Andrea BELLU & Matei BELLU, FOKUS GRUPA with Audrey MORENCY, Anouk MULLER, Pol OLK, Laura WINTERBERG, Anthony ILES & Marina VISHMIDT, KUDA.ORG & GROUP FOR CONCEPTUAL POLITICS, Zoran TODOROVIĆ, Benjamin TIVEN & Erik WYSOCAN
In 2015–16 the International Fellowship Program for Art and Theory focuses on work proposals that, in a broad sense, raise questions about the valence of value in the context of financial capitalism’s seemingly ubiquitous determination of all areas of life.
The Fellows Andrea Bellu, Fokus Grupa, Anthony Iles, Benjamin Tiven and Marina Vishmidt focused in their respective work on pre-national, now forgotten, social structures in areas of the current eastern border of Europe (Andrea Bellu), egalitarian concepts in the field of interior design since Modernism (Fokus Grupa), on the blending of (monetary) value, art, and audio-visual media (Benjamin Tiven), and on forms of relations between artistic practice and social crisis (Anthony Iles & Marina Vishmidt).
Working with the fellows already mentioned some of their guests joined the exhibition: Matei Bellu (by invitation of Andrea Bellu), Zoran Todorović, kuda.org & Group for Conceptual Politics (by invitation of Anthony Iles & Marina Vishmidt), Audrey Morency, Anouk Muller, Pol Olk and Laura Winterberg (students of Fokus Grupa) and Erik Wysocan (as Benjamin Tiven’s cooperation partner).
The exhibition is the outcome of a debate between the projects, artistic ideas and working methods of the fellows; their artistic approaches, fields of investigation, and overall themes formed the starting point for the conception of the show. The curatorial approach has envisaged the step-by-step development of the exhibition’s leitmotif and display parallel to the progress in the works of the artists and theorists involved. Expectedly, these processes were completed just shortly before the opening and, in some cases, even after, during the first days of the exhibition as part of the programmed discursive events.
As a technical term, “nuisance value” describes the value subtracted from the setpoint of a system in the case of its dysfunction. In the social and also in the legal sense, “nuisance value” is the capacity of a person or a group to create “deviations” from a society’s accepted norms. Generally used in a negative sense, the concept of nuisance value is understood in the context of this exhibition as a positive necessity for the self-evaluation of a social state. When does a deviation become a nuisance? What type and degree of deviation can a democratic organisational system tolerate? What is the effect of a disturbance in the established structures of social memory respectively in dominant formations of knowledge? And what anticipations can be triggered by such nuisances?
Benjamin Tiven & Erik Wysocan: EPOCH (Expanded-wavelength Precision Optical Chronograph) #1 and #2, 2016, double-sided steel clocks, plexiglas, LED diodes, GPS receiver, electronics
Benjamin Tiven & Erik Wysocan: Distortion/Resolution/Wavelength (Retinal Test Pattern #1 – #4), 2016, photolithography on chrome-coated soda lime glass
Clock time is technical, legal, infrastructural— evidence of how progress always attempts to make time more obedient and predictable”, as Benjamin Tiven writes in one of his earlier work texts. Now, he and Erik Wysocan have projected this statement into a possible future, the ideology of which is rooted in today’s mania for capitalizing every field of life. Consequently, the grandchildren of today’s toddlers would live as members of a control society, in which people and their personal details serve as time-value providers through the use of implanted GPS time-synchronisation technology. By designing a corresponding device and realizing it materially, Tiven & Wysocan simulate the use of methods of anticipation similar to those of financial markets: they back a possible future that promises to generate a value from nothingness. Becoming reality, it should serve—not least—the reproduction and expansion of given mechanisms to generate profit. The sensorial determinability of the nuisance value of an invasive extension of the body through this implant thereby seems to be suppressed successfully by the system—a phenomenon that corresponds to the current widespread indifference regarding the use of personal data in social media.
EPOCH (Expanded-wavelength Precision Optical CHronograph) receives the standard timecode and geolocation message from the public frequencies of the Global Positioning System satellite network. The clock broadcasts the full message: the current time, date, latitude, longitude, and, when applicable, the speed and track angle of the unit (for use on transport systems). This arrives as 576 bits of binary code data, which are then translated into pulses of an LED diode array. Each bit corresponds to a 30 millisecond period, with the clock either pulsing on or off for that time. The full message takes 18 seconds in total. It is broadcast three times per minute, with 2-second solid flashes in between each cycle. Two forms of the clock are required to detect and resolve user time-drift. The timecode flashes are broadcast on controlled light frequencies, forming the carrier waves of a 3D holographic interferometric system. A wide spectrum visible-light clock functions as a reference signal, while a second narrow band infrared unit broadcasts a differential signal, perceptible by ocular implant. As a receiver moves between the two clock signals, an interference pattern is perceived on the retinal film, revealing the photonic granularity necessary to measure one’s own time dilation.
Ultimately, the retina test patterns exhibited could be used to calibrate the implant.
(EPOCH description: Benjamin Tiven)
Fokus Grupa with Audrey Morency, Anouk Muller, Pol Olk, Laura Winterberg: Existenzoptimum, 2016, installation, OSB board, chip board, color, booklet.
Anticipation of a possible future, but seen here in a completely different light, also plays a central part in the contribution by Fokus Grupa, which they developed together with students of architecture (Audrey Morency, Anouk Muller, Pol Olk and Laura Winterberg) in the context of a seminar at the Institute of Architectural Theory in Innsbruck. Fokus Grupa takes the highly influential book Chto Delat (What Is To Be Done?, 1863) by Russian philosopher, journalist and literary critic Nikolay Chernyshevsky, as well as its concrete descriptions of the living and work places of the two protagonists, Lopuhov and Pavlovna, as the starting point for speculation about possible forms of community living beyond the “nuclear family” paradigm: Lopuhov and Pavlovna decide to design their shared living space so that it would correspond to the balance of power relations between them. They agree to each live in his/her own room, which will guarantee them the individual privacy and autonomy they require. These private rooms are linked by a “living room”, which they treat as a public space; and they always regard its usage as a subject of negotiation. This way of organizing the living space constitutes a striking alternative to the dominant pattern of family life, as it manages to avoid the ideological patterns relating to class, power and gender inscribed into the concept of the “nuclear family”.
Another starting point for the project is provided by the controversial concept of the “Existenzminimum” (=subsistence minimum), which was used originally and above all between the world wars as an emergency measure to enable provision for the working class of affordable council housing, among other things, but which was criticized justifiably as a poverty-perpetuating entrapment. Based on the idea of the “Existenzminimum”, Fokus Grupa have developed the Existenzoptimum, which uses similar conceptual principles to guarantee community living, and realized it in collaboration with the students as a 1:1 model of a housing unit and a 1:30 model of a modular system of housing units, which can be tested by the visitors of the exhibition using the concrete example of the Kunstpavillon space. Here, as if on the board of a game, 10 housing spaces are available for free combination with public space. They can be interrelated, while the public space of the exhibition between them functions as a projection area for shared forms of usage.
Existenzoptimum aims to escape the ideological conditions generated and transferred largely in a reproductive manner by the nuclear family, in favour of an—ideally—unmediated, but certainly different relationship between the individual and the collective. The art work provides a foundation for this new relationship not only by fulfilling the function of an exhibit, but rather by defining spatial relations in a material way. Quasi as a nuisance, these spacial relations contain transformatory potential from the base.
Andrea Bellu & Matei Bellu: Collection of Several Trials to Describe Reality:
Trials #2 & #3
Trials #2 & #3 by Andrea Bellu and Matei Bellu continue the Collection of Several Trials to Describe Reality Andrea Bellu initiated in Büchsenhausen.
While traveling through Eastern Europe, Andrea Bellu, together with Matei Bellu, began in 2013 to gather (documentation) material about mundane routines as well as memory practices related to the sometimes old, but also even more often new national identities and their imagined histories. From all this an intuitive, unfinished archive emerged, which the artist investigates during her fellowship in Büchsenhausen.
The route of travel encompassed an historical cultural sphere, in which different minorities lived alongside and with each other for centuries, without a national majority population. In many villages and towns the Jewish population constituted the biggest minority. This complex and multilayered cohabitation was put to a cruel end by German occupation and the German politics of annihilation during the Second World War.
Today this cultural and geographical area is enclosed and delimited by various borders and spheres of interest, and it is characterized by discourses of strong national identity. Although the predominant national and nationalist narratives deny, cover up and remain silent about historical facts, certainly the traces of this history are materially evident in landscapes, towns and places – in their very absence. The intransigence with which the new national narratives are inscribed into the region covers over the traces of memory, which cannot be found on any map – new names for old squares, new functions for old buildings, new populations for new states. Today’s inhabitants of these homes practice a non-remembrance, which tells of subtly, uncannily returning violence and its very real impact on the region’s people.
Continuing her practice to date, in which she has been working with texts, video, photography and objets trouvés, Andrea Bellu’s prime concern is to connect the frequently recounted and described, violent history of the early 20th century to the present day, and to visualize its present, ever tangible effects and continuities. However, this work on the archive is also a search, pursuing her conviction that the non-realized potential of history does not end with German terror but is capable of releasing other, utopian potentials that are significant for the present day.
Trial #2: 1. The set of all points on one level, the sum of whose distances to two given points remains constant, is known as an ellipse. It is an imperfect circle in shape; 2. Ellipsis refers to a sentence fragmented by leaving out words or parts, while retaining its sense within the context; 3. In the course of tonal harmony, ellipsis means leaving out a consonance, in place of which there follows a pause or a dissonance, which contradicts our expectation. (L’viv, Fedorova-Straße 27, 9.10.2014, 16:56–17:00), 2016, inkjet print, 290x168cm, sound recording, 5:16 min.
Trial #2 consists of a large-format colour print and a 5-minute sound recording, both made in the same place: Lviv, Fedorova street 27, October 9, 2014, 16:59-17:04.
The image escapes the viewer; although it purports to make something visible (through its excessive enlargement), its flatness and blurring seem to resist our understanding. The five-minute sound recording adopts a similar pattern of retreat. What we hear here is the everyday nature of an atmosphere, the sound of a specific environment. Perceived along with its smallest nuances in isolation, via headphones, the atmospheric sound coveys scarcely anything of the place in which it was recorded—and nothing of its history, either. It is true that a lot can be heard, but, against our possible expectation, this information does not concentrate into any meaning.
What materiality possesses memory? Whatever is missing cannot be bridged, translated; in a similar way to the absent witness in Agamben’s work, where it is only testified that there is no witness? Is it possible to apprehend the contradiction between present absence and absent presence? Where do we encounter the ghosts of society, who are inscribing themselves into our material surroundings—in space, in collective narrations, in subjective fictions, or in elliptical movements, which touch simultaneously on meaning and the impossibility of meaning?
Trial #3: Untitled, (About Translating), 2016, installation, record player, song “Where Can I Go?” by Miriam Makeba.
In 1963, shortly after the South African Apartheid-regime had expatriated her because of her political activism, Miriam Makeba (1932-2008) recorded a song in the USA. The well-known Yiddish tango “Vi ahin soll ich geyn?” [Text: Igor S. Kornteyer (1890-1941), music: Oskar Strok (1893-1975)] was written in the Warsaw ghetto, sung in the concentration camps, and later became an expression of the hopelessness and simultaneous hope in the displaced persons camps; the text reflects these experiences not only through language but also and far more through its interpretation and meaning. Since the 1950s, as a soul and blues song of the African-American Civil Rights Movement, the song expressed the growing subjectivity of a new emancipatory movement, in the return of which an “echo of the original” (Benjamin) remained inscribed, and simultaneously appropriated anew.
“Where Can I Go?” is the final song on the flip-side of the record “The World of Miriam Makeba”. Visitors of the exhibition are invited to play back the song themselves.
(Texts: Andrea Bellu and Matei Bellu)
Kuda.org/Group for Conceptual Politics: Bark, 2016, HD video
Zoran Todorović: Several Panoramas for One Phenomenology of the Irrational, 2015, 3 HD videos
Bark by kuda.org/GKP is a contribution to, and reworking of one element of Several Panoramas for One Phenomenology of the Irrational by artist Zoran Todorović. In relation to their research and publishing activities around the Belgrade Surrealist group, members of kuda.org/GKP were invited by Zoran Todorović to take part in a work which sought to stage a series of three conversations (the artwork is still undergoing further development) at resonant sites of fierce cultural and political contestation in ex-Yugoslavia. The discussants comprised, at different times, Biljana Andonovska; Ivana Momčilović and Slobodan Karamanić; and GKP members, Branka Ćurčić and Zoran Gajić. At each site they attempted to open up histories, tensions and contemporary conditions for cultural production in ex-Yugoslavia, through their differing positions regarding the role of the Belgrade Surrealist group in the military and political histories of ex-Yugoslavia. The three sites featured in Todorović’s panoramas are: the Museum of Contemporary Art in Belgrade; Sutjeska, a national park and location of one of the key battles in WWII (a turning point for communist partisan forces fighting against the Axis powers and one in which Surrealist poet Konstantin ‘Koča’ Popović demonstrated his will to put down his pen and pick up a gun to fight as a partisan), and Vrnjačka Banja, in present-day Serbia a spa but at the time a sanatorium where Marko Ristić, another key Belgrade Surrealist, waited out the war in uneasy comfort.
The intervention of kuda.org/GKP constitutes the inclusion of one more site, one that is not seen as a site of historical events and places, but rather as an actual site of polemics that are still being conducted about the question of art and politics (the workspace of kuda.org/GKP). The audio of the fourth screen is an enunciation regarding struggles in the artistic and activist fields on the present terrain of former Yugoslavia (the text from which the audio is drawn is ‘The University and the Academy Are Today’s Political and Conceptual Super-ego’).
In the presentation of the Panoramas at the Kunstpavilion, the artwork is not translated (into English or German), which enables an encounter with its opacity and irreducible factuality. The realization of Bark is informed by elements of a previous artwork by Zoran Todorović, Gypsies and Dogs, a piece that was received controversially, and which provoked a discussion about political correctness. This evoked reflections on what we call a ‘culturalization of politics’, specifically, the culturalization of the politics of art. By ‘culturalization’ we mean the reduction of politics to culture, of politics naturalized as a cultural instance. We see culture as a reactionary concept when it is taken as a spontaneous social fact.
In Gypsies and Dogs, cameras were attached to stray dogs and Roma children who beg on the streets. Images were thus recorded that mechanically testified to their situation. The de-subjective process of recording rather than making in that piece and the ensuing debates encouraged us to apply similar principles of the freedom of interpretation and organization to the Panoramas material in the production of Bark. We took ‘the dogs’ perspective’ in cultivating a deafness to claims about the necessity for translation, for understanding and interpretation, and answered with the work of art that resulted. Thus, we keep the work open to the linkages that an aesthetic experience can provoke. (Text: kuda.org/GKP)
Anthony Iles & Marina Vishmidt: Treason and Form: Reflections on Art and Thought, 2016, HD video, 98 min.
On display from June 22, 2016.
The source of Anthony Iles’ and Marina Vishmidt’s contribution in the exhibition Nuisance Value is a discussion between them and members of the collectives kuda.org and Group for Conceptual Politics which took place on June 17 in the Kunstpavillon. The discussion explored questions of political and artistic form in their tensions and convergences. What kinds of methods enable us to be active in this field while avoiding the reification of concepts, to retain the speculative at the core of our inquiries? What would it mean to understand ourselves as ‘subjects congealed as technology’ (Theodor W. Adorno), or as historically produced objects ‘culturally bonded through the creation of relations’ (Howard Slater)? (Text: Anthony Iles & Marina Vishmidt)
Exhibition in context of the 2015-16 International Fellowship Program for Art and Theory at the Künstlerhaus Büchsenhausen.
Andrea BELLU & Matei BELLU,
FOKUS GRUPA with Audrey MORENCY, Anouk MULLER, Pol OLK, Laura WINTERBERG,
Anthony ILES & Marina VISHMIDT,
KUDA.ORG & GROUP FOR CONCEPTUAL POLITICS, Zoran TODOROVIĆ,
Benjamin TIVEN & Erik WYSOCAN
Exhibition curated by Andrei SICLODI
Opening: Thu June 16, 2016, 7 p.m. // KUNSTPAVILLON
Welcoming: Lizzy FIDLER, member of the board, Tiroler Künstler:innenschaft
Introduction: Andrei SICLODI, Curator
Duration of the exhibition: 17. 06. – 30. 07. 2016
Opening times: Wed – Fri 11 a.m. – 6 p.m., Sat 11 a.m. – 3 p.m.
Place: KUNSTPAVILLON, Rennweg 8a, 6020 Innsbruck
Guided tours on request.
The participants of the exhibition:
Andrea BELLU and Matei BELLU develop their collective artistic works as installations. They often work together with other artists and scientists. Starting out from post-colonial, migrant and feminist perspectives, they attempt to insert gaps and disruptions into the predominant narrations of history.
GROUP FOR CONCEPTUAL POLITICS (Grupa za konceptualnu politiku) is an artistic and political organization which is the result of local conflicts and clashes by which people in this struggle are fleeing while avoiding antagonism as a model of articulation of their own practice and thought. It seeks to construct a space which it ironically designates an ‘institutional commune’. It comprehends that work needs to be published in order to be created (written, read or translated). The Group’s work is therefore the political project of the deconstruction of cultural policy and state education.
KUDA.ORG is an independent cultural organization based in Novi Sad (Serbia), which since 2001 brings together artists, theoreticians, media activists, researchers and the wider public in the research of contemporary art theory and practice, cultural policies, activism and politics. kuda.org tends to make an intervention in the sphere of research and artistic and social experimentation within the field of art and cultural production, from the position of institutional critique and critique of cultural policies.
Zoran TODOROVIĆ was born in 1958 in Gornji Milanovac, Serbia. He graduated at the department of graphic at the Academy of Applied Arts in Belgrade. He completed post-graduate studies at the Academy of Fine Arts in Belgrade. He is Professor of Graphics with Technology at the Academy of Arts at the University of Novi Sad. He has had solo exhibitions in Belgrade, Varna, Thessaloniki, Paris, Podgorica.
Erik WYSOCAN lives and works in New York City. He trained in graphic design at Rhode Island School of Design and later continued study at Columbia University, receiving an MFA in 2009. He has shown widely including exhibitions at Andrea Rosen Gallery, New York; Sculpture Center, NY; Laurel Gitlen, NY; Art In General, NY; and Miguel Abreu, NY. In 2010 he launched the experimental publishing project Halmos to revitalize historically significant, but overlooked or forgotten literary works that address chronology and non-linearity.
Andrea Bellu develops her artistic works as installations: writing, drawing, taking photographs and making films. She often works together with other artists and scientists. Starting out from post-colonial, migrant and feminist perspectives, she attempts to insert gaps and disruptions into the predominant narrations of history.
Fokus Grupa is an artist collective based in Rijeka, Croatia. Their work points to the social, economical and political frames of the art field. Their practice is collaborative and interdisciplinary, and they work across art, design and curating. Fokus Grupa concentrate on the relations between art and its public manifestations, in terms of working culture, aesthetics, and social and economic exchange values. They have exhibited in museums and venues internationally including: Offbiennale Budapest, Visual Culture Research Center, Kiev; A3bandas, Madrid; MACRO, Rome;, MCA, Ljubljana, MCA, Zagreb, Magazzino del Sale Venice; Calvert 22, London; Tranzit, Bratislava; Kunsthalle Exnergasse, Vienna; SKUC Gallery, Ljubljana; Miroslav Kraljević Gallery, Zagreb; Transmission Gallery, Glasgow.
Benjamin Tiven is an American filmmaker and writer. Recent exhibitions at the Institute of Contemporary Art, Philadelphia; Delfina Foundation, London; 1/9unosunove gallery, Rome, and Westfälischer Kunstverein, Münster. Films screened at the Viennale, FIDMarseille, Rotterdam, Oberhausen, and Arsenale Cinema, Berlin. Recent publications: Scrim Sinews (Cura Books, 2015), and contributions to the journals Triple Canopy, Bidoun, and Bulletins of the Serving Library.
Anthony Iles is a writer of criticism and fiction based in London. He is a PhD candidate at Middlesex University, a contributing editor with Mute / Metamute, http://metamute.org, and an editor of the forthcoming publication on writing and crisis Anguish Language (Archive Books), http://anguishlanguage.tumblr.com/.
Marina Vishmidt is a London-based writer occupied mainly with questions around art, labor and value. She is the author of Speculation as a Mode of Production (Brill, early 2016) and A for Autonomy (with Kerstin Stakemeier) (Textem, 2015). She also works regularly with Anthony Iles and with Melanie Gilligan. She collaborates with artists and contributes to journals such as Mute, Afterall, Texte zur Kunst, and the South Atlantic Quarterly, as well as co-/edited collections and catalogs,most recently Anguish Language (Archive Books, forthcoming). She is part of the Theory faculty at the Dutch Art Institute, a visiting lecturer at Middlesex University and the University of Brighton, and has taught at the University of the Arts in Berlin, Central Saint Martins, and Goldsmiths.
Group for Conceptual Politics (Grupa za konceptualnu politiku) is an artistic and political organization which is the result of local conflicts and clashes by which people in this struggle are fleeing while avoiding antagonism as a model of articulation of their own practice and thought. It seeks to construct a space which it ironically designates an ‘institutional commune’. It comprehends that work needs to be published in order to be created (written, read or translated). The Group’s work is therefore the political project of the deconstruction of cultural policy and state education.
kuda.org is an independent cultural organization based in Novi Sad (Serbia), which since 2001 brings together artists, theoreticians, media activists, researchers and the wider public in the research of contemporary art theory and practice, cultural policies, activism and politics. kuda.org tends to make an intervention in the sphere of research and artistic and social experimentation within the field of art and cultural production, from the position of institutional critique and critique of cultural policies.