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ISSUE # 4 2011


WITNAS board and editors: Chris Johnsen Sara Lindeborg Adrien Siberchicot

WITNAS advisor: Matthew Rana

Contributors to Issue #4: Patrik Haggren : has a BA in Ethnology. He is currently studying for a master in Museums Studies at Gothenburg University.

Laura Hatfield : is a Canadian artist and musician, currently working towards a Master’s degree in International Museum Studies at the University of Gothenburg, Sweden.

Niilas : is a Norwegian artist. He is currently studying at Högskolan for Fotografi, Gothenburg, Sweden and living like a nomad somewhere in Europe

Adrien Siberchicot: is a French artist and writer, currently finishing his MFA at Valand School of Fine Art, Gothenburg, Sweden.

Barrie James Sutcliffe: is a multimedia artist working with sound, installation, and text. He is also a visiting lecturer at Valand School of Fine Art.

If you are interested in contributing to the journal or have any other inquires please contact us at:

editors.witnas@gmail.com www.witnas.org

WITNAS Issue #4 What is the new “What is the New Art Scene”?

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Representational and political authority in the Swedish Labor Movement

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Pandemonium: Art in a Time of Creativity Fever: WITNAS Responses

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Cover and poster by Niilas 2


What is the new “What is the New Art Scene”? Finally, the dark and rainy days of the Gothenburg fall are here and it is time to get started. Even though summer tends to slow down the physical and productive capacities, the cognitive processes have been in gear, spawning many discussions about new strategies and ideas to adopt. What was born during one of the first “What is the New Art Scene?” dinners of spring 2011 , has now moved on in a slightly different direction. We have opened up WITNAS in several new ways. The opportunity to realize a publication in Gothenburg (a city lacking of critical discussions) drove us to extend our boundaries. But we still have the constant goal of maintaining proximity with artistic production and the surrounding art scene. Reviews of student shows will not be the main focus as previously, but the critique section of the journal is still its foundation. Even the format has changed, giving room for visuals including documentation of exhibitions and commissioned artworks for print. The same goes for the written texts. They are not merely connected to exhibitions, but engage in broader discussions surrounding different topics or themes. For WITNAS #4, the question of authority will be discussed. What is the authority or the legitimacy of our journal and of the critical voice in general? How can the question of the representation be linked to authority? What is engaged through an art exhibition such as the Gothenburg Biennial? Those questions are at the core of this issue. In his article Criticism v. Critique, writer J.J Charlesworth mentions that art criticism is imperfect, yet “while the field of aesthetic experience may be reduced to nothing than the site of the deployment of ideological power, it is also de facto the only space where the agency of subjectivity might still be tested and developed.”1 After a semester of experimentations, interrogations and critiques, the journal needs to engage a new point of view regarding its position. Within an art

education institution, within a city, Gothenburg that inaugurates the sixth edition of its own biennial for contemporary art, WITNAS has to find its singular way. This year should see new explorations of the territory between art and writing. Assuming the subheading, “critique journal”, this new territory will be thought with reflexivity. The first goal of the journal, emerging some months ago, was the idea of offering the students at Valand an opportunity to produce critical writings about the different exhibitions happening through the year in the school. It created then, a double perspective to engage the question of the critique and at the same time, offered discussions about art production within the school. WITNAS tried to fill the lack of dialogue between the production and the reception of artworks in the institution. In a certain way, this engagement, at the core of the creation, close to the works themselves, is an attempt to reinvest this site of subjectivity, giving students a critical voice. But if we step back for a moment, we can get to the fundamental questions that encircle us: what does it mean to view art? What does it mean to write about art and why is it relevant in the first place? Under the title Three or Four Types of Intimacy, Tom Morton discusses criticism as “an endeavor that turns on a set of intimacies: between the writer and the work, the writer and the artist, the writer and the reader, and the writer and her/himself.”2 Although the judgment itself is the final result, what’s important is the intimacy or attraction that precedes it. It seems that writing could be understood as a tool—or rather, an attitude—to plug-in, imagine, and rethink. In the case of WITNAS, where texts are produced with the feedback of others during group workshops, it is also about the relation between writers. In that sense WITNAS also has the important function of forming a community between contributors; the practice of writing works as a how-to-keep-up-yourinterest through the others. In the end, it is about what to do with what’s actually there, or what to do with the absence of it. Confront it. “To get down and dirty with art” is one way of 3


framing it. If it’s not immediately interesting or attractive, one has to put oneself in a position that makes it interesting. No one else will serve something exciting for you. To write your way through, is to get to a point where proximity forces you away from a state of indifference and passivity. Morton adds: “as with all writing, what matters here is honesty, along with the hope that one might communicate against the odds.”

an experiment in critical writing through a multiplicity of voices responding to ‘ It’s Confusing These Days’ (201 0) a video work by Lebanese artist Paul Hage Boutros.

Chris Johnsen Sara Lindeborg Adrien Siberchicot

Some practical tools have to be developed in order to fulfill this renewed engagement. First, the format of the journal will change radically, offering more flexibility to the contributors and the possibility of working with the combination of text and images. Open calls will be arranged for articles, reviews and visual artworks such as posters, covers and more. The pagination will be also more flexible in order to welcome more contributions and more diverse writings. Every issue of WITNAS will be singular, trying to react to the current and relevant issues of the art scene. At the same time, the different issues of the journal will be published online on a new website, extending the paper version with a hyperlinked edition. This version will be an attempt to emancipate the journal from the publishing constraints and the hierarchy of the text with the possibility of reading the contributions individually. The WITNAS board is working more than ever to create a sustainable platform where a generative subjectivity will be at stake. Embedded both in the art scene and art education, the contributors of WITNAS will represent a wider range of people, discourses and narratives. In this issue, the 6th Gothenburg Biennial will be examined through notions of authority, and more precisely through the way it organizes and puts together artists—in other words, the way it “makes sense.” The contribution by Patrik Haggren develops issues surrounding representational and political authority through the lens of "Surplus Work: the non/display of the Swedish Labor Movement Art", an exhibition he co-curated with three other students at Galleri Rotor this summer. Finally, Laura Hatfield’s project ‘WITNAS Responses’ is

1 . J.J. Charlesworth, “Criticism v. Critique” Art Monthly 346, May 2011 2. Tom Morton, “Three or Four Types of Intimacy,” in Judgment and Contemporary Criticism: Folio Series: A, Eds. Jeff Khonsary and Melanie O’Brien (Vancouver: Fillip Editions/Artspeak 2011 )

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Albin Amelin, Sketch for Demonstration, 1 938

and are withdrawn from public view. Here, I will focus on one of these works, Albin Amelin's Representational and political authority in painting Demonstration (1 938), which for ten the Swedish Labor Movement years has been covered by a white curtain where it hangs in the congressional hall of This article will describe a problem of Stockholm's Folkets Hus (People’s House). representation and authority central to ‘Surplus work: the non/display of Labor Movement art’, Amelin’s monumental piece represents the an exhibition that I co-curated this summer with Great Strike of 1 909 and measures 8X7 fellow students Michaela Nilsson, Cecilia meters. Because it would not have fit inside Eriksen Wijk, and Marta Peleteiro. Developed Galleri Rotor, we requested a loan of the within the framework of the summer course curtain so that the painting would be exposed Galleri Experimentell, it took place August 1 8- for the duration of the exhibition. When the 21 in Galleri Rotor and consisted of workers' art loan was declined, we decided to reproduce and site specific installations by contemporary the curtain in order to illustrate the architectural artist Leonor Serrano Rivas. The exhibition aspects that it shares with the painting. We considered the Labor Movement's mass wanted to use the curtain's inability to fit distribution of art outside the art world as well smoothly in the gallery space— the way it as the art's function representing and shaping a would have to fold horizontally, and the excess working class identity. Following the of fabric that would accumulate on the floor—in reconstruction of several Labor Movement order to illustrate how Labor Movement art institutions, many of these artworks have lost functioned as part of everyday life. This their place ideologically as well as physically, illustration applies also to the paintings and 5


reproductions that were distributed on a massscale throughout workplaces, places of leisure and gathering, and private homes. The surplus of the exhibition's title referred, in a general sense, to the many works that are left over, unidentified and unaccounted for. It is here that the mode of reception establishes its relationship to representation.

Reproduction of a curtain, "Surplus work: the non/display of labour movement art", 2011

Using popular forms to convey Social Democratic content, artworks from within the Labor Movement offered the masses new representations within bourgeoise culture. The focus on new content permitted reproductions of images to an extent that blurred the distinctions between original and copy, and quality and quantity, orientating the works toward the viewer.1 This inversion of the avantgarde aim to distance the viewer through the use of new forms nevertheless had the same ambition: to create “a people” with revolutionary/party principles. Resembling a

Suprematist or Constructivist painting, the curtain that covers Demonstration modulates the painting and extends its avant-garde functions by bringing out aspects of materiality, design, and architecture. If the curtain, rather than an agent of censorship, can be seen as a continuation of something, then it is because form, mode of reception, and the image in Labor Movement art worked together in a way to make this possible. Identification with Social Democratic content does not follow from an authority located within the image. It was produced instead, by a larger politics of representation that existed in the organizational structure and politics of the Swedish Trade Union Confederation (LO) and their correlate, the Swedish Workers' Party (SAP). Amelin’s painting shows progressions of people that have abandoned their work in order to gather in the center of the image. In this way, the painting's place in the congressional hall did more than remind labor representatives where they came from: their task was not as much to express, as to shape the forms of collective struggle. The title ‘Surplus work’ also refers to the capital relation, to which the identification with Social Democratic content is a specific response. The capital relation is the tension between the labor performed by workers in addition to what is socially necessary (thereby creating surplus value, or capital). Accepting this as a premise, the social democratic Labor Movement has aimed to regulate the ways in which labor is extracted from workers. Its success during the 20th century owes to an ability to represent the totality of labor struggle. In a study of the Labor Movement between 1 898 and 1 909, Gunnar Holmbäck shows how the Labor Movement went from a loose affiliation of unions, to a disciplined structure by conditioning membership to a common goal and strategy.2 By using the movement’s growing power outward toward capital and government, the party elite pressured affiliate unions to accept membership in the movement's parliamentary branch. Documentation of meetings and 6


assemblies allowed for a centralized overview of the organization, producing voluntary implementation of the politics of the secretariat. Within a historical materialist worldview, the recruitment and education of the masses simply enlightened historically determined subjects, which is also what gave the secretariat its authority to represent them. This produced from within the labor struggle, the subject position of the “worker”—that is, an identification within the capital relation—subordinate not only to the order of capital, but also to the logic of its political representation. Thus, the curtain doesn't necessarily censor Demonstration. Instead, the curtain alters the painting by marking the continued identification within the capital relation. Rather than blocking or opposing a Social Democratic subjectivity by making identification with the image impossible, the curtain in fact makes disidentification with the subject position itself impossible. Furthermore, as art historian Fred Andersson has noted, images of industrial labor fall out of favor along with industrial production.3 But what does Amelin’s painting represent? The Great Strike in 1 909 involved 230,000 workers. It was called for by the LO in response to a massive lockout of 70,000 workers initiated by the national Employer's Association (SAF) as a measure against several minor disputes. Even though these events were claimed by IF Metall—the union that commissioned the painting on its 50th anniversary in 1 938—the strike was phased out by decision of the secretariat after a month. For many strikers, the conflict resulted in worsened working conditions, unemployment or even blacklisting. The LO began the strike with insufficient funds to support the strikers, looking to the government to involve itself in the negotiations, which it did not. After the strike, LO lost approximately half its members, some of which formed the Syndicalist Union (SAC) while many others immigrated. The defeat influenced a greater cautiousness in disputes that in 1 938 took form in an agreement between LO and SAF regulating labor market conflicts

(Saltsjöbadsavtalet). The strike included people that throughout the conflict had come to increased radical consciousness. By ending the strike, LO created a division between itself and these members, exercising a power different from the biopolitical production of subjectivities. This nevertheless allowed for the formation of a functional Social Democratic content that was smoother and more cohesive, without the folds and friction that make power noticeable. Noticing it, makes it possible to see Amelin's painting as something other than an authoritative representation, as opposed to modernist traditions that focus on either the materiality of the composition, or art as a part of everyday life. Indeed, the discussion should not be centered around debates of content over form, or form over content. If the curtain continues the function of the painting, it does so as the consummation of the Labor Movement's attempts to integrate with the Swedish state. It is with this in mind that we wished to uncover the painting, for it is in a play between two authorities, the aura of architecture and the power of representation, between the image and its dissolution into the production of life, that the Labor Movement's art can enter the art world.

Patrik Haggren

1 .These effects of focusing new content rather than new forms are discussed by Boris Groys in his article " Educating the masses: Social Realist Art" in Art Power (Cambridge: The IMT Press, 2008) p 1 43, 1 47. His arguments concerning Social Realism in Soviet applies to the art of the Swedish Labor Movement in that it was similarly interested in content for its purposes of distribution. However, reproduction of Swedish Labor Movement art was subject to restrictions, showing consideration for the value of the original. 2. Gunnar Holmbäck, ” Microfascism och macroansikte”, Dissident 3 (2008): 89 - 1 27 3. Fred Andersson, ” Hur hippt är det att måla arbetare?”, Ord&Bild 3 (2008): 72 – 79.

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Aleksandra Mir, VENEZIA (all places contain all others), 2009

world.

‘Pandemonium: Art in a Time of Creativity Here resides one of the most problematic Fever’ issues of such exhibitions and it is relevant to I underline it when it comes to have a general For the 53rd edition of the Venice Biennial in 2009, the Swedish-American artist Aleksandra Mir printed out 1 million postcards. The project, called VENEZIA (all places contain all others) consisted of a series of random waterscapes from all over the world. The word “Venezia” was also present, in a style typical of postcard layouts. Exploring touristic aesthetics with a certain irony, the project was primarily an attempt to distribute, in a literal way, images of the global. The different places represented, recognizable or not, worked as extensions of an imaginary city, a place that develops a certain process of “unlocalization”, especially during the time of the Biennial. Continuing in a long tradition of international exhibitions, the biennial is a small world saturated by representations with an assumed and historical ambition to globally depict the contemporary

view on the 6th edition of the Gothenburg International Biennial for Contemporary Art. Under the sibylline title ‘Pandemonium’, the exhibition attempts to fulfill a certain number of criteria for how a global world should be represented. The first sentence of the presentation text, written by lead curator Sarat Maharaj, clearly sets the tone: “[the exhibition] will be an occasion for artists, thinkers and writers to mull over the turbulence and turmoil that is today’s world”. Responding to the subtitle “Art, in a time of creativity fever”, ‘Pandemonium’ is a way to talk about chaotic and reversible counterpoints. In other words, the curatorial work is an attempt to make sense of, organize and extend the representation of a globalized world. Even if it is a small and ephemeral world, like others we have seen before, the exhibition takes place in a city that has specific issues.

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When it comes to Gothenburg, two aspects need to be mentioned. First, the city is marginalized in terms of its art scene and cultural life, especially in a global context. Secondly, the image that the city develops for itself is that of an “event city”, a succession of short-term projects. In this context, ‘Pandemonium’ seems itself a representation of a representation. The biennial is a meta-space where visitors can explore the world’s problematic issues, while staying in the comfort zone of the gallery; it supplies a window to the world, which diverts attention from site-specific responsibilities. In Röda Sten Konsthall, Ruido (Noise) (2006201 0), a video installation by Cuban artist Yoel Díaz Vázquez stands at the top floor. The installation is made up of TV screens of several sizes playing different video loops of local Cuban musicians rapping in front of the camera. As their different flows mix together, daily life, social problems in contemporary Cuban society are brought together with the attention of a musical composition. Yet, they are also brought together for the exhibition’s visitors, documenting and creating an image of the country. Within the context of the show, the videos appear like a series of postcards: images that remain images. Elsewhere in the main exhibition room, is Åsa Sonjasdotter’s The Order of Potatoes (2011 ), a process-based work consisting of the cultivation of different species of potatoes. Dealing with the idea of exportation and colonization, the tubers work as a symbol of globalization and standardization of food. Unlike Díaz Vázquez’s work, the project doesn’t focus on a local level, but it nonetheless acts as representation of the global in the biennial, with the potatoes working like souvenirs (one could help oneself to them using small paper bags). The tour continues in Gothenburg’s Konstmuseum with a video installation by Chen Chieh-Jen titled Empire’s Borders II—Western Enterprises, Inc. (201 0). The Taiwanese artist imports in this work the complex relationship between his own country and the American and Chinese Superpowers. Again, starting with a

local conflict and a personal story, the project exposes the problematic consequences of geopolitical power struggles. An even more obvious example is the installation of Indian Artist Reena Saini Kallat in Konsthallen Untitled (Map/Drawing) (2011 ). The work consists of a world map made of wires and speakers broadcasting a soundtrack of amplified electric impulses. Borders and world communication are at the core of this project whose ambition, once again is an attempt to figure the world trough its most obvious representation, the map. To underline this general impression of the exhibition, it can be useful to examine a counter example now escaping this standard way of representation of the global world. The work achieves this through an idea that is largely neglected in the show: production. Time Exchange (2006-201 0) is a collection of works made by prisoners and commissioned by Antonio Vega Macotela exhibited in the Konsthall. In exchange for these works, the artist performed different services ranging from visiting one prisoner’s family to learn writing for example. Every action and every work made was depending on a trade, escaping the standard commerce by the time factor. The question of alternative forms of exchange is produced by the artwork’s process, which escapes the simple illustrative logic encountered elsewhere in the Biennial. Put into perspective, the series of objects and texts the artist presents locate the artwork within broader processes of production, thus transcending its ability to represent the global. It would be easy to sum up the diverse works in this Biennial under the sign of globalization, although not all of them deal with this theme. Nevertheless, if ‘Pandemonium’ is a collection of images and ideas, respecting the expectations of the “Grand Tour” what idea of the global does this exhibition project? In a sense, the Biennial extends Nicolas Bourriaud’s proposition for his exhibition ‘Altermodern’ for the 2009 Tate Triennial. The French curator explains in his Manifesto, text written for the exhibition, that “our globalized perception calls for new types of representation: our daily lives are played out against a more enormous backdrop than ever 11


before, and depend now on trans-national entities, short or long distance journeys in a chaotic and teeming universe”. Bourriaud’s proposition is reused in the Gothenburg Biennial’s presentation text, which develops the concept of “alternative global modernities”. Conforming to the discourse of major international exhibitions, the exhibition’s curators fail to reinvent or transcend this tendency. Besides, a global context creates hierarchies between territories and spaces. By merely illustrating this phenomenon, the Biennial tends to respect the existing world order (despite its claims to the contrary). Conforming to certain tendencies, the Gothenburg Biennial tries to make sense of the world with its ‘Pandemonium’. However, the curatorial choices give the impression that one is browsing a body of international works, practices and productions in a touristic way, producing a representation of a representation: art about the global. One has the impression that this is more part of a larger trend than a sustainable, local and relevant series of investigations.

Adrien Siberchicot

‘Pandemonium: Art in a Time of Creativity Fever’ II I have to admit I was at first dreading this biennial, even though an art event in Gothenburg is something to be happy about. For starters, I find the overall format rather stale, still reeking of its tag-along concept of "cultural capital." Add to this the theme of "Pandemonium"—a word I associate with excited American football announcers—and the political posturing in the exhibition literature, and the whole thing at the outset seemed too much to bear. As an "event" in the event-and marketingfriendly city of Gothenburg, the biennial succeeds—it's big, covering several venues, has many participating artists and many events coinciding with it. I suspect it would not have been possible to stage the biennale without reaching for "event" status, as otherwise the unimaginative politicians of Gothenburg would not have seen the value in a program about contemporary art (this is where the cultural capital comes in, for those not paying attention). As an interesting art experience, though, I am more conflicted about this event. I'll admit right away that I found many of the artworks on display aesthetically compelling but was underwhelmed by their critical power. Despite the aforementioned political pretensions in the curatorial theme, I was instead drawn to the beauty of Wim Botha's graceful sculpture, Chen Chieh-Jen's classically-structured film, and Karolina Erlingsson's haunting sound piece. On that note, I was happy about the number of sound-related works in the biennale, and in general there was a good variety of different media to explore (though as usual, I must express my exasperation with video art). One notable piece was Antonio Vega Macotela's series of prison-labor projects Time Exchanges, which I found truly interesting. The aesthetics take a back seat to the mode of production, which perverts the idea of gallery 12


art being made by a genius or even a skilled craftsman. Instead, by asking prisoners to make work about their experiences in exchange for questionable services outside the prison, a highly questionable relationship between the artist and prisoners is established. This was perhaps the only work in the biennale that made me think about labour and exploitation in a deep way. By contrast, Reena Saini Kallat's giant woven map, while physically impressive, attractive and ostensibly about migrant workers, didn't tell me anything I don't already know and doesn't offer any valuable poetic response, to boot.

interesting discussion. In conclusion, I found the biennale team's intentions were in a decent place, but as is so often the case, the art wasn't. Big ideas need space to breathe their own air, more than what Gothenburg seems capable of offering. This should be recognized and accommodated for. Beyond the audience’s needs, respect for space also must extend to the artists, whose work deserves to be displayed with focus and clarity. This applies to Botha's sculpture above all; even though it was commissioned for the biennale, it was deprived of the airy atmosphere it needs by the placement of visually heavy work on either side of it. Such choices are not exactly classy, to put it kindly, and there are no good excuses for them. This lack of what I could call “structural integrity” in the exhibition seemed to betray the organization or purpose of the biennial's theme and mission. As a result, I am simply not convinced that the theme, as such, is genuinely invested in whatever discourse it seeks to establish, nor am I convinced that placing so many works close together is enough to make the discourse happen.

There are too many artworks to talk about, and this is where my biggest problem with the biennale lies. In many cases, there are video works or films in their own rooms, but in the other, larger rooms, many artworks mingle together. While I appreciate seeing an event "bubbling with ideas" (to quote the biennial’s promotional text), there is a point where too much is simply way too much. I felt sorry for some of the artworks, squeezed as they were between several other artworks, many being excellent on their own right. For example, the room at Röda Sten documenting the ‘City Excavations’ performance weekend was Barrie James Sutcliffe cramped, dark, and uninviting to scrutiny, with Örn Alexander Ámundason's score for Kreppa: The 6th Gothenburg International Biennale for A Symphonic Poem About the Financial Contemporary Art (1 0 Sep - 1 3 Nov) Situation on Iceland (2011 ) stuck in the back of Multiple Venues, Gothenburg and Uddevalla, SE

the room like an afterthought.

The sheer number of work competing for attention in such cramped spaces—even the Cathedral room at Röda Sten seems cramped, for heaven's sake!—made me disregard any intended play between different viewpoints. Instead, it simply made me frustrated, tired, and confused about the juxtapositions presented. Why was Ernesto Neto's sculpture The Weight, the Time, the Body, the Moon and Love...wow! (2011 ) in a darkened room with

videos, when it requires the play of changing natural light? Why were there three large visual artworks occupying the narrow main hall at the Konsthallen? This kind of friction effectively neutralized what should have been an

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“Paul Hage Boutros, It´s Confusing Theses Days, 2010 "It doesn’t really matter if the viewer understands the concept of the artist by seeing the art. Once out of his hand the artist has no control over the way a viewer will perceive the work. Different people will understand the same thing in a different way.”

Sol LeWitt, Paragraphs on Conceptual Art

WITNAS Responses is a segment that focuses on multiple written commentaries by several contributors to one work by a student at Valand. In this issue, writers from various backgrounds and contexts respond to the video It’s Confusing These Days (201 0) by Paul Hage Boutros. Contributors range from the artist, to others that have had direct interaction with the work, to those viewing the work online, without any background information. This multiauthored technique highlights the relationship between artistic intent, an artwork’s capacity to create meaning, and the limitless

interpretations from the viewer’s perception of the work. The segment is an exercise to encourage artists to speak about their work and to form a dialogue outside the confines of the art institution. (201 0) was exhibited in 201 0, projected on a leaning canvas in the exhibition ‘Exposure 201 0’ curated by Sandra Dagher at the Beirut Art Centre. The work begins with a still life image of a pomegranate resting on a sofa, set to a piano composition. Later in the video, the artist enters the frame and eats the fruit. It’s

Confusing

These

Days

The video can be viewed online: http://www.paulhageboutros.com/?page_id=1 3 8 - Synopsis By playing with monotonous pace and claustrophobic framing, the short art feature It’s It’s Confusing These Days

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Confusing These Days provokes the viewer as it twists his understanding of daily-life actions. The natural “stilleben” environment pictured in the opening scene is disturbed by sudden movement and human interaction; silently, the natural element is cut into pieces and thereby displaced from its original existence. The cyclic movement of the actor’s coming, making and going, questions the transitoriness of people as opposed to the constancy of their surroundings; are we actors or directors in the world we enter? The analogy between the set colors and the pulpy fruit reflects the type and genre of the chosen music, a muwashah (a poetic form used in the Andalus mainly during the Arab Renaissance period) played on a modern stringed-instrument such as the piano. Set at his natal house, Hage Boutros presents his first work based solely on the common objects of daily life and gets inspired from the “huit-clos” yet natural location provided. This presents the “nature morte” in a new sense of perspective; therefore, the fruit becomes a vital character of the plot that is being drawn by our spectator eyes and through the music and sonic environment aspects. The soothing effect of the piano enhances the feeling of urgency, as it becomes a character on its own that crawls in and out during the surgical process. Nonetheless, the sequence of watching that same fruit peeled by no other than the artist himself puts the action at hand in a suspended mode resolved in a beginning of another cyclic event, hence the confusion. Therefore, dear reader, please refer to any out-of the-box action where altruism is of no concept, but an act of pure dedication to the anti-gift you had while enjoying the grief of pleasurable torture, hence the knife. // Marc-Ernest Diab, Beriut, Lebanon

(Musicology Student At Holy-Spirit University – Kaslik and Musician) When an artwork is attacked by the hand of an outsider, the action can create the illusion that an artwork is vulnerable, much like the human

body. Reports on such an attack can allude to violence and injury towards the art subject, personifying such forms as a canvas or a sculpture. This exemplifies the ability for a representation to signify more than an image. Artwork that is seen as vulnerable generates empathetic response. This is especially the case if the representation is of the human form, but what happens when the art is a representation of the everyday? Objects and subjects are loaded with meaning by a variety of situated viewers and a representation of a fruit can be seen as a passion, religious icon, delicious treat, or a geometric form with a keen aptitude for conveying color. The artist’s hand as painterly technique, shows the mark of the craft while debunking the surface as a coy pictorial escape. When an artist interrupts the escape by entering the frame, stopping the music and wounding the fruit with their hands, the viewer aches.

// Laura Hatfield, Gothenburg, Sweden (artist/musician/museologist) These days instead of paintings showing us the way things are (dressed up in allegory) we have video, so in this case, the video was a demonstration of how to eat a pomegranate. Or was it an apple? No, first a pomegranate, then an apple - a linear progression from Isthtar to Eve. So this guy walks in with hairy legs - wait, first there was the fruit sitting on a couch with sexy piano music playing in the background. The apple, no, pomegranate had bedroom eyes. That’s pushing the metaphor too far perhaps, forget I said that. Then this guy with hairy legs sits down with his socks pulled up and shorts too short - actually, I’m not sure about the socks, but that’s the way it felt - and chops off the head of the pomegranate. You probably want me to tell you it was about consumption, or desire, the act of devouring or something like that. What it really made me think about was Faith Healing. Walter Benjamin talks about how painting was like laying on hands and healing from the outside, while film and video are like surgery; sticking that knife into the pomegranate, busting open 15


the image and spilling the seeds all over the couch. I wonder if that guy in the socks was thinking about that? I wonder if the hairy legs belonged to Paul? Also - who eats a whole pomegranate in one sitting? I would definitely have a stomach ache.

// Rebecca LaMarre London, UK (MFA in Art Writing, Goldsmiths)

vile nature of the pomegranate, the fruity temptress, the most deceptive of the seed containers. I am fully convinced that the name of this fruit derives not from its visual likeness to the grenade, but rather from what it has in common with the grenade on a functional and emotional level. The fruit also has an appealing quality - its taste - but this aspect was cunningly left out of the work by the use of a Lynch-esque camera angle. The poor viewer thus had to deal with a distillate of the treacherous characteristics of the fruit - its unpractical design, the tediousness of its disassembling, the disarming, the almost galactic amounts of pointless organic tissue and the rareness of the sweet seeds within this culinary labyrinth - while not even reminded of its rather ok taste. The apple was a relief.

could be about two ways of eating, the way of the pomegranate that removes the pulp to get at the seeds, and the way of the apple in which the pulp is enjoyed but the core disregarded. As for the meaning of such indulgence, they could be interpreted as two ways of knowing, one regulated by the intellect in order to grasp the images as the materiality of their composition, the other by desire to integrate with the // Arvid Alfredsson Grahn, Karlskrona, artwork. The light, colors, texture, and the Sweden (Mariner/Member of music duo motif's associated genre, style, and medium Several Men) makes it uncertain whether or not the film just resembles a representation of a painting, in turn bringing to focus the camera as a means of production. Ironically, this sense of a painting's materiality disintegrates when the film is given three dimensional presence by its projection onto a canvas, just as it is by the entrance of an actor that mundanely cuts the contemplation of the everyday objects, only to let the viewer be fascinated by the stillness of these objects again, before they are finally put to use to consummate the fruit within the image by allowing it to become part of the human body. Rather than contrasting a material presence to deceitful representation, the dialectical uncertainty in the film regarding what belongs to the image and what is a trace of its mode of representation makes the film work differently. In the end it becomes impossible to decide on an appropriate way to experience the film. All that is shown is a pair of hands performing the action and whatever might be expressed by the face remains unframed. // Patrik Haggren, Gothenburg, Sweden (ethnologist/ museologist) It’s Confusing These Days

Everything before the moment when I saw the apple on the plate was an intense study of the 16


WITNAS#4