The Life of Others. Repetition and Survival (Akbank Sanat International Curator Competition 2012′s winning proposal)
Akbank Sanat International Curator Competition is intended to provide support for emerging curators, reinforce interest in curatorial practices, and encourage new projects in the field of contemporary art. Akbank Sanat is proud to present the exhibition realized by the winning proposal of Alejandra Labastida at Akbank Art Centre, Istanbul.
The Life of Others. Repetition and Survival
“If repetition is possible, it is due to miracle rather than to law. It is against the law… If repetition exists, it expresses at once a singularity opposed to the general, a universality opposed to the particular, a distinctive opposed to the ordinary, and instantaneity opposed to variation / and an eternity opposed to permanence. In every respect, repetition is a transgression. It puts law into question, it denounces its nominal or general character in favor of a more profound and more artistic reality.”
–Gilles Deleuze, Repetition and Difference
Deleuze states that unlike resemblance, repetition is an act that arises in relation only to that which has no equal or equivalent and therefore concerns non-exchangeable and non-replaceable singularities. It is essentially a force that opposes the singular–as a transgression or exception–to the particular capable of being subsumed by laws. This project aims to postulate that the proliferation of artistic practices generated around appropriation and citation strategies—the translation and recreation of historical pieces or events—responds to this force that affirms the political status of the singularity—of the non-replaceable being—versus the domesticated paradigm of the equivalent and interchangeable.
Most exhibitions that explore this tendency focus on the decision that the artist makes from the present in order to rescue specific events and works. This project proposes to extend the question in order to consider not only the recreative will of the artist but also this singular power that wills itself. Walter Benjamin refers to “translatability” as an inherent demand of the original and therefore as the supreme proof of the life of the works of art. The relation between a translation and the original is literally vital: the former emerges as the result of an act of survival of the latter. It is, of course, not just a simple relation of equality and similarity but rather a process of renovation and evolution that unchains the conditions of possibility for a critical reformulation.
This critical process land on different strategies: translations, covers, reprises, recreations, re-appropriations; but what all of them share is repetition as the conduct of a vital relationship with the original. It is not just about postulating a reconstructed and reanimated body, but rather about making it present, for the first time, a second instance; or, as Deleuze proposes, to carry the first time to the “nth” power without having to pass through a second time. These works of art may therefore be inserted into a horizon where mimesis is understood not as representation but rather as a ritualized actualization. Repetition internalizes and therefore reverses itself: … it is not Federation Day which commemorates or represents the fall of the Bastille, but the fall of the Bastille which celebrates and repeats in advance all the Federation Days; or Monet´s first water lily which repeats all the others. Immersed in the apparatus of repetition, the works of the artists in this show reveal a power—a will willing itself despite every transformation and against every law. It is a will that postulates repetition as an essential task arising from the self-determination and freedom of a non-replaceable being.