space in between the auditor/viewer and the work.
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Photo: Sarah Cullen, 2009
Each audio-speaker, standing along a human eyeline on tripods, broadcast a solo voice and, located at some distance from each other, were in the separate spaces of adjoining empty rooms. As the voices interacted, their turn-taking in conversation gave a left-right alternation reminiscent of the walkers gait - occasionally pausing to contemplate the terrain. At this gazing pace, the broadcast voices, in gentle and considerate turns, alternated between each other while also alternating between following and creating the contours of the terrain in the past and the present tense, thereby, remotely allowing it to exist simultaneously in different times and spaces. Alone in the exhibition I felt very aware that within it I, as listener, had intercepted an ongoing conversation which would carry on regardless of my presence. Although this was apparent, located in-between the speakers, my bodily presence acted as a kind of conduit in which I created a series of imaginal images travelling on foot here amid the collective recollection. This network of memories sketched colours, textures, visibility and the feeling underfoot in a subjective, but almost impersonal way, which not only made visible a version of the terrain, but allowed an opening for further participation within it. In the unfolding conversation the pair note the way in which their choices were determined by the natural and the more ‘formalised’ or socially constructed paths within the landscape. Obstacles to their perceived freedom of
movement were acknowledged in terms such as: “the path led us” and “there are no more decisions…one is in the hands of the path.” Movement is managed by the contours of the terrain both physical and conceptual. In some ways, this was analogous to my experience of the installation. Although my embodied perception of the sound and rhythm of the voices participating in the space allowed me to enter into the cartography, I was at the same time being led along the path of their narrative in progress. My perceptions were framed not only through the laws of a common language, and the personal and cultural memories transmitted within it, but also through what they (as individuals, and through collective negotiation) chose (un)consciously to attend to. Being in the installation made me think about a quote from Pope’s press release: “walking as an analogue to, and actual process of, being together”. I wondered whether walking together also referred to latent, fluid structure of the self within the social construction of the mediating letter and concept, ‘I’. Wordsworth researcher, Kelly Grovier in his article ‘Dream Walker: A Mystery Solved’ has recently suggested that Wordsworth had once met a man referred to as John ‘Walking’ Stewart and that he was the basis for Wordsworth’s spectral traveller in The Prelude.4 Walking Stewart, a philosopher who travelled the world by foot, believed that
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self was a socially constructed mirage overlaid onto the continual flux and interconnectedness of the material world. In Stewart’s obituary, John De Quincey stated that Stewart had the uncanny ability to be in more than one place at the same time (and from this he deduced that there must be three Walking Stewarts!). The article goes on to say that Stewart, when pressed for details of the more touristic and picturesque aspects of his world travels, responds that his walks did not take into account cultural customs, but were “travels of the mind.” Stewart himself may have been a fictitious ‘travel of the mind’, but the reverberations of his story seem to point towards an understanding of Pope’s A Common Third. The networks that Pope explores in the various components of this piece (the negotiated walk, the documented conversational (re)construction of the walk, and the audio installation of this documentation) all highlight different technologies of communication within which the sensing body is implicated and restricted in differing ways. All are experiments in different ways of navigation-creation of a landscape. In the audio installation there is a parallel between the John Walking Stewart and the auditor. A Common Third is ‘speculative’ in that it is exploratory and located in process, in the flux, the middle, in ‘acts’ of walking. Being speculative, implies a future-orientation but one that is not focused on a particular pre-conceived, habitual, fixed past or endpoint. In the process of ‘trying things out’ or auditioning, knowledge is open to revision. Walking as speculation in this piece is the temporal vehicle, which allows time to open-up and to explore the dialogue between doing and thinking. In other words, rather than the walking commuter, on autopilot, interested only in the most linear and time-efficient route, it is taking the time to walk with reflection or attentiveness to habitual modes of navigation and decisionmaking – and in the process sensing things that may have hereto remained invisible. My experience of the piece acted to highlight the two-way dialogue between perception and memory. It is not a case of travels of the mind versus travels of the body, but of attention to the relation embodied between the two.
1 Manning, Erin. Relationscapes: Movement, Art, Philosophy, MIT Press, 2009, (1). 2 http://www.rhizome.org/artbase/1694/nettime.html 3 Quote from A Common Third press release. 4 Grovier, Kelly. ‘Dream Walker: A Wordsworth Mystery Solved’ in Romanticism, Journal Volume 13, Number 2, 2007, 156-163.
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Daniela Paes Le達o Psycho Studies # 8, 2010 Pages 30/1 Psycho Studies # 10, 2010 Pages 32/3
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Old Ideas – Museum für Gegenwartskunst Basel 16 January – 14 March 2010 Curated by Silberkuppe
The entry point to the present necessarily takes the form of an archaeology. Giorgio Agamben Contemporary art is littered with old ideas, references, history and conventions. Old ideas frame, define contemporary practice even though it is expected to produce the new, the actual or even the future. This passage is taken from Silberkuppe’s press release for Old Ideas, latest product of the Berlin-based art space. Following the highly noticed – recently closed – Rooms Without Walls (Hayward Gallery Project Space, London), Old Ideas prolongs the Berliners’ curatorial explorations and concerns with the essential mechanisms of artistic and cultural production. Without a doubt, if there’s one contrariety that transverses both the making and presentation of art, it is the old-new dialectic. Not only does Silberkuppe take this constitutive anxiety as its
Gerry Bibby, “my space”, 2009 / Silberkuppe in der Pförtnerloge, Berlin
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horizon for aesthetic investigation, but in so doing, also sketches a index – albeit a fragmented one – of what an “idea” can be. Indeed, producing the new implies one’s participation within an economy of repetition and differentiation whose contours are pinpointed by what is deemed old and to be overcome. Hence, in this regard, “ideas” refer to different positions and modalities for action between the sensible and the intelligible and performing them inscribes the various versions of the notion in the following patterns: idea as object, idea as action and idea as potentiality. The curatorial manoeuvre behind Old Ideas thus consists in presenting new works engaging with artistic methods and critical intentions that are now canonised but that take the form of present commentaries on both art history and the landscape of the contemporary. Gerry Bibby’s poster-sculptures occupy the space in a fashion that fluctuates between fluidity and randomness. Cast in concrete and bearing textual elements (EAT ME/BEAT ME; happily dissatisfied insufficient quality), while radicalizing the project of concrete poetry, their rough – almost primitive – plastic qualities as well as their humble being-sculpture restrain them from any claim to monumentality. As for the work of interior architect and designer Jeannette Laverrière (born in 1909), through socially engaged interior designs, it is the relationship between habitat, materials and progressive politics that is highlighted. The relevancy of Laverrière’s contribution to the exhibition is two fold. Not only is it assuredly the steadiest com-
ment on the present judiciousness of some certain old ideas and, by resorting to the work of a designer, it also points at art’s porous boundaries and the necessity to engage outside the latter to produce relevancy as well as newness. Flirting with lights and text, which are at least as old as they have been essential to art, Dirk Bell’s work proves that they can be used to produce very corrosive comments, such as in the subliminal message of his lightbox Panikearth (2009) discreetly bearing the looks of a famous Swedish furniture brand. Also occupying the first room, Josephine Pryde’s photographic objects broaden the question of the museum context to the wider system of the art world, nothing less. Conceptually driven, her photographs mounted on tubes and horizontally hung on the wall by one end challenge the medium of photography itself. Moreover, by documenting the visual traces of the art world – as the evocative title Artist Critic Dealer Curator Grant Art Fair Organizer Auctioneer Student Schnücki Puss Collector Friend (2009) suggests – she produces a critique of it, yet not a frontal one. Indeed, the minimal presence and the peculiar mode of exhibiting these photographs rather suspend the moment of such criticism to introduce both assent and objection towards the art market. Phyllida Barlow’s precarious sculpture Ruin (2010), made of wooden structures and daubed with black, grey and white paint articulates rough materiality and a stuttering, yet uncannily elegant spatial form with the expansion inside the winding museum space, thus in -
Shahryar Nashat, “One More Time With James”, 2009 Film Installation / Exhibition view, Kunsthalle St. Gallan; Photo: Stefan Rohner
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Phyllida Barlow, “STINT”, 2008 / Mead Gallery, Warwick Arts Centre, Warwick University
tegrating instability in the viewing experience. Indeed, one can feel crushed by the gigantic and whole environment created within a single room. If Barlow’s sculpture reminds one of a temporary shelter, her reference to architecture is partly a truncated one, as her structures are more of a compromise between emotional overload and disobedient explorations with physicality. Finally, specially commissioned for Old Ideas, Shahryar Nashat’s video Today (2010) stages Swiss Artist Karl Geiser’s (1898-1957) sculpture Nude Boy Standing (1926) as well as art handlers working for the Museum für Gegenwartskunst. In this work, Nashat combines his fascination for male sculptural bodies with an investigation into the invisible layers of art-exhibiting processes, in a fashion close to Louise Lawler’s. Yet, to this documentary gesture, Nashat’s exploration adds a queer and sensual pleasure, focusing on the workers’ performances and their careful manoeuvres with the statue. Investigating the cascading moments through which an artwork goes before entering the exhibition space can almost be a forensic tactic; but in Nashat’s video it is subtly poeticised, giving the latter the auratic dimension of old Greek statues.This echoes Boris Groys for whom – writing on “the new” – being “alive” in art “means, in fact, nothing more or less than being new”1. Hence, it could be said that Old Ideas also demonstrates the opposite: not only can the “old” be “new”, but it can – above all – also be “alive”. 1Groys, Boris (2002) On the New, http://www.artnodes.org/eng/ art/groys1002/groys1002.pdf, accessed 13/02/2010.
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Montupet Factory: The Montupet factory, Dunmurry, Belfast Former location of the DeLorean Motor Company and site of production of the DMC-12 model between 1981-2. Courtesy: Sean Lynch
DeLorean dream back to life in a gallery Sean Lynch, DeLorean: Progress Report 7-29 January 2010 Kevin Kavanagh Gallery, Dublin
In January, visitors to the Kevin Kavanagh Gallery in Dublin encountered work-in-process production of a handmade DeLorean car, the renowned time-machine from the Back to the Future film series. Sections of the carâ€™s stainless steel exterior were exhibited in the gallery along with a series of photographs about the story of the DeLorean car factory and the tooling used in the production of the cars after the bankruptcy of the enterprise. In a metaphoric way, the gallery functioned as a time-machine where the DeLorean car production came back to life, carrying its failed future into today.The whole exhibition is a presentation of an investigation by the Irish artist Sean Lynch into the aftermath of the CC + 37
DeLorean venture, revealing its forgotten fate, which The exhibition DeLorean: Progress Report can mainly be contrasts its ambitious start to become a world-wide considered in two parts.The first is the documentation brand of sport cars. of the investigation on the material leftovers of the factory. This is presented in 13 photographs and a Detroit born engineer and automobile executive small booklet on the story of DeLorean. The text in John DeLorean started his own auto company to the booklet in a way functions as a written report manufacture sports cars in Northern Ireland with the on the findings of the artist, as the exhibition’s title financial support of the British government. Earlier, refers to. Through the photographs we see the current he had already established a successful career in the condition of the places that were involved either in car industry working at companies such as Chrysler, the production of the cars, or later in the process of Packard Motor Company and General Motors. He the dispersal of the material used in their production. started to produce the DMC-12 model, better known The first two photographs show the former locations as the DeLorean car, at a factory in Dunmurry, outside of the Montupet factory in Dunmurry, where DMCBelfast.With its gull-wing doors and unpainted stainless 12 models were produced, and the Läpple factory body steel panels, the car had a futuristic unusual in Carlow, where stainless steel sections of the car’s look and was expected to become an entrepreneurial body were fabricated. The body panels and castsuccess in the American market. However, the company iron tooling used to stamp out the panels were then went bankrupt after a production run of less than two dispersed to several scrap yards around Ireland. Photos years in 1982. The arrest of John DeLorean for cocaine of three scrap yards in Galway, Dublin and Cork are trafficking marked the end of the enterprise, even then followed by the image of The Severn Princess, a though he was later acquitted due to entrapment by car ferry that operated on the River Severn between the FBI. DeLorean’s story became legendary as a result 1959-1966, now lying abandoned in Chepstow. The of the personal popularity he gained through media series ends with two images of now defunct fish farm attention coupled with the iconic status of DMC-12, in Kilkieran Bay, Galway. The narrative provided by after a modified version of the car appeared in Back to the captions of the photos and the written report the Future films. However, what we see in the gallery is reveals that The Severn Princess was involved in the not about John DeLorean himself and his later story of carrying and dropping of some of the tooling presses how he survived from this bankruptcy. It is not about into the Atlantic Ocean to be used in the fish farm. It the enthusiasts of the DMC-12 either. Rather, it is a says: “At Haulbowline Industries, a scrap yard outside story of the factory itself and its material dismantling Cork City, I heard that 12 large pieces of the tooling after the demise of the enterprise. We witnessed the were purchased by a company called Emerald Fisheries, documentation of the artist’s year-long tracing of the who took them by boat to Kilkieran Bay in County inventory and tooling once used for the production of Galway sometime in 1984. There, in an inlet off the the car. Atlantic Ocean, they sunk the tooling to the bottom
DeLorean: Progress Report, Installation View Courtesy: Sean Lynch
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of the seabed, using them as anchors to hold in place fish cages for salmon farming.” These eight photographs are presented in a linear, chronological order showing how the tooling moved from one site to the other to reach this final destination. Each site is seen in its current state, as photographed in 2009, in a neutral representation of deadpan aesthetics. These are static shots, giving only one view of the site from a single angle. No further detail is given via other images. It is also not possible to get a clear evidence of the existence of DeLorean cars in these sites, nor a sense of how the sites are related to them. Only heaps of discarded cars in two of the scarp yards imply the possibility of DeLorean car parts ending up there. Despite this attempt to follow the traces of DeLorean cars, the images are actually about their absence rather than presence.They are unable to give any kind of factual information about the story of DeLorean cars, other than mere appearances of the current conditions of the sites. Hence the audience has to rely on the narrative provided by the artist with image captions and the booklet to get a grasp of the significance of these places in the whole story. While the photographs seem to provide a story based on factual information, they actually participate in the construction of a narrative, which is only revealed through a personal arrangement of information as documented by the artist. In this way, while tracing the hidden history of the DeLorean factory, the work actually reveals the impossibility of grasping a bygone past. The assumed factuality of the photographs as evidence of the narrative only contributes to the unattainability of historical events. Abandoned factory sites, a derelict car ferry, or a defunct fish farm seem to be just confirmation of an absence, both metaphorically with their current conditions, as well as with the absence of any tangible, visible tie either to the DeLoreans or to each other. The following underwater photographs are different to the first group of images possibly since they entail an acknowledgement a presence rather than absence. These are printed almost double the size of the other series of photographs, and look more like underwater nature shots with beautiful captures of crabs and a lobster in their surroundings. The distant view in the earlier photographs has now shifted to a close look at the living quarters of these underwater creatures. It is as if the story suddenly changes from the tooling to the lives of these crustaceans. However, we learn again from the narrative of the artist that these are photographs of three tooling presses that were dropped down the sea as anchors: “Layers of time and circumstance are more visually apparent in a collection of photographs that detail the current location of the DeLorean tooling.
A series of reconnaissance dives were performed around the Kilkieran Bay in July 2009. Of a reported 12 presses, three can still be seen above the surface of the seabed. These structures weigh between four and six tonnes, and are situated at distances of 18 and 22 metres beneath the water’s surface. Seaweed, crabs, starfish and a lobster all inhabit the area in and around the tooling.The photographs of this underwater scene, taken by industrial deep-sea divers, hold visual puns of sorts. In considering these discarded objects, taken from one scenario and made useful and meaningful in another, occasional shapes appear that seem somewhat similar to the shape of the DMC-12, but now with crustaceans as the passengers.” The images present the presses as part of an ecosystem with several species of sea creatures living in their cavities and hollow spaces. Even though it is not possible to get a visual grasp of the tooling parts themselves, these images attempt to represent their present conditions with a presence of life around them. The second part of the exhibition is about the construction of a handmade DeLorean car. Sean Lynch attempts a re-enactment of the production of the car working with Neil McKenzie, a blacksmith who has made a wooden mould in the shape of a DeLorean car to make stainless steel exterior body panels using traditional hand-forming metalwork techniques. In the exhibition, a section of the wooden template and three body panels are exhibited alongside a photograph of the whole work-in-process at McKenzie’s workshop. This reactivation of production is an attempt of making something that the economic system no longer provides. This might be read simply as a childish curiosity of the artist to see a finalised production of a legendary car, even one he can drive on roads. Or it could be a more ambitious act, an outcome of a longing for a future for a once utopian project that failed. The reason for John DeLorean to produce a car using stainless steel, a material that would never rust, was because he dreamt of a car that could last forever. Perhaps, this artistic act of remaking a handmade car is to give that kind of an eternal future to the car. Being made by hand and exhibited in an art gallery, the DeLorean car gains a sculptural quality that provides an unforeseen future in an art context, which might overcome the limitations of material conditions of commercial production. The strength of the exhibition is mainly in this act of reconstructing something that has stopped being made long ago. In his attempt to trace dismantling of the production of the cars, the artist also aims to make “a stand-in replacement” of that production. In a conversation about his work on HyBrazil, a now lost island in the Atlantic Ocean, to the west of Ireland, the artist talks about Thomas Johnson Westropp’s sketches
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DeLorean: Progress Report, Installation View Courtesy: Sean Lynch
of the island based on his memory of seeing them when he was five. Lynch speaks about these sketches as the outcome of a “desire to once again see this mirage and the longing for a potentially unattainable landscape.” Handmade production of a DeLorean car functions in the same way, reconstituting a car now not produced, a desire to make it happen, even while the necessary tooling is lying under the ocean, “the redemptive zone for the forgotten and the unclaimed” as he refers to the sea in the same conversation with Matt Packer. (Printed in a publication as part of the exhibition A preliminary sketch for the reappearance of HyBrazil, Galway Arts Centre, 2007) The exhibition DeLorean: Progress Report is a research into history, or rather a tracing of a history that has not interested mainstream accounts of the DeLoreans. However, one of the issues that the artist doesn’t seem to be dealing with is the fictionality of his own narrative. Lynch makes use of the documentary nature of photographs to provide evidence for his findings, yet he does not contest the believability of his findings. He presents the photographs in a linear narrative, which traces only one aspect of the story with a credibility provided by the written text and photos themselves. It seems that the artist relied largely on
oral histories, rumours and memories of people who witnessed certain events in relation to the cars. Yet the final presentation of the work does not engage with these personal narratives, and leaves the issues of remembrance, fictionality of memory and history unattended. Oral histories rather seem to justify the factuality of the photographs. The artist also mentions many other economic or historical occurrences on the sites represented. For instance, one of the scrap yards is now a proposed site for a skyscraper to be built by the music group U2.And Bob Dylan was photographed waiting for The Severn Princess during his 1966 UK tour. The artist acknowledges the inaccessibility of these anecdotes through the images and rightly chooses not to follow all these different directions the story could follow. This could have resulted in the loss of focus from the story of the DeLorean and necessitate dealing with many other issues in economic and cultural history at a deeper level. However, it still feels like there is a missing element in the whole story, some further presentation of in what way the work attempts to challenge history and go beyond mere revelation of a story. Personal accounts and how they engage with the DeLorean as a brilliant venture could possibly provide some insight into that. The car itself can be thought of as a fictional entity, with the iconic status it
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gained from its producer and the filmmakers. A more dispersed narrative that included different accounts of the story could be a way to play with this fictionality.That could also help emphasise the physical dismantling of the car production more effectively.After all, the artistâ€™s attempt of reproducing the car is also an attempt of resisting this dismantling. Yet, he will continue working on this project. In the Back to the Future films, the main characters travel in time to correct the history. Any absence of a certain act, person or a thing in the past leads to a completely different future. Hopefully the handmade DeLorean will be completed soon to reappear in the gallery in a similar way. Perhaps this project is itself a corrective action taken by Sean Lynch, the result of which we will learn later.
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Eline McGeorge Mirror Montage 1, 2010 Mirror Montage 2, 2010 Pages 42/3 Manual p. 54-55, 2009/10 Manual p. 56-57, 2009/10 Pages 44/5
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way and 27 Senses, KUBE, Kunstmuseum, Ålesund, Norway.
Cevdet Erek Born 1974 in Istanbul. Lives and works in Istanbul. Trained and practised as an architect and sound designer, Erek started realizing a series of time based installations with the production of Avluda (In the courtyard) in 2002. Using sounds & beats, moving images & objects, constructions and performances, he creates intense experiences by capturing and reformulating spaces and situations. 9th Istanbul Biennial, Platform Garanti, Stedelijk Museum, Extra City, Artists Space,Martin Gropius Bau and others. He received the Uriot Prize with ‘Studio’ (2005) during his residency at Rijksakademie – Amsterdam. His book ‘SSS’ was published by BAS Artists’ Books- Istanbul in early 2008. Besides personal work, he collaborates with architects, directors and is a member of Istanbul’s avantgarde rock band Nekropsi.
Adeena Mey is a writer, translator and researcher and studied art theory at Goldsmiths College, University of London. His writing and translations have appeared in Sang Bleu, Flashart Online as well as other independant editorial projects. He has recently published “Christian Marclay’s Christmas Tales” (Helvetic Centre Editions). As an academic his work focuses on psychiatry and contemporary subjectivity in a Foucauldian perspective. He is currently working as a research associate at the Laboratory of Sociology,University of Lausanne, Switzerland.
Maartje Fliervoet is an artist who works and lives in Amsterdam. She completed her BA at the Gerrit Rietveld Academie, studied at the Cooper Union in New York and the Sandberg Institute in Amsterdam and is now finishing her MA in artistic research at the University of Amsterdam (U.v.A.) The contribution she made for Nowiswere #6 is a detail of her graduation project, which will be on view at SKOR (Stichting Kunst en Openbare Ruimte) from March 15th until April 16th. She generally works with photography and is mainly preoccupied with notions of perception and the undefined in the image. She is currently a resident at Wiels in Brussels. Veronika Hauer is a visual artist and writer.Vienna Daniela Paes Leão graduated in 1999 from the Faculty of Fine Arts of the University of Porto. She works as a visual artist and filmmaker, developing creative projects that combine the aesthetic mediums of film, photography, publication and web design with sociology, anthropology and other disciplines. She lives and works at the present moment in Amsterdam, the Netherlands. Eline McGeorge is a Norwegain artist living and working in Berlin and London. She received her MA in fine art from Goldsmiths College in 2000. McGeorge’s practice produces hybrid experimentations where the interplay between works of different forms and media make an appearance across one another. In both her visual and written work, the abstraction and fragmented portrayal of places and characters make an inquiry into to shifting conditions of alienation and belonging. This inquiry contains an amalgamation of references to theories of communism, psychology, feminism, gender, emigration/exile, and also extending into science fiction theory. Her production includes collages, drawings, animations, performances, script writing, publications, sculpture, prints and more. Eline McGeorge (www.elinemcgeorge.org) is repersended by Hollybush Gardens, London, where she last had a solo exhibition in autumn 2009. She recently participated in Momentum 2009, Nordic Biennale for Contemporary Art, Moss, Nor-
Rana Ozturk is a researcher at the Graduate School of Creative Arts and Media, NCAD in Dublin. She is originally from Istanbul, where she completed her BA in Management at Bogazici University and MA in Art History at the Istanbul Technical University. Until now she took on various roles in the art field including writer, curator, translator and coordinator for different art events and organizations. Manuel Singer is an architect conducting research, theory and design. He is a Phd candidate in Visual Cultures at Goldsmiths College London at present. Tatia Skhirtladze is an artist born 1976 in Tbilissi, Georgia; lives and works in Vienna, Austria. Graduated in art and pedagogy in Tbilisi and in Vienna, she completed her MA in Postgraduate Research and Practice in Arts at Dutch Art Institute, Enschede (NL). She uses analogue as well as digital art techniques and makes side-specific installations and performances in public space. Lisa Skuret is an independent writer and artist exploring the intersections of contemporary art, politics, and life. Lisa received an AHRC supported MA in Contemporary Art Theory from Goldsmiths College and she has produced art projects for live performance and online intervention. Her installation and moving image work has been programmed as part of the National Review of Live Art (NRLA), and the Dance on Screen Film Festival and she has collaborated for live performance including at the ICA and ROH2. www.lisaskuret.com Fatos Ustek is an independent curator and art critic, lives in London works peripatetically. Manuela Zechner is a cultural worker and researcher moving between the UK and Austria. Her ongoing projects include the future archive (www.futurearchive.org) as well as vocabulaboratories (www.vocabulaboratories.net), and she is part of the micropolitics research group (www.micropolitics.wordpress. com). Recently she has started a Phd project on organizational forms and articulations between creative and care work, at Queen Mary University London.