Text by Janus Høm:
Artists making art by the power of selection is old news. But what is even older news is non-artists making art by the power of selection. Predating Marcel Duchamp by more than a century, the first art museums collected all sorts of “beautiful” functional objects, and exhibited them in their galleries as works of art; that is, as defunctionalized, autonomous objects set up for the mere purpose of being viewed.
From Harald Szeemann the auteur to Hans Ulrich Obrist the aggregator to Roger M. Buergel the certifier - there’s no denying it: today, curators have become like artists; commissioning us as if we were assistants for their own praxis. We have seen the ego-maniacal, hyperactive curator, subsuming everything and anything under his blanket, making us just another point in his point cloud. One could, perhaps rightfully, have her reservations about this. But this day, we say not. Like anything in this world: if what you do is interesting, it is interesting!
Whether we are artists, curators or artists acting as curators, the old tired argument is still valid: exhibitions are, just like art works, collages as well; conversations between objects uttering a collective proposal, “investigation”, a critique, or question.
In order for such collective utterances to stay in effect, however, the exhibition-maker is faced by the misfortune of having to make or remake her work, again and again and again, today and tomorrow. Her only means of compensation being to create echoes; that is, documents of her efforts. In other words, the greatest worry of the exhibition is its ephemeral character.
We know this to be true, when we see ourselves being met, daily, by thousands of images by exhibition-makers, competing against one another in their desire to be known and remembered; trying to rig the code and turn out on top in the endless flow of algorithmically aggregated photoshoots. Circulation in this sense is not our business.
Such excessive attention-seeking, such desire to claim one’s own importance, undeterred by the opinion of others, is the neurotic behaviour of someone, perhaps as a symptom of her death anxiety, hoping to create a legacy for herself. No. We do not wish to achieve immortality by tiring ourselves to death. What we propose is to make our work work for us.
One such type of work working its own magic, is found in the fetish. A fetish, like a sculpture, is an object attributed with an extraordinary power to exude particular a/effects - itself holding its meaning in its own materiality. Perhaps even place-holding an entire praxis.
We recognise that in order to achieve such goal on behalf of the ephemeral exhibition-collage, we are forced to transubstantiate it into “a thing in the world”, synthesise it, attribute its ontology to an object. In other words, make a fetish-object.
Do not mistake us for invoking neither fetish nor commodity as an indication of Marxist critique. This is not our errand today. Rather, we appreciate the fetish’s ability to reproduce in our psychology a manifest set of meanings or affects we can return to, again and again - and again; always present in the corner of our eyes.
We gladly accept that in order for such returns to be possible, fetishes can not be readily disposable - rather they must be lasting things in our world; for you to live with, and for them to live with you. Whether the fetish is yours to own or an object travelling between exhibitions or elsewhere, it exists - and we know that its “magical” powers are in effect. Still on duty, still doing its thing. Now and also tomorrow.
We are not satisfied with a glance and a quick scroll. We are not satisfied with an image and a clonestamp swoosh. The fetish does not allow such logic. To serve its needs, we concede to Walter Benjamin: in the age of digital reproduction, we shall stand by his idea of “aura” and perform it through our only means: material scarcity - dedicated to its own place and time. This is true for this text as well. Confidentially, you and we have this moment together; only bound to this material in front of you.
Thus, today and tomorrow, we shall make fetishes out of our exhibitions. For you to own, for you to converse with - or for it to converse with yet other fetishes. Or even better - all of us conversing together.
A thing in the world
April 10th – April 24th, 2015 10/04/2015-24/04/2015 Four Boxes, Krabbesholm Allé 15, 7800 Skive, Denmark
The exhibition at Four Boxes thematically deals with the parametres of the exhibition. "A thing in the world", which has given the exhibition its titel, is a synthesised art work, consisting of the documentation of itself, the press release, a declaration of intent, a critique, the exhibited work and the exhibition space. This synthesization is materialised in a PDF, which allows the public to, themselves, manifest the exhibition-work at home or elsewhere.
Whereas the circulation of images traditionally has pointed retrospectively after-the-fact in a representative relationship to the event/exhibition - today it seems to be the other way around. "A thing in the world" approaches this odd paradigme where the portrait comes prior to the portrayed with a proposal collapsing the temporalities of what TOVES call "art-transmission". For the exhibition at Four Boxes, the PDF has been flatbed printed onto large aluminium sheets, which then have been cut out into sorts of origami models of the exhibition space. For the exhibition of Four Boxes, these cut-outs have been sculpted into abstracted objects.
The only images available of the exhibition are found in the PDF to your left. Please allow a moment for the file to load (66 MB).