And some certain significance lurks in all things, else all things are little worth, and the round world itself but an empty cipher, except to sell by the cartload, as they do hills about Boston, to fill up some morass in the Milky Way. –
Ishmael, in Herman Melvilles’ Moby-Dick
Merging display and critical interpretation into a single gesture, Rosa has invited the curator and writer Post Brothers to temporarily occupy the gallery space and study in situ a randomly selected series of objects one by one over the course of a week. Post normally produces his critical writings on art and culture from the detached confines of a humble elevator in downtown Oakland, California. Exchanging one box for another, Post will set up shop in the gallery and serve as a writer in residence conscripted for the odd task of producing the secondary information for an exhibition that will never be displayed as a static whole. Not entirely random, Rosa has enlisted the assistance of a number of unseen conspirators/agents who have chosen in advance the series of objects for Post to interpret. Completely ignorant to their intentions or the rationale for the selections, each day Post will analyze a new object on display, clumsily deducing the exhibition’s critical and aesthetic constellations as the series progresses.
Without an obvious methodology, thematic or logic, the exhibition will be in a constant state of becoming, with each new object reorienting the trajectory of the series and forming new semantic combinations among each other. Through this piecemeal approach to the exhibition format, the show will evolve over time, with the writer regarding each work individually without awareness of a gestalt.
Such a game will assert the exhibition model as a series of perceptual events coming one after the other in succession. With every new item Post Brothers will scrupulously delve into their contents, excavating information from the minutiae of forms, materials, imagery, references, allusions, and other properties, to build a series of textual connections and observations. Exhibiting neither overt expertise nor complete idiocy, Post Brother’s abstract ruminations will demonstrate critical interpretation as a creative act that culls from the excess of information generated and hidden in concrete objects. Without understanding of the artworks’ provenance, or the exact intentions of the artists, reckless inaccuracies will surely abound, elucidating non-knowledge as a productive methodology.
The results of the daily procedure will be amassed in a promptly produced publication that will serve not only to circulate and explicate the works outside of the limited spatiotemporal field of the exhibition but also will act as the primary site for the exhibition itself (blurring the distinction between primary and secondary information). Together, the collection of autonomous writings—hasty, impoverished and likely inaccurate attempts to publicly describe and think through the art works—will form what Adorno referred to as a “constellation”: “a juxtaposed, rather than integrated, cluster of elements that resist reduction to a common denominator, essential core, or generative first principle.”
Inhabiting the exhibition space like an awkward ornamental hermit, Post Brothers will explore the interpretive potentials granted through imminent contact with objects. What kind of secrets will the things divulge to the writer over the week? Is meaning discovered or invented? Will he multiply significations or divide them? Operating through a dialectic of spontaneity and organization (a la Rosa), will this activity descend into chaotic humbug or will the commentator’s detective work leads him to the correct, predetermined order? What will Post Brothers’ hairbrained hermeneutics offer to the objects through this process of rapid-fire criticism? Will his writing successfully register the object’s quiddity (the essence of the thing, what distinguishes it from other things) or will it equalize the selections, rendering them equivalent through jibber jabber? Encountering the unresponsive doodads and dinguses face-to-face, will the writer be able to shrewdly decipher their messages? Will Post Brothers brutally interrogate the objects or succumb to their charm? Will alacritous analysis yield more art world balderdash or will immediate apprehension allow for a certain auxiliary poetry to emerge? What does misinterpretation tell us about the cognitive/symbolic chain? What will his sloppy improvised interpretations impart about information’s status today? Regardless, one can be sure that this exercise will be at least amusing and perhaps insightful.