SEK90 / £8
SUPER MARKET #2
issue artist-run art magazine
The Valuation and Devaluation
Oleg Kulik Reich & Szyber Special Feature: Tarkawian’s
Performance: HP Process (Hortense Gauthier and Philippe Boisnard). Photo: Katarzyna Chmura-Cegielkowska.
PER FOR MAN CE
5. 1%, 28 9. Pontus Raud:
1%, 14 Izabella Borzecka:
Waiting for the Apocalypse
1 0. Will culture matter? 1 5. 2 6. 3 2. 3 5. 3 7. 4 4. 4 6. 4 9. Mikael Askergren:
When Prophecy Fails Irene de Craen:
Money, Spectacle and Spirituality
Some thoughts on the valuation and devaluation of art
Roadtripping the Balkans
A mental and physical artistic space Subhankar Das:
Waiting for the lights to go green Oleg Kulik
Interview by SUPERMARKET
Focus on Performance
Little Fish. Reich + Szyber
Mariusz Tarkawian, 214 x SUPERMARKET
Interview by Anna Tomaszewska
All the values we have built up will end one day. All systems will stop flashing red and shut down one by one until darkness closes in on us. All the laughter… All shouts will fade into a space of silence… A faint noise marking what we call eternity. SUPERMARKET 2012 goes under the theme of The Waiting Room of Eternity and is rather like a poetic paraphrase on space and time. We are toying with the idea that the world will end in 2012 and that value perspectives will be slightly shifted. In the past the artwork played an important role with its potential to withstand the test of time and thus make the artist timeless. Today it seems that all that artists want is to conquer space and get fifteen minutes in the spotlights of the media. What actually evaluates an artist? In contemporary society the market value and the historical value are important indicators of artistic success, but the site has also become an important factor. If you look at the way in which Artfacts scores artists, there are some places that are more important than others. Should there be alternative ways in which to evaluate artists than through Artfacts? And what about the fact that the role of the artist is being instrumentalised for the purpose of a greater good… is this of any value? Today, when culture is being consumed as never before, government cultural budgets are being halved in several countries. In Sweden, aesthetic subjects, such as art and music, are no longer core subjects in high school curriculums, with the effect that students no longer receive grades in these subjects. What is the purpose of marginalising culture at a time when it appears to be so sought after? Is the cultural sector so expensive that its costs actually make a difference in central government budgets or could there be other reasons? Has the government as institution had its day in contemporary society? Is the capitalist system heading towards a final crash? Have we exhausted the resources of the earth and is the world going towards its end? What is happening in Europe? Centuries of industrial production should have made the European continent rich, with lots of highly educated people working efficiently and consuming culture in their spare time. How did we suddenly become so poor? Why should culture be marginalised and pay the price of a crisis that has its origin in a capitalist linchpin – Greed? All the wealth produced by workers has flowed into the coffers of a small minority. A minority of rich people that want more? Listening to current financial statements by economists is like experiencing a virtualisation of reality, working on
the psycho-cognitive level of the economy. The article about cognitive dissonance in this issue seems to reflect today’s financial crisis. Imagine a small group of people in power deciding what the world should be. When it becomes clear that it is all going to hell, they become even more convinced that they are on the right track. Economics appear inhumane and ruthless as they are not human and therefore have no guilt. We are human beings, our future depending on fluctuating stock markets that we do not control or fully understand. Within the cultural sector market mechanisms have been introduced in order to make public institutions more efficient – New Public Management. Integrating ordering and performing models, internal debiting systems and delegated budget responsibility into institutions will not result in more culture, but rather in more jobs for economists. Now that the responsibility for part of the cultural budget is being shifted to the regions in Sweden, I wonder for how much longer government financed culture will exist. Studies showing the impact of culture on a stable and equal society do not seem to provide the eye-openers they might to politics or business. Short-term solutions seem to be the single mode of capitalism. The artist-run art world has been living on the margins for a long time, and is, as always, working DIY, i.e. Do It Yourself. There are great differences between these artists’ initiatives, depending on where in the world you are. Those living in cities in the western world are struggling to be visible at all. Proximity to a centre makes it hard to acquire attention, while those living in the peripheries feel that they are isolated. The digitalised and global world that we are living in has provided the basis for an expansion of the artist-run art world and its networks. SUPERMARKET – Stockholm Independent Art Fair has rapidly become a platform for meetings between artists, curators and an interested public. We are pleased to have received great confidence from important institutions in Sweden this year. This has lead to good working relationships that we hope will continue. Thanks to Swedish Institute, IASPIS (The Swedish Arts Grants Committee’s International Programme for Visual Artists), and Swedish Travelling Exhibitions. Many thanks to all colleagues, volunteers and partners working to make this unique art fair happen! Finally… You should try to live today and not be afraid of tomorrow but if, against all odds, the world ends, I will be thinking: – Is this end the beginning of something new? Pontus Raud Editor and Creative Director
Remon de Jong, â€œTremor Laqueariaâ€?, installation at Argument Vertoningsruimte, 2011.
by Izabella Borzecka Two people are standing by a country road arguing, while waiting for someone they are expecting to arrive. Who is he and for how long will they have to wait? This mysterious person is called Godot in Samuel Beckett’s play. In the same way as these two quarrelling people, waiting in vain by the roadside for the arrival of the non-definable, people have devoted their time and faith to various prophecies about the dramatic ending of the world. The word ”apocalypse”, often used to define this phenome non, has its origin in the Greek word for ”revelation”. But through several decon structions we have come to know the meaning of the word as something else, namely the end of the world. The description of the end of the world by John the Seer in the last part of the Bible is one of the best well known depic-
tions of the world’s end, having given tailwind to a great number of doomsday prophecies. The return of Jesus to earth and the beginning of a new era are dramatically revealed. The heavens are withdrawn like a scroll, earthquakes shift the locations and shapes of mountains and islands, the stars fall from the skies in the prevailing turmoil, while evil is being defeated and a new era commences. Does this not sound somewhat familiar? 2012 is the year many have been waiting for, at least those who believe in doomsday prophecies connected to the Mayan calendar. During the classical period of the Mayan civilisation, ending approximately 1000 years ago (about 250–900 AD), the “Long Count Calendar” was used to calculate life cycles. As per contemporary calculations, the end of one of these life cycles has been identified
Alexandra Bodea, “Vision of a passing by ”, gesso and ink on canvas, 32 x 25cm, 2011.
to occur on the 21st of December 2012. According to the Mayans, after this a new time cycle will begin. This is the given date for the end of the world, according to several New Age movements. The world as we know it will be turned upside-down, violent earthquakes, burning fireballs, solar storms will hit earth and extinguish our civilisation. Is this not a repetition of John’s revelations? Perhaps there is cause for worry at a time when the world economy is collapsing, our resources are drying up and the world population is accelerating. In what ways might the concept of apocalypse shape our ideas about the end? Are we also standing at a roadside disagreeing about the expected arrival of the non-definable? And if so, what is the meaning of art at the end of time?
by Mikael Askergren
Some time in the beginning of the Cold War fifties, somewhere in the American Midwest, a bored housewife gets the idea that aliens from the planet Clarion are communicating with her on a regular basis.
For years she has taken an interest in the paranormal and has invested a lot of time and commitment in studying esotericism, Scientology and spiritualism. This commitment pays off when she discovers messages from distant solar systems sneaking into texts that she has started writing. She begins to take down everything that comes to her mind (what the Surrealists would have called automatic writings). The messages from the planet Clarion include sensational predictions about the future. To her great and sincere surprise, she is informed by the
Clarionians that the North American continent will, within a not too distant future, perish in a terrible flood. She is, however, consoled by the aliens, who claim that some earthlings – among them herself – will be rescued by a spaceship on the night before the catastrophe. She begins to talk about her extra-terrestrial contacts with like-minded esoterics among her acquaintances. Thus the reputation of her abilities is spread and eventually, through friends of friends, she is brought into contact with a small group of UFO fanatics who remain her
devote followers – to the bitter end. By chance, a group of social psychologists at a major American university come across the cult connected to her. In When Prophecy Fails, a book that they will later write about the woman and the UFO cult around her person, she is called Marian Keech, or simply Mrs. Keech (this is not her real name). The research team, a trio made up by Leon Festinger, Henry W. Riecken and Stanley Schachter, make a fast decision to infiltrate the UFO cult in order to observe it from within. Their ambition is to become full members so as to be able to make comprehensive observations. These observations prove to confirm and support the Theory of Cognitive Dissonance that the research team has been working on for some time. But there is not much time. They have barely three months to infiltrate the group and gain the trust of the group members as well as to make observations on the group dynamics. Despite the rush, the team succeed beyond expectation. They are received with open arms when they approach the cult from different directions. Mr. Keech is a man with both feet on the ground, according to the authors of the book, who shows endless patience as well as carefree indifference with his wife’s esoteric claims. On the 20th of December, the night of the anticipated catastrophe, he goes to bed at nine o’clock as usual. Mr. Keech is fully aware that their house is full of people who are seriously and frightfully awaiting the end of the world and the arrival of a space ship. (However, neither Mr. nor Mrs. Keech is aware that some of Mrs Keech’s guests that night are scientist secretly studying the UFO cult at close proximity). According to Mrs. Keech, the Clarionians have announced that the spaceship will land exactly at midnight on the night between the
20th and the 21st of December. The belief of the cult is depending on the fact that the spaceship will arrive and that it will be landing at that point in time. Several members of the group have severed all ties with the secular world, burnt their bridges, no longer have a place to live, have given away everything they owned and resigned from their work, or been dismissed. If the spaceship fails to arrive to rescue them, where will they go? How do you react in a situation when everything you believe in is lost, how do you react when prophecy fails?
The Theory of Cognitive Dissonance predicts, among other things, that when an individual or a group of individuals that have invested faith and commitment to a pro phecy of some kind and this prophecy for some reason does not hold true, the faith initially – paradoxically – becomes enhanced (!) and the believer or believers in question become even more dedicated (!) to their cult. This is precisely what happens in the group around Mrs. Keech. No spaceship lands at midnight on the night between the 20th and the 21st of December.
No catastrophic flood arrives in the hours that follow. Hours pass and the cult members are grasping at straws in order to understand what went wrong.When Prophecy Fails gives an objective and distanced description of how the members of the cult seemed confused and despairing in the hours that followed the predicted spaceship landing, wandering to and fro, unable to clearly see what has happened (or, rather, not happened). However, at dawn an event takes place, rescuing the existence and self-confidence of the group. Mrs. Keech receives another message in automatic writing. This time, though, the message is not from the Claronians, but, lo and behold, from God himself. God has been touched by the strong faith among the cult members and by the light that their belief has spread across the world. As a reward he has decided to save the world from destruction. All those present (especially Mrs. Keech herself, who believes as strongly in her own abilities as do the members of her cult) receive this new message from above with excitement and joy. With the exception of one person, who thus apparently has had enough and gets up and leaves, never to return. The remaining members of the group grow more closely-knit, devoted and excited than ever in order to confirm each other in their faith: Not only have they done the right thing in joining the group and investing so much time and effort in preparing mentally for the end of the world as well as for a new existence on a distant planet, they have also managed to save the world from destruction. As expected, the research team get to observe the activity of members of the cult exploding, as a result of this confirmation of the righteousness of their common belief and intellectual invest ment. Mrs. Keech, who has never previously
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Kim Dotty Hachmann, “Rise and Fall”, photograph, 2011.
Some thoughts on the valuation and devaluation of art. As soon as the words ‘value’ and ‘art’ are uttered within the same sentence, the discussion soon to follow is that of how much money that rotten shark got sold for at auction. Indeed, the ways in which we value art have changed considerably since the founding of art history and criticism. Nowadays, aesthetic judgment from an art critic – or anyone else for that matter – has little to nothing to do with the value a work of art acquires within the world. Previously, ‘art and economy were supposed to be separate realms with distinct value systems – one of them focusing on producing spiritual values, the other on generating monetary wealth. These previously hostile spheres seem to have merged into the hybrid structures of an economized culture and a culturalized economy.’ This merger of spheres has even gone as far as to result in artworks of which the price is in fact a constituent element of the artwork, and in the case of some artists – Damien Hirst being the obvious example – the price actually is the work. This state of affairs isn’t surprising at all, as art always has been a reflection of larger societal systems and ideologies. And by that rule; as long as society is defined by monetary values, so will art. But although the market seems to presently rule the valuation process of art to a large
So what are these other values? And will they, more likely than financial valuation, survive the current economic and political shifts and crisis? And what about those spiritual values of art? Do they still hold any currency?
Jonas Ohlsson, “Bad Artists Should Stay Out of Good Galleries”, 2007, courtesy FUCK Amsterdam.
extent, there are still other factors at play in the valuations process of art. If only for the simple reason that one does not come out of nowhere and sell a diamond encrusted skull for £38 million more than its material costs. And with global financial crisis underway, and a worldwide revision of the capitalist system that supports the astronomical prices artworks were auctioned off for these last years, these monetary valuation systems will soon be on the decline and other systems will (have to) take its place.
In the past the significance of a work of art could be found in the context of other works by the same artist. Holding this work against the rest of the oeuvre could establish whether or not the artist in question has renewed him or herself, has gone a radical different direction, or completed a certain idea or vision prompted by earlier works. And just as artworks gain meaning and value against other works by the same artist, there are objects of art that have significant value because of their location in history: because they are the first to instigate a movement or change in thinking, or because they bring a movement or thought to its ultimate climax. These works of art maintain their relevance for a long period of time, even so long as to be considered ‘timeless’. But is it still possible for a work of art to be considered timeless? I doubt it. Because these process of valuation in context of oeuvre or history, have become more and more obsolete as art is becoming increasingly valued by its entertainment value and artists are being remembered because of a single crowd-pleasing work. This trend is mostly seen as being caused by the rise of biennials, triennials and other big exhibition platforms that are in themselves spectacles. Many of us will not remember exactly what we’ve seen a few biennales ago,
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In a taxi on the way to Sarajevo. Gus Viseurâ€™s melodies convey a little of the mystique that characterises travelling through the Balkans. The accordion livens up the darkness in the back seat of the shabby Mercedes as it makes its way down the winding mountain road towards Montenegro. We are on a quest to find the vital artist-run exhibition spaces, to gauge and take stock of the local contemporary art scenes and to assess the current situation for artists in the Balkans.
Text and photo: Pontus Raud
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ONE LUCIA, Stockholm 2011. One piece, One night, One show, One love. Photo: Jan Watteus.
Is the business of traditional art fairs nearing its end? At least in Germany, it seems like it. Last summer, the management of Art Forum Berlin announced that it planned a merger with rival art fair Art Berlin Contemporary. A few weeks later Art Forum Berlin decided to shut down its operations completely. The reason: disagreement between the management of the two art fairs on how to run a future combined art fair. But that is, of course, not the whole truth. Eva-Maria Häusler of Art Forum Berlin laments over the lost possibilities for galleries from outside Berlin to show their artists in the capital when Art Berlin Comtemporary is taking over the scene. Meanwhile, Cologne’s ‘Kölner StadtAnzeiger’ newspaper called the cancellation of Art Forum “an unrivalled act of self-destruction” and accused Messe Berlin, the organiser of Art Forum Berlin, of “capitulating to a powerful group of galleries, which had been attacking Art Forum for years”. Though insiders confirm the suspicion that
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the management of Art Berlin Contemporary just considered Art Forum Berlin to be too boring to be worth saving. But the main reason for the Berlin art fair turbulence may well be the growing competition from others art fairs such as Frieze in London, FIAC in Paris and Art Basel. Mind you, not only the Germans are in trouble. Many of the Swedish galleries that participated in last year’s Danish fair Art Copenhagen were so disappointed that they staged their own one-night “alternative” mini-fair in an off-beat building in the centre of Stockholm a few months later. The rumour is that the same galleries will make a bigger and more coordinated effort in autumn 2012. If that is true, the Berlin story may be repeated in Stockholm with the traditional art fair MARKET as the eventual loser. It has also been criticised by participants for lacking an innovative spirit and paying too much attention to internal power-struggling.
Artist-run galleries regularly staging public exhibitions in their own exhibition spaces and other artists’ initiatives are invited to exhibit at SUPERMARKET 2013. Single artists or artists’ groups founded only for applying to SUPERMARKET cannot apply. SUPERMARKET has a low participation fee and no application fee, so as to include interesting exhibitors who are non-profit or not yet established and unable to take on large financial obligations.
Oleg Kulik interviewed by SUPERMARKET, January 4th, 2012. Interlocutor Maxim Ilyukhin, translation: Izabella Borzecka and Stuart Mayes. Spatial Liturgy #3. TSUM, Moscow, September 2009, photo: courtesy of Oleg Kulik.
How has the concept of performance changed for you, since you started to today? When I started to do performances in Moscow nobody else was doing it. That is, those social, open, street performances that I had imagined. There was the Collective Action group but they had a very narrow range, they drifted out of town, they were semi-underground activities. So in the beginning of street performances, I was involved and perhaps only two or three other people. Now practically
everyone is engaged in street perfor mances, street activism, street art. It is all such a total performance in Russia. The whole country has turned to a country of performers – well, on some subjective level of perception. This is very cool and interesting. I did performance not as a genre of art, but for the sake of survival in terms of the spiritual and psychological. As an artist I am not needed by anyone. When there was a situation of collapse around, of total decline, this genre allowed me to maintain my position in fields of interest, influence and understanding.
It was some way of keeping company and communication. Through scandal, hysteria and accident I drew attention to myself so that life would not feel so completely like living inside a grave. I don’t need anyone – no one is in need of anyone. It [performance] was an attempt to overcome loneliness, failure, the feeling of being thrown. It’s like yelling in the wilderness. And gradually, gradually it was growing, and more admirers came along. The genre of performance art expanded, new concepts came up – political activism, theatre performance, actions.
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REICH + SZYBER Little Fish “The Hidden”, 1986, at the recently shut down power station Elverket, Stockholm, photo: B. Szyber. 14
The film Seven gives a definition of the performance artist. The theme is Lust and two cops enter a leather workshop, where the murderer has ordered a harness with a carving knife at the crotch. One of the cops asks the owner, somewhat indignantly: - Didn’t you ask yourself what he was going to use this for? The owner looks at them and answers: - No, I thought he was one of those performance artists… you know, somebody who gets up on stage… pisses in a cup and drinks it.
Bogdan Szyber recounts this Hollywood episode when I ask him what performance is. Bogdan and Carina Reich have worked as a duo for 30 years and are among Sweden’s most experienced performance artists. Having trained at the theatre, they wanted to break its conventions. CR: We revolted against theatre by ignoring the concepts of time, space and production costs… We tried using other concepts… and ended up calling it performance art. Performance art no longer has any of the boundaries regarding content that it had in the 60s and 70s. It has dissolved. Performance takes place in the mouth of whoever wants to use the concept. 25 years ago performance art was underground and a way of distinguishing yourself… a bit sectarian.
BS: To us, it is a purely contextual question. You are defined by your audience and by where you exhibit. I read a book from the Research Series about a Dominatrix who went in to a large space with hundreds of people. She entered the room with two of her slaves, a male and a female… and she ”Branded” them in front of the audience… that is she burnt her mark into their bodies… I mean, here we have an audience… we have costumes… fantastic costumes! …leather, patent leather and latex… we have a choreography… we have parts… But this is definitely not performance art and it is not theatre… it is some kind of… sex. But if we had done this in a gallery space, it would have been performance art, since it has to do with the body, authenticity and pain. When we did our weird things with mice, chains, a lot of shouting and bodies in strange rooms in 1986, people from the Fluxus movement came to see us. They said: “We already did that in the 60s!” And we said: “Fuck off! Now we are doing it in our twenties!”
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Special Feature: Tarkawianâ€™s
Petri Saarikko, â€œTake Offâ€?, dimensions variable, digital matte painting, 2004. 18
Published on Jan 29, 2012
Teaser of the second issue of annual SUPERMARKET ART MAGAZINE, released at SUPERMARKET - Stockholm Independent Art Fair, 17-19 February 2012...