Le Mouvement-Performing the City – Biel, CH

In Uncategorized on September 29, 2014 at 9:47 am

In November issue of ArtReview

Le Mouvement, as the 12th staging since 1954
of the outdoor Biel Sculpture Exhibition
is called, transitions traditional characteristics
of sculpture, such as volume, mass and mate-
riality, to the human body, which this time
becomes the material for works by a diverse
group of international artists. Invited by
cocurators Gianni Jetzer and Chris Sharp
(contributing editor to ArtReview), they thus
create gestures, performance and what some
would call live sculpture in various open-air
locations within the Swiss city.

I use the term ‘open-air’ instead of ‘public
space’ here as the latter has become fraught
with contestation. Spaces we once cherished
as public – city plazas and squares, streets and
parks – have become in recent years privatised
and surveilled, increasingly limiting the public’s
presence and ability to dissent. And yet at
the root of this exhibition is a questioning
of the very nature of this contested public
space in a democracy, which theorist Rosalyn
Deutsche writes, in Evictions: Art and Spatial
Politics (1996), ‘is produced and structured
by conflicts’ (not consensus). By presenting
performances in the main plaza, train station,
shopping street and numerous other locales
normally full of people going about their daily
business, it becomes possible to have unscripted
confrontations between the public and the art,
and this is where ‘a democratic spatial politics
begins’, as Deutsche states.

This confrontation is nowhere more evident than in
Trisha Brown’s Drift (1974), featuring five black-clad
performers walking in a line down the street for a period
of five minutes, disrupting the flow of the
everyday. This disruption elicited a reaction
from a passerby who placed himself in front
of the walking group, as if to block their path.
Art lovers were shocked; but to me that en-
counter was what completed the performance
– that raw, unmediated clash of positions
in the public sphere.

The struggle between different publics
in public space is also placed under discussion
with Alexandra Pirici’s Tilted Arc (2014), a recrea-
tion of Richard Serra’s public sculpture of 1981,
this time formed of human bodies rather than
steel. Her work, like Serra’s, is imposing and
demanding on the space, and monumental
in the same way. In 1981, the locals working
and residing around Serra’s sculpture requested
that it be taken down precisely because the
sculpture was so imposing. In a strange twist
on that situation, Pirici decided to cancel the
work’s manifestation on Saturday because
other public events were sharing the same area
and she felt that her work would not have
had the same impact and presence. On Sunday,
when the public events were gone, so were
the majority of passersby and ‘public’, but
her piece was there in all its monumentality.

Private experience in public space is
treated by Myriam Lefkowitz, among others,
whose work Walk, Hand, Eyes (2007–) is an
intimate, sensual encounter with the urban
setting. The artist takes one individual at a time
on a blind walk, leading them by the hand or
elbow, slowly and gently changing her hold
while the subject’s senses become increasingly
attuned to an environment they can now only
experience through smell, hearing and touch.
The pace of the walk sometimes increases
abruptly and without clear reason, eliciting
our own associations with the absurd, fast-
paced city. At certain moments the subject is
told to open his eyes as his head is positioned
in front of a detail, then close them again after
seconds of a branch, window, passerby’s face.
These moments are priceless – framed details
of life that continues and changes without
us, but that we can hold on to as images in
our memory.

The exhibition creates opportunities
for exchange, interaction and even conflict,
resulting in surprising social, political, and
spatial relations. And like in Lefkowitz’s piece,
these ephemeral works become still images
ingrained in our memory, taking on charac-
teristics of sculptural works not only because
the human form has sculptural qualities,
but because human experience itself is spatial
in nature. Olga Stefan

Liam Gillick at Le Magasin

In Uncategorized on September 23, 2014 at 9:15 am

Liam Gillick From 199C to 199D
Le Magasin, Grenoble 6 June – 7 September
Published in September issue of ArtReview. CLick Pages from Art Review September 2014-2 for PDF

Can relational aesthetics be relational when the only visitors on Saturday afternoon for Liam Gillick’s From 199C to 199D were the critic and her friend? Maybe it was just a quiet day. And it might not have concerned Gillick too much in any case, since, as he stated in a 2012 ArtReview interview, he’s less interested in ‘broad publics’ than in a ‘fractured and layered public’, albeit one also absent that day. For Gillick, public reception isn’t the primary issue; for him, ‘we actually have to think much harder about production than consumption’.
This position is consistent throughout the exhibition, a reactivation of a 2012 collaboration with Bard College’s curatorial students whose loose format and concept is repeated with Le Magasin’s own curatorial students. The emphasis is demonstratively on the processes involved in developing the exhibition, rather than on the exhibition itself.

Under the many layers of theory and jargon presented in the press packet and additional written material, this show is effectively a retrospective curated by six curatorial students, with Gillick as maître de cérémonie. Charged with selecting and presenting his most important 1990s works, and in the tradition of ‘new institutionalism’, the six engaged in nine months’ worth of discussions, debates and conversations that became material for further consumables: brochures, video interviews and other documentation, parallel to the show but also its impetus.

Presenting these dematerialised, process-oriented works would indeed constitute a challenge, most of them existing solely in Gillick’s vague instructions. The three versions of the Prototype Erasmus Table (1994–5) are described as tables ‘intended to occupy as much space as possible in order to provide a “terrain” for the display of information and the production of new research work’. On Prototype Ibuka! Coffee Table/Stage (Act 3) (1995) sit other instruction-based works, such as Just Out of Time (1995), which describes how to make a bound 152cm pile of newspapers. Even more perplexing is the Information Room (GRSSPR, Tattoo Magazine, Women’s Basketball) (1992–2014) made of ‘stretched Hessian stapled directly to the walls
[that] function like giant pinboards for the display of various information’, described as ‘a large space to display information of secondary importance alongside any other material that the user of the work deems interesting or important’.

This latter bulletin-board-like presentation introduces elements from The Trial of Pol Pot, undertaken, also at Le Magasin, by Gillick and Philippe Parreno in 1998, This project did push the boundaries of exhibition-making and the creative process, the artists submitting to supervisors’ suggestions and exhibiting only documentation of discussions. This modus operandi so typical of 1990s practices, which is the subject and material of both exhibitions, questioned the roles of curator and artist, the exhibition itself, the hosting institution, the relationship between artist, institution and viewer, and ultimately art itself.

This philosophical discourse finds a successful self-contained form, surprisingly enough, in two films, both titled Vicinato (Neighbour), made collaboratively by Gillick, Parreno, Carsten Höller, Rirkrit Tiravanija and other artists (the second version, from 2000, includes Douglas Gordon, etc). The first Vicinato (1995), beautifully shot in Italian neorealist style on 16mm film, treats themes of proximity, politics and aesthetics by presenting a conversation among friends – one that derives from an actual conversation among the artists, recorded
and recreated.

Despite the philosophical implications of this exhibition and its production processes, as well as the important questions raised about the nature of art and the renegotiation of the power structures involved in creating and exhibiting, the artist’s and curators’ minimal interest in the reception of the public (the one not profoundly aware of these discourses) made the exhibition difficult to engage with despite much ado about participatory practices. The key to its riddle resided in the brochures, texts and additional parallel material, where the issues were debated and pronounced, and explanations offered. This mostly did not translate in the
exhibition’s actual forms and presentation. Maybe due to its collaborative nature, maybe due to the artist’s rejection of ‘transparency as a middle-ground conspiracy’, From 199C to 199D remains ‘as a zone of potential’, as per the artist’s intent but to the detriment of the viewer’s experience. Olga Stefan

I Dreamt of You so Much That…Screenings and Artist Talk with Stefan Constantinescu

In Uncategorized on July 2, 2014 at 10:44 am

I Dreamt of You so Much That…

film by Stefan Constantinescu (RO/SWE), 90’ 2009 – 2019 work in progress

and conversation between the filmmaker and Olga Stefan

Saturday, July 26, 2014, 7-9pm

Chicago Filmmakers, 5243 N. Clark

followed by reception with drinks and appetizers

featured films:

Troleibuzul 92 (Bus no. 92), 2009 (8 min)

Family Dinner, 2012 (14 min)

6 Big Fish, 2013 (14 min)

I Dreamt of You so Much That…, the title of a 1936 poem by Robert Desnos, is a film made of seven shorts that together present one vision from different perspectives.  It examines intimate moments in the lives of seven couples, who question, challenge and push the limits of their relationship, while blurring the lines between private and public spaces, often to potentially disturbing yet uncertain conclusions. The stories treat the violence and complexity of interaction between men and women, alienation, and the illusion of true connection with the other.

Ştefan Constantinescu (1968, Bucharest), is a visual artist and filmmaker living in Stockholm, Sweden and Bucharest, Romania.

In 2009 he represented Romania at Venice Biennial. He explores the issues of identity and memory through films, books and paintings. His fictional movies are shot in a seemingly documentary style fitting stylistically within the Romanian New Wave, revealing the violence underlying human relationships in contemporary society.

To purchase tickets, click here: www.chicagofilmmakers.org

The Chicago screening is part of a world tour that includes:

Dock 18, Zurich, March 14

Cinematte, Bern, June 22

Chicago Filmmakers, July 26

Columbia College, Chicago, July 30

Filmmakers Cooperative, New York, August 2

Salonul de Proiecte, Bucharest, October 16

Mamota, Jerusalem, October 26 Corner College, Zurich, November 10

Tour is organized by Itinerant Projects

The US tour of the films is made possible with the generous support of:

ABContemporary Gallery, Zurich

lokal_30, warsaw, http://lokal30.pl/

Flach Gallery, Stockholm, http://galleriflach.com/


and the following individuals:

Matthew Garrison: www.garrisonarts.com

Barbara Stafford

Andrei Ursu

Sorana Ursu

Tavi Cojan

Florentina Ramniceanu

Mioara Bratu

Puiu Tauberg

Relu Stan: stanmansion.com

Melissa Potter: www.likeothergirlsdo.com

John Bumstead: rdklinc.com

Marianne Benveniste

Zev and Raia Lerman

Ilan Solomon

Mihaela Mateescu


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