Participating Artists 5x52009
Lara Almarcegui (Zaragoza, Spain 1972)
Ruins in the Netherlands XIX-XXI, 2008
26 photographies, 30x45 cm e/o, publication, table
The project consists of the publication of a guide of ruined buildings in the whole of Holland. The guide contains 154 entries of ruins from the modern and contemporary era. Each one of them includes an image and a text about its history, the cause for its abandonment and the plans for the place.
To carry out the project I spent 3 years visiting around 400 ruins in all regions of the country. I obtained the addresses with the assistance of industrial heritage associations, town and city councils and archives which we contacted. After that, I proceeded to select the most interesting buildings and began researching into each one of them in order to write the text. The examples included in the guide range from spas to chocolate factories, from swimming pools to theatres. The neglect of some of them is due to the disappearance of industrial processes. For instance, linen manufacturing or potato flour plants. There are also obsolete post-war educational projects. Some of the buildings had been left vacant recently to give way to new plans to make more space for river waters.
The constructions featured in the Guide to Ruined Buildings in the Netherlands are not what one imagines when thinking about the ideal ruin. Most of them are in a prior state; for instance, an empty building where the process of decay have just began. Other times they are in a condition that has passed that of the ideal ruin, instead looking more like a pile of rubble.
The lack of use of ruins and abandoned buildings, their uselessness and lack of functionality, also mean that they are places open to all types of possibilities. In a country like the Netherlands, where all available territory seems to be used resourcefully, the existence of these blank spaces seems somewhat gratifying. And although some of these ruins will be kept in their present state for a long time, others will be renovated and many of them simply knocked down.
Ziad Antar (Saida, Lebanon 1978)
Ein Al Hilwé, 2007
8 photographies, 20x25 cm e/o
Veil Series: Headscarfs design conceived by young Palestinian girls in Ein Al Hilwé refugee camp.
Ziad Antar spent a month working on an art project with young girls from the Ein Al Hilwé camp near Saida. The girls were asked to bring headscarves with them from their homes and to create any shape they desired using them. Veil Series is a photographic exposé of the end products of this art venture.
Igor Antic (Novi Sad, Serbia 1962)
The Implicit Relations, 2009
20 upholstery fabrics on wooden frames, 460x240 cm
The Implicit Relations questions the imaginary interactions and confrontations between two types of families: the human family as a biologically founded institution and the socalled “art family” based on various artistic roles and ranks. The designations of their members are set in various constellations and printed on 10 upholstery fabrics, whose pattern is composed of series of interlaced ropes and knots. 20 similar upholsteries surround them. They are visible both from the front and the back, and are presented regularly or turned upside down.
While observing the whole, the eye tries to follow the movement imposed by the ropes, whereas the mind attempts to find the logical relations between the words. The ropes of each tissue create their own structure (network) that is both analogous and dissimilar to the structures (networks) of the other upholsteries. Yet, because of the pattern alternation, there is a discontinuity, a rupture of the movement between upholsteries. Finally, the eye can hardly connect numerous ropes between them, so it ends up by accepting the discontinuity as a principle of the whole.
Once again in this work, the same principle is proposed by means of the text. The words are used as a raw material. They create illogical couples and triangles where an element A is related to an element B as an opponent, and B is in turn related to an element C as an opponent too, but A can also be associated to B versus C or D, etc. The various wordformation units lead to unpredictable interpretations and to absurd deductions about the whole. The faculty of the language to form both clear and indistinct meanings escapes from any didactic approach. There is neither a system, an obvious order of reading, nor strictly defined gender-roles. Consequently, there is no final conclusion. There is, perhaps, much more rupture than continuation. Yet, the viewers are free to invent as many links as they wish. In everyday life, the main function of the family is to perpetuate the society. Likewise, the families here generate their own extension and their imaginary relational dialectics. This generating process, without suggesting the truth, is the main principle of the work.
Roy Arden (Vancouver, Canada 1957)
Single channel video loop with stereo sound. 56’
Citizen began as approx. 2 minutes of hand held reportage shot from the passenger seat of a moving vehicle. The camera is fixed on a young man crouching n a traffic median in the centre of a busy intersection. The car makes a rough circle around him, finally pausing next to him at a red light. At this point he becomes aware of the camera and very calmly and briefly returns its gaze.
The young man is wearing a patina that suggests he is homeless, perhaps schizophrenic, but not necessarily. He has a bundle beside him that is probably his bedding. He appears indifferent to the roaring traffic that surrounds him. The shiny new cars with their corporate logos —Toyota, Honda, Mercedes— are manifestations of the everyday economy from which he is excluded. It is as though he was plucked from a painting by Caravaggio or Goya - and magically dropped into this 21st. century scene.
Citizen is composed of two different shots edited together and endlessly looped. The colour has been reduced to a slightly warm black & white and the original time of approx. 2min. has been slowed down to approx. 10 minutes. The soundtrack was made from a short piece of the original traffic noise which was layered back on itself several times and then looped until a hypnotic, mantra-like grumble was produced.
I wanted to turn the rough quality of the original material into a positive formal element. By leeching out the colour, slowing down the time and projecting the image, the material aspect of the medium is pronounced and made a subject of the work. This is a modernist formal operation and a poetic one; I had in mind a texture akin to the movement of silt at a river delta - turning light & time into a slow, sludgy matter.
The depiction of the lower classes or marginal ‘types’ was one of photography’s first projects. I often had the work of the British photographer John Thompson in mind during the production of Citizen. But my intention with this video was not documentary, I am interested instead in an allegorical realism that emerges from concentrated attention.
Carla Arocha & Stéphane Schraenen (Caracas, Venezuela 1961 / Amberes, Belgium 1971)
Mirrored plexiglas and stainless steel, 360x400 cm. Variable high
Carla Arocha & Stéphane Schraenen work with sculpture and photography, as well as installations that sometimes combines both these media or even additional ones. Above all work with light. Or its absence. If this seems fairly obvious when considering photography, it’s equally obvious when considering sculptures and installations that use mirrors in various forms, particularly the highly reflective mirrored plexiglas that has become something of a signature material for them.
Their work has sometimes been considered as ‘optical art’, belonging to a tradition that, with varying degrees of intent and serendipity, targets the intersections between the physics of light, the biology of the human eye and the idiosyncrasies of neurological phenomena as its key arenas of activity.
The art of Carla Arocha & Stéphane Schraenen evokes many relationships with preceding movements in art. Almost all of these associations relate to the umbrella of Modernism and the gradated ontology of its progeny later in the twentieth century; it evokes the formal qualities of Minimalism as much as the optical illusions of Op Art. And yet, it is actually neither. It is not what it is and it is not what it seems. Hidden beneath the outward layers of immediate similarity is a practice that, while never denying what it admires about, or has learned from, these movements, remains fundamentally postmodernist. Post-modern not as a visual facsimile of the received vernacular from the 1980s, but in terms of the oft misunderstood philosophies and bodies of theory accurately associated with the term.
In works from the ‘P’ series, for example, the formal aspects of the work rely strongly on the conscious experience of sensory perception and its gradual shifts: the audience live through a narrative in seeing other narratives present. The tall block-like elements have lived lives that range from the most formal of white-cube existences to those in which the connections with architecture and urbanism are undeniable.The claustrophobic metropolis or the failed high-rise experiments in social housing of the 1960s must cohabit with disciplined abstraction.
Beatrice Catanzaro (Milan, Italy 1975)
The Water was Boiling at 34º 21’ 29’’ S, 18º 28’ 19’’ E, 2008
Installation. Variable dimensions
Departing from the investigation into the use of visual representation during the dictatorship in Portugal (1932 –1974), I took the Exposiçao do Mundo Portugues (Exposition of the Portuguese World) held in Lisbon in 1940 as a study case. The Expo involved Portugal and its colonies (provìncias ultramarine), in a majestic propagandistic display in the area of Belem, along the Tejo River in Lisbon.
Several pavilions and monuments built for the occasion are still in place today, now functioning as tourist sites. Among those, the Monument to the Discoveries originally built in wood and plaster for the Exposition of the Portuguese World and rebuilt twenty years later (1960) permanently in concrete and stone, in honour of the 500th anniversary of the death of Prince Henry the Navigator.
My idea was to generate a narrative around the Monument, based on the very historical events its represents: the discoveries of Brazil and the sea route to India.
One day, I came across an article about the Indian magician, P.C. Sorcar JR, descended from eight generations of magicians and actually based in Kolkata.
In 2000 he succeeded in making the Taj Mahal disappear. For 120 seconds the monument disappeared under the astonished gaze of hundreds of spectators.
In March 2008 I visited P.C. Sorcar JR in Kolkata in order to consult with him on the possibility of making the Monument to the Discoveries in Lisbon disappear.
(Kapellen, Belgium 1977)
Vaast Colson’s work steers effortlessly around profile, strategy and materialisation. It seeks out peripheral places and moments where images arise, mainly by social interaction. These images depend on the circumstances, which are unpredictable, complex and often momentary. Colson repeatedly puts himself in a situation or an installation in which he focuses on the figure of the jester who entertains, surprises and instructs his audience. A conversation, a walk, a movement, music, a gift, a presence or an absence; these are the means that lead to unbounded activities that show no technical bravura and have no time limit.
Gayle Chong Kwan (Edinburgh, Scotland 1973)
12 photographies, 80x102 cm e/o. Edition of 10
A series of twelve large-format photographs based on 14th Century ideas of a glutton’s paradise. Each depicts a mythical landscape constructed from a single foodstuff, which appear enticing but on closer inspection verge on the repellent: the cheese in Resort is plastic and slimy, the dried meat in Babel beginning to sweat.
Hams and cheeses grow on trees, fountains run with beer, houses are roofed with pies. Erudite and multi-layered, Cockaigne explores utopian ideals of paradise and the presentation of the exotic in the global tourism and travel industries, as well as European legend and the history of Fine Art.
At Disney’s Epcot Centre in Florida, idealised representations of world cities and cultures have been built around a circular lake, most at two thirds scale. The day can be spent walking from China to Morocco via Venice, perhaps stopping off in Mexico for a meal of tortillas and Japan for green tea, before returning to your starting point. In the same way Cockaigne brings together geographical, historical monuments and landscapes in one impossible and ultimately overbearing paradise island made out of food.
An icy landscape made of butter and lard is based on Casper David Friedrich’s Wreck of the Hope, the Tower of Babel is created out of meats, El Dorado of potatoes, and the Garden of Eden of rotting apples. A castle (itself inspired by “Mad” King Ludwig II of Bavaria’s Neuschwanstein Castle – the king commissioned a stage designer as architect) is revealed on close inspection to be constructed of sliced white bread.
The various scenes share similar horizons, visually linking up into a fantastical landscape reminiscent of the exotic scenarios created by Dufour in 19th Century hand-printed French panorama wallpapers. The twelve 30x40” landscape prints echo the European tradition of depicting the twelve months of the year or the four seasons.
Dror Endeweld (Tel Aviv, Israel 1960)
Hub (El innombrable, L’innombrable), 2009
Aluminium plate, 600x120 cm
This plate is divided in two equal parts. On the first one the word INNOMBRABLE is twice engraved, aside from a disk in its centre, on which are also engraved two articles “L’” and “EL”. On one side the word is in place, on the other it’s reversed. The two articles define the word, but most of all they both give different issues to the word, one in French and the other in Spanish.
However the word, although identical in the two languages, has not equal meaning in value. Strangely, the meaning is at the same time opposed and complementary: L’INNOMBRABLE (the innumerable) ≠ EL INNOMBRABLE (the unnameable). The Viewer may change the order of languages by rotating the disk by hand, a reversal of meaning follows.
In the second part, we can see a series of numbers. The usual mechanism of arithmetic increase or decrease is strongly affected by the system forming the numbers, and augmented by a dash at each stage to obtain a superior number in the series. Herein lies several paradoxes, the most obvious is the figure 8 composed of 7 elements, repeated many times.
In both parts of the work we are facing the same problem: a mixture of logic, first a logic of form with its paradoxical reconciliations, as opposed to a different logic that I name “formal”, the reading of the usual meaning.
This work also refer to the issue of translating whether it is possible or not to translate the spirit of a language, and how respectively language and plastic language are referring to the unspeakable. In spite of apparent complexity, I aim to propose a direct and physical view of this work into space. A look over the whole that gets more acute along its perception.
Zhang Enli (Jilin Province, China 1965)
4 paintings. Acrylic on paper, 26x110 cm e/o
Several meters long, consisting of dozens of backs of heads, the series of work Hair is intended to form another kind of «portrait» equal to that of front views. It was clarified when the works were finished. The purpose was to try to find the back or so-called "dark side", as well as the benefits coming along with reverse thinking. Here, it can be front as well. Image, status, age and character reflect one’s appearance, but are mere features. We usually divide objects into "front", "rear", "above" and "below", whether the side is the important one or not. The primary side usually refers to the character that defines the object (with obvious features of the object). The back sides are always forgotten. When I was trying to find those forsaken sides in my studio, home and public places and trying to depict them, I found the strange faces of everyday things, and that’s the source of my paintings.
Patricia Esquivias (Caracas, Venezuela 1979)
Folklore #2, 2008
DVD, color, sound, 15’
Folklore #2 compares two particularly important moments for Spain in the history of the world: the global empires of King Felipe II and of the singer Julio Iglesias, and the relationship of the two of them with the characteristic Spanish sun and its link to the economy. The connection of official history and popular gossip gives rise to surprising parallels throwing light over previously unconnected aspects of Spanish identity.
Supporting her words through a conceptual shot, images on paper and graphic symbols, Patricia Esquivias recounts for the public present in a classroom, in learner’s English, the similarities and differences between Felipe II and Julio Iglesias. Some of the data: their sphere of rule is global, both had 8 children, both retired to large mansions in their old age (El Escorial and an island), the former gave his name to the Philippines, the latter married a Philippine, etc.
With the camera fixed on the yellow paper showing the conceptual map of the two characters and of their relationships, a voiceover by Patricia speaking in poor English tells their story accompanying it with photographs and graphics as if to give more emphasis and veracity to her statements. For the sake of greater clarity (as the author states in the film) the lecture continues outside the classroom, in front of a computer, attaching images on paper about her speech onto the screen. Paying attention to the most significant ideas underlying the labour of contrast and comparison between the two characters, carried out synthetically and following a subjective logic, Esquivias imparts a lecture based on objective facts that outline, in a brief lapse of time, the global power of the two Spaniards.
Given the difficulties in navigating among the myriad of details provided, the solution is to deploy a mental map with a view to bestowing as much consistency as possible on the narrative. The ideas that do not take part in the parameters themselves do not exist, thus generating a subjective story of popular references that is the source for Folklore #2.
Mario García Torres (Monclova, Mexico 1975)
What Doesn’t Kill You Makes You Stronger, 2007
53 stills, color and B&W .Variable dimensions
What Doesn’t Kill You Makes You Stronger combines text and photographs to create a kind of visual essay about Martin Kippenberger’s attempts to establish a Modern Art Museum on the Greek island of Syros.
The form is characteristic of the artist: acting as a cultural archaeologist, he digs up a piece of the recent past to create a discursive portrait —half travel log, half proposal— of one of the more quixotic episodes in the history of contemporary art.
The set of images depicts Syros and historical footage of the Museum of Modern Art of Syros, and of the transformation of the half constructed building, once declared museum, into the town’s Wastewater Treatment Plant.
The text explains both the long history of the town, Kippenberger’s ideas surrounding the project and documents the artist trying to revive the story by making a solo exhibition in the site.
Anthony Hernandez (Los Angeles, California, USA 1947)
Landscape for the Homeless #22, 1990-2007
Endura Paper, 128,3x127 cm. Edition of 7
Anthony Hernandez is a photographer based in Los Angeles. His subjects are often abandoned and unfinished buildings; the results are both emotionally charged and highly formal.
The images contain the skeletons of industry: columns in a vast cement field, a never used elevator shaft—human artifacts devoid of humanity, a man made desolation. Far from chaotic, they are detailed compositions of dark and light, of textures and geometric repetition.
Martin Honert (Bottrop, Germany 1953)
4 light projectors
Since 2002 I have been using a series of drawings from my childhood as direct models for my work, trying to translate them into a new form. In doing so I keep precisely to the guidelines of the drawing and locate all the necessary inventions on parts that aren’t visible or on the materials used (…)
Light projection seemed to me well suited to realize the childhood drawing that I used as the model for this installation of four "ghosts". The projectors were of a kind often used in department stores or trade fairs to project advertising messages by means of simple optical effects. In my version, each ghost is projected by one projector, fitted with one attachment, so that each gets a particular effect. Beginning on the left, the first ghost’s head is repeated by means of a rotating prism attachment, and moves around the entire wall. A multicolored disk is inserted in each projector to make the second and third ghosts pass through various nuances of color. The fourth ghost, the one that bears the flag, fluctuates in wavelike motions that are produced by a special round glass disk.
From: «Martin Honert», Matthew Marks Gallery, New York; Verlag der Buchhandlung Walther König, Köln. Catalogue Raisonné (Appendix), Nr. 43/44.
Ulrike Kessl (Rottweil, Germany 1962)
Skirt Columns, 2003
Installation. 3 columns with 47 hanged skirts, 40x40x700 cm e/o
Ulrike Kessl’s space installations often fuse the domains of architecture and the human body. As is directly implicit in her title Skirt Columns, this work deals specifically with the architectural element "column" in synthesis with the garment "skirt".
The supporting and structural function normally performed by a pillar is, however, in this case completely reversed: instead of supporting the ceiling of the exhibition room, the three columns are actually suspended from it. The material —skirts in various sizes, colours and shapes— is surprising, as we are used to associating columns in the architectural context with massive materials such as stone, marble or concrete. As an item of clothing, skirts are generally associated with the female body.
Each of the three columns is equally long and ends at the same level, approx. 20 cm above the ground. Where a person encountering a classical column would normally expect to see a base (consisting of a plinth and one or more toruses or covings) here we find nothing! This emptiness gives the Skirt Columns a flowing and floating appearance.
The number of items of clothing used will inevitably depend on the exhibition venue or the height of the room. The number of skirts also varies from column to column, as each pillar holds different sizes of skirts.
The artist starts a new (colour) puzzle game with a different selection of colours and materials each time she installs this work: pleated summer skirts with patterns suggesting the Sixties are intermixed with others more sternly cut skirts with subdued colours. Bell-shaped wide, swinging skirts hang beneath narrow multi-coloured models.
The narrative character of these everyday objects permits numerous associations and interpretations: the viewer can allow the composition to recall the mass of garments seen at a closing sale or the jumble of colour on a busy shopping street. When the individual garment is focussed on, the skirts can easily be associated with certain types of women, their fashion preferences, the shapes of their bodies, as well as their cultural socialisation and outlook.
Text: Johannes Sandberger
Krijn de Koning (Amsterdam, Holland 1963)
Modular Work of 32 Elements, 2009
The most part of Krijn de Koning works are temporary site-specific installations and sculptures. They are to be seen in different kinds of places. These can be in places with a specific cultural context, like museums, galleries, exhibitions, artist-run galleries, or in places with a specific architectural and/or environmental context, like buildings and public spaces.
His work is an ongoing, step by step, research into the true idea of «space»; what is space, what makes space and how it is used, interpreted and experienced. Although «space» is the main subject in his work, the works themselves deal with the idea of "place", place as an object. In this lies the direct relation with the idea of matter, gravity and the presence of the body.
This physical engagement is meant as a stepping stone to a mental engagement that contributes to seeing the beauty, potential and particularity of a place. In the process of his work he uses a lot of intuition, alongside the full recognition of the consequences of constructing and transforming a physical reality.
Mark Lewis (Hamilton, Canada 1958)
The Fight, 2008
HD Video, color, no sound, 5’ 27’’
The idea for The Fight came from an event that I witnessed last Christmas in a market in the South West of France. While I was shopping for vegetables, two groups of people arranged themselves into direct confrontation with each other, more or less blocking the street in front of me. A certain choreography gave form to this confrontation, one that each individual involved in the drama seemed to understand, perhaps unconsciously, and one that seemed to have its roots not necessarily in the event itself, but in the practiced imitation of familiar representations from television and film, and even photography and painting. I understood the participants in this particular event that I witnessed as stock characters or clichés, they themselves acting out their version of a great historical drama of confrontation that has been central to the
history of depiction.
The intense choreography and changing composition of the event —bodies assembling and falling away, limbs lurching forwards and falling back, faces contorting with anger and hatred— reminded me that the only thing that remained composed in all of this was my own frozen body and the bodies of other spectators as we all looked on, unable to turn away.
I shot The Fight using the process of rear projection. Rear projection was a familiar filmic process from the 1930’s up until the 1960’s, and its introduction into Hollywood films had practical advantaages: it allowed the stars of films to appear as if they were on locations or in moving vehicles when they were in fact on sound stages. In The Fight the rear-projected images of the market can be understood as the insertion of a filmic real into the wholly fictional space of the studio where the fight itself was staged.
The Fight tries, however subtly,to ‘make strange’ what is depicted in order to release that depiction from the realm of the cliché and do this without introducing unnecessary theatricality, at least this is what I hoped.
In other words I think that in the montage of front and back filmic images, we might get a sense of how confrontations like these draw their own strength from other images and that in turn produce us as modern subjects or spectators.
Dorit Margreiter (Vienna, Austria 1967)
35 mm transferred to DVD, B/N, 8’
Pavilion uses the "film" medium as an exhibition space. In a continuous tracking shot the fi lming site –the Austrian pavilion in Venice, built by Josef Hoffmann in 1934– is documented, transformed, altered and expanded.
Pavilion is a fi lmic analysis of the architecture and its nature as a representational and exhibition space. From today’s perspective and on the basis of a contemporary understanding of art, a range of artistic strategies are applied, exploring the building’s fundamental idea of a model-like, ideal space for the presentation of art. Margreiter conducts her methodological analysis by establishing different categories: the pavilion as a utopian space for art, which is an architectural sculpture in itself; then the exhibition and its substructure; also the categories of performance, documentation; and finally —self-refl ectively— the medium film. Pavilion is a black-and-white fi lm with a surreal quality.
Its staged rendition at the actual site mirrors the pavilion in its space and in time, it is a projection of itself onto itself.
Corey McCorkle (LaCrosse, Wisconsin, USA 1969)
HD Video, color, sound, 10’
March depicts drill manoeuvres conducted by the Knickbocker Greys, "a paramilitary drill club for children". The club has practiced at the Park Avenue Armory in New York since 1881 with the purpose of instilling leadership and discipline in children... by making them wear militaryesque uniforms and marching up and down like the Grand old Duke of York, repetitively, pointlessly, and weirdly. What is it with people and politics that they want children to play at soldiers? Whether Communist boy brigades in Russia, Scouts in England, or more disturbingly in Uganda or DR Congo, where the playing bit is forgotten. McCorkle raises these questions and plenty more in his film, including about the relations between people and architecture, documentary and performance, utopia and absurdity.
Accompanied by a handful of uniformed adults who seem to like the palaver even more than their charges, the children perform all sorts of complex drills in the darkly lit corridors and halls of this grand nineteenth century building. But they are children and, for all their pride in a job well done, they are here for fun rather than a grown-up job. So something always slips away from all this discipline.
Someone has forgotten their gloves. Some look stern but others let slip a smile. Some clasp their hands for the group photo, others just let them hang. The marching steps aren’t quite crisp.
Carlos Motta (Bogotá, Colombia 1978)
La Buena Vida, 2005-2008
Installation, 13 monitors , 5 wooden structures and photographies
La Buena Vida is a video project comprising over 400 interviews with pedestrians on the streets of twelve cities in Latin America between 2005 and 2008. The work examines processes of democratization as they relate to US interventionist policies in the region.
The conversations and dialogues recorded in Bogotá, Buenos Aires, Caracas, Guatemala, La Paz, Managua, Mexico City, Panama, Santiago, San Salvador, São Paulo and Tegucigalpa, cover topics such as individual perceptions of US foreign policy, democracy, leadership, and governance. The result is a wide spectrum of opinions which vary according to local situations and the specific forms of government in each country.
The installation consists of 13 TV monitors set into 5 wooden structures, alluding in an abstract way to the Priene, the theatre and public space of the Agora in Athens where citizens gathered, debated and took part in the process of legislative and judicial decision making. The position of the video monitors on the structures allow them to metaphorically function as talking subjects within the space, addressing their comments to a wide audience.
La Buena Vida also includes an Internet archive and a number of texts and articles.
Mika Rottenberg (Buenos Aires, Argentina 1976)
Time and a Half, 2003
Single channel video, color, sound, 3’ 40’’
The female body, in all its potential fantastic proportions, obsesses Mika Rottenberg. Her eccentric videos have featured bodybuilders, dancers, wrestlers, and porn models labouring in confined, assembly-line settings to manufacture unusual objects related to the body: fast-growing fingernails morph into cherries, perspiration becomes the scent for tissues.
In Time and a Half, Rottenberg provides the viewer with an image of converging yet displaced cultures. A young, exotic-looking woman daydreams while constantly tapping her fingernails and staring at a poster of a tropical island view, replete with palm trees, blue water and a gentle breeze. This island, however, is in fact a Chinese take-out restaurant that the young woman works at. Adding nothing more than a fan and extra palm trees, Rottenberg transforms the impassive attendant at the counter into a siren of almost mythic proportions, whose powers of concentration, long hair and extravagant, incessantly tapping fingernails conspire to make the space real.
Time and a Half is a reflection on cultural identity and the eclectic mélange of cultures that is a reality of our rapidly globalized world.
Alessandra Tesi (Bolonia, Italy 1969)
Hospital #1, 2009
40 photographies, 120x180 cm
Hospital #1 is a work from a large project I have been developing in recent years,bengaging in long-lasting incursions into reality, inside places that stage a suspension of the relationship with the external world.
THREE NON-FICTIONAL PLACES
1. Crime Scenes. Murder Squad, Paris.
2. Cloister. El Real Monasterio de la Santísima
3. Hospital. Hôtel-Dieu, Paris.
A FICTIONAL STORY IN COLOR
The night of the crime is gold. It is an artificial light, of those apartments where murder is often discovered at night. In that space there were absences, negligence and abandonment.
The night of the “Clausura” confinement is silver. Like an infinite lunar night, a sleep in broad daylight. A story of cleanliness, an icy white becoming transparent.
The night of the hospital is black.
That morning the hospital was still black. The vision of the place, as if it had shattered onto the floor, was in piecesurgery ward 1, 2, recovery room, intensive care unit corridor.
Rooms inside rooms. Spaces of anesthesia, isolation, return, abandonment.
Like an empty stage set, waiting for stories that would then need to be cleaned up again, disinfected. A shiny space. Clean floors, still wet.
Spaces that lead nowhere, separated from each other, suspended pieces of corridor, multiplying as in a voluntary repetition of a dream.
Stories of neon lighting. Then, in the surgery ward, the absence of daytime. A space of metal, sterilized. An acid cleanliness.
The psychiatry corridor, extremely shiny.
They told him to walk down those corridors, to keep walking, so he then finally would lose those images still lurking in his night. His inner images.
There are no sight pathologies against a black background, answered the surgeon, but only the perception of black as an absence. Black blindness, it is an impression.
Harald Thys & Jos De Gruyter (Wilrijk, Belgium 1966 / Geel, Belgium 1965)
The Frigate, 2008
HD Video, color, sound, 19’
An old black ship provokes sexual arousal amongst a group of men and one woman.
The meticulous and slightly absurd work of De Gruyter and Thys is characterised by loaded atmospheres and claustrophobic spaces populated by strange figures, impersonated by non-professional actors, captured in no apparent relation with the ‘real world’. With dialogue reduced to a minimum, sound and often surreal gestures direct the attention to what is left of a narrative structure. The singular and theatrical parallel world they create is however paradoxically not that much different from the one we live in.
The films transmit apparently trivial situations in a way reminiscent of experimenta dramaturgy and performance in which black humour becomes the key to extend our inquiry and reflection into behavioural mechanisms and routines in contemporary society.
Tris Vonna-Michell (Rochford, United Kingdom 1982)
Leipzig Calendar Works, 2009
From the Works Finding Chopin (2005-2008) and Leipzig Calendar Works (2005-ongoing)
Installation. Variable dimensions
During the spring of 2005 I locked myself in a GDR MDF Bedroom in a Leipzig Plattenbau. I flew to Germany with two suitcases, both full of childhood photographs and calendars... accompanied by a hand shredder and supplies of glue and scissors. Starting precisely on April Fools’ Day I began to systematically shred my personal photographs and collate them onto my calendars, ending on May Day. The next day I left for Paris to continue the journey… I strolled the streets, equipped with a camera and poor French. Walking from the city centre to the outskirts, enquiring in market stalls, supermarkets and food boutique-specialists... I asked for quail eggs with a vague hope of serendipitously bumping into Chopin. By the end of my searching I had collected various types of quail eggs, which I brought back to my home in Glasgow.
A new translation: decanting the eggs and turning these entities into my objet d’art. This process of egg blowing resulted in the creation of 24 decanted quail eggs, presented in a Ferrero Rocher chocolate box. I arranged with an anonymous courier (Mr. K) to pass the eggs onto Chopin. During the waiting period I began to reinvent the story lines and objects that were previously only memory-based. A new constellation developed, which became a reconstruction of my journeying in search of Chopin, chronicling the life and supposed afterlife of the quail eggs... not that I knew that they were firmly dormant amidst the confines of Mr. K’s culinary clutter.
Stephen Waddell (Vancouver, Canada 1968)
Asphalt Layer, 2001
Photograph, 99x150 cm
The motif of the single figure runs through Waddell’s entire oeuvre. Many of these solitary figures are shown on the job and there is an unusual and slightly anachronistic preference for traditional physical work—while others are pedestrians or individuals engrossed in private activities. Common to them all is the trait of selfabsorption in their present occupation or thoughts. They rarely are depicted in relation to other people or to the viewer.1
Asphalt Layer pictures a city worker in Berlin. The title is ambiguous as it designates both the occupation and the material. It is an image of labour, "dirty" backbreaking work that has not yet been completely mechanized. Both Eugène Atget and the Berlin photographer Friedrich Seidenstücker made images of asphalt layers early in the 20th century. Atget’s studies of street workers —the petites métiers— have been of special interest to Waddell who likes to show how much closer we are to the 19th century than we normally assume. The outstretched arms of the worker also remind us of Caillebotte’s famous Les Raboteurs de Parquet.2
1 Katrin Blum, Depicting Essence, Contemporary Art Gallery, Vancouver, 2008
2 Roy Arden, Stephen Waddell’s Depictive Art, Contemporary Art Gallery, Vancouver, 2008