A couple of weekends ago I was in Cologne reviewing a music festival for Fluid Radio (you can read my coverage here). On a spare afternoon I hit the gallery trail, and came across a nice solo show at private gallery Figge von Rosen. The artist’s name was Anna Malagrida, and for her Shop Windows series (2008-09) she photographed the windows of Parisian shops, looking in from the outside. However, in her photographs the shops’ interiors are obscured by reflections, objects, and the white paint often used to cover up the windows of businesses that have closed or are being refurbished. A strong dichotomy is thus produced between outside and inside, yet at the same time the ambiguous combination of objects, window pane, and reflections casts uncertainty upon what is being viewed, and from where. Is that an object or a reflection?
Yesterday I headed over to De Appel to see Sven Augustijnen’s solo exhibition, “Spectres”. By coincidence I happened to arrive just in time for a screening of a film made by the artist, also called “Spectres”. The exhibition contained many other items, including photographs, posters, books, display cases full of archive materials, and what looked like banana plants in big pots. However, I’m going to concentrate here on the film, mainly because my head was too full of what I’d just seen to pay attention to anything else.
If I were a moth, bookshops would be my lightbulbs. While noseying round Joot, just off Herengracht in Amsterdam, I came across what looked like an interesting collection of articles on Dutch contemporary artists, something I had been wanting to read more about for a while. Even better, the price had been reduced. Clearly the planets had aligned in such a way that I had to buy this book.
Richard Rigg, Some Rest on Six Occasions (February View) (2010)
On a miserably wet day in Leeds I found myself at the Leeds City Art Gallery for an exhibition of work by artists shortlisted for the Northern Art Prize 2011-12. The award, now in its fifth year, is given to a contemporary visual artist of any age or nationality living and working in the North of England. Of the four nominees exhibiting this year, two surprised and delighted me, while the remaining two made less of an impact.
“There is an imaginary that if you move near the road life will be better.”
In between a couple of shows in Utrecht last weekend, I dropped by the BAK gallery and came across a little gem of a contemporary road movie by Patty Chang and David Kelley. Their three-channel video installation, entitled Route 3, tells the story of the construction of one of the first highways in Laos and the changes it is bringing to communities along its path. As the narrative unfolds across its roughly half-hour duration we hear about an opening ceremony conducted by an ambiguous president figure, a border town leased to the Chinese, and efforts to reform agriculture in order to boost tax revenues.
The stronger the current pushes in one direction, the harder one swims against it. The invention of the printing press almost certainly resulted in an immediate increase in the market value of handwritten manuscripts. Shellac purists were quick to denounce new-fangled vinyl records as soulless and inauthentic. But no – authenticity is a recent invention. What matters, always, is fidelity. But fidelity to what?
With what do we hide nature? With Nature.
The humming of wings, the shuffle of leaves. Things happen when I’m not expecting them, as they would in the wild. Things change suddenly and without warning – a break, snapping twig, movement. Getting louder, tailing off. Echoing among the trees.
I give a name to what I see and hear, what I sense. A bird is a space left for a birdlike event that just so happens to fit the space exactly. If I leave enough space then the whole world will happen. Space left between notes, between fractured sounds. The fracturing is intentional. I speak of Nature, but what sense do I give to this word? What shape is the space made by this – this intentional sound. That sense expands to fill.
As long as you’re here I am too.
You think this is a love story, but it is not.
It is what it appears to be.
Not accumulating enough weight to leave a mark. Not gathering enough speed to break orbit. Almost saying a lot. Not saying anything. A word on the tip of the tongue, never quite tipping over into sound.
I can’t see the forest for the trees (but
what is a forest but trees?)
Sound is a line, one thing after the other; vision is a field presenting the whole in an instant. So thought the painter Gauguin. To focus on a detail is to lose sight of the whole. A black stump sticking out from the snow. A world, empty. Appearing. Disorientate, field of white on white, surround. Seeing everything, no thing. But
Ice cracked, abstracted, jaundice yellow grass. All-overness. Everything happens at once, silently.