17.09. - 13.11.2010
Martin Beck, Nina Beier, Luca Frei, Sriwhana Spong and Pernille Kapper Williams
For the galleries and museums that house temporary exhibitions, one after the other, year after year, the space of the gallery and its apparatus of display proves itself to be something of a chameleon: performing, disappearing or establishing itself as a context. It responds to the imaginations and politics of the artists who inhabit it, and the worlds they wish to build. Taking place both in the gallery and an experimental theatre within Project Arts Centre, Exhibitions brings together artists whose practices are responsive to politics of display, for whom the practice of exhibition-making is a motivation of their work, and who activate a consideration of the exhibition as medium.
This particular gallery in Dublin is a windowless room with many views. Devoid of natural light but aided by a high ceiling, the gallery has naturally become a room for experimentation where artists and curators install artworks in an imagined context, and in doing so will that context into being. This exhibition thus keeps in mind the many different evolutions of its own space, becoming a theatre during Gerard Byrne’s In Repertory, a cinema for Katya Sander’s A Landscape of Known Facts or a writing studio during PHILIP. This exhibition listens to what artists tell us about the space they work in, the performers, signifiers and props they utilise to hint at the conditions of their production. It also holds a mirror to the sum of conventions that exhibition-making can sometimes be.
Martin Beck’s video installation About the Relative Size of Things in the Universe (2007) is a looped study of the assembly and disassembly of a modular display system, Struc-Tube, developed in 1948. It is based on a simple keyhole connecting solution that holds together the skeletal structure. Beck writes of the motivation and function of these modularised exhibition systems, which he calls ‘models of efficiency’: ‘The viewer’s movement through an exhibition and access to various kinds of information follows an open path, but within a regulated set of possibilities. The emancipatory experience provided by the possibility to take in information is framed by an apparatus that simultaneously facilitates sovereignty and control.’
A long procession of chain and wood, Luca Frei’s sprawling sculptural installation D2 is a sculpture, a prop, a tool and thus a responsive and tactile object to be handled and played with and changed over the period of the installation. As we move through the space of the exhibition we create a drawing. D2 is a line in space that creates both fragments and entire sentences of marks, tracing a history of movement. This drawn line thus has the potential to divide the exhibition space, to demarcate one side from the other, top from bottom, horizontal from vertical, this artwork from that artwork, leaving one curious most of all, as to what it might look like from up there.
The dancer in Sriwhana Spong’s film Costume for a Mourner wears a costume originally made by Henri Matisse for the Ballet Russes production of Le Chant du Rossignol. He inhabits the role of one of the mourners who attend the bedside of the ailing Chinese Emperor, in the ballet based on H.C. Anderson’s The Nightingale. The scant availability of archival information about the ballet, largely due to director Sergei Diaghilev’s distrust of film, is a situation echoed in the storyline itself, a parable of the conflicts within the then impending modernisation of the world in the wake of the industrial revolution.
Pernille Kapper Williams’ mirror is an orb, a body that contains the exhibition, the artworks and the spectator within itself. Williams’ piece is also a direct homage to the Dutch conceptual artist Bas Jan Ader, and it uses Ader’s words to stimulate an embodiment of his emotional plea, PLEASE DON’T LEAVE ME. Pernille Kapper Williams’ artwork enables us to embody the gesture of the artist: invisible at first encounter, PLEASE DON’T LEAVE ME has been written on the mirror while covered in steam. The plea is only then revealed by a second intimate encounter, in which the spectator’s moist breath recreates the condition of steam in order to reveal the message. Hidden behind the layers of images that constitute the reflected exhibition, the intimacy of Ader’s words are inescapably woven into the characters – both artistic and public – who gather in a room, for a time, creating the social sphere that is the art world.
Nina Beier’s conversational practice deliberately leaves elements of the production of the artwork up to the individuals and scenarios with whom she collaborates, giving her works the permanent possibility of accident, and constantly reminding us of the mediated condition of art. She includes an artwork re-communicated through an actor, Trauerspiel, the accompanying Morphological Mimicry and Mymphathetic Magic, and two artworks developed specifically for the show: On the Uses and Disadvantages of WET PAINT, a constantly changing patch of wet paint that has been previously used in exhibitions around Dublin, and her performance Repertoire, which enters into a new context in our small theatre space, the Cube.
Nina Beier has collaborated with artist Aurélien Froment to produce a performance and film programme in the Cube. Aurélien Froment has selected a series of films responding to the ideas within Exhibitions as a whole, and specifically Nina Beier’s previous performance Repertoire. The first evening of Repertoire on Selected Films and Screen Savers, leads with Jean Comandon’s legendary La croissance des végétaux (The Growth of Plants) 1929 and Jean Painlevé’s La Pieuvre (The Octopus) 1927. The programme will see film and performances change nightly, including Andy Warhol’s Screen Test #2, 1965; Hollis Frampton’s Zorn’s Lemma, 1970 and The Best of Screen Savers, Ever and run at 7pm, from 27 – 30 October.
It is a performance best left unexplained, but booked in advance as tickets are limited, book your place email firstname.lastname@example.org or call (+353 1) 881 9613.
This is a group exhibition that surrounds five individual exhibitions, as perhaps all group shows are. Each of the artists embed a context of production, condition of display, time, space and discourse into artworks which then co-exist with other artworks. The realm of the exhibition begins at the threshold of the room, the moment a card is slipped into your pocket, or perhaps now, as you read this, in this moment. Exhibitions is a project that is aware of its own form and is thus self-referential, introducing a super-sized version of its own generic discourse. It’s a show in which the company of artworks is nevertheless surprising, hoping that visitors will find their own way to play and navigate the arena.
Martin Beck quotations are taken from Martin Beck – About the Relative Size of Things in the Universe, Casco, Utrecht and Four Corners Books, London, 2007.
With many thanks to the artists, as well as Croy Nielsen, Berlin, Michael Lett, Auckland, Proyectos Monclova, Mexico City and Breaking Ground, Dublin for supporting Exhibitions.