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Archive for March, 2010|Monthly archive page

THE EXHIBITION PROSTHETICS OF INVERNOMUTO

In Uncategorized on March 5, 2010 at 10:39 am


INVERNOMUTO describe themselves as an “audio-visual experimental group born in 2003 and based in the Italy countryside.” I first encountered Simone Bertuzzi and Simone Trabucci of INVERNOMUTO through their ffwd_mag project, each issue of which takes a different physical and conceptual form.  

The group have their first solo exhibition in Italy, entitled B.O.B, opening on April 8th 2010 at Gallerie Patricia Armocida in Milan and ahead of this they have been distributing a series of trailers – the first of which is above. The trailers don’t feature in the show themselves, and the TV series or film they seem to be announcing will never be shot.  

The trailer’s issues of fiction, personas, storytelling and projects that will never be realized, related to several projects here at VerySmallKitchen. I exchanged a few quick emails, and expect the questions to continue as trailers 2 and 3 coming along…

VSK: (1)Why fiction? (2)Why the storyteller? (3) Why B.O.B? 

INVERNOMUTO: 

(1) Well, it is not just a matter of fiction, but maybe an attempt to work on the borders of the real. The subject here is memory and its shape, the way it comes out from different degrees of reality.

So, narration is a safe place, it allows you to navigate through different objects, references and imaginaries; there’s a grey zone between fiction, dreams, memory and real, something really dense, like glue, that’s why it’s so necessary. You cannot escape from it.

(2) We thought it was so necessary to have an omniscient presence who drives you through the project. The voice is very terse, it sounds familiar but at the same time it is not so distant from the stereotyped documentaries voice-overs. Moreover, the storyteller is John Duncan (artist and musician from LA – living in Italy since a couple of years) and to us this add a further, extremely interesting, level to the project.

We couldn’t choose a professional speaker, we just didn’t need only a voice, but an articulated block of memories, imaginaries, and even fictions.

(3) It stand as Bob Over Bob.

VSK: (A minute or so after asking the other questions) …oh, am also curious how these ideas – of fiction/storyteller/ persona – become explored in the exhibition? Why is the exhibition form a good one for these explorations? Is the exhibition a form of fiction?

INVERNOMUTO: Absolutely it is. In a way it is the manifestation of fiction. We think at the exhibition as a kind of puzzle of objects, photographs and archive materials; the viewer can connect and construct his own image of narrative paths, characters and their actions, but he won’t be able to figure out a precise and detailed picture. In this sense trailers are extremely useful. But we decided not to include trailers in the show to give the audience more possibilities of reading.

____________

A READING NOTE: As I watched the trailer I was reading Exhibition Prosthetics by Joseph Grigely (Bedford Press Editions & Sternberg Press, 2010). Grigely is using the term “exhibition prosthetics” to describe an array of conventions that are part of  “the machinery of exhibiting” – such as titles, labels, and catalogues – but not conventionally seen as part of the art work.

Grigely proposes a new awareness of such spaces and materials, presenting numerous examples of artists working and re-working such forms, observing:

In this respect, moving closer to the artwork involves moving away from the artwork – to look closer at fringes and margins and representations, and ask what seems to me a very fundamental question: to what extent are these various exhibition conventions actually part of the art – and not merely an extension of it? (7)

Invernomuto’s trailer of course engages this attraction to “exhibition prosthetics” – the desire to extend  the “body” of the exhibition into forms outside of what it is conventionally composed. But, of course, their trailer is not really a convention of the art exhibition, it’s something more akin to TV or cinema.

In Invernomuto’s conception of “exhibition prosthetics” – as often with Grigely – the prosthetic explores the possibility of becoming the whole body, and there’s less sense of a custom-made prosthetic or a stable vocabulary of (exhibition) forms to be appropriated, more a melange of forms, adaptations, cross-circuitries…. 


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POSSIBLE ARCHITECTURES OF THE ART WRITING FIELD STATION (2): POET TALK ARCHITECTURE

In Uncategorized on March 4, 2010 at 9:16 am

 

Robert Smithson, Towards the Development of a "Cinema Cavern" (1971) Pencil, photography, tape. 12 5/8" x 15 5/8".

 

In thinking through connections of poetics and architecture I keep returning to the phrase POET TALK ARCHITECTURE. I remain unsure of what the phrase means, but have gathered below several statements and explorations, eager to see if they can contribute to this new quest for the built form of the ART WRITING FIELD STATION. Like the field station project, POET TALK ARCHITECTURE is interested in the structures and forms of writing and conversation, and eager, if a in rather hallucinatory manner, to see them acquiring physical form. 

My first attempt to articulate a Poet Talk Architecture, influenced by the Diller & Scofidio blur building building (see image below), begins with the following narrative:

Imagine a building of talk. As you approach you are less aware of its physical structure than of a hive of voices, words, glottal clicks, and glossolalic hyperboles. You wonder what is happening and where you are. This, you decide, must be the site of some important activism, where ideas form 24 hours a day through fine tuned verbal, non-verbal, and environmental connectivity, every writers need satisfied, a Tower of (Art) Babel reconstructed somewhere in the Essex countryside. Sheep graze among the ruins of your CV before, invisible tongues swelling to become POET TALK MONORAIL, you are shuttled inside the voices themselves. Looking around, you think that the whole space seems to be… a bar… but no..

Some texts that seem to be of relevance here: Lisa Robertson’s Office for Soft Architecture; Ian Hamilton Finlay’s Little Sparta; Italo Calvino’s Invisible Cities; Kurt Schwitter’s Merzbau; Bernard Tschumi’s Architecture and Disjunction; Alison Knowles’ The Book of Bean; Robert Smithson’s Cavern Cinema; Robert Filliou’s République Géniale.


Dissatisfied with the over familiar art-architecture folklore of some of these texts, POET TALK ARCHITECTURE builds to find new influences. 

BECAUSE EISENSTEIN MET MEYERHOLD

POET TALK ARCHITECTURE began with the conviction that the following description – by Sergei Eisenstein of Meyerhold’s lectures – was actually a blueprint for POET TALK ARCHITECTURE:

I was unlucky with my fathers… Meyerhold’s lectures were like insidious songs: “He who these songs hears, will everything forget…” It seemed as though Sirin was on his right, Alkonst on his left.  He waved his arms. His eyes flashed. In his hands was a Javanese marionette. The master’s golden hands moved the little gilded arms of the puppet. The little white face with its slanting eyes twisted to the right and left. And now a puppet had brought to life Ida Rubinstein, whose profile we remembered from Serov’s portrait. And in Meyerhold’s hands it was not a marionette, but Ida Rubenstin in Pisanella. 

Throwing his hands up sharply, Meyerhold conjures up cascades of sparkling cloth in the seaside market scene on the boards of the Opéra in Paris. The hands freeze in the air… And the imagination conjures up the final “Waxworks” scene from The Inspector-General. There stand the waxwork dolls, and those who sparkled the whole evening in their images on the stage whirl past them in a wild dance. The inimitable master stands there like Gogol in silhouette. Now his hands have dropped… and we sense the very faintest applause from kid-gloved hands, signifying the approval of the guests after Nina’s song in Masquerade, on the Alexandrinksy stage on the eve of the February revolution in 1917.

Suddenly the sorcerer breaks the thread of enchantment! In his hands are sticks of gilded wood and a piece of colored cloth. The king of the elves has vanished, and at the desk sits the lifeless archivist Lindhorst.

Poet Talk Architecture: Meyerhold's production of The Bathhouse by Mayakovsky, March 16 1930

 

His [Meyerhold’s] lectures were mirages and dreams. The listener would jot down something feverishly. But on waking up, he would find “the devil knows what” in the notebooks. One can recall in the finest detail how brilliantly Aksyonov analyzed The Merchant of Venice, what he said about Bartholomew Fair and the triple plots of the Elizabethan dramatists. But one cannot remember what Meyerhold said. Aromas, colours, sounds. A golden haze over everything. Elusiveness, intangibility, secret upon secret, veil upon veil – not seven of them but eight, twelve, thirty, fifty!

With their various nuances they flutter around the secrets in the magicians hands, but strangely. It still seems as if the wizard has been filmed in reverse motion… the subconscious waits, languishing somewhere, while the romantic “I” gets drunk on the lectures, and the rational “I” grumbles acidly – the one educated at the Institute of Civil Engineers in differential calculus and the integration of differential equations.

“When are the secrets going to be revealed? When shall we get on to the methods? And when will this strip tease à l’envers cease?“

SOURCE: Sergei M.Eisenstein, Immoral Memories: An Autobiography (Peter Owen, 1985), 76-77.

In trying to articulate something about the excitement this text prompted in me I arrived at the following:

ENTER AT YOUR OWN RISK

Poets are our buildings of talk, small microcosms where language uses the page as a first step towards full spatiality, less useful as poems per se than as sources  of architectural forms in the manner of Vitruvius or Owen Jones’ The Grammar of Ornament (1856). 

Owen Jones, Decorations for the Alhambra Court, South Kensington Museum, 1863

 

Jones moved into the Alhambra Palace in order to sketch the ornament within, and Poet Talk Architecture adopts a similar strategy, close to the contours of the Essex countryside, if also informed by JK Huysmans’ À Rebours (1884), its fantasy geography asserting supremacy over physical travel through fetishistic concoctions of domestic space. 

 Poet talk-space, then, with words and page woven into a blur building of Meyerhold talk, veil upon veil method of post contemporary never-shamanic building construction… 

 

AS OF 04/03/10. thinking through the possibilities for  POET TALK ARCHITECTURE in relation to the ART WRITING FIELD STATION, a new set of source texts have presented themselves:

Harald Szeemann, Tessin, Switzerland; Renee Gladman The Activist; the “snowflake” form of Dick Higgins; art strikes of Gustav Metzger; Matt Mullican’s codes, systems and cosmological architectures out of drawings; Falke Pissano A Lecture Turning Into A Conversation; drawing installations of Dan Perjovschi; Barbara Guest’s Rocks on a Platter; Mike Kelley’s Educational Complex (above); Céline Condorelli, Support Structures; Sabine Bitter, Helmut Weber and Jeff Derkson.

POSSIBLE ARCHITECTURES OF THE ART WRITING FIELD STATION (1)

In Uncategorized on March 3, 2010 at 5:28 pm

 

Paul Thek, installation view "Ark, Pyramid, Easter - a visiting group show", Museum of Art Lucerne, 1973 © Museum of Art Lucerne

 

Ahead of this weekend’s ART WRITING FIELD STATION I have been thinking about architecture. The title of this project implies some kind of purpose built structure, and although in practice the field station has so far been a nomadic affair, hosted by a number of gallery and studio spaces, the question of what kind of architecture the project implies, requires and brings into being remains for me a potent one. 

On Sunday we will launch the ART WRITING FIELD STATION ARCHITECTURAL OPPORTUNITY COMPETITION as a way of thinking through these issues over the coming months, gathering proposals and ideas that explore the conceptual, actual, fantastical, virtual, conversational and other architectures of the field station. Come along on the night to find out more. More details will be posted here next week.

Right now Hyun Jin Cho is making a 1 minute sequence of images, and I am making a 1 minute text that will introduce the project. We will put them together for the first time on Sunday night and see what happens. My own thinking has started from the possibilities opened up by the following three quotations:

(1)For many of Tatlin’s contemporaries, fellow avant-garde artists and writers, his tower exemplified the work of estrangement. The very fact that it was known primarily as a model or a project rather than a realized building reflected the possibilities and contradictions of the time. Thus, instead of speculating on the technical feasibility of its construction, a subject that has preoccupied many architects and others over the years, it is more productive to think about the tower’s actual history as a model and a project that opened up a new dimension of this intermediary and transitional architecture, which also may be called an architecture of possibility. 

“Project,” in the case of the tower, was not an end in itself, but neither was it an impasse. It was a crucible of possibilities and inspirations, not a utilitarian blueprint. Projects and models play a key part in the alternative history of the “off-modern.” In the context of the Russian avant-garde, artists and architects were frequently also writers. Their multifaceted production, often made “for the drawers” at a time when it was becoming increasingly difficult to build and publish, amounted to a different kind of a “total work,” one that was necessarily fragmented and came to constitute an avant-garde of dissent.

(2)Redesign a rainbow.
Design a labyrinth dedicated to Freud, using his photo and his writings. 
Design a Torah. 
Design a monstrance.
Design an abstract monument to Uncle Tom. 
Design a feminist crucifixion scene.
Design something to sell on the street corner.
Design something to sell to the government.
Design something to put on an altar.
Design something to put over a child’s bed. 
Design something to put over your bed when you make love.
Design a flying saucer as if it were The Ark. 
Design a black mass out of any materials you can find.
Design a work of art that fits in a matchbox, a shoebox.
Design a new clock face.
Design a box within a box to illustrate selfishness.
Design a throne.

 

(3)The Office for Soft Architecture came into being as I watched the city of Vancouver dissolve in the fluid called money. Buildings disappeared into newness. I tried to recall spaces, and what I remembered was surfaces. Here and there money had tarried. The result seemed emotional. I wanted to document this process. I began to research the history of surfaces. I included my own desires in the research. In this way, I became multiple. I became money.

…Soft Architecture will reverse the wrongheaded story of structural deepness. That institution is all doors but no entrances. The work of the SA paradoxically recompiles the metaphysics of surface, performing an horizontal research which greets shreds of fibre, pigment flakes, the bleaching of light, proofs of lint, ink, spore, liquid and pixilation, the strange, frail, leaky cloths and sketchings and gestures which we are.  The work of the SA, simultaneously strong and weak, makes new descriptions on the warp of former events. By descriptions, we mean mostly critical dreams, morphological thefts, authentic registers of pleasant customs, accidents posing as intentions. SA makes  up face-practices.

What if there is no “space”, only a permanent, slow-motion mystic takeover, an implausibly careening awning? Nothing is utopian. Everything wants to be, Soft Architects face the reaching middle.

 

SOURCES

(1) Svetlanya Boym, Architecture of the Off-Modern(FORuM Project, Princeton Architectural Press, 2008)

(2) Paul Thek, selections from “Teaching Notes: 4-Dimensional Design”, in Harald Falckenberg & Peter Weibel, Paul Thek: Artist’s Artist (MIT Press, 2008), 393-395.

(3) Lisa Robertson, Occasional work and Seven Walks from the Office for Soft Architecture (Vancouver, Clear Cut Press, 2003).

A CURATORIAL SCRIPT: A COLLABORATION WITH CONT3XT.NET

In Uncategorized on March 3, 2010 at 3:21 pm

An essay about my collaboration with the Vienna based collective CONT3XT. NET has just been published on the groups website here. As the introduction to the article explains: 

Writing Exhibitions was a two day event at the Stanley Picker Gallery in Kingston-Upon-Thames, on November 28 2009, exploring connections of language and exhibition making… For this event I curated a series of micro-exhibitions by artists and groups not present in the space – Jonathan Keats, Alexander Hetherington, and CONT3XT. NET.

Each was a different act of translation: Keats’ Experience Exchange was a participatory work originally designed for the commercial arena of the Berlin Art Fair; Hetherington’s A Million Lies; Once and Only Revealed After Death (Triangle of Need) involved adapting a large scale multi-screen performance installation for the spatial, temporal, technological and budgetary restrictions of the Writing Exhibitions event.

The project with CONT3XT sought to to create a new version of their exhibition You Own Me Now Until You Forget About Me. 

The process was as follows: out of our email exchange I developed a curatorial script, in which the exhibition (originally a group show at the Museum of Modern Art Ljublana, 16 May- 22 Jun 2008) became adapted as a 20 minute intervention in the 7.9 Cubic Metres space.

None of the original artists, art works, or curators were present in this new version, which, of course, raised many questions about where and in what form the original exhibition was present. Many of these questions, as the email dialogue explored, were ones CONT3XT.NET had themselves faced in exploring the role of a physical exhibition for digital and/or web based art works. 

Like any script, the eventual performance was somewhat different to what I intended. In the essay I try to explore some of the reasons for this, and offer some proposals about the role of script making in a curatorial process as it relates to (a) the materials of an exhibition, (b) the nature of the script; (c) the physical experience of the exhibition, and (d) its aftermath, legacy and memory. Regarding the script itself, the process led me to propose the following:

Once the exhibition is reduced to a set of materials, then the script becomes the architecture for those materials and a set of proposals concerning the relations between them. The script is a fantasy of relationality, its coercive intent a way of articulating often hidden power relations in the process of exhibition making.

The script has a range of possible relations to what is realized. It may be a closely followed set of actions, or something valuable for its contrast to what results; private working document or exhibited object. It may be adapted and changed at the last moment in response to changing circumstances, or be erased by the paradigm shift of the exhibition itself. As here, the exhibition is likely to necessitate the script’s re-writing.


Of course, the essay itself becomes one further version of the exhibition. For this reason, I did not want to illustrate the essay with photo documentation of the event itself. I use an image of the empty cube, a drawing of the event (by Hyun Jin Cho, who produced a drawing of/for each micro-exhibition), and a series of black squares bearing the words “PHOTO DOCUMENTATION REMOVED.”

This explores what about the experience becomes communciated more broadly (as the exhibition is translated from form to form), and what remains specific to those who participated in the event. It is also a way of holding the exhibition itself to a script format, something that might be engaged with and realised elsewhere. 

Hyun Jin Cho, drawing of an exhibition by CONT3XT.NET (as presented by David Berridge), at Writing Exhibitions, Stanley Picker Gallery, 28 Nov 2009

 

One area the essay does not explicitly explore is the form of the micro-exhibition itself. For the Writing Exhibitions event, eight 20 minute exhibitions followed one after the other, the format meaning that the get-in and get-out of each show were part of the exhibition experience. A constant group of 12 shifted between being exhibiting artists, participants, critics and  exhibition goers.

Of course, in some ways this format made the exhibition into a performance. But there was also something particular that came from the (micro-) exhibition frame – a particular way of looking, and experiencing, and, possibly, remembering. 

Thanks to Sabine Hochrieser, Michael Kargl (aka carlos katastrofsky), Birgit Rinagl, and Franz Thalmair of CONT3XT.NET for their work on this project. VerySmallKitchen is developing a number of projects around the concept and practice of scripts for exhibitions (both by curators and artists) and welcomes information and submissions of relevant projects. Please contact verysmallkitchen@gmail.com.