30 April and 2 May 2013
BENTEN CLAY, Erik Bünger, Joanna Dauner & Marjam Fels, Larissa Fassler, James T. Hong, Teodoro Lupo, Andrew T. Lyman, Annika Ström, and Marcelina Wellmer
Curated by: Silvia Cipriani, Julia Hartmann, Aline Lara Rezende, Daphne Tsaoussis, Nahomi Ximénez, Chun-Ya Yang
Fail, failure, mistakes, wrong, error; all are daunting words we tend to avoid or hide at all costs. Failure is perceived as hazardous because it has the potential to disrupt our accepted knowledge, to convert our comfortable certainties about how the world is supposed to work into questions.
During our curatorial collaboration, we have failed at different times in many different ways. Lots of things were proven impossible, lots of ideas were rejected, abandoned, left incomplete, and at times, the whole process dissolved. Using these seeming downfalls as a starting point, we chose to revel in and explore the rich spectrum of fail.
Reactions to failure evolve over time and are dependent on personal will: either to resist, accept or try to resolve. Still, failure is a dynamic generator as it produces a moment of crisis, which in turn opens up a space to reassess and consider the possibility to create something different, something unexpected, something better.
Failures, undeniably, are an inherent component of any creative act, of all extraordinary discoveries, of every action and motion. The arts are not immune to this obsessive pursuit. Success and failure are not mutually exclusive, rather they are contingent; a bawdy pair, they carry and modify each other. By embracing failure as a means to unlock creative possibility, it allows us to cross the divide between the problem and solution, and to stand on the threshold of the new.
FAIL! intends to uncover and praise accidental successes, spectacular failures and perfect imperfections. The project consists of an exhibition, a performance and a roundtable conversation exploring the different facets of failure including, futile working strategies, system collapses, epic fails, second chances, collaborative clashes, unexpected obstacles and the use of errors as a means to create something afresh.
All photographs copyright Laura Gianetti for Node Center for Curatorial Studies 2013
As ‘Favourite Flavour’ homework for discussion the following friday, Node resident Juan Uribe gave his fellow Node curators the text ‘On the New‘ (2002) by the philosopher, art critic and curator Boris Groys;
“The supposed illusion caused by the end of the new in art goes hand in hand with a new promise to incorporate art into life. Artists and theoreticians wish to show themselves as being truly alive and real, in opposition to the abstract and defunct historical constructions represented by the museum system and the art market. But when and in what conditions does art appear as if it were alive and not as if it were dead? This article attempts to illustrate the internal logic of the collection within museums, a logic that obliges artists to introduce themselves into “reality, into life” and to make art appear as if it were alive. At the same time, the article attempts to explain that what is meant by “being alive” is, in fact, the very same as “being new”. The museum as a constructor of historical representation recognises only the new as that which is real, present and alive and therefore it is precisely within the new that innovation will be possible, inasmuch as it allows the introduction of a new difference between things.” (Abstract)
Today was the first day of the Tools & Install workshop, taught by Sabrina Basten. For this time Sabrina invited a special guest: Bart Cuppens, Chief of building crew in Kunsthal Rotterdam. During the workshop, the residents will learn basics about tools, will improve their drilling-, sawing- and painting skills and will have useful tips for installing artworks. Noise of machines, dust and laughs were all around the space!
Node resident Justin Ross‘s ‘Favourite Flavour’ homework for fellow Node residents this week was the text ‘What’s (Really) Specific about New Media Art? Curating in The Information Age‘ written by Domenico Quaranta, 2012. A critical text on curating “New Media”.
“Does new media art require a specific curatorial model? Does this curatorial model follow the way artists working with new media currently present themselves on the contemporary art platform? How much could “new media art” benefit from a non-specialized approach? Are we curating “new media” or curating “art”?”
Talking about New Media Art, Justin presented his ‘The New Media Nightbrunch’, a night of art and performances in the setting of the Tokyo art and fashion event ’The Pool’, a concept pop-up store and art event arranged by Justin during a stay in Tokyo. During the night artist groups LineKernel, OnnaCodomo and HeHeWho performed. Take a look at impressions from the event here.
Today we hosted a Cultural Brunch at Node. John Holten from Broken Dimanche Press, Andrzej Raszyk from berlinerpool, Matthias Einhoff from ZKU and Maria PTQK shared their interesting previous and recent work with us. Thank you for joining us!
To continue with the series of articles, we chose an essay from Maeve Mulrennan, written for the publication of the exhibition ‘Letters from the Field’ in August 2012. The article raises questions related to the discussions we are having in the residency the last weeks.
Fictional Scenarios: Whose Experience Is This?
by Maeve Mulrennan
The human ability to create a fictional scenario is necessary in order for progress. Creative innovation drives us forward and aids criticality. Fiction is not necessarily separate from truth: one cannot be without the other. Fiction is not a lie: it is a creative and critical expression of what could be or could have been.
Ciaran Walsh’s work, Two Scripts for a Museum takes a scientific paper on amnesia as its starting point. The paper outlines how people suffering from amnesia related to a specific part of the brain (the hippocampus) are unable to imagine fictional scenarios. When examining these scripts it becomes apparent that the gaps and pauses in the text are extremely important. The viewer, imagining the script being acted, recognises these pauses as a void. The ability to create a fictional scenario is what changes who we are now into what we could be. If alternative ways of living cannot be imagined by anyone, or only by a select few, what will happen to us? The case studies that Walsh is looking at suggest that it is a lack of memory that affects the ability to imagine future scenarios. Recognition of our past is necessary to imagine a future. This contrasts with studies on three and four-year olds where it was easier for them to imagine fictional scenarios than real beliefs:
Young children may find reasoning about fictional mental states that contrast with reality easier than reasoning about epistemic mental states that conflict with reality.1
A three year old does not have a bank of memory to draw from when forming a fictional scenario. The ability to imagine is ingrained into the human condition at an early age. However a three year old with no past is not the same as an adult who is aware that they have had a past but have lost it.
Is it possible then that people who feel that their history and / or culture have been taken away from them feel the same way as a person with amnesia? Can they imagine a future when they know that their past is now a void?
For people with amnesia due to a damaged hippocampus, a lack of the past is indicative of a lack of future and understanding of the human condition. Could one’s future depend on someone else’s past? It is said that memory is a life long film-reel that can be rewound to specific moments when prompted. When large segments are spliced out, what comes next can be confusing. Hannah Arendt discusses the repercussions of this:
We are in danger of forgetting, and such an oblivion – quite apart from the contents themselves that could be lost – would mean that, humanly speaking, we would deprive ourselves of one dimension, the dimension of depth in human existence. For memory and depth are the same, or rather, depth cannot be reached by man except through remembrance.2
Ruth Le Gear is strongly attracted to the scientific method behind natural phenomena, as well as the more intuitive process of understanding these phenomena including homeopathy. These methodologies are polar opposites but her practice operates on the premise that crucial connections are involved in perception and a unified experience is created from differences.
Le Gear’s new video piece presents the viewer with a lost civilisation. She utilises fictions surrounding Lemuria and Atlantis and recontextualises them in contemporary Berlin. It was a widely held nineteenth century belief that these two islands were real but lost places. After this belief was proved false, it entered the realm of fiction. These fictions gave reasons for their downfall: they became lost because a mistake was made, something went wrong. Lost cities recur in utopian literature, for instance with Thomas More, William Morris, Charlotte Perkins Gillman and many others, demonstrating a necessary human need to explore fictional scenarios in order to understand more about the self.
If mistakes are made, are we lost forever? Who decides what our mistakes are? Why do we decide to accept this?
Lindsay Lawson’s work removes scenes from the plot-based narrative model of the Hollywood film and creates an infinitesimal loop where light, absence and repetitive action create new meaning for these scenes. The work questions authority by appropriating copyrighted material. By appropriating somebody else’s fictional scenario, it may be possible to create new meaning and understanding. By viewing a scene repeatedly through several layers of disassociation from the authorised version or scenario there is room for the audience to explore and to create their own, linking the scenes to personal or cultural memory.
The position of the artist as author also raises questions: Lawson’s artwork is a one-off film print on 16mm – this is in direct contrast to the digital shared film that she works from. By appropriating both content and method, the artist is creating a fictional scenario relating to authorship. The internet acts as a constantly shifting and expanding cultural memory archive, a mass of authorised and unauthorised content. History is no longer a clear, selective narrative in a book written by an authorised ‘expert’. With search engines and a conglomeration of information, each with different authority, impact and potency, history is now an ever-evolving network of ideas to be shared and consumed.
Who is the author of our imagined future? In 1975 JG Ballard addressed this:
We live in a world ruled by fictions of every kind—mass merchandising, advertising, politics conducted as a branch of advertising, the instant translation of science and technology into popular imagery, the increasing blurring and intermingling of identities within the realm of consumer goods, the preempting of any free or original imaginative response to experience by the television screen. We live inside an enormous novel. For the writer in particular it is less and less necessary for him to invent the fictional content of his novel. The fiction is already there. The writer’s task is to invent the reality.3
If an artist is inventing a reality that opposes capitalist fictions, can reality be copyrighted?
1 Jacqueline D. Woolley “Young Children’s Understanding of Fictional Versus Epistemic Mental Representations: Imagination and Belief” Child Development, Vol.66, No.4, (August 1995), 1011 -1021 Blackwell Publishing 31/7/12.
2 Hannah Arendt p94 Between Past and Future: Six exercises in political thought, Viking Press NY 1961.
3 JG Ballard Introduction to Crash (French Edition) 1974.
Two Scripts For a Museum
Ongoing artistic research into medical testing by the Institute of Neurology
(University College London) and the School of Psychology (Cardiff University)
of the apparent inability of patients suffering from hippocampal amnesia
to imagine new experiences and construct fictional scenarios. The scripts
represent real interviews.
He Cried in a Whisper at Some Image, at Some Vision (II)
inkjet print on photographic paper
37 x 50 cm
Imagine that you are standing in the main hall of a museum containing many exhibits
There’s not a lot as it happens.
So what does it look like in your imagined scene?
Well, there’s big doors. The openings would be high, so the doors would be very big with brass
handles, the ceiling would be made of glass, so there’s plenty of light coming through. Huge
room, exit on either side of the room, there’s a pathway and map through the centre
and on either side there’d be the exhibits.
I don’t know what they are
there’d be people
To be honest there’s not a lot coming
Do you hear anything or smell anything?
No, it’s not very real. It’s just not happening. My imagination isn’t…
well, I’m not imagining it, let’s put it that way. Normally you can picture it can’t you?
I’m not picturing anything at the moment.
So are you seeing anything at all?
Last Saturday we had Node’s second year anniversary with 12 hours of events and a party to close the day!
During the whole day, alongside with welcoming tea and coffee, we had different stations and activities. We created an Exhibition Title Generator device in which visitors could create their own imaginary exhibition titles.
At midday we started with the Know-how-why-what Ping Pong, a one-on-one exchange between present Node residents and visitors. Each member of the ping pong duo taught the other their topic for 15 minutes. We had lessons in different fields, from Nose Morse Code, Chinese language, Indesign, Chakra Alignment to How to enter to the Venice Biennale for free.
At 14:00 we had the yummy Lunch Remix, in which people were asked to find a partner, fill a form and make a sandwich for their partner. It was great catalyst for interaction between people!
At the same time Perla Montelongo and Lauren Reid performed the Untitled Prophecies. They conduct a one-on-one analysis of the past, present and future of artworks via precise esoteric measurements, predicting the potential ‘success’ or ‘failure’ of artworks. Artists got a full printed dossier of their prophecies and found interesting to look at their artworks from that perspective
Later we hosted tree sessions of Live Confessions, a conversational game from the late 19th century played by Marcel Proust and the Surrealists, that laterally explores the aspirations and personalities of the interviewed people. In this format, Leen Horsford and a guest who is not familiar with the art field, interviewed Node director Perla Montelongo and past residents, Paz Perez-Bustamante and Rachel Fox. Following Leens rules, there was no documentation, so the secrets stay with us!
Finally, alongside with Chun Ya Yang VJ performance, we had an amazing Freestyle Cocktails where the residents designed experimental cocktails for all the visitors!
Thank you to the ones that joined us in the celebration!
We invited Berlin-based artists for a second brunch. It was delicious!
As part of her ‘Favourite Flavours’ presentation Node resident Nahomi Ximénez asked us to think about the role of the curator in the contemporary art world;
“Curators also court collectors, sponsors, and museum trustees, entertain corporate executives, and collaborate with the press, politicians, and government bureaucrats; in other words, they act as intermediaries between producers of art and the power structure of our society.”
“If the artist is already expected to question the social, the economic, the cultural, and so forth, then it goes without saying that when a curator supersedes the artist’s capacity as a social critic, we abandon the critical function embodied by the role of the artist and reduce the agency of art.”
(Anton Vidokle, “Art Without Artists?”, 2010, e-flux, New York)
Read the rest of the text here.