Longitudes

Report from New York: Gramcsi Monument, visiting critics at ISCP, Carol Bove at The High Line and galleries route

Visit to Thomas Hirschhorn's "Gramcsi Monument", a project produced by Dia Art Foundation at Forest Houses, in south Bronx. Some recent articles on the project are available via Artfagcity's "How Do People Feel About the Gramsci Monument?" and a summary with more reviews via the Gallerist.
 

On the 4th and 12th of September we were 'visiting critics' at the International Studio & Curatorial Program (ISCP) in Bushwick, Brooklyn. The first round included seven visits to the studios of Sofie Thorsen, Niko Luoma, Ramiro Chaves, Mojé Assefjah, Shigeyuki Kihara, Javier Barrios and Tobias Dostal. In the second round (12 visits), we visited Paulien Oltheten (participant in our 2009 project "Portscapes"), Henrjeta Mece, Deva Graf, Bernard Williams, Hugues Reip, Ruth Campau, Tricia Middleton, Savas Bovraz, Sasa Tkacenko, I-Chen Kuo, Mónica Ferreras and Petr Sprincl and collaborator Marie Hájková. A selection of images below.

Back in 2006, Max Andrews of Latitudes edited the publication and wrote the catalogue essay for an exhibition at Victoria Miro Gallery in London of Danish artist John Kørner, also a current resident at ISCP.


(Above) Studio visit with Danish-born, Vienna-based artist Sofie Thorsen.
 (Above) Studio visit with Finnish artist Niko Luoma.
 (Above) Studio visit with Argentinian-born, Mexico City-based artist Ramiro Chaves.
 (Above) Studio visit with Dutch artist Paulien Oltheten.
 (Above) Studio visit with Kurdist-born Turkish-based artist Savas Bovraz, recipient of the 2013 Victor Fellowship of the Hasselblad Foundation.
(Above) Studio visit with Chicago-based artist Bernard Williams.
 (Above) Studio visit with Berlin-based artist Tobias Dostal, creator of this magic trick
you'll be amazed!
  (Above) Studio visit with Canadian artist Tricia Middleton.

On September 11, we joined a tour along the northernmost part of The High Line (the as yet unopened section from 34th to 30th street). Alongside Carol Bove's works (read New Yorker review here), and despite the infernal temperatures, there were amazing views of New York's midtown, soon to disappear with the forthcoming construction of Hudson Yards

 

On Friday 13, we visited a few Chelsea galleries, starting at 18th street with a bombastic show by Matthew Day Jackson show at Hauser Wirth. A concise review of the exhibition in this New Yorker article.
(Above) Ho Chi Minh City and Los Angeles-based collective The Propeller Group at Lombard Freid.

(Above) An overview of 1960s–2000s work by the late John McCracken occupied David Zwirner's spaces.
(Above) Phil Collins at Tanya Bonakdar.


 (Above) "Some Dreamers of the Golden Dream" a cross-generational group show with works by Ed Ruscha, Alex Israel, Alex Hubbard, Julie Becker, Lutz Bacher, and Rachel Harrison— at Greene Naftali Gallery.


(Above) The always great Annette Kelm presents 2013 photographs at Andrew Kreps – on view until November 2nd.


(Above) Claudia Wieser's mirrors, ceramics, wooden sculptures, geometric prints at Marianne Boesky


Barbara Gladstone Gallery showed Damián Ortega's 25 twisted steel sculptures which cast the alphabet with their shadows.


At Metro Pictures, David Maljkovic's show includes the animation "Afterform" – on view until October 19.


(Above) Wonderful photographic work by Leslie Hewitt at Sikkema Jenkins – on view until 5 October. Another short view of the exhibition on this New Yorker article.


(Above) Bortolami Gallery presented paintings by Morgan Fisher based on color swatches from a prefab house company owned by artist father.

(Above and below) Pablo Helguera's "Librería Donceles" at Kent Fine Art (210 11th Avenue, 2nd floor). "Librería Donceles" is an itinerant bookstore of 10,000 used books in Spanish, of virtually every subject, and the only Spanish-language used-book store in the city. On view until 8 November. 


In the Lower East Side, Simon Preston presented one of the best shows in town centered around the new film 'Provenance' (2013) by Chicago-born artist Amy Siegel. The 40min. film documents the interior of homes of avid collectors in New York, London, Belgium and Paris that have furnished their homes with 1950s tables, chairs, settees and desks originally conceived by Le Corbusier and Pierre Jeanneret, for several buildings in Chandigarh, India. Go see it, ends 6 October.


This is the blog of the independent curatorial office Latitudes. You can also follow us on Facebook and Twitter
All photos: Latitudes (except when noted otherwise in the photo caption)

Max Andrews' review of Julia Montilla's exhibition 'El "cuadro" de la "calleja"', Espai 13, Fundació Joan Miró, Barcelona

Below Max Andrews' review of Julia Montilla's exhibition, 'El "cuadro" de la "calleja"', presented between February and April 2013 at the Espai 13 of the Fundació Joan Miró in Barcelona. Text was first published in the Issue 156 of frieze.
View of the exhibition at Espai 13. Courtesy of the artist and Fundació Miró.

Julia Montilla’s exhibition documented a minor miracle: between 1961 and 1965, in the tiny Cantabrian village of Garabandal, four young girls allegedly received repeated supernatural visitations from the Virgin Mary and were entrusted with her prophesies. However, the so-called Garabandal apparitions are not recognized by the Vatican, though they continue to be championed by a sprawling network of international enthusiasts. Montilla documented the visions – or, rather, documented their documentation – stressing how the beholding of physical testimony can access a vast surplus of politics and patriarchy, belief and body language.

Montilla was not primarily concerned with debunking the girls’ visionary experiences. Instead, the exhibition’s four annotated display cases (La construcción de una aparición, The Construction of an Apparition, all works 2012–13) – containing books, magazines, proselytising pamphlets, religious journals, collectors’ postcards, slide-lecture packs sold by ‘Garabandalist’ organizations, and so on – contextualized them with a forensic attention to how they were produced and publicized through photography. The girls’ theophanies and trances could be understood, it was proposed, as site-specific performances in a post-Lourdes tradition of remote ‘scheduled apparitions’. A monitor looped a 1971 television documentary, while an overhead projector beamed a 1994 newspaper article reporting that Hollywood were set to dramatize the autobiography of Conchita, the most precocious of the ‘seers’ (three of whom left Spain for the US in the 1970s) and that Luciano Pavarotti would sing the theme. Two slideshows entitled Soportes vivientes para la fabricación de un mito (Living Supports for the Fabrication of a Myth) were accompanied by Montilla’s commentary and, along with Garabandalistas, a new publication edited by the artist, compiled dozens of archival shots of the girls’ ecstatic night-time walks, taken by various amateur and professional photographers. Staring fixedly up into the beyond, offering crucifixes and rosaries, conversing with the divine, or open-mouthed to receive invisible communion, the girls are portrayed clasping their hands together or individually writhing on the ground, stupefied by Marian divinity, and all the while seemingly oblivious to the crowds, microphones and lenses around them.

 View of the exhibition at Espai 13. Courtesy of the artist and Fundació Miró. 
 
Tracking the emergence of ‘trance photography’ as a cult genre, Montilla considered how the documentary materials themselves have acquired venerated status as certificates of veracity. The quirk that some of the projected archival images had been noticeably pixelated in their to-and-fro from print to analogue display seemed like a confession of sorts, of Montilla’s own evident hand in their ongoing dramaturgy, here in an artistic context.

In the visionary events’ shift of emphasis from the small street where the first apparition was said to have appeared, to embrace the ‘epiphanic landscape’ and pious tourism throughout the entire context of the village, Montilla’s voice-over and captions proposed how the performances conformed to the expectations of naive and spiritually pure rural life, where hoax or conspiracy would be unthinkable. Through astute bibliographic research and juxtaposition of source materials with commentary, the apparitions’ enthusiastic casting as an apocalyptic warning was shown in its entanglement with the Franco dictatorship’s demonization of Communism and the left. Furthermore, as a sign that Spain’s peasantry had been chosen as spokespeople of God without the middlemen, Montilla articulated how the folkloric fervour of the apparitions’ thronged crescendo in 1965 would have spurned the concurrent doctrinal reforms of the Second Vatican Council.

From "Soportes vivientes para la fabricación de un mito" (2013). Courtesy of the artist.
 
Yet, Montilla’s bravest and most calibrated area of enquiry intimated how the moving imagery of the girls’ rapture established a legendary motif for the performing or occupied female body as an index of radical obedience, even to the extent of self-harm. Correspondingly, the two screens of El contagio visionario (The Visionary Contagion) and Ídolos y ídolitos (Idols and Lesser Idols) showed fragments of a 1961 film of the entranced girls alongside a video shot by the artist in Garabandal in 2012, showing a muttering woman devotee supposedly in a trance herself. In urging feminist questions about Garabandalism seemingly as a form of infectious hysteria, Montilla echoes Elaine Showalter’s 1997 study Hystories: Hysterical Epidemics and Modern Culture in which alien abduction and – more controversially among other case studies – Gulf War syndrome, are interpreted as fictional epidemics propagated through support groups, popular magazines, talk shows and the Internet. Whether the seers and believers of the apparitions reflect extreme symptoms of cultural anxieties and traumas, as Showalter would argue, or represent exultant communiqués from the Blessed Virgin, Montilla carefully beseeches that we must still pay attention to what they continue to tell us. 

– Max Andrews

This is the blog of the independent curatorial office Latitudes. You can also follow us on Facebook and Twitter
All photos: Latitudes | www.lttds.org (except when noted otherwise in the photo caption).  
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 3.0 Unported License.

Latitudes' "out of office" photo album, 2012–2013 season

This is the fifth consecutive year [see 2008-9, 2009-10, 2010-11 and 2011-12] we say goodbye to the season with an 'out of office' post with some unseen and 'behind the scenes' moments lived in the past months. 

Regretfully, we're not exactly off to a beach-and-palmtree holiday, just slowing down our inbox activity as well as our posts on this blog, Facebook and Twitter. 

So happy holidays/felices vacaciones dear readers!  

3 September 2012: The season started with the exciting publication of the first #OpenCurating interview with the web team of the Walker Art Center, Minneapolis, which became content partners of the interview series. "Beyond Interface: An Interview with Robin Dowden, Nate Solas and Paul Schmelzer" was the first of a series of ten publications which were released between September and April 2013. The compilation, gathers an array of voices and approaches around the challenges, expectations, and new possibilities that digital culture and social media present to contemporary art institutions. To what degree are curators, media teams, publishers and archivists concerned with a dialogue with their audiences? #OpenCurating has investigated these questions through how new forms of culture, participation and connectivity are being developed both on site and on line.

In 'Beyond Interface' Robin Dowden (Director of New Media Initiatives), Nate Solas (Senior New Media Developer) and Paul Schmelzer (Web Editor) of the Walker Art Center in Minneapolis, discuss the museum's new website, relaunched in December 2011 following a two-year conceptual reboot and complete redesign.


OC1

9 September 2012: Soon after publishing the first #OpenCurating interview, we participated in dOCUMENTA (13) series of readings based on their publications programme Readers' Circle: 100 Notes—100 Thoughts, for which we decided to read 'Lawrence Weiner IF IN FACT THERE IS A CONTEXT' (2011, Hatje Cantz). On the door steps of Fridericianum, we read Lawrence's book and played his voice reading some of the passages too. See our post on dOCUMENTA (13).


 Board announcing the 19h 'Readers Circle' event.

On the steps of the Fridericianum reading Lawrence Weiner.

11–15 September 2012: During the last week of dOCUMENTA (13) Latitudes facilitated the Nature Addicts Fund Travelling Academy, organised within the framework of the 100-days-long exhibition in Kassel, Germany. Here you can watch a summary of the week-long workshop that had 15 participants (Ackroyd & Harvey, Frédérique Aït‐Touati, Geir Backe Altern, Linus Ersson, Aurélien Gamboni, Fernando García‐Dory, Mustafa Kaplan, Zissis Kotionis, Julia Mandle, Clare Patey, Érik Samakh, Åsa Sonjasdotter, Elisa Strinna, and was punctuated by the partcipation of dOCUMENTA (13) artists Maria Thereza Alves, Toril Johannessen and Claire Pentecost.


 Im-port and Ex-port boat moared at Kassel's river Fulda. Photo: Nature Addicts Fund.

 Visiting Jimmie Durham's piece at the Karlsaue Park. Photo: Nature Addicts Fund.

Group discussion with Chus Martínez, Core Agent, dOCUMENTA (13) at the Import/Export boat. 
Photo: Nature Addicts Fund.

17 September–5 October: Installation and opening (27 September) of the two-part exhibition 'Latitudes Projects 2005–2012' and 'Incidents of Travel: Mexico City' as part of Casa del Lago's 'Sucursal' programme, for which self-organised, self-funded or non-profit organisations temporarily move their offices to Casa del Lago in order to expose the cultural strategies of such forms of organisation. 'Incidents of Travel: Mexico City', consisted of the invitation to Minerva Cuevas (19 September), Tania Pérez Córdova (20 September), Diego Berruecos (21 September), Terence Gower (23 September) and Jerónimo Hagerman (24 September), and to devise one-day-long tours throughout the city. More info and photos of the five tours.


E-invite to the opening of the exhibition "Latitudes. Proyectos 2005–2012 & Incidentes de viaje" at Casa del Lago.
 Around Lagunilla with Minerva Cuevas. Photo: Eunice Adorno.
 Visiting the Hemeroteca at the UNAM with Diego Berruecos. Photo: Eunice Adorno.

Lunch with Terence Gower at Sólo Veracruz es Bello!, Tlalnepantla Centro. Photo: Eunice Adorno.

Observing an overgrown ivy and an ash in Polanco. Photo: Eunice Adorno.

 Visiting the Espacio Escultórico in the UNAM with Jerónimo Hagerman. Photo: Eunice Adorno.

Installing one of the 200+ poster pannels that composed the exhibition 'Latitudes. Proyectos 2005–2012' gathering information on +30 projects presented over the last seven years. More on Latitudes' projects here.

 Post-opening chelas with artists Jerónimo Hagerman and Jorge Satorre at the social cathedral of the artworld in Mexico DF: the cantina Covadonga. 

8 October 2012: Release of the second #OpenCurating interview. 'Alguien dijo 'Adhocracy'?' with Barcelona-based architect, co-founder of the publishing project dpr-barcelona and blogger Ethel Baraona Pohl. Ethel was a member of the curatorial team of 'Adhocracy', the exhibition of the first Istanbul Design Biennial (13 octubre–12 diciembre 2012) which later toured to the New Museum's 'Ideas City' Festival (1–4 May 2013). Read here (in Spanish) or here (in English).

OC2

17 October 2012: Mariana Cánepa of Latitudes participates in the season of talks Cultural Professions: the Curator, at the Aula de Cultura CAM, in Murcia. An initiative of the curatorial collective 1er Escalón.

Foto: Obra Social Caja Mediterráneo.

19–21 October 2012: Following on, we participated in a two-day meeting in Witte de With, Rotterdam, in preparation for Moderation(s), a year-long programme of residencies, performances, exhibitions, workshops and research initiated by Witte de With’s director Defne Ayas and Spring Workshop founder Mimi Brown, and presided over by artist, writer and curator Heman Chong.


Photos: Witte de With.

6–9 November 2012: Trip to Munich, to see Haus der Kunst's 'Ends of the Earth – Land Art to 1974' exhibition and attend the opening of Haegue Yang's "Der Öffentlichkeit" commission.


 Façade of Haus der Kunst in Munich.


Haegue Yang's "Der Öffentlichkeit" commission in Haus der Kunst atrium.


 Haegue Yang with Max Andrews discussing the installation process.

28 November 2012: Third #OpenCurating interview online. 'Itinerarios transversales' is the interview with Sònia López and Anna Ramos of the Museu d’Art Contemporani de Barcelona (MACBA). The new web of the museum, was launched at the beginning of 2012 and includes new features such as 'Recorridos' (Itineraries), a tool that allows visitors to create their own transversal itineraries selecting amongst the five thousand works that compose the MACBA Collection, besides videos, artist entries, podcasts, publications, amongst others. Read here (in Spanish) or here (in English).
 Testing the navigation on the iPad. Looking good.

5 December 2012: Fourth #OpenCurating interview up. 'Democratizando la sociedad informacional' analyses the practice of visual artist, art theorist and web activist Daniel G. Andújar. Though the use of irony, his work has questioned the use of new communicative technologies, the democratic and egalitarian promises these media prophesy, critisising their real yet hidden intentions to control users. Read here (in Spanish).



 17 December 2013: Reached the equator with #OpenCurating. Five out of ten interviews are up and running. The fifth, 'books_expanded_field' is the interview with Badlands Unlimited, a New York-based publishing house whose motto is “books in an expanded field”. Its publications and editions in paper or digital forms (e-books for iPad or Kindle) acknowledge that “historical distinctions between books, files, and artworks are dissolving rapidly”. Read here (in English).


The Walker Art Center's web continues to support the project re-publishing the interviews on their site. Read 'books_expanded_field'.


2 January 2013: Happy New Year and happy reading. Seventh #OpenCurating interview with Steven ten Thije, Research Curator at the Van Abbemuseum, in Eindhoven. In 'From One History to A Plurality of Histories', Latitudes conversed with the researcher from one the first public museums for contemporary art to be established in Europe. Under the directorship of Charles Esche since 2004, the museum has defined itself through “an experimental approach towards art’s role in society”, where “openness, hospitality and knowledge exchange are important”. Read here (in English).


OC6_issuu

7 January–11 February 2013: Curators-in-residency at Spring Workshop, Hong Kong, as part of the above mentioned 'Moderation(s)' programme. Our residency continued the artist-led tour format we initiated in Mexico City a few months earlier. Hong Kong-based artists Nadim Abbas, Yuk King Tan, Ho Sin Tung and Samson Young were invited to develop day-long itineraries, thus retelling the city and each participant’s artistic concerns through personal references and waypoints. More info and more photos of the four artist tours.


Visiting Chung King Mansions and the nearby Mirador Mansions on Nathan Road with Yuk King Tan, 24 January. Photo: Mimi Brown.


 Navigating Tai Po with Ho Sing Tung, 29 January. Photo: Spring Workshop.

 Sound tour around the Kwun Tong Industrial district, with Samson Young, 7 February.
  
The residency included participating in the workshop "A Day at the Asia Art Archive" organised in collaboration with Spring Workshop and Witte de With, Rotterdam, on 31 January and concluded on February 2, with an Open Studios during which Latitudes and Heman Chong mantained a conversation about their experience in Hong Kong and their curatorial practice. [Related posts: Read the May 2013 interview between Christina Li and Latitudes here.]


Concentrating in the archives, "A Day at the Asia Art Archive". Photo: Mimi Brown.


2 February: Open Day at Spring. Conversation between Heman Chong and Latitudes. Photo: Spring Workshop.


 During an interview and photo session for Ming Pao Weekly. Photo: Athena Wu.

19 February 2013: Public event of the #OpenCurating research at the Auditorium of MACBA, Barcelona. Latitudes in conversation with Yasmil Raymond, Curator of the Dia Art Foundation in New York. The conversation was later transcribed and published at the #7 of the series.


Yasmil Raymond during the conversation at MACBA's Auditorium. Photo: Joan Morey.

8–14 March 2013: Research trip in Dublin. Invited by Dublin City Council: The Arts Office, Latitudes visited art spaces, artists' studios and galleries in Dublin and Derry-Londonderry throughout the week. The diary included participating in the round table 'Within the public realm', alongside artist Sean Lynch and curator Aisling Prior at the Hugh Lane Dublin City Gallery [video of the talk here]; and a Curatorial talk at CCA Derry-Londonderry. During the week we were hosted by artists, curators and studio managers who took us around the Red Stables Studios; Temple Bar Gallery + Studios; Fire Station Artists' Studios; Green On Red Gallery; Kevin Kavanagh Gallery and the Project Arts Centre - Visual Arts.


Visiting Fire Station Artists' Studios. Photo: Liz Burns.


 Walk with our hosts Aileen Burns and Johan Lundh, co-directors of CCA Derry–Londonderry, around Kinnagoe Bay in Donegal, site of 1588 shipwreck of one of the Spanish Armada ships.


 Gathered plenty of material during studio visits, lunches and dinners. How do we deal with this, Ryanair?


20 March 2013: Mariana Cánepa of Latitudes visits A*Desk's HQ and talks to A*Study's partipants about some of the practical challenges that came up in recent projects, how they were negotiated and ultimately, presented.

Photo: Oriol Fondevila.

2 April 2013: Publishing the eight #OpenCurating interview, "Digression(s), Entry Point(s): An interview with Heman Chong", Singapore-based artist, writer and curator of 'Moderation(s)'. 



18–22 April 2013: Attended the first International Association of Curators of Contemporary Art (IKT) congress, this year celebrated in Madrid. See more photos of the three-day event.


(Above) Symposium at the Cineteca in Matadero and (below) visit to the newly opened MediaLab Prado.

24 April 2013: Since mid-2010 we been members of the Programme Committee of Hangar Production Center in Barcelona, and have extended our mandate one more year until a new board is formed. Below a tweeted photo of a studio visit to Rasmus Nilausen' working space, during one of our periodic visits alongside other members of the Committee Joan Vilapuig, Jordi Mitjà and Àlex Mitrani.


27 May–2 June 2013: Venice Biennale week galore. We published three posts on our blog on 'The Encyclopedic Palace', the National Pavilions and Collateral Events and of the ubiquitous biennale tote bags.

After the art overdose, Venice rewarded biennale visitors with incredible sunsets between the several storms and showers that plagued the opening week.

4 June 2013: In Madrid for an in conversation with New York-based artist Alejandro Cesarco on the occasion of his solo exhibition "La noche agranda su silencio”, Parra & Romero, Madrid. 


Photo: Parra & Romero.

As far as press coverage, Stephanie Cardon of Boston's Big Red & Shiny featured a profile in September 2012 titled 'Meanwhile in Barcelona: Latitudes and #OpenCurating'. In the Autumn issue of D'ARS, Italian writer Saul Marcadent mentioned the (out of print, unfortunately) publication "LAND, ART: A Cultural Ecology Handbook", Latitudes edited in 2006 in the context of other ecological-oriented projects. During our March visit to Dublin, we chatted with Anne Mullee about the (then ongoing) #OpenCurating research, the conversation was soon after published in the International section of the May-June 2013 issue of The Visual Artists' News Sheet. Also in May, writer and curator Christina Li, interviewed us for the Moderation(s) blog Witness to Moderation(s), an opportunity to look back at our January residency in Hong Kong.

In the past months, Max Andrews of Latitudes has published the following texts in frieze: 'Utopia is possible' (October 2012 issue); review of Julia Montilla's exhibition "El «cuadro» de la Calleja" at Espai 13, Fundació Miró; and forthcoming, an interview with Rotterdam-based artists Klaas van Gorkum and Iratxe Jaio also for frieze, as well as two texts on the 1979 documentary film 'The Secret Life of Plants' for the final issue of the Dutch journal Club Donny!



This is the blog of the independent curatorial office Latitudes. You can also follow us on Facebook and Twitter
All photos: Latitudes (except when noted otherwise in the photo caption)

Publication "A Chronology of Energy- and Art-Related Developments (2013, ongoing)" edited by Christina Hemauer and Roman Keller

Photo: Edizioni Periferia.

Last week we received a copy of the wonderful publication by Zürich-based artists Christina Hemauer and Roman Keller, with whom we have collaborated twice in the past, on the Portscapes commission series in 2009 (see photos of project here and a 'making of' video here) and on their solo exhibition 'United Alternative Energies' in 2011 in Kunsthal Århus, Denmark.  

Christina Hemauer and Roman Keller maintain the thesis that throughout history, culture and energy have been reciprocal entities: technological change determines cultural achievements and vice versa.

 Title page with contributors names. This and the following photos: Latitudes.

Their publication "A Chronology of Energy-Related Developments (2013, ongoing)" is based on the appendix of the six-volume "Encyclopedia of Energy" (2004). Its 64-page appendix sums up historical events of relevance to energy since the existence of Earth. In collaboration with 32 art historians (including Steven Jacobs, Andreas Vogel, Dorothee Messmer), curators (including Fiona Parry, Pedro de Llano and ourselves) and cultural theorists (including Yvonne Volkart, Anke Hoffmann, Rolf-Peter Sieferle) and concluding with an epilogue by Bice Curiger, former Kunsthaus Zürich's curator, the artists have supplemented the appendix (white pages) with «art-related» entries (yellow pages) in words and pictures.

Endpapers of the publication based on the appendix of the six-volume "Encyclopedia of Energy" (2004).

Latitudes contributed six entries, those of 1901 (Giacomo Balla's "Street Light"), 1956 (Atsuko Tanaka's "Electric Dress"), two entries for 1972 (Victor Grippo's "Energy of a Potato" and Gustav Metzger's "Project for Stockholm (phase 1)", ca. 1987 (Fischli & Weiss's "The Way Things Go") and 2003 (Simon Starling's "Tabernas Desert Run").


The book was made possible by a Dr. Georg und Josi Guggenheim-Stiftung 2012 grant.

Christina Hemauer & Roman Keller
182 pages, 20 x 27 cm, in two colours, linen binding
Edizioni Periferia
ISBN: 978-3-906016-24-5
CHF 38 / EUR 30

Purchase here.



This is the blog of the independent curatorial office Latitudes. You can also follow us on Facebook and Twitter
All photos: Latitudes (except when noted otherwise in the photo caption)

A day at Hong Kong's Asia Art Archive, 31 January 2013

A few months ago, on January 31, an 8-hour internet-free workshop took place at the Asia Art Archive, Hong Kong. The workshop had the objective of harvesting quotes from amongst the thousands of books, artists correspondence, articles, exhibition invitations that are available at the archive, that made reference to three main subjects: "Influence" (on references, legacy, canalisation), "Itinerary" (on events, time, place, location) or "Moderation" (on collaboration, group dynamics, strategies for participation, partnerships).  

The workshop was led by artist/writer and Moderation(s) moderator Heman Chong, together with curatorial duo Latitudes, and counted with the participation of two Incidents of Travel artists' Nadim Abbas and Yuk King Tan, as well as with Spring Workshop founder Mimi Brown and Chantal Wong, Head of Strategy & Special Projects at Asia Art Archive.

The results of these processes or 'entry points' will be presented later this year (date TBA) on a temporary shelf within the Asia Art Archive, where a host of bookmarks, Post-it notes, and jottings placed within books and documents will reveal the traces of an extended interpersonal conversation

On a related note, and following on from that experience, Latitudes mantained a conversation with the above mentioned Chantal Wong, as well as with Hammad Nasar (Head of Research and Programmes) and Lydia Ngai (Head Librarian) of the Asia Art Archive in the context of Latitudes' #OpenCurating research project. The conversation was published at the end of April, as the concluding chapter of a series of ten interviews conducted since August 2012 with artists, editors, curators, archivists and new media specialists on how the internet and the ongoing expectation for new forms of interaction between publics is changing contemporary art museums programmes. 
 
Workshop participants (left to right) Artist Nadim Abbas; curators Max Andrews and Mariana Cánepa Luna of Latitudes; artist, writer and Moderation(s) moderator Heman Chong, artist Yuk King Tan, Spring Workshop founder Mimi Brown; Head of Strategy & Special Projects at Asia Art Archive, Chantal Wong; and Athena Wu, Programme Manager at Spring Workshop.





View of Sheung Wan area from the Asia Art Archive. Photo: Latitudes.
A quick database search before jumping onto the bookshelves.
Reading, selecting, highlighting, noting down... Photo: Mimi Brown.
Workshop participants amongst Asia Art Archive's library stacks.
Related contents:
(1 May 2013) "Archive as Method: An Interview with Chantal Wong, Hammad Nasar and Lydia Ngai" of the Asia Art Archive, Hong Kong. Final #OpenCurating interview. 
Soundscapes of "Incidents of Travel";
Storify "Incidents of Travel";
Flickr album of the four tours of "Incidents of Travel".



All photos: Spring Workshop (except when noted otherwise).

(Part 3/3) The 55th Biennale di Venezia: National Pavilions and Collateral Events in pictures and as seen by the critics, 1 June–24 November 2013

Browsing 'The Ideological Guide' on iPad.

If you haven't been to this year's Venice Biennale and plan to go soon, download 'The Ideological Guide', a free app developed by the Dutch artist Jonas Staal. As reported in artinfo.com "the smartphone app offers information about each participating country’s 2013 pavilion, from its commissioner and curator to the sources of its funding, while also providing historical information about past pavilions, and charting that nation’s economic and political alliances with other participating countries. The app, according to its creators, shows that the Venice Biennale’s distribution of national pavilions around the city is in many ways a more accurate reflection of nations’ geopolitical position than any geographical map.

Allora. So. Let's begin with the Spanish Pavilion, not only as it's the country where Latitudes is based, but also as it's the first pavilion one encounters when entering the Biennale area, walking towards the Padiglione Centrale. Quinn Latimer
 in Art Agenda wrote: "In her discreetly powerful Spanish Pavilion, meanwhile, Lara Almarcegui also tread some familiar contemporary-art modes and ideas, though they were insistently material. And the pavilion was a natural: streaked with sunrays from the skylights above, the piles of stone, wood, glass, and dirt—the exact same amounts that were used in the building of the pavilion itself—were immediately comprehensible, inevitable, lucidly effective." [Press Release and more photos here, video interview here]

  
'Raw' mountains of the various materials that compose the very building where they were presented: the 1922 Spanish Pavilion.

Continuing with Latimer
: 

"Surrounded by Massimiliano Gioni’s larger show, the somewhat airless “Encyclopedic Palace,” with its Documenta hangover of late, and serious crush on cleanly framed taxonomies, the national pavilions’ representatives of culture and country felt antique and obvious and a mess—but also a relief. Gioni’s turning of private cosmos and personal struggle into a stylized interior design aesthetic was definitively lacking in the disordered, disparate pavilions, where taste was usually the least concern. Yet lack of taste does not always equal distastefulness, which often arises instead from an excess of the stuff. If sometimes bad taste materializes as poeticized and/or politicized kitsch (see the pavilions of Canada, the US, Israel, and, at moments, the Netherlands), other pavilions broke through the visual chatter."

On the Netherlands' presentation, Adrian Searle of UK's The Guardian commented that Mark Manders' "Room with Broken Sentence" (...) "is a sensitively conceived and quietly dramatic tableau, like the interior of a mind as much as an actual space. The human presence emerges and disappears, conjoins with furniture or is sandwiched between stacks of timbers." 

Following on from our previous post on biennale tote bags, we'd like to add that the Dutch press package gets our bravo for the most beautiful, comprehensive and effectively-designed communication materials (and what a great pavilion catalogue too, with contributions by 37 international writers invited to reflect on individual works by Manders, published by Roma Publications). The press folder includes a full-coloured booklet with beautiful installation views of the pavilion; an 8-page booklet with an interview between the pavilion curator, Lorenzo Benedetti, and the artist alongside black and white photos of the works on show and a floorplan of the exhibition; two double-sided thick card A4 postcards of the artist's work; and a copy of Manders' "fake newspapers" which also covers the entrance to the pavilion. You can see images of the materials on the website of Amsterdam-based designer Roger Willems, or read more in the website of the pavilion. Gefeliciteerd!

  
 (Three above) Installation views of Mark Manders's "Room with a Broken Sentence" (2013) at the Dutch pavilion. More photos via Contemporary Art Daily.

Latimer laments the somehow shy presentation of Valentin Carron at the Swiss Pavilion which according to her "provoked nostalgia. Bruno Giacometti’s austere, 1952 modernist idyll is one of the finest pavilions in the Giardini. If two years ago Thomas Hirschhorn [see a few photos here onwards] obliterated Giacometti’s clean lines with his overwrought, über-hoarding installation, this year Valentin Carron erred on the side of caution, hewing too close and careful to those very same lines."

 View of Valentin Carron's presentation at the Swiss Pavilion.

Despite Latimer's comments on the "disordered, disparate pavilions", Jörg Heiser was amazed to find a common thread: "Even in the national pavilions of the Giardini – which are not under any over-arching curatorial supervision, but in each case are commissioned according to very different agendas – there are numerous signs that artists are groping in the dark of the unconscious and the (supposedly) ‘primordial’: grottoes and caves all over the place, clay sculptures, enigmatic allegories, prehistoric flintstones, (pseudo-)fossil findings. Is this parallel between the curated show and the national pavilions merely coincidental or does it tell us – as it steers art away from sober abstraction, calculated boutique chic, and more straightforward forms of realist social comment – something about the current state of things, the position of art in society (and economy) at large?"

And speaking of clay figures and rocks, according to Carol Vogel Sarah Sze's 'Triple Point' spread beyond the US Pavilion, with a few merchants in Castello displaying simulations of her pieces adorning rooftops, balcones and shop windows. "Ms. Sze is asking questions of her audience: “What objects in your life have value, and how is value created?” she explained. “I wanted to show objects that we know and have seen in our bag or on the shelf of a store which have the residue of emotion... Ms. Sze, who is known for creating site-specific environments from everyday objects like toothpicks, sponges, light bulbs and plastic bottles, arrived here in a snow storm on March 28 and has been hoarding, foraging and installing ever since." [Full article here, you can also read another review here, watch a video interview with the artist or have a 360 degree virtual tour of the Pavilion].

(Above) Sarah Sze's 'Triple Point', United States of America Pavilion.


The mentioned 'spiritual turn' is also shared by Corinna Kirsch in her review in Art F City, which reads: "It seems there’s something in the air about The Encyclopedic Palace’s “dream of a universal, all-embracing knowledge” (...) Science fiction and spirituality, in particular, are present in the pavilions as well as Gioni’s exhibition, though the way these themes play out are to entirely different stylistic ends... Overall, these works are less emotional than Gioni’s; even when they’re grounded in science fiction and spirituality, they’re grounded in the concerns of the here-and-now. Simply put, Gioni’s artists tend to live in their head, and the pavilions’ artists, in the world." 

According to Kirsch, examples of this are the British pavilion with Jeremy Deller's "English Magic" [see a video of Adrian Searle visiting the pavilion], where the artist has "the grandest presentation on view of epic creation and destruction myths, and on a national scale." [Watch the full-length of the video 'English Magic' here]. Paul Teasdale went on to say that Deller delves in the "antiquated, faintly ridiculous notion of the ‘national pavilion’ and the antiquated, faintly ridiculous notion of Englishness itself that Deller is exploring. And the almost magical way in which we so quickly forget the past."

(Above) Visitors queue to have their own prints of "William Morris returns from the dead to hurl Roman Abramovich's vast yacht Luna, which blighted the waterfront beside the Giardini at the 2011 Venice Biennale, into the waves." (Adrian Searle) and of a Hen Harrier grabbing a Range Rover.

 Above: A steel-drum orchestra played A Guy Called Gerald and Bowie's The Man Who Sold the World during the afternoon of the opening day.

Moving on. The almost bare Romanian Pavilion presented a "retrospective history of Venice, with actors as breathing archives of the Biennale itself" as Kaelen Wilson-Goldie has described in her Artforum diary review. Adrian Searle went on to recommend everyone to visit "the Pavilion, where Alexandra Pirici, Manuel Pelmuş and a small group of performers restage dozens of works from the previous 54 Biennales: using nothing more than their own bodies, they act out and mime Picasso's Guernica, Hans Haacke's famous destruction of the German pavilion's floor in 1993, paintings by Modigliani, sculptures by Rodin, performances by Marina Abramović and photographs by Nan Goldin. Both homage and parody, these quick-change charades in the otherwise empty pavilion take place all day, every day. Marvellous, funny and affecting, An Immaterial Retrospective of the Venice Biennale is much more than a parlour game. It is about history and memory – and it shows that the real encyclopedic palace is not to be found in a collection of objects, but in people themselves." [see a video of Searle visiting the Romanian Pavilion, starting at min. 2.30 while the 'living sculptures' are performing a reenactment of Allora and Calzadilla's 2011 piece presented in the US Pavilion].


(Above) An Immaterial Retrospective of the Venice Biennale, Romanian Pavilion.


Above: 'Bang', a so-so installation assembled by 886 three-legged wooden stols by Ai Weiwei, at the entrance of the German Pavilion (this year housed in the French Pavilion).

More Giardini. For the Austrian Pavilion, Mathias Poledna takes us to the movies. "... to a very short movie, that is. At just over three minutes long, “Imitation of Life” should feel like a slap in the face to the hulking structure in which it sits (both literally and figuratively). But the single animated scene, which reproduces to exacting detail the process used by film studios in the late 1930s and early 1940s, is a joy. It’s simple, light (at least on the surface), heartwarming even, and then it ends leaving one wishing for more." Jörg Heiser of frieze adds: "Poledna shows a four-minute musical animation in the style of Disney’s Bambi or Snow White – realized, in Los Angeles, with specialists able to do it the classical way. It’s not an original found object, but a kind of new reconstruction. Poledna does not rely on readymade or parody, thus generating a kind of double perception: I see the film projection and am inevitably reminded of childhood experiences – don’t I know this cute donkey with drooping ears in sailor outfit? – that I never could have had. He taps into our real-existing, pop-cultural affect reservoir, while diverting it into perfect fiction."


Still from Poledna's “Imitation of Life”.

Adrian Searle also mentioned Anri Sala's "Ravel Raval Unravel": "... Albanian artist Anri Sala, representing France, is in the German Pavilion. He drew big queues last week for his three-part film installation, based on performances of Maurice Ravel's 1930 composition Concerto in D for the Left Hand. Impeccably staged though it is, Sala's is a minor work on a major scale." [Watch video here]

 A (poor) photo of Anri Sala's video installation.


Midwaythrough a 2-hour queue under the rain to enter Anri Sala's exhibition on Friday 31 May.
  
Other National Pavilions in the Giardini not very much mentioned by the press, but worth visiting: Czech Republic & Slovak Republic, exhibiting work by Petra Feriancová (first room) and Zbyněk Baladrán (with the film "Liberation or Alternatively", at the back). Feriancová's project takes "Venice as a starting point and theme disappears in a return to intimate history: although pigeons, shells, masks and cityscapes are universal figures with a specific information value right here in Venice, their photographs or their collections were taken for purely personal reasons (the artist and her family) and have in fact nothing in common with Venice." [More images and text via Mousse].
the exhibition project Still the Same Place by Petra Feriancová and Zbyněk Baladrán curated by Marek Pokorný. - See more at: http://moussemagazine.it/55vb-czechoslovak-pavilion/#sthash.hhxgS6c4.dpuf


Also, Lebanon was represented by a wonderful new film, "Letter To A Refusing Pilot", by Akram Zaatari. The story is centered on a powerful real-life account of an Israeli Air Force fighter who was sent to destroy a school outside of Saida, the artist hometown, in the early 1980s but refused to do so, and instead dropped the bombs in the sea. As a kid, Zaatari would hear the story from his father, director of the very same school. Years later Zaatari discovered the story wasn't a rumor and that the pilot was real. 

Nina Siegal includes a quote by the artist on her New York Times article: “The importance of the story is that it gives the pilot a human face,” Mr. Zaatari said. “It gives what he is about to bomb, which is considered terrorist ground; it also gives that a human face. I think it’s important to remember in times of war that everyone is a human being. Taking it to this level humanizes it completely, and we’re not used to this at all.” 

"The film was shot in the neighborhood around the school, which has been rebuilt and incorporates aerial photographs, drawings, computer imaging and some personal documents from Mr. Zaatari’s own life to tell the story from the perspective of a teenage boy. In the Lebanese Pavilion at the Biennale, it is part of an installation that includes a reel film projector, a single movie theater chair and a number of cylindrical stools."

Zaatari's film in the Lebanese Pavilion in the Corderie.

Holland Cotter of the New York Times wrote on Alfredo Jaar’s show at the Chilean pavilion [two photos below], which is "centered around a sculpture that moves, an exact model of the Giardini campus that emerges from and sinks back into a vat of fetid-looking water. Mr. Jaar is telling a story about the alignment of art and power: Many of the older, pre-World War II pavilions are relics of a murderous nationalism were built as cultural trophies by economically competitive nations that created colonial empires and eventually led Europe into war."
 

Elsewhere in Venice, a number of Pavilions bid for our attention. Not least Angola, which won the Golden Lion for the Best National Participation. The question here was, as rightly stated by Filipa Ramos in her Art Agenda review, "How much of the Golden Lion for the best National Participation was due to Edson Chagas's "Luanda, Encyclopedic City" and how much of it was due to the gallery of Palazzo Cini, which hosts the Angolan Pavilion?" The impressive Cini collection of Renaissance works (Piero della Francesca, Filippo Lippi, Fra Angelico, Botticelli, Pontormo...see photos below) is rarely open to the public. Chagas's low pillars of twenty-three off-set takeaway posters à la Felix González-Torres (though displayed on pallets), marked a contrast between classical products of Western culture and the photographed images of the streets of Luanda.

"The images consisted mostly of depictions of large pieces of junk (the seat of a broken office chair, a tattered soccer ball) that were displaced and then photographed by the artist in Luanda. Visitors were invited to collect the different images, thus producing a supersized album of all the gathered prints. Despite the naïve dualism generated by the blatant contrast between the two worlds (the location of production and location of display), the project presented an almost magical and secretive discovery to its visitors that was much in harmony with Massimiliano Gioni's exhibition's focus on parallel and lesser-known art histories."




Do check out – and leave plenty of time for – the Cyprus-Lithuania in Palasport "Giobatta Gianquinto" nearby the Arsenale entrance. The sports centre building alone is worth a visit. You'll be surprised to see such a large venue in what is seemingly such a small island. As Dan Fox of frieze writes "The Pavilion of Lithuania and Cyprus, held in a building one would never expect to find in Venice. An almost Brutalist-looking edifice, tucked next to the Arsenale, housed a huge, modern school gymnasium, where curator Raimundas Malasauskas had organized a show of performances, sculpture, painting, and dance in an environment that was about as un-Venetian as one could get ... What on earth was going on? What was the work and what wasn’t? For once it was nice to simply enjoy the mystery." 

Back to Quinn Latimer: "Maria Hassabi performed her intricate movement-based work on the steep, cinematic steps of the gymnasium, while far below, an installation of temporary walls made up of recycled walls from previous pavilions (by Gabriel Lester) and works by various artists—Jason Dodge, Elena Narbutaitė, and Dexter Sinister, among twelve others—looked, from above, as small and distant as a diorama." [Watch a video with interviews and images of the exhibition]


(Above) New York-based performance artist Maria Hassabi during Intermission (2013), surrounded with works by Phanos Kyriacou.


Another one to not miss is Richard Mosse's 'The Enclave' in the Irish Pavilion. The photo below doesn't do justice if you want a better idea to watch this wonderful 7min. video 'The Impossible Image' produced by frieze (and Vimeo staff pick!) in which you can hear the artist talking about the process of making the works. 

(Above) Multi-screen installation of Richard Moss' The Enclave in the Irish Pavilion in the Fondaco Marcello. 

Not to forget the Scottish Pavilion in the Palazzo Pisani which has one of the most solid shows in town, composed of three artists – Hayley Tompkins, Duncan Campbell and Corin Sworn. Filipa Ramos noted that "Hayley Tompkins’s floor installation of photographs and paintings puts together different scales of familiar, commonplace scenes and objects (from the depiction of a traffic jam to an electric plug or to the proliferation of plastic bottles) in such a way that they all become part of a set of recognizable, familiar presences."


Detail of  Hayley Tompkins's "Digital Light Pool (Orange)" (2013), composed of Acrylic on plastic trays, stock photographs, wooden boxes, glass, plastic bottles, watercolour.

Elsewhere in the city, dozens of Eventi Collaterali and other exhibitions piled up. Christy Lange wrote about one of the most talked-about events (particularly as queues became a real 'trending topic' in any conversation). Lange writes: "organized by the Fondazione Prada, the exhibition ‘When Attitudes Become Form: Bern 1969 / Venice 2013’ at Ca’ Corner della Regina ambitiously sets out to reconstruct Harald Szeemann’s seminal exhibition ‘Live in Your Head: When Attitudes Become Form. Works – Concepts – Processes – Situations – Information’, originally staged at the Kunsthalle Bern in Switzerland in 1969." (...) "The show also recreates the tile and wooden floors of Bern, and even imported and installed authentic radiators. The effect is not seamless; nor is meant to be. Instead, there are visible gaps where the white walls had to be cut to fit around the classical Venetian moldings, and the intricately painted wooden beams of the palazzo remain exposed overhead." (...) "Along with Szeemann’s preliminary sketches for the show’s poster, we also get to see evidence of the harsh reception the show received in the Swiss press: illustrated by several ridiculing cartoons in national newspapers, like one in which a cleaning woman forgets her mop bucket in the gallery, only to have it interpreted as a work of art by a museum guide."

Carol Vogel of the New York Times puts the exhibition into historical perspective: "Originally organized by Harald Szeemann, the Kunsthalle’s director at the time, the show is considered the first major exhibition of what was then regarded as radical art. It included little from outside the  Western Hemisphere and little by women, but it was the first big show to acknowledge a broad range of mixed-media work that fell under freshly coined terms like Arte Povera, Process Art, Anti-Form, Conceptual art and performance art. Its nearly 70 artists included Claes Oldenburg, Joseph Beuys, Eva Hesse and Bruce Nauman." (...) "Featured in the show, which ends on Nov. 3, are works from artists who were then emerging, including Carl Andre, Richard Artschwager, Alighiero Boetti, Sol LeWitt and Keith Sonnier. And when the curators were unable to locate a work of art, they just left a dotted outline of where the piece should have been placed — a ghost of what once was."

Ramos reminded readers of "Celant’s ongoing inquiry upon the possibilities of reproducibility—a line of research he has pursued since his early years as an exhibition maker—a step further, as he attempts to reproduce the unrepeatable, indeed to repeat the irreproducible."

Jannis Kounellis' "Untitled" (1969) was originally installed in the lower floor of the Kunsthalle Bern. Here it's on the second mezzanine floor of Ca' Corner della Regina. 

 Walter de Maria's "Art by Telephone" (1967). Reenacted.


 Richard Serra works from 1969.
 General view of the Schulwarte (third floor in the Fondazione Prada) which displayed works by Pino Pascali (floor), Marinus Boezem (left), Frank Lincoln Viner, Thomas Bang, Michael Buthe, Pier Paolo Calzolari, Paul Cotton, Ger van Elk, Rafael Ferrer, Hans Haacke, Roelof Louw, Emilio Prini, Allen Ruppersberg, Frank Lincoln Viner and William T. Wiley.

 Giovanni Anselmo's "Untitled" (floor, right); "Il cotone bagnato viene buttato sul vetro e ci resta" (left, wall) both from 1969; and the 1968 "Untitled" in the corner. (Displacement)

Szeemans' (pre-excell!) spreadsheet listing the artist's names, place of residence, title, technique, and measurements of the work to be displayed, and a projected travel and production budget.

Another interesting exhibition was the Future Generation Art Prize housed in the incredible  Palazzo Contarini Polignac nearby the Accademia. More photos here.

 Entrance to the exhibition. 

 Emily Roysdon, "Our Short Century", 2012. 

 Eva Kotátková, "Theatre of speaking objects (Becoming objects)", 2013.

Detail of Rayyane Tabet, "Architecture Lessons", 2012. From the series "Five Distant Memories: The Suitcase, The Room, The Toys, The Boat and Maradona". 

 Aurelien Froment, "Pulmo Marina", 2010.

And last but not least, the Palazzo Grassi's inauguration of Tadao Ando's Teatrino (or rather "Teatrone" as it's 1,000 square-meters and holds 225 seats), as stated by Ramos "a truly remarkable event for a country known for its epidemic of closing-down cinemas." During the opening days, the Teatrino screened Anri Sala’s "1395 Days Without Red" (2011), Philippe Parreno’s "Marilyn" (2012), and Loris Gréaud’s "The Snorks: A Concert for Creatures" (2012). This was undoubtedly the best contribution Pinault brought to this year's biennale. We agree with Christy Lange on that the exhibition "Prima Materia", curated by Caroline Bourgeois and Michael Govan at the Punta della Dogana "managed to reduce even good works of art to macho collections of ‘things’". The only room that was somehow 'saved' was the space mixing Japanese Mono-ha and Arte Povera with works by Merz, Paolini, Boetti, Penone, Sekine, Suga, Ufan, Koshimizu, Enokura (photo below). Adel Abdessemed's 2011 four life-sized sculptures of Christ modeled after the Crucifixion made of razor wire was one of the low points in Venice.
 
All photos: Latitudes | www.lttds.org (except when noted otherwise in the photo caption)
Creative Commons Licence
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 3.0 Unported License.

(Part 2/3) "The Encyclopedic Palace", 55th Venice Biennale in tote bags

Courtesy: Tucano, Milan

The biennale tote bag. Merely light and foldable marketing freebees in the form of non-rigid containers for the carrying of catalogues, innumerable press releases and checklists? Or ironic critiques of an increasingly capitalist and permissive society? Austere, poetic and challenging invitations to revalue familiar things and refocus our perceptions?

Now ever-present at the most vital and visible sites for the production, distribution, and public discourse around contemporary art, these large and often alarmingly unfastened cloth bags – typically with parallel handles that emerge from the sides of its pouch – have in the span of a few decades quietly become the unquestioned handmaiden of biennalisation. In Venice this year few dared to break with the tote's canvassed hegemony. The Dutch stuck their head above the parapet with a risky choice of clear plastic bags to accompany Mark Manders' pavilion – a whimsically aggressive engagement with issues of indispensability, and, perhaps with typically Dutch straightforwardness, transparency. 

Even if a pavilion or Eventi Collaterali can fly in Michelin-starred chefs for their dinners or legendary DJs from the South Bronx instrumental in the early development of hip hop for their parties, getting the tote bag right nevertheless remains a perilous balance of form and content, of prestige and patriarchy, greenwashing brinkmanship and sheer design cojones.

So was 2013 acqua alta for tote bags in Venice? Did any of them attain the understated brilliance of the Canadian Pavilion bag at the 52nd Venice Biennale in 2007? (David Altmejd's noir classic in heavy twill boasted a separately tailored gusset.) Or did they match the game-changing 48 x 48 cm tote bag for Ayşe Erkmen's Turkish Pavilion in 2011? (designed by Konstantin Grcic, it featured an inner pocket made to fit the catalogue, and its own section on the pavilion website). There's a big wide world of tote bags out there...



This year, the Biennale organisation brought in the Milan-based Tucano to design the official tote – they've been working with the film festival for a decade or more – and they spurned the traditional heavy cloth in favor of a lightweight synthetic "skin" and webbing straps which lend the item the air of a piece of technical camping equipment. The extra-long straps allow for a certain dynamic freedom of movement that is a clear reference to the Futurists, although they may impede the shorter visitor on a busy vaporetto. Its uncompromising blackness seems to suggest mourning, yet with a vital rather than dour spirit –  "time and space died yesterday" as F.T. Marinetti once said. Good effort.


Le pavillon français opted for a nocturne in Parisian fog grey for its bag accompanying Anri Sala's "Ravel Ravel Unravel". The rawness of the medium-weight cotton – or is it hemp? – speaks of torrid emotional intensity while the contrastingly spare and delicately-kerned typography attempts to echo the phasing-in and out of the pianists in Sala's grand video installation. Only printed on one side however – a note of uncertainty?


Being in part based in Alvar Aalto's masterpiece pavilion in the Giardini, Finland's representation at the Biennale has wisely shied away from grand gestures with its bag for the exhibition "Falling Trees". The exhibition was put together with "a sinuous curating process" the organisers reveal, and their serene bag prompts us, with its ample volume and unadorned reilu meininki tailoring, to weave our way through its "contingent encounter between art and nature". Onneksiolkoon! Pidän siitä todella!


The Tuvalu Pavilion pluckily represents the third-least populous sovereign state in the world, and likely the first in line to disappear underwater as sea levels rise due to climate change. The exhibition itself, by "sensational Taiwanese artist Vincent J.F. Huang" reportedly features "a sea turtle and a group of penguins belonging to an underwater mafia ring seeking revenge on capitalism and the effects this is having on their natural habitat". Wow. More understated – though no less imaginative – the cream-and-azure coloured tote bag bears the coat of arms of Tuvalu: a shield decorated in a pattern with mussel shells and banana leaves, a hut and stylized waves. A Tuvaluan inscription reads “Tuvalu mo te Atua” (Tuvalu for the Almighty). Made from silkscreened Polyfabric™ (an environmentally-friendly cloth) it hits all the right notes for ecologically-sensitive micro-nation enthusiasts. Child-safe and odor/mildew resistant.


The tote for Jeremy Deller's British Pavilion, entitled "English Magic", was manufactured in 100% 135gsm cotton by a company based, ironically enough, in Welshpool, Wales. The reverse side depicts a line drawing of the British Pavilion which has been a staple on the British bags since at least Chris Ofili's 2003 exhibition. Given the inspiration that William Morris provides in Deller's exhibition, and the fact that Morris was a prolific type designer, it is perhaps a missed opportunity that the slogan text appears in the all-too-familiar Times New Roman. British Council directives? Nevertheless it does lend it a kind of appropriate DIY quality, and the highlighter orange colour (wondering though why it wasn't pink considering how much the artist loves to wear this colour) gives it the so-wrong-its-right touch that will secure its place on the sturdy shoulders of Deller fans, Bowie fans, cyclists, birdwatchers, tea-drinkers, stone-hand-axe experts, etc., for posterity. Not likely to appear on the Christmas list of Harry, His Royal Highness Prince Henry Charles Albert David of Wales. Or autocratic Russian billionaires.


2013 saw the United Arab Emirates present the work of Mohammed Kazem in the Arsenale's Sale d’Armi. "Walking on Water" comprised a projection of the sea and illuminated GPS coordinates within an chamber, but the quality of the tote bag alone was already leaving visitors feeling like they were walking on water with its speckled blue background recalling the waves of the Persian gulf. Assalaam alaykum!


Jesper Just's Danish Pavilion had to suffer the cruel injustice of technical difficulties with its complex five-screen video installation during the opening days. And to be frank, the gloomy black-on-black tote accompanying an exhibition burdened with the icky title "Intercourses" cannot have lifted the mood. An uncharacteristic error from the style-conscious Danes? In fact the design was headed by the usually-impeccable New York based Project Projects. Nevertheless, the bag looks more suited to a Bulgarian goth club or an inner tube manufacturers' convention than something to accessorize an exhibition that "challenges the viewer’s preconceived notions of space and time". Interesting pavilion. Charismatic artist. Woeful tote. Even difficult to re-gift this one.

 
Photo courtesy: Graphical House
 
Scotland! A typography-forward triumph! Impactful use of the three artists surnames in a highly refined neo-grotesque sans serif which appears not at all restrained by an attempt at upholding historical accuracy or formalities. The clarity, poise and symmetry of the white letterforms, combined with the discerning deep-blue cotton base, and the cheeky short handles say "hey, let's celebrate everything that's good about Scottish creativity!" If there was a Golden Lion for totes, this would surely be in with a roar. 


"See Venice and die," is what they say? Or is it Rome? Whatever, once you've experienced the bag for Lawrence Weiner's THE GRACE OF A GESTURE, organized by the Written Art Foundation and presented at the Palazzo Bembo near the Rialto bridge, you may have witnessed the pinnacle of totes. Or something pretty close. Weiner has already produced some bag legends – check out his audacious design for Printed Matter – yet this multilingual canvas produced in Westphalia is a perky filet mignon of a bag that makes the competition look like cheap mince. As Weiner says: “Art is the empirical fact of the relationships of objects to objects in relation to human beings and not dependent upon historical precedent for either use or legitimacy". Who can argue? 


Related posts: 
(Post 1/3) The 55th Venice Biennale: "The Encyclopedic Palace" in pictures and as seen by the critics, 1 June–24 November 2013 
(Post 3/3) The 55th Biennale di Venezia: National Pavilions and Collateral Events in pictures and as seen by the critics, 1 June–24 November 2013

 
All photos: Latitudes | www.lttds.org (except when noted otherwise in the photo caption)
 

Creative Commons Licence
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 3.0 Unported License.

(Part 1/3) The 55th Venice Biennale: "The Encyclopedic Palace" in pictures and as seen by the critics, 1 June–24 November 2013

 Poster announcing the biennale nearby the Accademia.

Following previous years reports (2009, 2011 biennale posts and 2007 photo album 1 and 2) we'd like to share our photo-documentation alongside some articles and interviews related to this year's biennale that we have been reading before, during and after our Venice trip. 

Bit first a bit of recent history. Massimiliano Gioni (Busto Arsizio, 1973), currently Associate Director and Director of Exhibitions at the New Museum as well as Artistic Director of the Fondazione Nicola Trussardi in Milan, was appointed Director of the 55th International Exhibition of the Venice Biennale at the end of January 2012. In October 2012 he announced the title and overall concept of "The Encyclopedic Palace" (Il Palazzo Enciclopedico) and in March 2013, he announced his artist list (over 150 artists from 38 countries, map of the venues here). A real tour de force.


 IL ENCICLOPEDICO PALAZZO DEL MONDO (The Encyclopedic Palace of the World) Marino Auriti (1891–1980), Kennett Square, Pennsylvania, c. 1950. Wood, plastic, glass, metal, hair combs, and model kit parts. American Folk Art Museum, gift of Colette Auriti Firmani in memory of Marino Auriti, 2002.35.1. 

Both frieze magazine and Artforum had published interviews previous to the exhibition's opening. The former with Milan-based art critic Barbara Casavecchia and the latter with the Artistic Director of the 2003 Venice Biennale, Francesco Bonami. A third interesting article to give some background if you're planning a trip to Venice is by Carol Vogel in the New York Times, narrating the previous weeks to the opening.

In the above mentioned interview with Bonami, Gioni describes Il Palazzo Enciclopedico as an attempt "to conceive of the biennial as a temporary museum more than simply as a show that captures the supposed zeitgeist." (...) The title comes from the self-taught Italian- American artist Marino Auriti, who conceived of his own impossible, imaginary museum: a building that would house all the knowledge in the world. Obviously his was a dream that remains only a model, a failed project. By using this title, and by looking at the figure of Auriti, I also hoped to connect to the history of Venice, because it’s the oldest biennial; founded in 1895, it has its roots in the format of the world’s fair, going back to the Great Exhibition of 1851. I wanted to acknowledge the link to the tradition of the universal exposition but also to suggest the failure of that model right from the beginning."

29 May 2013, 9.45am. VIPs and Press gather in front of the door.

On the spirit of the biennial, its zeitgeist and the oft-heard ‘It’s a museum show, not a biennale’, Dan Fox of frieze writes: "During the opening week, I wondered why I felt like giving little more than a shrug of the shoulders whenever I heard the criticism that ‘It’s a museum show, not a biennale’. Long gone are the days when a show such as this – or for example the Sao Paulo Bienal, or the Whitney Biennial – would be the one of the few opportunities one would have to be brought up to speed on the latest art being made in various parts of the world."

With regards to the exhibition design and parcour, Paddy Johnson of Art F City rightly notes that "the grandeur of the Arsenale was greatly diminished through near-obsessive wall building. That decision kept the architecture from overwhelming the work, a godsend to the biennale, which has historically been burdened by relying on spectacle to compete with the architecture." New York-based architect Annabelle Selldorf reconfigured the space into a museum-like suite of  white cube galleries projecting large walls that covered almost entirely the populated columns in the Arsenale, hidding its (rather charming) crumbling walls. This made the visitor focus on the many paintings, drawings and vitrines on display.
Room 1, Arsenale: Auriti's model welcomes visitors in the first room of the Arsenale. Behind one can observe the high walls built to 'block' the grandeur of the Corderie spaces.

Room 1, Arsenale: J. D. 'Okhai Ojeikere's black and white photos of Nigerian women's hairstyles and head wrappings accompanies Auriti's architectural model.

Vincenzo Latronico introduces the linearity of the exhibition: "Gioni’s exhibition focuses on the encyclopedia as an idiosyncratic struggle—the impossible, yet nonetheless deeply human attempt at knowing the structures of the world. The part of the exhibition taking place in the Arsenale is linear and suggests a possible evolution of the way this structure has been imagined. It opens with the Palazzo Enciclopedico, a utopian architectural model for a museum of all human knowledge, patented in 1955 by Marino Auriti, a retired car mechanic. It closes with a sequence of chaotic and overcrowded video works (most notably Stan VanDerBeek’s immersive 1968 Movie Mural), offering a stark rendition of how such encyclopedias have been approximated by the Internet."
 

Room 13, Arsenale: Stan VanDerBeek’s 1968 Movie Mural closes the linear section in the Arsenale (though strictly speaking the show finishes with Walter de Maria's 'Apollo's Ecstasy' (below, Room 16) from 1990, a loan from the Stedelijk Museum in Amsterdam). More photos of De Maria's piece via Contemporary Art Daily.


Centering on the much-discussed inclusion of "professional/insider" and "outsider" artists, Holland Cotter argues that the "The outsider art concept is tired by now, even ethically suspect, the equivalent of “primitive art” from decades ago. Mr. Gioni finesses the problem without really addressing it by integrating outsider-ish-looking inside art (there’s more and more of this around) so the two designations get blurred." 

Cotter continues "with a blend of insider-outsider and art-nonart components, it could have been stimulating. But the objects had little to say to one another. I feel a lack of surprise in Mr. Gioni’s show for the opposite reason: Its pairings — spiritualists paintings by af Klint and Emma Kunz, digital-printer abstractions by Alice Channer and Wade Guyton — are too neat and museumy. Yet at the same time, the show’s curatorial line is so firm, its choice of artists so strong and its pacing so expert that you are carried along, and ultimately rewarded."   

In an interview with Francesco Bonami, artistic director of the 2003 biennale, wittily argues that "crossing the line between insiders and outsiders is a very dangerous one" (...) "a lot of these artist—outsiders—were presented in a standard label, describing their pathologies, but I think it would have been interesting going a little farther (...) if you want to describe art through the pathology, it should have been presented as all artists are freaks. Like, Bruce Nauman, this guy is a freak that lives in Galisteo, [New Mexico], or Walter De Maria is a freak that lives in a power station in Manhattan, in a small space with a space heater. I mean, that would be, maybe, a fair thing to do, but it would not have been allowed, probably, as an insider artist. So I think that is the only critique that I can bring, that the outsider artists at the end they are presented, but also taken advantage of."
   Room 3, Central Pavilion: Hilma af Klint (wall) and Roger Hiorns (floor) "atomised" altar from and English church. [See profile of the artists]

 
 
Room 12, Arsenale: Alice Channer's digitally stretched images anchored at the floor by slabs of marble.


During a recent Q&A with Gioni at the ICA in London in March 2013, an interesting question arose from a member of the public about interpretative materials, and how the wonderful history that each work encapsulates was going to be received by the viewer. Gioni responed that he was inspired by a show he saw curated by Roger Buergel where the captions created a parallel narrative rather than utilising a more didactic tone, and he has since been writing "extended captions" in collaboration with artist and writer Chris Wiley.

The choice of the works by more contemporary artists often has a outsider "look" that is often played-up by these captions. Such is the case with Eva Kotátková (video here), whose rather beautiful "Asylum" (2013) installation is described as a piece in which she "collaborated with patients at the Bohnice pshychiatric hospital outside Prague, resulting in an installation based on the social hierarchies and modes of communication envisioned by the patients" (Exhibition Guide, text by Rachel Wetzler).

 Room 21, Central Pavilion: Eva Kotátková's "Asylum" (2013), shares room with Anna Zemánková's drawings (wall).

To this much-debated insider-outsider wrangle, Dan Fox of frieze adds: "perhaps Gioni did stack the number of artists expressing dense personal cosmologies rather high in places throughout the show – at points it was a little like going to a party where every guest wishes to corner you and talk intensely about their definition of the universe rather than ask you how you’re doing – but I was never short of something to discover, think about, learn from, agree with or push against."


 Room 7, Central Pavilion: Oliver Croy and Oliver Elser's The 387 Houses of Peter Fritz (1976–1992).

Adrian Searle writes humourously about the exhibition's megalomaniac ambitions: "You expect Gioni to leap out of Auriti's tiered architectural cake of a building yelling: "Today we curate the biennale! Tomorrow, the world!"" He then continues, "throughout Gioni's exhibition, we are asked where meaning lies. So many artists here seem to be speaking private languages only they can understand: here is a Theosophist, there is a Shaker, and over there are some horrible occult tarot drawings by Aleister Crowley, the satanist once described as the most evil man in the world... What unites this vast rag-bag of sculptures, tantric blobs, errant modernists with esoteric beliefs, and outsiders who fill drawing after drawing with lurching interior worlds, is a sense that everyone here is trying to make sense of the incomprehensible. Much of the time, they just add to it."


 Room 10, Central Pavilion: Enrico David's recent work with distended figures, totemic sculptures and patterned tapestries. More views via Contemporary Art Daily.

An important question is raised by Bonami in the interview: "How to avoid geographic flattening, in which everything from everywhere is thrown in? But then how do you avoid that kind of flattening with respect to history? How do you achieve historical specificity? That is the challenge if you are adopting a Wunderkammer, or encyclopedic, approach." To which Gioni responds "well, it might resemble digital Wunderkammer, or computer desktops." Something to keep in mind...

Room 5, Central Pavilion: (Vitrine) Ron Nagle's moon-rock formations and coral-like spires; (Walls) Anonymous Tantric Paintings produced between the 1960s-2004.

Starting with the Central Pavilion (previously called the "Padiglione Italia"), Vincenzo Latronico
writes in Art Agenda that "one of the Giardini’s most delicate rooms, for instance, displayed French Surrealist Roger Caillois’s collection of over a hundred rare geodes—their flamboyantly colored geometrical patterns and crystalline structures arranged in progressions, suggesting both a museum of natural history and the visionary maps of an alien landscape."


Room 14, Central Pavilion: Collection of Roger Caillois rocks from the Musée National d'Histoire Naturelle in Paris. Caillois shares room with Guo Fengyi, whose ballpoint pen, pencil and ink drawings she created to alleviate her acute arthritis.

Vincenzo Latronico also highlights another central piece: Peter Fischli and David Weiss’s Plötzlich diese Übersicht (1981–), "a collection of over a hundred small clay sculptures offering a depiction of the world through an arbitrary selection of significant minor events. From Einstein’s parents staged at the moment after the conception of their son, to Jacques Lacan first seeing himself in a mirror at age two; from a group of potatoes (asking how they ever got to Europe) to Jagger and Jones going home satisfied after writing “I can’t get no satisfaction” it is an ironic and yet oddly sensitive encyclopedia of banal mysteries and everyday epiphanies. The display, however, is particularly significant. In 2008, when Gioni showed the piece in a Fischli and Weiss retrospective he curated in Milan, he arranged the sculptures’ individual plinths in a linear sequence of groups, suggesting both an intrinsic order and a path the viewer could follow to obtain a complete experience of the work. In the Biennale, however, these are scattered around the room, giving the labyrinthine feeling of a mass of knowledge that could never be fully apprehended."

Room 13 (upper level), Central Pavilion: Peter Fischli & David Weiss, 'Suddenly This Overview' (1981–2012).

Another absorbing piece in the Central Pavilion is Kohei Yoshiyuki series of black-and-white infrared film photographs “The Park” (1971–1979) in which the artist photographed unaware couples having sex in parks at night. An interesting piece of context is that the pictures where originally presented in a dark gallery, offering the possibility of recreating the gloom depicted and making viewers complicit in the act.


Room 17, Central Pavilion: Kohei Yoshiyuki, “The Park” (1971–1979).

Writing about this years's Golden Lion awardees, Amy Sherlock points out that music features heavily in the encyclopedic video Grosse Fatigue (2013) by French artist Camille Henrot in which "computer windows showing photographs, video clips and morphing Wikipedia pages flicker and accumulate to a pulsing baseline whose steady tempo links a primitive, cardiac rhythm with the heady erotic charge of the dancefloor."


Room 3, Arsenale: Still of Grosse Fatigue (2013) by Camille Henrot.

"Tino Seghal picked up a Golden Lion as best participant in the main pavilion for his piece in which performers sit on the floor, beatboxing, singing and humming in a shifting melody of voice and rhythm."


Room 2, Central Pavilion: Tino Sehgal shared room with Rudolf Steiner's blackboards filled with coloured chalk (background).

Also in the Central Pavilion, Italian Marisa Merz and Austrian Maria Lassnig, Golden Lions for Lifetime Achievement of the 55th International Art Exhibition, share room 24. See video of the award cerimony. [More photos of Marisa Merz via Contemporary Art Daily.]



In the above-mentioned interview with Bonami, Gioni described that "a few artists in the show will use theatrical stagings or, simply, live actors. But I think of these less as performances than as living sculptures. Tino Sehgal is making a new piece, comprising a mise-en-scène with other works in the main pavilion. It’s on a smaller scale than his most recent works, but it is going to be quite intense. (...) John Bock is creating an installation that will include actors speaking in imaginary languages and what he calls a “house of maggots."
(Above) John Bock's 'Above the Point of Glowing Silence', a 2013 work commissioned by the Biennale at the Giardino delle Vergini. More views of his installation via Contemporary Art Daily.

Sam Thorne: "The Arsenale – the stronger half of the exhibition, I think – is episodic, even insistently narrativizing in its form. It tracks a kind of evolutionary process. The beginning, for example, is pointedly about beginnings of different kinds – Stefan Bertalan’s drawings of the life cycle of a sunflower or the whole of R. Crumb’s illustrated Book of Genesis. Indeed, the refrain of a great new film by Camille Henrot is ‘In the beginning…’ These early stages are also filled with animals and evocations of the natural world: Eliot Porter’s exquisite 1950s photos of birds in flight, Christopher Williams’ forensic photos of Harvard’s collection of glass flowers (1989)."   



Room 2, Arsenale: Christopher Williams, Angola to Vietnam* (1989). A suite of 28 gelatin silver prints of glass flowers from Harvard's Ware Collection portraying the hyperrrealistic glass specimens made by Leopold and Rudolf Blaschka. 


Room 6, Arsenale: R. Crumb's 207 pages of 'The Book of Genesis' (2009).

Having not seen Gioni's much-celebrated '10,000 Lives', 8th Gwangju Biennial (2010), we asked to those who had seen it for their impressions. Back then, Gioni also described it as an exhibition that dealt with ‘our obsession with images’ and has referred to 'The Encyclopedic Palace' as a continuation of this exhibition model proposed in 2010. In Gwangju, Gioni also included several of the works also exhibited in Venice: Shinro Ohtake's scrapbooks (1983); Paul McCarthy’s Children’s Anatomical Educational Figure (1980); Eliot Porter’s colour dye-transfer prints of birds caught in flight; and repeated numerous participating artists such as Dahn Vo, Bruce Nauman, Carl Andre, Stan VanDerBeek, Fischli & Weiss, Aurélien Froment, Morton Bartlett, Dieter Roth, Ryan Trecartin, Christopher Williams, James Lee Byars, Matt Mullican, João Maria Gusmão and Pedro Paiva, Henrik Olesen, Hito Steyerl, Maria Lassnig, Emma Kunz, Mark Leckey, Pawel Althamer, Tino Sehgal and Cindy Sherman, amongst others (see Gwangju images here).

Room 13 (lower level), Central pavilion: Shinro Ohtake's obsessive scrapbooks produced since 1977.
Room 8, Arsenale: Aurélien Froment's new work "Camillo's Idea" (2013), a film featuring a mnemonist in the Teatro Olimpico in Vicenza who demonstrates her own feats of memory and recites the history of mnemonics from teh system devised by Greek lyric poet Simonides of Ceos to Giulio Camillo's Fifteenth-century "Theater of Memory". (Exhibition guide, Text by Chris Wiley)

Room 5, Arsenale: Danh Vo installation with an imported colonial-era Catholic Church from Vietnam. [More photos of his installation via Contemporary Art Daily.]

Room 9, Arsenale: Pawel Althamer's 90 "sci-fi" sculptures with masks of Venetian citizens and plastic bodies are one of the downers of the Arsenale. As Adrian Searle warned "watch out for Pawel Althamer's room of flayed figures, and avoid them if you can."

It would seem that Gwangju's "unauthorized, partial reconstruction and unannounced tribute" of Mike Kelley's 1993 'The Uncanny' exhibition is in Venice echoed with the invitation extended to Cindy Sherman, who curated an excellent show-within-a-show in the Arsenale (Room 10). Sam Thorne describes it as a space with "figures of all shapes and sizes: signature pieces by Charles Ray, Duane Hanson and George Condo, some slightly more surprising inclusions like John Outterbridge and Jimmie Durham, through to Haitian vodou flags and even Sherman’s personal collection of photo albums. It’s quite a coup."    


Vitrines with Shermans' collection of photo albums.


Other highlights (unfortunately not all with photo-documentation to accompany): Tamar Guimarães and Kasper Akhøj's 16mm film examining a map created by a member of Brazil's Spiritists community, one of the few intimate moments in the Arsenale; João Maria Gusmão and Pedro Paiva's immersive room with 16mm projectors presenting a new repertoire of films shot in Mozambique; Eduard Spelterini's black and white 1890s photographs of his ballooning expeditions; Sharon Hayes' video [see interview here] inspired by Pier Paolo Passolini's 1965 documentary Comizi D'amore, in which the artist interviews American women students, executives, artists, poets about their sexuality; Rossella Biscotti's minimal sculptures produced in compost created in collaboration with the inmates of the women's prison in the Guidecca island, accompanied by an hour-long sound piece where the women describe their dreams [see interview here]; and Michael Schmidt's Lebensmitten [Food] (2006–10) photo series for which the artist spent four years documenting all aspects of industrial food production in Europe.

 Room 3, Arsenale: Eduard Spelterini's black and white 1890s photographs of his ballooning expeditions.

 Room 8, Arsenale: Michael Schidt's Lebensmitten [Food] (2006–10).

 Room 8, Arsenale: Sharon Hayes, 'Richerche: three', 2013. 23'

Hito Steyerl's tucked-away video in the Giardini delle Vergini, was certainly one of the best pieces in Gioni's exhibition. Michael Connor of Rhizome has written about the 14 min. video, describing it as an "instructional video informing viewers how to remain invisible in an age of image proliferation". (...) "In the context of the Venice Biennale, which explores the theme of human knowledge and its limits, this discussion brings up fundamental questions about how much of our knowledge is derived through representations of the world, through images and data, and the limits of such knowledge." [Read full text here]

Hito Steyerl, How Not to be Seen: A Fucking Didactic Educational .MOV File (2013).

 Erik van Lieshout's new work Healing (2013), an outdoor drive-in movie installation with a 5 meter LED screen, involves the artist' micro-cosmos: the work and ideals of his family members.

Related posts: 

This is the blog of the independent curatorial office Latitudes. You can also follow us on Facebook and Twitter
All photos: Latitudes (except when noted otherwise in the photo caption)

Latitudes conversa con el artista Alejandro Cesarco en la Parra & Romero, Madrid


El pasado 4 de junio Latitudes mantuvo una conversación con el artista Alejandro Cesarco (1975 Montevideo, vive en Nueva York) con motivo de la inauguración de su exposición individual "La noche agranda su silencio", en la galería madrileña Parra & Romero.


La conversación se centró en los trabajos presentados en su exposición en la galería (las películas 'Zeide Isaac' y 'Present Memory' de 2009 y 2010 respectivamente; dos pies de página en vinilo [Footnote #20 y Footnote #24] y la serie de cuatro fotografías 'Where I'm Calling From' del 2012), e incluyó preguntas enviadas por amigos (novia del artista, el actor Daniel Hendler que aparece en varias de sus películas), colegas artistas (Jack Pierson, Julie Ault, Nicolás Guagnini) y comisarios con los que ha colaborado en años recientes (Sarah Demeuse desde Nueva York, Jacob Fabricius desde Copenhague o Ellen Blumenstein desde Berlin).



Cesarco trabaja con Murray Guy en Nueva York, Tanya Leighton en Berlin y Ignacio Liprandi en Buenos Aires. "La noche agranda su silencio" (vistas de la exposición a continuación) es la primera exposición de Cesarco en Parra & Romero, Madrid.


Fotos cortesía de Parra & Romero, Madrid.

Interview between Christina Li and Latitudes on 'Incidents of Travel' for Witte de With's 'Witness to Moderation(s)' blog

From April, 2013 onwards, writer and curator Christina Li (HK/NL) takes up the role of a designated Witness to Moderation(s) the year-long programme of exhibitions, performances and residencies that unfolds between Witte de With in Rotterdam and Spring in Hong Kong. As such, Li is invited to post regular blog entries responding to the multi-faceted projects part of Moderation(s).

Christina Li has been a part of Moderation(s) since its inception, and participated in the research and development workshop that took place at Witte de With in October 2012. Li will also be one of the four curators –together with Lee Ambrozy, Amira Gad, and Xiaoyu Weng– organizing the day-long conference Stories And Situations: The Moderation(s) Conference to take place on 5 October 2013 at Witte de With.

The interview published below between Li and Latitudes was originally published on Witte de With's website on May 2, 2013. 
 
Christina Li: Incidents of Travel” in Hong Kong is a second iteration of a project that you started in Mexico D.F in 2012, could you talk a little bit about how the idea of inviting artists to plan an itinerary functioning as both an artistic encounter and alternative studio visit came about?

Latitudes: The idea of the tour guide is of course not new. Back in 2009 while we were doing a year-long project in the Port of Rotterdam, we organised a series of bus tours to the port where we would present projects by Jan Dibbets, Lara Almarcegui or Christina Hemauer and Roman Keller, etc. Listening to the feedback of the group that took part during those tours, we realised there was something very valuable about the idea of being (kindly) trapped in a bus for a day and to be taken around with a group of people whom you shared interests or even friendship with. Some were co-workers and took the day to talk about non-work related issues, to admire the landscape, to listen to the soundtrack that accompanied the bus tour and basically to enjoy a day away from the keyboard. We wanted to repeat what we thought was a successful format and thought our trip to Mexico DF was a perfect occasion for that.


 Tour with Lara Almarcegui and botanist Remko Andeweg around the Port of Rotterdam, 8 November 2009. Photo: Latitudes. More images of the tour here.

While preparing a small exhibition of our eight years of practice for Casa del Lago in México DF, we felt we needed to add a ‘here and now’ contribution, and suggested inviting five artists (Minerva Cuevas, Tania Pérez Córdova, Diego Berruecos, Terence Gower and Jerónimo Hagerman) to develop a day-long tour for us.The choice of artists was mixed, some we had met before (Jerónimo or Terence) but didn’t know their work in much detail, and others (Tania, Minerva and Diego) we had been following their work for a while, but never met them in person. Our invitation was very open, our idea was for them to develop an itinerary that helped us understand their creative world, and that included them taking us to their favourite (or hated!) museums, libraries, markets, monuments, housing states, shops, restaurants, etc. that were special to their lives or to their artistic practice. We offered all artists a fee, covered all food and tickets-related expenses and had a car to take us around 9am–6pm, after that we used public transport. Experiencing any city accompanied by a local friend always offers a much deeper insight into any city, but navigating it with an artist whose work you admire, is even more meaningful as each site amplifies a personal connection.



 Photo: Eduardo Loza

Li: Did you choose to adopt a different approach in your invitation to the artists in the Hong Kong edition? As far as I understood, Nadim Abbas’ tour was open to the public, while Yuk King Tan’s, Ho Sin Tung’s and Samson Young’s were conducted in a more intimate manner within a smaller group; what was the reason behind this decision? What were the responses to Nadim Abbas’ tour?

Latitudes: No, the invitation was the same in both occasions, though in Hong Kong we mostly used public transport. We also had more time to prepare and digest information, as were a month in residence at Spring. In the end it worked out as one tour per week as that suited best the artists’ schedule. Nadim’s tour was the first and was indeed open to the public, it has been the only tour so far with this aspect, although it was still a small group, initially of around fifteen people. We were interested in pushing the format and of course this meant that Nadim had to consider practical issues like distances and locations more carefully (ie. avoiding long walking distances, accessibility for groups, food availability…) in order to be realistic with the timings. A few people joined on and off, some engaged more actively than others. It was wonderful to see that Hong Kongers were also discovering sites they had never been to, like the Waterfall Bay Park or the nearby Waterfall Bay. Somehow we were all tourists for a day.


Nadim Abbas tour, 19 January 2013. Waterfall Bay Park's waterfall. Photo: Trevor Young
 
Li: Since these tours have always been meant for you both to converse privately with each selected artist and to get to know their practices and the city, has opening these tours up conjure a different perspective of how these tours could function for you both initially? How has this attempt challenge your thinking in mediating and presenting the immediate experience and documentation of these tours to a larger audience?

Latitudes: The tours were conceived from the point of view of research, and we haven’t wanted to necessarily burden the artists or the format with the expectations that they were participatory performances or some kind of touristic spectacle. We’ve tried to keep them quite casual and inconspicuous in this sense, and to respect the notion of hospitality in the same way that if we came to your house for dinner, you wouldn’t expect us to bring a group of strangers with us! Indeed this was literally the case in the day with Yuk King Tan, which concluded with a household of Filipina domestic workers making dinner for us – women whose trust and friendship she had earned through her personal affiliations and the concerns of her art. It is really not a question of us making the tours exclusive or private – we have not actually prohibited anyone else from coming along if the artist suggested it or was anyway okay with it. Yet it somehow seemed important to be able to commit to spending an entire day with them, and as soon as there is definitely something like an audience present (that might expect to be entertained or decide to leave) the dynamics and the logistics change.

The tours in México DF took place during five consecutive days right after our arrival, so the way we shared the photographic material was more direct via our Facebook at the end of each day. The exhibition at Casa del Lago opened only two days after we concluded the last tour, so had to come up with a fast solution to present our explorations: we projected a selection of 200 images as a slideshow, and displayed a selection of printed photos on the wall alongside a large map of the city with pins that located the sites we visited and the actual itineraries we followed written by the artists, which contained short descriptions of each site (we printed extra copies of these and made them available in the exhibition so one could pick them up and follow the route. These are now available to download from our website.)


 Photo: Adrián Villalobos

In Hong Kong we were able to tweet during the tours, so it was an interesting process of documentation-on-the-go, of keeping a live diary of one’s journey, and to receive real-time responses from colleagues all over the world – the tweets have now been archived alongside some thirteen sound recordings, Facebook and blog posts. We also published blog posts of each of the tours which include extensive photo-documentation (by us and colleagues who took part) of the day interconnecting each photo with paragraphs of the itineraries written by the artists and our own impressions.

Li: You also have been to some other more specialised tours on offer during your stay in Hong Kong, were there more specific aspects of Hong Kong you were hoping to explore which guided your choices in attending these tours as a sightseer and a cultural tourist?

Latitudes: We were interested in studying what kind of readings the city offered away from the usual tourist sites (the Tian Tan Buddha, Victoria Peak, shopping tours, a day in Macau,…). We wanted to see if we could find more ‘marginal’ sculptures or sites that presented vernacular displays far from the polished and pre-packaged tourist experience.


  1km of floating boardwalks, Deep Bay, Mai Po Marshes. Photo: Latitudes.

We picked up hundreds of leaflets in the information office and found a couple interesting ones offered by the Walk Hong Kong company we thought were somehow out of the usual menu. We have always been interested in environmental issues and wanted to approach the high density of Hong Kong from another angle, from its relation to the surrounding nature. We visited the Mai Po Nature Reserve in the New Territories, a wetland on the Australasia migratory route, and ended the day in Long Valley in Sheung Shui, observing birds and farmers collecting large amounts of lettuces and watercress. This also tied in with another wetland we visited later with Ho Sin Tung, the Nam Sang Wai area, in the northwest of Hong Kong. This is to say that our own interests ended up tying in nicely with the sites we visited with the artists. Samson Young took us to a nearby area on his tour, to the border fence that separates Hong Kong with mainland China were we listened to “Liquid Borders”, a soundtrack he has been recording placing contact microphones in the wired fencing and mixing it with the sound of water of the Shenzhen River.

Another tour we joined was the Feng Shui tour led by Susan Braun. We started visiting Norman Foster’s Hong Kong HSBC building in Admiralty, built according to strict Feng Shui principles, and finished at the Chi Lin Nunnery. The final one was with Martin Heyes, a former British Army officer and passionate World War II specialist, who took us to Devil’s Peak at the eastern extremity of Kowloon and to the Museum of Coastal Defence, to learn everything about the 1941 Japanese invasion of Hong Kong.

A group of Japanese tourists visit the fough battery on Devil's Peak. Photo: Latitudes
 
Li: As a whole, what would you say about the kinds of insights you have gained about the city from these tours, which might be seen as complements to the knowledge produced from the more casual encounters you have had through “Incidents of Travel”?

Latitudes: The Walk Hong Kong tours were an opportunity for us to specifically learn about birds, marshlands, Feng Shui and the 1941 Japanese invasion, but most importantly it was an opportunity to discuss with our tour leaders issues that went beyond the tour script so to speak, issues like immigration, recent historical events such as the 2003 SARS outbreak, the current economic climate, the relationship to mainland China, etc. Curiously, all of the tour leaders were expats that had lived in Hong Kong for many years, so for us it was very interesting to hear how it was to live there today. The same goes for the artists, we absorbed a great wealth of information from each other beyond discussing the sites we were taken to. We talked about books, films, about the art world, what it is to be an artist and a curator today, etc. ‘Incidents of Travel’ and our residency was very much in line with what Heman Chong, moderator of the Moderation(s) program, explained during the January press conference: Moderation(s) is about stretching time. Not surprisingly, the image he chose to illustrate the long term collaboration between Spring Workshop and Witte de With was a clock. That image stood out very clearly during our time there. The offered time gave us the chance to generate conversations with the artists, to find a common ground, to generously share and exchange some kind of knowledge, and to engage in multiple and repeated dialogues with locals and expats, a rare luxury one is not often given.

 Latitudes' talk on 'Incidents of Travel: Hong Kong' and their practice during 'Open Day' at Spring Workshop, 2 February 2013.

  
Related contents:
13 Soundscapes of "Incidents of Travel: Hong Kong";
Storify "Incidents of Travel";
Flickr album of the four tours of "Incidents of Travel".


All photos: Latitudes | www.lttds.org (except when noted otherwise in the photo caption)
 

Founded in 2005 by Max Andrews and Mariana Cánepa Luna, Latitudes is a curatorial office based in Barcelona, Spain, that works internationally across contemporary art practices.

More about us. Browse projects. Read Longitudes. Receive newsletters.

Contact us. 
All content
Latitudes
2005—2019