Friday, February 26, 2010

The afterthought experience

Do you know Tino Sehgal? You know, the artist that doesn't allow any pictures taken of his works? And doesn't write any introduction, or artist statement? Or make written agreements with museums? That wants no material artifacts in his works?
Does it matter what the works are?
They are performative. More: they are performances. They are people doing things in exhibition spaces. They are things happening with people within an exhibition framework.
They could be happening to others (say, someone kissing). Or to you (say, someone talking with you).
You might never discover which part was the work. Yet somehow, you often do.

Once again: Does it matter what the works are? Once you experience something, what good is the analysis?
But we are pretty smart animals. We may experience, and still want to think about it. We may want to decide what we think, and if we will go to see this thing again or not. We may rework this experience in our mind until we decide, say, that this is just not enough. That a good ice-cream would have done the job. Or a meeting with a friend. Or both combined. Maybe in a museum. Maybe accompanied by a stranger, having a conversation about progress. The luxury of conversational art. Now isn't that progressive.

Then again, what is wrong with living a series of perfectly good conversations put into a gentle, clean formal frame? Can't we just accept this? What is it that makes one (me) so voracious?
Is it the fact I've never actually seen a Sehgal, done a Sehgal?
Isn't the picture enough?
Or the reviews that seem to make a huge effort in taking the mimetic weight off the image and putting some of it on words?
Paradoxically, all the effort put into keeping it live seem to make us focus not on the thing, but on this very effort. Would Tino Sehgal be at the Guggenheim had he allowed taking pictures? So what exactly is the work, here? How come I feel it so clearly, if it's all about presence? Or am I just feeling its double, its fake, the afterthought? But isn't that crucial in experience? Doesn't that re-constitute the experience once it is over? Can one re-construct something one did not experience in the first place?
You would have to have been there. The most dreaded sentence in the world. What are we supposed to do with it? Take a hidden snapshot?

Tino Sehgal is on at the New York Guggenheim until March 10.

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

The End Is Never Nigh (A few sentences that never made it elsewhere)

Bloodshedding pieces of black-and-white happiness.
The unfair balance of the picture.

The wider picture. The bloody wider picture always giving it the color that wasn't there in the first place.
Notice: the wider picture is never the first place. It comes as we back up, until we are nowhere to be found, impressed by the relation of the Thing with that wide horizon, that swift encompassing of the Other into the Thing.

The unfair balance of the picture. Nothing should ever be framed. Frames should be prohibited, forcing us into oblivion, into focusing on the End nearest us. Who knows how many Santa Clauses are necessary?

The unfair balance of the picture.

The pictures are by, in order of appearance, Diane Arbus, Mikołaj Chylak, Diane Arbus, Fischli & Weiss.

Thursday, February 18, 2010

Another childish question inspired by a beautiful project

What is it that we like about simplicity? Is it not that it's close to us? It is attainable, like something that is nearly us. Or, to put it differently - an it that almost makes it into me. Thus, an imaginary community. Yes, if I dared, I would say simplicity gives us an imaginary community. A universe we don't need to adhere to, as it has already adhered to us.

The video, directed by Johannes Nyholm, is both a music video for Little Dragon, and a pilot of Nyholm's short film Dreams from The Woods.


Two pictures from the Visit series (2007/8) by Filip Berendt.
The idea is so simple and to the point that it is irritating. Berendt put an ad in a newspaper saying he wants to make installations in people's homes out of the things he finds there and take pictures of them. Some people answered. He went to their homes, and, well, did what he said he would do.
The series won him the Sittcomm award last year.

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

The Landscape Is You

Two gorgeous 2009 Szpilman Award candidates:
The runner-up, Alexander Thieme with his Embedded

... and this year's winner, Hank Schmidt in der Beek, with In den Zillertaler Alpen

Can you spot me?
What am I, within this overwhelming sight?
Am I a humble creature? Do I not see myself?
Or is it but a false humility, a false erasing of the onlooker's look?
I was told twice in the last two days that one should not make art in anyone else's name but her own.
You want it - you have it.
Hank Schmidt In Der Beek, you have just made my day.

Other candidates can be found here. Also check out their blog.

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Dreaming the book

Le Monde des Montagnes (The World of Mountains), an ECAL graduate project by Camille Scherrer

Nothing to stop us from getting lost. From deciding we no longer belong here, and using all our knowledge and craft to make this place just confusing enough to dream.
Be it an augmented reality, be it a book, a picture that can actually be moving. Be it our imposing of what's in our head, or rather, what dropped by for just a second, only to fool us into believing we own it, we are it.
Nothing to stop us from finding our way. With every single hesitating step we so confidently make into this our augmented reality, with more of you than I could ever have hoped for, with less of me than you would expect, with just enough of us to get the picture.
And move on. As if nothing really happened. As if.


Saturday, February 13, 2010

The unwearable jewel

I love the CRA$H jewellery collection by Super Fertile because it's impossible to wear. Poor people can't afford it. Rich people would never dare.
So who is it for?
For us, of course.

Friday, February 12, 2010


Who is it for?
Oh, what a dreadful question.
How embarrassing, how belittling, how pitiful.

1: what is the music?
2: can't we think of circumstances where it doesn't matter?
3 (with some leftovers): but aren't we losing something essential here? Some mistery we break to put it all into the social gesture, as if art really could be effective, as if it ever were, but what does that mean, how do we measure it, but doesn't it become too close to being measurable?
4: can't it be enjoyable? Can't it be blatantly focused on the audience?

This, of course, does not mean it can't be personal. On the contrary, one could openly use this focus and transform it through the connection of the two sides, as in Dan Graham's Performer/Audience/Mirror. But this ever-sacriligeous focus on the audience need not be objectifying, or at least not so openly. Think of applying the concept to the personal, the intimate. What sort of audience are we then?

Part 2 etc

How close to us. Ever closer.
Until, say, we reach the peak, we go beyond the intimate, beyond the sapiens, we give the monkey a camera, dreamfuly believing this is what the monkey sees, dreamfuly hoping (with a tad of gentle self-irony) that this picture, taken by our object, of us, brings us closer, tells us something more about this subject, when in fact it once again brings us back to who we are, as an audience, an audience that acts.
(more pictures taken by Nonja can be found here)


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