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The home studio of Hanne Darboven

27 Jul

 

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This exhibition assembles a broad range of her artworks and a highly diverse mélange of objects (toys, mannequins, musical instruments, promotional items, souvenirs from different corners of the earth…) that Darboven amassed in her family home in Am Burgberg, where she lived and worked her whole life (apart from a brief two-year stint in New York in the mid sixties). More than a studio in use, it is akin to the Cabinets of Curiosities or Wonder Rooms that proliferated in the 16th and 17th centuries.

Hanne Daboven at Museum Reina Sofia, Madrid, photos by David Maroto

Second House

27 May

richard prince house

SECOND HOUSE is perfectly camouflaged in its surroundings—at first glance, it appears to be an utterly ordinary single story ranch house. Yet when approaching it from the long hillside driveway, the overgrown grass strategically obscures the identity of who or what lies within. Like so many other domestic buildings in the area, SECOND HOUSE looks kind of decrepit or unfinished (passersby must wonder: did the owner run out of money and abandon construction?). Its façade is missing—only a thin, silvery skin made of insulation panels covers the exterior. An abandoned 1973 Dodge Barracuda is parked out back, quietly rusting in the tall grass; an inside-out tire planter adorns the completely unlandscaped front yard. The inside seems as unfinished as the outside. The walls and ceilings are partially painted, leaving the spackled drywall joints visible in many spots. Plywood sheets cover the floors. Exposed fluorescent tubes provide an even, cold light in the five rooms of the house. While the rawness of the interior décor suggests an uninhabited space, SECOND HOUSE is far from empty. The objects and images sheltered within its walls mirror the landscape outside: it’s pure Americana (that has been “stolen,” cropped, and edited by Richard Prince).

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More links:

Richard Prince’s page

Parket 72 – 2005

Guggenheim Museum to acquire RICHARD PRINCE’S SECOND HOUSE, 2005

Lightning Devastates Guggenheim-Acquired “Second House” by Richard Prince

Issa Samb

16 May

Behind an old iron gate in a side street, a bizarre Gesamtkunstwerk opens itself up. Under the high roof of a huge rubber tree hangs a web of strings studded with slips of paper and signs, expressionistic-abstract paintings and worn-out pieces of clothing, all held in place by clothespins. … For decades, the artist Issab Samb, alias Joe Ouakam, has created a universe in which the signs of everyday life are transformed into altars of a private obsession.

 In the 1960s, Ouakam, along with filmmaker Mambeti and others, belonged to the founders of the group Laboratoire AGIT-Art. Their multi-media actions were directed against the formalism of the Ecolé de Dakar; out of the “socialization of the aesthetic” developed an aesthetic of the social. This installation could function as a didactic piece for present-day artists – all that’s missing is a sign reading “National Museum” on the gate. (From)

The Shell (A conversation between Issa Samb and Antje Majewski)

6 May

Issa Samb’s space in the centre of Dakar. There is an enormous tree in the middle from which cords are strung that criss-cross the whole yard and surrounding buildings. The lines are connected together and hundreds of objects hang from them: clothes, old photos, dolls and a wide variety of knotted things. In the corners, there are sculptures and assemblages. Everything is covered with dust. Paintings hang inside the arcades that surround the yard and there are other relics from the activities of the group ‘Laboratoire Agit’Art’. Issa Samb slowly sweeps the ground and forms heaps of big leaves that keep tumbling down. I sit with Abdou Bâ on some old chairs under the tree. Nearly every day, friends come by and often sit here for hours, talking with Issa Samb. Abdou Bâ is a long-time friend of Issa Samb and a member of the Laboratoire Agit’Art. After a while, Issa Samb puts down his broom and sits next to us.

(…)

IS: Objects speak their own language. The wind speaks. It speaks its own language. Birds speak. They speak their own language. There you are. Personally, I think that with an object that was born in China, and that makes a trip from China to Europe, from Europe to Africa and from Africa to Europe, you can’t say that this object is meaningless. Even if you wanted to deprive it of meaning and make nonsense of it. Even if you felt like doing that, you couldn’t. Or if you did, it would be an arbitrary, scientifically inadmissible decision. And if you did it simply for an intellectual peer group or for some kind of aesthetic snobbism then you would be doing something very fascistic and dangerous.

AM: Why?

IS: Because through the object you would be denying the culture of the Other. That is terrible. You would be denying all its charge. Because no matter how small an object is, even if it is an object that breaks quickly—because which of the mass-produced goods by the Chinese, Japanese, or European market wouldn’t break quickly—it still brings with it the whole of China and beyond China, all of humanity. So the problem is not that the object breaks quickly; the problem is that the object that breaks quickly, that has come to us from China—what moment in the historical time of China does it bring with it? It brings that moment in which China heads off into a new direction down the capitalist road of development in the face of globalization, a globalization which doesn’t permit the polite rivalry of deferential bows, the story of nice people. It is a ferocious rivalry. An object has to be ready to get onto the market quickly. You have to go in there fast to sell it. It has to break fast, so you sell it quickly in order to make money. That object there carries meaning. It teaches us about ideological situations not just in China but in the globalized world system. Globalization as the dominant ideology of the current world.

AM: So, I’d forgotten that when I said I had no African object, I had forgotten one object. But at the same time as being African, it is also a natural object; that’s why I didn’t really think about it, but I’ll show it to you.

IS: If you wish.

AM: So that’s it.

 I unpack the shell and show it to him. Abdou Bâ picks up the video camera and points it at me (…)

More on the website 

Animism exhibition

The World of Gimel curated by Adam Budak

Sleep No More

11 May

Sleep no moreSleep no more

 What in Hecate’s name is Sleep No More? A dance-theater horror show? A wordless, nonlinear mash-up of Macbeth and the darker psychosexual corners of Hitchcock? A six-story Jazz Age haunted house for grown-ups and anyone who’s ever entertained sick cineast-y fantasies of living inside a Kubrick movie? ’Tis all these, and more besides: a deed without a name, to quote an infernal authority. (Also: ’tis sold-out, but set to extend, so get your trigger finger ready.) The UK’s Punchdrunk theater collective — famed for these sorts of immersive, site-specific experiments back on their native sod — has finally brought Sleep to the city that never does, and now, most certainly, won’t: The show infects your dreams.

Sleep allows its “guests” great freedom. Presented with a bone-white Venetian beak mask (the kind favored by plague doctors in the Renaissance), you’re invited to gawk, shame-free, at whatever you see, to rifle through drawers, files, Rolodexes, and even coffins. You and your fellow voyeurs, enskulled in your morbid headgear, quickly become part of the creepy scenery. More to the point, you’re a ghost. (N.B.: This doesn’t exempt you from actor contact — in fact, you’re practically guaranteed to be interfered with at some point in the approximately three hours it takes to survey the space and absorb the long arc of the story.) Fending for yourself in the fictional “McKittrick Hotel” (a pointed Vertigo reference that dizzy or claustrophobic types should take to heart before booking), you’re given the run of six misty, intricately detailed floors, with more than 100 rooms full of (and this is a partial list) clues, red herrings, hair samples, teeth scattered like gaming dice, magic spells, animal bones in carefully labeled bins, a mass of old-fashioned desk fans that turn on and off at random, rotary-dial phones that have actual dial tones, grisly private eye photos of corpses, bloodstains that appear and disappear, patchy ad hoc taxidermy posed for maximal menace, and a ballroom stalked by moving trees. And all the while, you’re carried on perfectly modulated aural swells of Bernard Herrmann pastiche, courtesy of sound designer Stephen Dobbie.

 Along the way, you’re guaranteed to stumble on what Punchdrunk’s directors, designers, and choreographers (Felix Barrett, Maxine Doyle, Livi Vaughan, and Beatrice Minns) refer to as “situations”: a man who may or may not be Duncan, right king of Scotland, being murdered in a sheikh’s tent. A gelid blonde who may or may not be Mrs. Danvers from Hitchcock’s Rebecca — here in loyal service to Lady Macbeth — spooning milky poison down the gullet of a soused, super-pregnant woman who very well might be Lady Macduff. The presumed Lady Macbeth herself is poised above her bloody bathtub, or climbing a mountain of antique furniture like a rabid ape. (Maxine Doyle’s wall-crawling choreography — two parts parkour to one part The Fly — helps the actors doff their humanity with ease; their sexuality, however, remains fixatingly intact.) And then there’s Macbeth himself, conjuring the Weird Sisters in a strobe-lit demon disco. “If it’s all too much,” a docent tells you at the beginning, “there’s always the bar.” I made use of it.

 The show’s influences spider far beyond the Bard and Hitch: Players of puzzle-horror first person video games like BioShock will find the Sleep experience highly gratifying (and the notion of becoming a camera highly familiar). The amateur cryptographers of Lost will be be similarly pleased, as will the Escherheads who fetishized Inception. “Did I do it right?” I wondered afterward, having realized I’d missed half the plot points my fellow travelers had stumbled upon — and they’d, in turn, missed half the things I’d seen. Upon reflection, though, I don’t think there’s a right or wrong way. (If you’re interested in a strong story, though, I’d recommend you follow a specific actor, especially when someone plunges out of a room with purpose.) But this is the nonsense math of nightmares, a perfect Chinese box that invites you to look for solutions that seem designed, never to come fully into focus. I’d recommend a quick skim of Macbeth if you’re really interested in the whodunit aspect; full enjoyment of the atmospherics, though, requires no cramming whatsoever.

I’ve felt theater overwhelm me before, but until last Tuesday, I’ve never felt it pass through me. At the end of my story, a witch-queen in a red dress found me rifling through her study, held out her hand, and whisked me down to the ballroom, just in time for the climactic execution. It was a lovely evening in hell, one I’ll be recovering from for some time.

Text by Scott Brown

Sleep no more / photos

Field trip (chapter 3)

2 May

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Thomas Hirschhorn, Laundrette, 2001 / HVCCA

2 May