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7 June - 13 July 2003
Vowels, as in 'connote', or a loophole as in 'power of place', suggesting relevant issues, as in 'imploded', resembling 'a way' (but rarely used). Consonants, as in the German 'ach' (a scaffold), as in 'quilt' (in-between), as in perhaps 'lotS', a hissing 's' common to Arabic languages, not quite as in 'phase', similar to transmitting values from one place to another.
Some time over
I have decided to speak about a project in order to point out something about it, as I realise most of this particular quality will pass invisible. I would like to draw attention to the process base of this project, which by definition means that what follow is not going to be an overview. To begin with, the experience of knowing something is partial, so my outline is not likely to part ways with the process-based project but could be seen as a part of it.
One peculiar feature of this undertaking is how noticeably some people shifted their involvement in it over the course of time up, out and about. This happens all the time of course - positions are filled and kept or left - but it is not often the case that they are claimed and developed, especially not in short-term projects. In the project I speak about, the internal dynamic between needs and ways defined the persons, decided on who stayed with the project and vice versa.
Apparently, the choice open to the artist was to decide on how to work. The only limitation, perhaps the most frightening one, was that this involved engaging in the generation of an agreeable collaboration with the other participants at a given moment. The tale of this multiple partnership of ideas and inclinations is special for its meandering way between the resolution of common boundaries and personal work. As I wondered what the future of something this ambiguous will turn out to be, I noticed people wander through unclear causes of frustration leading some to go astray, while others appeared to tune into a rhythm of neither individual nor collective nature.
It is intriguing what came out to be the project and I think that everyone involved has their own distinct notion about it. Each talk concerning this project has its own horizon, as everyone has lived the potential of this project in a position specially developing a personal im/possibility. It seems to me that something shared in this commitment has lead to a sort of intimacy, present in the artworks and in those around them.
Part one of the La Cinca project consisted of agents (curators, artists, guest artists and more), events, interactions, products, publicity, audience and artworks. The reason I have hesitated to pick one of these features and analyse the project's so-called structure is that this would lead to the suspicion that there was a consistent plan behind it after all. Far from saying that there was no vision at all, I saw the cohesion of this process as being ahead of the project. You will hear people speak about a given event or work, which came together well, but I wonder who would be able to locate the prime mover behind any of the incidents. Risk and trust were involved in developing the relation between artists and their ambitions, furthering the feelings and thoughts acquired during the process into work. My word on this, like the outline of whatever will still come out of this endeavor, is by no means final.
Hardly anything about this project was ever complete, the number of people, the kinds of work or the topics for discussion, and yet, for each of these, some turns were made in their good time. Some of the people I met in the Veemvloer space on the occasional Friday afternoon screening/workshop session are participating in this exhibition, but many are not. Some were artists invited to join in, like Nira Zait and Hendrik-Jan Hunneman; some artists presented work; someone was giving a talk. The network of participants extended further in informal ways. Most times you would find yourself in the middle of a working space, now functioning as a studio and now as a research space. Some of the works appeared to have been the stock material of investigation. Other works appeared almost instantaneously, specifically intended for a public. Yet others went through different states of development and purpose. Most of the works and events presented along with this newsletter were hardly visible during the four-month working period in De Veemvloer.
On each of my visits I noticed that the space had changed. At first, vertical walls separated the space so that portions of light entering from the waterfront side of the building filled the air, while the windows and entrance on the street side became distant. I had almost forgotten the tables made from fragile wooden boards until the glass and metal tables appeared at an opening. In the last month, during concentrated moments of presenting work, the project space would assume a public character, and it continued changing. A stair-clad platform encroached on the space, becoming the entrance to a new phase of the process. 'New' guest artists like DJ I-Sound visited, and it felt as if progressively the project attracted people.
Somehow this ongoing change did not provoke an intuition that something had been destroyed, a work or a feeling, and I wondered about the seemingly effortless continuity of work was grounded between its different phases. Intimacy and a lightness of arrangement surrounded the presentation of Nira's video. The (I-) sound performance of the week before, still reverberating in the air, gave way to a change of scene. Semi-transparent, fabric-clad shutters leaned against the windows and a projection screen hung in the middle of the space cutting its length in two. The sun came in and gradually, towards late afternoon, a small audience gathered. The lovely day had seeped inside the space and, slowly but surely, the conversation and tea drinking lead our attention towards the screening. It became apparent that the decisions defining the space were not taken in isolation but followed an internal cohesion, appropriating the space for each occasion.
In view of the pre-set concentric structure of decision-making, which is typically assigned to public initiatives, at this incident, the logic guiding the project became puzzling. I wondered at the way everything and everyone seemed to be functioning to fit in upholding the juncture of a meaningful moment. In doing so they (people, activity and artwork) managed to sustain the continuity of the process, so that each phase intersected the unfolding of undulations emerging in it. Formally, the plan consisted of an initiative in housing the project, the stakes of curating it and the interest of core artists and guest artists. Yet, informally, these entities seemed to approach something together and in that movement, to engage their separate functions in winding within the project's different phases. The spatial conditions of the Veemvloer changed along with its special purpose, at each moment when a personal position defined a function that was being assumed within the project.
This peculiarity also defined the involvement in the discussions and events open to visitors and it brings me to the last point of my involvement now. As I mentioned at the start, the issue of representation highlighting the collaborative tone of this art project, (habitually expected from a group exhibition or from the newsletter accompanying it) is irrelevant to anything I had to say above. Once, long ago and many times since, the loneliness of the long-distance runner appeared to be a necessity. It supposedly paid tribute to the singularity of a moment. Yet, it took more than one runner to mark a limit in the victorious public event. We would hardly have been encouraged to think about the fact that multiple people and needs made the run possible. This time achievement is not isolated from interference and, in my view, there is no inevitability in feeling loneliness, since the project's rhythm does not seem to run out of time.
Monday, 26 May 2003
Vowels and consonants; a parallel critique
Next to the window, above the couch, in the hallway and the kitchen. All cabinets and closets. The bathroom and even the floor.
She found herself lost in the apartment building where they used to live. The building block had been torn down for speculative reasons and she was aware that her sense of logic was distorted in that nonexistent place; dealing with awkward questions as to what color to paint the entrance and if the backroom should enhance the pinkish hue of the evening lights. A close-up view of her hand stirring watery-milk-blue paint introduced a confusing weightlessness to the situation.
Up on a stepladder against the high wall outside of their three-story building with her on a second ladder next to him, he reaches way over his head out to his right to place a nail that fixes a signboard; how will he hit it with the hammer?
She takes the nail, tells him she'll hit it, telling him to get down.
Her intention, to look for simple solutions becomes tentative as she gets caught in a collision of circumstances she herself created. She watches him climb down slowly and carefully, the ladder is too tall compared to how narrowly spread the feet are and it's set in soft dirt.
The outside changes from a late night twilight into an early morning dawn. Bashful, trivial fragments; a creative intervention from her past serving as an equilibrium between the present and an imagined future. In the attic she draws his attention to a crack in the ceiling above which, she says, the gas pipe is corroding. She smells leaking gas, 'Don't you?' she shouts as she runs down the stairs and into the kitchen to blow out the pilot flame on the stove. Fascinated by the illuminant she stops and stares at it with an overacted expression, squinting and flat-black like a charcoal drawing. In the end, by losing herself in all kinds of details she highlighted the veracity of a collective practice.
A joint misunderstanding
On the top floor where construction workers are in the closing stages of major renovation work, she slides a piece of plywood next to a concrete-encrusted plank out across an uncovered part of a foundation in an effort to bridge two concrete footers. The plywood slips a little bit too far to the right and is in danger of sliding down onto the street. She lies along the plank and edges forward, reaching for the teetering plywood. The wind doesn't help and it plunges down.
The space between the footers is covered with wet gravel, it's about three stories down from the plank. She didn't have to be so careful, she could've turned the plywood on its side and dragged it towards her.
He looks back as he takes off his glasses. His eyes repeatedly drift to one side then swiftly dart back to the room with his friends slouching boredly, watching a reality show on a decoder teevee. The scenes are much too detailed and overpopulated with mundane emotions running rampant. He feels vaguely guilty about not paying attention, but at the same time he thinks of this and other sideshows being a waste of time. Plus, why does he need to fill his thoughts with random input from bystanders.
He starts with a revision; a give and take molding of reduced social matter. No he won't be the one turning back second guessing his own thoughts. This is a straight forward trip. He had it right all right. They stepped out on the ramp and embraced. Lacked, luster. As she disappeared through the double doors, he wanted to call her back. Laconic.
No layouts were visible, nor was there any vestige of mechanization such as drainage, air-conditioning or routine cleaning noise. In hurried italics he writes on a blackboard; I may be misspelling this, but it's the ceasure, the moment of pause and quiet in a line of poetry that's causing me to think this up. The chalk crumbles as he attempts to accentuate an important but lost moment.
She's sitting next to her mother. They're waiting in a pew in a church where a priest will lead a mass. The event is about to start. The priest in a custom-outfit, hesitating, pacing back and forth on the cracked concrete of the easternmost entrance. He has a cigarette in a ivory white holder. The flesh of her mothers face is puffy and soft with hairlines going in all directions like the details of the palm of her hand. Her skin smells faintly of sawdust and sour milk, it mixes perfectly with the candles and sacral particularity of the situation.
They witness the priest doing some kind of balancing act neither dropping back nor falling forward as he's overconfidently navigating between his collective and his personal beliefs. Like an actor in front of a projection screen, equilibrating between the actual-, experiential- and the predicted world. He could be falling or ascending, it depended on whether he lingered on the collective sensibility of his fellowmen or if he got caught up in his own, personal memories. The significance was not in the mother-daughter perspective but in his.
The book reads: I will never revert.
The Safeway grocery has a narrow sit-down area near the delivery and pickup zone. I've been sitting there watching the slow movement of trucks and cars as they come and go. To kill the moment I get up to fetch a newspaper only to discover that the paper box contains copies of the Sunday paper while today is Monday. A white-faced man wearing oversized black spectacles covering the sides of his eyes sits on a nearby bench and says in the air, "Thursday, two-eighteen, twenty-o-one." The date; February 18, 2001 is not a Thursday but a Sunday. I go farther along the back row of boxes, find a Monday paper, put a quarter in, get a copy and sit down next to the man on the bench. I read out loud from the newspaper repeating headlines in four syllable words, not really saying anything, just let him interpret the letters I keep thinking. In the distance a Safeway employee has problems unloading a cart, half of the contents spill out over the parking lot and I see the lady-customer reacting with frantic gestures. The man on the bench next to me utters "I think you could slow time down and accelerate it. Not actually travel back and forth but like switching numbers, one-nine-three-one-seven-one-five-one". A pickup truck is obstructed by the cart incident, the driver sticks his head out the window and insists something, but with the car-engine reverberating all I hear is 'eye-ess-ess eye-ess-eye ess-eye-ess'. My neighbor chuckles; "He reminds me of an anchorman who lost his lines during a live broadcast".