“Prem Krishnamurthy and Zachary Sachs” March 4, 2014
In September 2012, Prem Krishnamurthy, a founder of design firm Project Projects, opened what he called, “a Mom-and-Pop-Kunsthalle,” at 334 Broome Street, in Chinatown. NamedP!, the gallery has rotated through a diverse sequence of shows. It opened with Process 01: Joy, which included prints by graphic designer Karel Martins, a social sculpture by Christine Hill, and documentary photographs by Chauncey Hare. Possibility 02: Growth, andPermutation 03 accelerated the evolution of exhibition structure, with constantly-changing incarnations of each program enlisting a wide range of collaborators including sonic sculptor Katarzyna Krakowiak, avant-garde clothing designers Slow and Steady Wins the Race, and techno-conceptual musician Thomas Brinkmann. Other recent exhibitions included French cooperative Société Réaliste and The Ceiling Should be Green, a curatorial collaboration between Krishnamurthy and Ali Wong, for which they invited a Feng Shui master to advise their choice of artists and installation.
I spoke to Krishnamurthy about the significance of iteration in his shows and the gallery’s emphasis on the juxtaposition of disciplines.
Zachary Sachs: What first attracted you to the storefront that P! occupies?
Prem Krishnamurthy: The first thing was the location. It was right around the corner from Project Projects. But another thing was that it was street-level. The other spaces I’d been looking at, many of them were on the second or third floor. And I think I didn’t know it until I saw the place, but I found that it was very important that it be public, on the street level. I liked the weirdness of the space. It used to be an old exhaust systems contracting office, so it was divided up between two offices with interior windows between them, which seemed really strange to me, and I liked it. I saw the interior windows and immediately knew I wanted to project film works on them. And I knew that they presented an obstacle, it’s not necessarily a great space for many people who want to run a gallery or exhibition space, because there’s only one door. And you can only show work that fits through that door—but to me, it’s a great constraint. The elements that I introduced with the architects, Leong Leong, like the moving wall, became an important part of the space, that constantly reconfigures it. It’s like a game playing piece. You cannot take it out of the space, because it’s too large.
ZS: And yet it transforms the relationships between things inside.
PK: That’s right. It’s such a simple thing, but it’s these details: the fact that it’s not rectilinear—it’s a parallelogram. It creates these weird relationships. It was important to me that the architecture of the space not be just a passive thing, but somehow be activated.
ZS: Does the architecture change with each exhibition, acting as an equal member, alongside the art? Is it more part of the curatorial voice? Or is that not a meaningful distinction?
PK: Well, it is a meaningful distinction, but that’s the kind of distinction that I’d call into question. Whether a decision is a curatorial decision or an artistic decision or a design decision or just a decision that is conditioned by the space: all of those things coexist. There’s no definitive way to tease out whose agency a particular decision is; those things are enmeshed.
ZS: And how do you see the space’s context, its being in Chinatown, as participating in—or having an effect on—the shows?
PK: The main thing is: if you have a gallery in Chelsea, there’s a relatively homogenous group of people that go over there. You have the High Line, but if you’re in Chelsea on 22nd or 24th street between Tenth and Eleventh Avenue, you’re a person going to a gallery. That’s a self-selecting public. The opportunity of being in this particular spot is that it’s a mixed public. Broome Street is a major access point in Manhattan—I often try to use the storefront in an active way. To make the storefront as much part of the space as anything inside of it.
ZS: And so the image of the outside of the space is an aspect of every show.
PK: Exactly. The signage is in Chinese and English, and there are shows that incorporate things that relate to Chinese culture in particular ways. It’s true that the majority of people that end up coming here probably are from more or less the same cultural space, but then there are also always people that just stop outside. If people stop outside, even if they don’t make it through the door, the space still does something. And that’s important to me.
ZS: And even if you end up with much the same crowd, that crowd is still taken out of the context of rows of white cubes.
PK: Yes. And many people who walk in here don’t know what to make of it. That’s a positive thing. I’m interested in the space feeling very, very different from show to show. And so when we did a show at the beginning of this six-month cycle on copying, where Rich Brilliant Willing worked with us to make the space into a reading room, you’d be amazed how many people said, “Oh, so you’re a bookstore now? You’re a reading room?” And I said, “No, it’s an exhibition.” And they were like, “What do you mean?” I want to create that confusion. When Slow and Steady Wins the Race opened a weeklong pop up shop here, as part of a show, same thing. “Are you a retail store? Are you selling bags or are you a gallery?” And I replied, “Both/and.” It’s encouraging that people still don’t know what the hell we are.
ZS: The emphasis on the juxtaposition of design and artwork and architecture, each being its own element of each exhibition, might serve to de-familiarize each of them from each other, right?
PK: That’s definitely the goal, but rather than having them be purely separate, we’d collapse the distinctions between them somehow. At the opening of Permutation 03.4: Re-Mix, you could think we were a club, or something. Thomas Brinkmann was playing these records on a sound system and people were dancing, for an hour and a half or two, and there were a lot of people there purely because they were techno fans, who heard that Thomas Brinkmann was in town, and they came and they were excited. That kind of encounter is good. If we keep bringing different audiences in, and they encounter other things they might not have seen in their native context, then I think the space is doing what it wants to do.
ZS: So part of what it “wants to do,” in this sense would be—and correct me if I’m wrong—to break down a distinction between art and design?
PK: Well, I wouldn’t say it’s breaking down the distinction. Because ultimately I would say those distinctions aren’t there to be made but are conditional and contextual. What’s design and what’s art has much to do with who’s doing the looking, and at what point we are in the life cycle of the object (now or in a thousand years, for example), as any other factor. So I’m not necessarily interested in the distinction between art and design (or architecture or music or fashion or fiction writing, for that matter), but rather creating a new space of viewership for it all. It’s more about putting these cultural objects into conversation, and calling out the fact that sometimes they function in similar and sometimes in dissimilar ways. Also, I’d like to create a context in which people may work in a way that is non-native to them, to have people doing things in this space that are—not, maybe, outside of their practice, but are perhaps underrepresented in their practice. And that itself is speaking to the question of disciplinary boundaries. Rather than being defined by a particular idea of what an artist does or what a designer does or what a musician does, thinking about how those things resonate with all the other ideas surrounding them. In a way, it’s natural that, given that I’m a graphic designer, there’s going to be a lot of design, but I don’t think about it as being a space about graphic design. I think of those things as being part of the same dialogue that I have with conceptual art, or music, or architecture, and so it makes sense that those things would be brought together.
ZS: It sounds like your role as the organizer is to create a place where this can happen. In one press release, I remember you say you seek, “to emphasize rupture over tranquility, and interference over mere coexistence,” which in turns reminds me of an Experimental Jetset quote, something like, “design ought to perforate the thing it communicates.”
PK: Hmm, yeah. I hadn’t heard that particular quote, but the idea of perforation is, in some ways, right—in that individual agencies are somehow made manifest, and visible, creating a rupture or break. In most art systems, there is some sort of suppression of certain kinds of agency. In many exhibitions, one talks about artists, or curators, as discrete entities that do these very discrete things. But it’s clear, I think, to people who are working as artists or curators—or as designers or anything really, involved with installation—that there’s a lot of overlap and ambiguity between those roles. But most of the time in the end it’s cleaned up, there’s a way in which things are presented as being straightforward. It’s listed, who does what. Coming from a background of designing exhibitions, it seems clear that in curating a show you sometimes function as a designer, but being an artist can also mean you’re organizing the work of other artists. Essentially giving a sense of display to things. And with “perforation,” if you like, the idea isn’t to make things disappear but to emphasize the friction. And since P! is a small space, it would be impossible to achieve that neutrality, where there’s nothing else that interferes with a single work. Unless if you only showed one work. In fact, the works are always overlapping: and I think that’s generally the case everywhere, but it often seems like there’s a desire to push works apart, and give each of them their sacred autonomy. And there are lots of reasons why that happens in terms of the market. In here, it’s both an impossibility and an intentional desire to have the works speak to each other in intimate ways.
ZS: It seems like lately there’s been a return to designing exhibitions in opposition to the white cube. Or as with Thomas Demand’s La Carte d’Après Nature and the recreation of the 1969 exhibition When Attitudes Become Form in Venice last year, there’s a lot more focus on the relationship between the space and the object. Does that feel like it’s an emerging impulse?
PK: When I started doing this, I wasn’t thinking of it as coming from any particular place, except being a certain curatorial idea, and also a certain idea of how things were going to speak to each other. But I think you’re right that one could definitely speak to related approaches in Venice this year. The idea that there are these juxtapositions between works and contexts with totally different intentions, and in being put into a space they start to create a third term. That’s very much in the air now. Of course that’s what graphic designers have been doing for a long time. If you’re Richard Hollis designing Ways of Seeing, or any designer making a book, you’re thinking about how to put together these essentially disparate forms: text and image, images of different contexts, and trying to create a thing that places them meaningfully within a space. And so I’d say that the classic tenet of graphic design is this sort of juxtaposition. Maybe it’s just that it goes in and out of vogue in a curatorial sense. There are moments when one thinks more about the autonomy of the object or the autonomy of the artist, and there are moments when one thinks more about the interrelationship of objects. For example, when you’re talking about re-installation of When Attitudes Become Form in Venice, that’s one of the things you see. You see that, when Harald Szeemann put together the original show, the works are really on top of each other. There are these spaces where you can barely even walk through them, and maybe you think, “Oh that wouldn’t even pass ADA requirements at any museum in the US.” Of course in those cases it’s more often than not that the neighboring objects are “like” each other… But I think there’s still a different sense than if you’re going to a show where the idea is that it is an entire space, or the work should somehow be isolated and create its own sui generis context.
ZS: In another place you say you see the gallery as being “visitor-focused.” How do you see that differing from, say, a traditional gallery?
PK: There was a conversation that happened in Art Basel last year that outlined for me a major difference between my approach and that of a more traditional gallery model. There was a panel about mega-galleries, and a New York gallerist was saying how, as with any small business, he has to think about his clients. And his clients are artists and collectors. And he seemed to say that critical voices, like writers or the press or whatever, weren’t his audience. So I asked, how do you feel about a broader public, or a different public? The response: That’s not my job, to speak to a broader public. Obviously, with this project I too am speaking to a certain art and design discourse. But it’s important to me that people walking by, seeing this work in the store window, don’t necessarily know it’s an artwork, but they look at it. Both in design, and in curating, it’s a Brechtian estrangement, instead of the medium being presented as totally transparent and disappearing. It’s going to affect what it’s mediating one way or the other, there’s no other way that it could be.
ZS: Something can’t not be produced.
PK: Right, it can either pretend that production doesn’t exist, or it can acknowledge that it does, and be straightforward about it. And I would hope to be straightforward about the fact that things are being mediated one way or the other.
ZS: One line in description of the Permutation 03.x caught my eye: “multiples of a religious or political icon extend their reach and efficacy, whereas a duplicated file, painting, handbag, or cityscape violates legal and ethical strictures. Questions of capital and power lie at the core: who owns the original versus who is producing the copy.” Is there a specific politics implicit in the curatorial attitude, or merely the existence of politics within this context?
PK: No, there’s very explicitly a politics. Part of the space is also about asking questions about commerce and culture and how intertwined those things are. In the case of this show, it’s been evoked in a number of different ways. In the previous show in the cycle[Permutation 03.3], Peter Rostovsky was showing digital paintings that are distributed for free online. There was a pamphlet that we produced with him, a new text, a dialogue about painting and politics, and the question of how to create a mass-produced, democratic artwork, that’s neither kitsch nor something that’s elite. This came out of Peter’s involvement with the Occupy movement and the contradictions it raises for artists. Such questions about distribution, and democracy are pretty intrinsic to everything we do here.
The reason that I’m interested in looking into models outside of the white cube is not just because I’m interested in breaking some norm; it’s because the white cube exists to create a certain kind of value. It exists to generate a certain kind of object, to sanctify it. Display is an important and powerful thing but it’s often not acknowledged. Of course it works very differently in a commercial sphere. But in any case I’m interested in making that thing apparent. It’s a kind of self-reflexivity about display and how it produces value as much as it is also about the things being shown.
After all so much of normal gallery discourse is about access to knowledge. You typically have a person who sits behind a desk somewhere, and they hold the checklist and the press release. You walk in and there a lot of things on the wall, and there’s nothing that tells you what they are. If you want to know what they are, you go up and get a press release. I had a strange encounter the other day. I was talking to a performing arts institution about a project, and they asked me if there was admission to the shows here, and that made me realize there’s a total gulf there. We go to galleries, we’re conversant in the norms. We know that if we want information, we go and ask for the checklist. If we’re dressed well enough, we can ask for a price list. We know these modes and we navigate them fluidly. But the truth is many people don’t. My parents walk into a gallery, they have no idea what you do there. Unless there’s a wall label, they don’t know who it’s by, they don’t know they’re allowed to ask somebody. In fact the whole point of the person behind the desk seems to be to scare you into not wanting to ask.
ZS: And does that gulf strike you as being another thing you’re exploiting in the way you hang shows?
PK: In every case we try to tweak some parameter. The second show that we did was about real estate and the scarcity of space, all of the information about the different parts of the exhibition were given on those hanging real estate signs in the front window. That had a description of each of the works and their price, if they were for sale. The idea was, a real estate office operates on a different principle: to make the information visible.
ZS: Someone told me the other day that those signs in the windows of real estate offices are often not of available properties, but rather of properties that people want, which are not necessarily available. Not just the ones stamped “sold,” either. Just to get people to walk in. In a sense the motivation in your display was almost the same as to the formula you copied. Speaking of which, there was a cycle of exhibitions entirely about copying.
PK: Copying, yes. Really that came together from thinking about questions of originality and influence, and feeling like those were questions looming very large in my own design practice and curatorial practice. As well as from the gut impulse, that I’ve always had, that designers and artists tend to think about questions of influence in very different ways. There’s a mode of citing things that’s acceptable in one discourse but not another. But then if you cross those lines, you’re allowed to steal wholesale. But it depends on whether you’re doing it within a disciplinary narrative or not.
There was this book by Marcus Boon, In Praise of Copying, that I was reading when I was formulating the series. In his view, everything is a copy, in one way or another. Thus the name “Permutations.” The shows are all, in one sense, permutations of each other. They repeat each other formally, works reappearing and so on. One show has a new version of an Oliver Laric piece that was in a prior iteration of the show. And there are spatial elements that recur. So instead of thinking of something as being original, these things are really permutations of previous versions, and they’re circulating fluently, and the point isn’t the original idea but the specific substantiation of the thing: taking it in the own context of its making.
ZS: Right, and the very word “permutation” reminds me of the Ship of Theseus paradox, where the boat is rebuilt plank by plank until no original planks are left. Is it the same ship? is it a copy?
PK: In graphic design, I’m always thinking: which things are referencing other things? So, in a sense, this project is also meant as a corrective, because I tend to think of things as being very linear. In The Shape of Time George Kubler makes the point that instead of linear cycles of succession and influence, in fact influence moves in various directions, forward and backward.
ZS: In a discussion of regimes in art, Jacques Rancière argued that the notion that abstract art was not something that emerged fully formed in the 19th century, but was made possible by an existing a logic of abstraction that was repeated throughout time, so in Veronese for example, there’s an underlying sense of abstraction even if the paintings are ostensibly figurative.
PK: Yes, exactly, and, again, in Semir Alschausky’s Veronese “copy” in Permutation 3.4; that’s precisely his argument. His discourse comes out of an opposition between socialist realism versus abstraction. The reason why he’s interested in Veronese in particular is about how abstraction emerged from color.
Similarly, Robin Kinross cites the origin of modern typography not as the 1920s with Paul Renner or the Bauhaus, but rather in works like Joseph Moxon’s 17th-century printing manual. That was the moment when printing, rather than being a “black art,” guarded and guilded, started to become a skilled trade. It was the first time someone articulated the principles of typography and how to print. It became disseminate-able and open. That was, for him, the moment modern typography begins.
And obviously that’s just another reframing of terms, but I think he sees what we see as being 20th-century modern typography actually coming out of this much-older movement, which has the same principles but only at a certain moment becomes self-conscious.
ZS: Do you see there being any specific predecessors, in terms of curators or historical gallerists who have inspired your approach at P!?
PK: The people I feel most inspired by are people like Judith Barry, who is an artist but who moves between the realms of art, architecture, exhibition design, writing, and more. Group Material was really important example for me. I wouldn’t say predecessor in a direct way, but I admire them for bringing things of different contexts into a single space. In their case, much more in the mode of making an artwork: which is not what I’m interested in. I guess I also see my influences in this being less curatorial models and more wide-ranging, as design but not just design. I like the idea of a World’s Fair. You put all these things together, and there they are.
ZS: Okay, so, “Process,” “Possibility,” “Permutation”—what happens when you run out of “P” words?
PK: The dictionary’s pretty big… And, well, you know, we might be done with that thing.
P! and Simone Subal Gallery are pleased to present a two-venue solo exhibition by Brian O’Doherty (also known as Patrick Ireland). Featuring a range of historical and contemporary work—from early text pieces, semantic sculptures, figurative and conceptual portraits, a new “rope drawing” installation, chess works, and a site-specific, live-streamed performance piece—the exhibition probes the dualisms, linguistic games, and relational approaches that have characterized O’Doherty’s work since the late 1950s. Connecting the … explores the tension between the visceral, the sensual, and the bodily in relation to their ongoing transformation into abstract form.
O’Doherty’s Structural Plays, composed between 1967 and 1970, comprise the conceptual core of the show. These serial works combine inflected language, mathematical notation, and choreographed movement upon a uniform playing grid; a selection of them will be performed in both spaces. Other pieces in the exhibition, such as Chess Board (1966) and Scenario for Black: A Structural Film (1967) extend the metaphor of the grid as a space of lived activity. A contrasting group of sculptural works raise questions of portraiture and representation. The sentinel-like Narcissus (1966), exhibited only once since its first presentation in 1966, functions here as a kinetic, illusionistic game: a look inside its two-faced aperture reveals doubled sculptural busts that slowly meld into each other. One Here Now (1970), an incised wall-mounted, mirrored Ogham sculpture that employs archaic Celtic script, becomes both an experiential and encoded instantiation of self-representation. A new “rope drawing,” the most recent in an ongoing body of work begun in the 1970s, connects the two spaces through a perceptual corridor. Complemented by a selection of early drawings and works-on-paper, the exhibition probes O’Doherty’s roots in empirical observation.
The juxtaposition of pieces in the two galleries functions as a system of mutual echoes, mirroring ideas, methods, and approaches in an open-ended manner. The exhibition grounds O’Doherty’s conceptual and spatial experiments in an ongoing search for new mode of representation within the unstable and ever-moving position of the viewer.
Brian O’Doherty (b. 1928, Ireland) has led a remarkable and multifaceted career. After working and researching as a medical doctor, he relocated to the USA, where he hosted two television shows on art and culture. O’Doherty served as art critic for the New York Times and as editor of Art in America magazine. He edited and designed the groundbreaking “conceptual issue” of the multimedia magazine-in-a-box Aspen, as well as authored the seminal essay series Inside the White Cube. While part-time director of the NEA’s visual arts and media program, he helped make Soho a magnet for artists, coined the term “alternative space,” and championed early video art. From 1972 to 2008, he worked as an artist under the pseudonym Patrick Ireland. He has mounted over forty solo exhibitions, and was the subject of several retrospectives, most recently in 2007 at NYU’s Grey Art Gallery. O’Doherty is the author of several novels, including The Deposition of Father McGreevy (2000), which was nominated for the Booker Prize. His most recent novel, The Crossdresser’s Secret, was published by Sternberg Press in February 2014.
“Hitting it off” at P! by Andrew Russeth February 5, 2014
Is there any gallery owner having more fun right now than Prem Krishnamurthy? A graphic designer by trade, he for the past year and a half has been hosting art shows of unknown and unexpected talents in a storefront space with a signature red floor (and now a signature green ceiling, a feng shui expert’s intervention in the last exhibition). P!’s latest show, organized by Mr. Krishnamurthy, Manuela Moscoso and Sarah Demeuse, pairs work from two artists who are relatively obscure in the U.S., the Belgian Philippe Van Snick (born 1946) and the Spanish June Crespo (born 1982). The effect is commendably shambolic—smart in a pleasantly casual way.
Mr. Van Snick’s work, dating from 1972 and ’73, looks like bone-dry early Conceptualism—a black-and-white video and gridded sheets of paper, each listing two numbers. Give it a moment. That video has two friends in the midst of a ping-pong duel, and those papers spell out the score of a match. This is displayed on and around a burly, eat-your-Oscar Tuazon-heart-out architectural installation—it spans the gallery and looks almost like a hunk of machinery—that Ms. Crespo has built from metal scaffolding, cinderblocks, drywall and the odd newspaper to help it fit snuggly. Braced against the walls, it could be pushing apart the room (à la Chris Burden’s 1985 Samson) or holding it together. It also displays her layered collages with vintage nude magazines and transparent prints of luxury-good ads and news stories. They veer uncomfortably close to Josephine Meckseper’s lazier moments, but there’s a humorous, densely packed rawness that makes it work.
Things are under construction and—maybe—falling apart. Games are being played, frivolous (ping-pong) and deadly serious (the objectification of money, in brands, and bodies). But wait, there’s a final component—a few copies of a little pamphlet that the show’s three organizers compiled as a response to a reading group they were in devoted to the fashionable philosophy known as speculative realism. It’s a modest, playful object, laid out on Ms. Crespo’s shelf in case you’re curious: Take it or leave it. Like so much that gets shown at P!, it’s just another invitation to a weird wormhole that you can journey down as far as you like.
Take the classic joke of the ping-pong ball. Its resistance to measurement creates humor. The ball has known properties: colored white, 2.7g, 40mm diameter. And so does the player: colored white, 59kg, 163cm. Although these qualities can help predict certain reactions or spatial behaviors, truth be told, the measurable data matter little. When the paddle meets plastic, both ping-pong and player resonate: they are part of the same set, they meet and select information of mutual significance. The game starts and the joke sparks laughter. Is the ball or the person being hit?
Another way to say it is: Hitting happens. This time between June Crespo, Philippe Van Snick, and Looking for words that aren’t loaded, a publication that stems from a reading group at Independent Curators International (ICI) two years ago. Here, directions are physical geometries, voices repeat and coalesce, gravity pulls and pushes, and display and displayed ricochet off of each other.
With the generous support of the Agency for Arts and Heritage of the Flemish Government. Thanks to Galerie Tatjana Pieters.
June Crespo (b. 1982) lives and works in Bilbao, Spain. Crespo focuses on the reproduction of images and their exploitation in graphic arts and sculptural installation. She studied Fine Arts at the University of the Basque Country UPV-EHU (Bilbao, Spain), where she is currently pursuing a PhD. In the spring of 2014, she will be a resident at Iaspis, Stockholm. Recent solo exhibitions include Amatista (Sala Rekalde, Bilbao, 2013); Reverso (Have a Window, Turin, 2013); El Rayo verde (Centro Cultural Montehermoso, Vitoria-Gasteiz, 2011). Group exhibitions include Quarter System (Museo Unav, Pamplona, 2013) Pop Politics: Activismos a 33 revoluciones (CA2M, Madrid, 2012); Esta puerta pide clavo (Tatjana Pieters Gallery, Ghent, 2012); Plano peso Punto y Medida (Universidad Torcuato di Tella, Buenos Aires, 2011); Antes que todo (CA2M, Madrid, 2010).
Philippe Van Snick (b. 1946) lives and works in Brussels, Belgium. Van Snick’s practice encompasses photography, film, video, drawing and sculpture, and the medium of painting. His work challenges the perception of time and space through the tension between the intuitive and the mathematical. Recent solo exhibitions include Através do tempo (Galeria Nuno Centeno, Porto, Portugal 2013), Allies/The Archive Revisited (Galerie Tatjana Pieters, Ghent, Belgium, 2012); Philippe Van Snick (Museum M, Leuven, Belgium, 2010). Prior to that he has shown at spaces such as Établissement d’en face projects (Brussels), S.M.A.K. (Ghent), Palais de Beaux Arts (Brussels), De Appel (Amsterdam), and Wide White Space Gallery (Antwerp). His work has been included in several group shows at MuHKA (Antwerp), Witte de With (Rotterdam), Van Abbemuseum (Eindhoven), Middelheim Museum (Antwerp), Casteljaloux (Lot et Garonne, France) and La Virreina (Barcelona).
Rivet is Sarah Demeuse and Manuela Moscoso, together with occasional collaborators. Their projects span events, writing, workshops, exhibitions, conference calls, and combinations thereof—conceptual connection and coherence being key. Some projects are public, others less so. Interested in upsetting subject/object or human/non-human divides, Rivet has focused on notions such as deployment, circulation, exercise, and resonance, with an eye for curatorial self-reflexivity and working methods. Operating primarily from New York and Rio de Janeiro, they have riveted in Spain (Mockup, Artium, Vitoria), Belgium (Esta Puerta Pide Clavo, Tatjana Pieters Gallery, Ghent), Lebanon (We are QQ, 98weeks, Beirut), and New York (Resonance, Goethe Institut; Resonance & Repetition, The Elizabeth Foundation for the Arts). They have read or talked in Mexico, Buenos Aires, Brazil and in New York at Independent Curators International (ICI) and the Vera List Center for Arts and Politics. They are currently editing For All We Know, a book designed by Archive Books, and are preparing The Wilson Exercises (Rogaland Kunstsenter, Stavanger, Norway, and RedCat, Los Angeles). Rivet’s permanent residence is at http://rivet-rivet.net.
Special performance by Wen Yau, Friday, Dec 13, 13:00–16:00
______ can’t be black Performance by Wen Yau
On Black Friday, December 13, 2013, Hong Kong-based artist Wen Yau explores superstitions and their inversion in multiple locations in Chinatown. This performance is part of the exhibition, The Ceiling Should Be Green, on view at P! through December 22, 2013.
Wen Yau is a cross-media artist, researcher, curator, and writer, whose work grapples with cultural difference and intimacy as enacted in public space. She has presented projects recently in Hong Kong, Macau, Mainland China, Taiwan, Japan, Korea, the Philippines, the USA, Sweden, Italy, New Zealand, and Bolivia.
“Feng Shui Curating at P!” by Jessica Dawson November 8, 2013
On a recent morning at the gallery called P!, on New York’s Lower East Side, New York-based feng shui master Ye Lei Ming was putting the final touches on an unusual curatorial experiment. Ye was studying a photograph of Mel Bochner in hopes of deciding where to install one of the artist’s 1972 floor pieces.
Ye considered the artist’s birthdate. He fell silent for some time. Nearby, P! director Prem Krishnamurthy and the artist and curator Ali Wong (who also goes by Kit Yi Wong) waited patiently. For $300, the pair had hired Ye to choose the artists and help install P!’s latest exhibition, “The Ceiling Should Be Green” (today through Dec. 22) in accordance with the ancient Chinese principles of manipulating chi, or life force, in an auspicious manner. Ye’s efforts aim to subvert the strictures of traditional exhibition design.
"Curatorial practice has become really professionalized," Krishnamurthy told A.i.A. in a phone interview prior to Ye’s final gallery visit. "There are a set of norms representing rationalist, European ways of thinking about space. This show is about, in good faith, exploring other modes of thinking."
To create “The Ceiling Should Be Green,” Krishnamurthy and Wong compiled a list of artists they wanted to work with. They submitted that list to Ye. By analyzing the artists’ birthdates and birthplaces, he arrived at nine artists to include in the show—Bochner, Jessica Stockholder and Tony Labat among them.
"He read each artist and told us who was strong and who wasn’t," Krishnamurthy said. "‘This is a really good artist, you must include this artist,’ and ‘This is a very tall artist and he will give you trouble, but you should include him in the show.’"
Ye has worked with artists before. In 2011, Wong hired him to advise her on how to improve her creative practice. At the time, she was an MFA candidate at Yale, and Ye’s consultations resulted in her using her studio to serve Chinese meals once a week free of charge. More recently, Wong approached Krishnamurthy about applying feng shui to an exhibition. This is Ye’s first stab at organizing an exhibition.
Krishnamurthy and Wong were faithful to Ye’s suggestions. On his first visit to the gallery, Ye admired the red floor but recommended that the ceiling be painted green—hence the exhibition’s title—owing to the strong chi produced by red-green pairings. Ye also insisted that the gallery’s rear wall feature a large work depicting mountains and sea.
By the time Ye appeared for his final walkthrough this week, the gallery’s ceiling was a brilliant shade of emerald and artist Connie Samaras’s large-scale photograph of a mountainous seaside outcropping leaned against a back wall, ready for hanging.
Outfitted in a blue striped oxford, pressed pants and a windbreaker, Ye took the curator’s final questions. As he spoke, Wong simultaneously translated his pronouncements—Ye speaks only Chinese—for Krishnamurthy and a visiting critic. Wong held her iPhone at eye level to record Ye’s responses. (Wong’s footage will be included in the final cut of a video work, made under the name Kit Yi Wong, also on view in the show.)
Gesturing rapidly, his eyebrows moving animatedly, Ye occasionally consulted a weathered yellow book and eagerly made suggestions. He told the curators that he didn’t understand Stockholder’s piece, so they needed to add explanatory wall text, which Krishnamurthy vowed to produce before opening day.
But by the time Krishnamurthy asked where Ohad Meromi’s 2012 plywood installation should go, Ye had grown weary.
"He doesn’t want to take care of minor issues," Wong translated from Ye’s animated reply. "He says Ohad’s work doesn’t affect the feng shui, so you should decide yourself where it goes."
Nov. 10, 3pm: Feng Shui master Mr. Ye leads a gallery talk
Gallery talk with Mr. Ye, Feng Shui master Sunday, November 10, 3–4pm Space limited: RSVP to firstname.lastname@example.org
Join us for a special event with respected Feng Shui master Mr. Ye, whose recommendations form the basis of The Ceiling Should Be Green (天花板應該是綠色的). Mr. Ye will discuss the flow of energy at P! and how it plays itself out in the exhibition. In Cantonese with English translation
“The Ceiling Should Be Green” (天花板應該是綠色的), Nov 8 – Dec 22, 2013
Curated by Prem Krishnamurthy and Ali Wong Exhibition Dates: November 8–December 22, 2013 Gallery talk with Feng Shui master Mr. Ye: Sunday, Nov 10, 2013, 3-4pm Special performance by Wen Yau: Friday, Dec 13, 2013, 1–4pm
P! is pleased to present “The Ceiling Should Be Green (天花板應該是綠色的),” a group show opening November 8, 2013. The exhibition features artists Mel Bochner, Rico Gatson, Tony Labat, Ohad Meromi, Shana Moulton, Connie Samaras, Jessica Stockholder, Kit Yi Wong, and Wen Yau. The show, which includes sculptural and photographic works alongside performance and time-based pieces, grows out of Hong Kong / New York-based artist Kit Yi Wong’s interest in systems of chance and belief.
Forgoing accepted methods of curatorial practice and exhibition display, “The Ceiling Should Be Green” employs the Chinese metaphysical system of Feng Shui to organize artworks in harmony with each other and with their surrounding environment. The curators invited Mr. Ye, a recognized Feng Shui master, to help select the artists based on their birthdays and associated Chinese astrological traits; Mr. Ye also proposed altering the gallery space to generate a successful exhibition. His advice yielded a diverse set of artists, who present works that reflect upon rationality, luck, and mutability. Alongside these artworks, a new video by Kit Yi Wong documents Mr. Ye’s expert opinions and exposes the decisions underlying the exhibition-making process.
Mel Bochner is one of the pioneers of Conceptual Art; his calculated approach to space and systems has shaped several generations of contemporary artists. Bochner’s most recent show, “Proposition and Process: A Theory of Sculpture (1968-1973),” was at Peter Freeman, Inc, in New York.
Rico Gatson’s painting and sculpture use repetition and accumulation to shape social commentary. Gatson’s work has been exhibited at the Museo Reina Sofia in Madrid and the MI T List Visual Arts Center in Cambridge, Massachusetts, as well as MoMA PS1, the Brooklyn Museum, the Studio Museum in Harlem, and the New Museum in New York.
Tony Labat was born in Cuba, emigrated to the United States as a teenager, and currently lives and works in San Francisco. His performances, films, and sculptures confront questions of cultural identity and displacement. He has received numerous awards and is included in the collections of institutions such as Centre Georges Pompidou, Paris; Kunstmuseum, Bern; Stedelijk Museum, Amsterdam; and the Long Beach Museum of Art, California.
Ohad Meromi’s work has been exhibited at Art in General, MoMA PS1, and the Sculpture Center in New York, as well as Magasin 3 in Stockholm, the Israel Museum in Jerusalem, and the Lyon Biennial. His sculpture and installation work examines the variable forms of utopian modernism and collectivity.
Shana Moulton lives and works in Brooklyn, New York. Characterized by unsettling, wry humor and a low-tech pop sensibility, her numerous videos, performances, and installations have appeared internationally at venues such as the Migros Museum, Zurich, The Kitchen, New York, and the Guangdong Times Museum, Guangzhou, China.
Connie Samaras blurs the line between fiction and the real world through videos and photographs that speak to the psychological dislocation of the everyday. A recent recipient of a Creative Capital grant, she is currently included in “Dissident Futures” at the Yerba Buena Center for the Arts, San Francisco.
Jessica Stockholder’s site-specific interventions and free-standing scuptures mix the vibrantly colorful plastic products of consumer culture with a myriad of other everyday materials. Described as “paintings in space,” her works have been exhibited at New York’s Dia Center for the Arts, Whitney Museum of American Art, and MoMA PS1, in addition to SITE Santa Fe, the Venice Biennale, the Kunstmuseum St. Gallen, and the Centre Georges Pompidou, Paris.
Kit Yi Wong is a graduate of Yale University’s MFA program and is based in Hong Kong and New York. Her video and performance pieces investigate the body, power relations, and new ways of encountering strangers to explore chance.
Wen Yau is a cross-media artist, researcher, curator, and writer, whose work grapples with cultural difference and intimacy as enacted in public space. She has presented projects recently in Hong Kong, Macau, Mainland China, Taiwan, Japan, Korea, the Philippines, the USA, Sweden, Italy, New Zealand, and Bolivia.
Société Réaliste by Annie Godfrey Larmon October 21, 2013
Jagged text on a new hot-red awning on Broome Street instructs “Lasciate ogne stranezza voi ch’intrate” (Abandon all strangeness ye who enter here). The work, produced by the Paris-based cooperative Société Réaliste as part of their first solo exhibition in New York, jiggers the welcome note to hell from Dante’s Inferno, which mandates that entrants abandon all hope. That strangeness is commensurate with hope is the backbone of critique in “A Rough Guide to Hell,” which includes seven works that dilate the nearly immaterial architecture of computer code to the aesthetic persuasions of typeface, and on to the muscular conduits of capital that are urban designs. Société Réaliste perforates political and economic systems of representation that exploit social and cultural difference
For the video projection The Fountainhead, 2010, the artists digitally altered King Vidor’s 1949 film adaptation of Ayn Rand’s ode to individualism and laissez-faire capitalism to exclude human figures, leaving a barren portrait of New York. A nearby floor-to-ceiling text intervention, Circles of Errors, 2013, presents a litany of phrases meant to mimic the cadence of computer error messages. Within this prose, “Idealized Restriction” calibrates to “Restricted Hospitality” and “Imagination Is Fatal” calibrates to “Failed Randomization.” These modulations build a loose narrative of the deadening effects of global streams of capital as they run alongside the ever-pervasive information network. The work uses a Frankensteinian font that Société Réaliste developed specially for the exhibition. Titled Media Police, the typeface has been assembled from a collection of international newspapers’ logotypes via an exquisite corpse formula. It achieves the fractured aesthetic of glitch, and the regional identities inscribed in each element recombine into a surprisingly functional typeface. The only strange thing about Media Police is its legibility: It performs as a smooth agent of exchange, but represents no place at all.
Wall Street Journal reviews Société Réaliste, “A rough guide to Hell”
“Lyrical Forms, Social Commentary and Handiwork” by Peter Plagens October 12–13, 2013
P! self-effacingly describes itself as a “Mom-and-Pop Kunsthalle” that (not so modestly) “engages with presentation strategies and models to emphasize rupture over tranquillity, interference over mere coexistence, transparency over obfuscation, and passion over cool remove.” Its current offering by the Franco-Hungarian collaborative team Société Réaliste (Jean-Baptiste Naudy, b. 1982, and Ferenc Gróf, b. 1972) purports (in artspeak) less modestly still to pit “two discrete discursive investigations against each other—the typographic language of global-local media communications and the architecture of anarcho-capitalist modernism.”
That sort of conceptual overreach—as common in today’s galleries as potted plants were a century ago—is usually fairly off-putting. But with “A Rough Guide to Hell,” it shouldn’t be. This exhibition is brainy fun.
There are three works in the small, tidy space. The first is a poem—rendered, in white laser-cut vinyl, in a new font the Société has named “media police” that combines three other fonts in each letter—on two gradually darkening walls. It’s called “Circle of Errors” (2013) and is derived from computer error messages. The second is “The Fountainhead” (2010), a full-length appropriation of the 1949 film made from the Ayn Rand novel—but with all the human characters digitally excised so that Rand’s individualist-materialist tract is all material and no individuals.
Finally, “Laissez-Faire City” (2013), another riff on Rand: a photocopy of a 1995 full-page advertisement in the Economist seeking investment in a proposed government-free city in Costa Rica, to be inhabited entirely by rugged individualists. The piece is for sale for a little more than $62,000, the proceeds purportedly to be used to republish the ad in the magazine at current rates.
A certain lightheartedness (or, dare we say, je ne sais quoi?) pervades the social comment—which is a comparatively mild dig at capitalism—and prevents the exhibition from being drearily arcane.
“Rainbows to No Place: Société Réaliste and the Ayn Rand Apocalypse” by David Markus October 12, 2013
Installation view, “A rough guide to Hell” by Société Réaliste at P! (photo by Naho Kubota)
There is no way out of entanglement. The only responsible course is to deny oneself the ideological misuse of one’s own existence, and for the rest to conduct oneself in private as modestly, unobtrusively and unpretentiously as is required, no longer by good upbringing, but by the shame of still having air to breathe, in hell.
—T.W. Adorno, Minima Moralia: Reflections from Damaged Life
The 1949 King Vidor film adaptation of Ayn Rand’s The Fountainhead centers on a headstrong New York architect named Howard Roark, who, at grave risk to his architectural practice, spends his days proffering sleek modernist designs to a society mired in its taste for tawdry neoclassicism. When, early on in the film, Roark encounters his impoverished, disillusioned and half-mad former mentor, he is warned about the costs of impudence: “May god bless you Howard, you’re on your way into hell.”
Roark never descends to the depths of perdition experienced by his mentor. Buoyed by his faith in the platitudes of Randian individualism, he lifts himself out of the pits of financial ruin and into the rarefied air of architectural greatness. There is nevertheless more wisdom to the old man’s words than either can appreciate. The Fountainhead, whose script Rand penned on the condition that not a word would be altered, is a turgid love song to the sociopathic limits of modernism’s mythos. Rand’s New York is one in which in which domestic terrorism is the legal and heroic recourse against public housing projects that diverge from their original design (Roark ends up dynamiting his own building), and where the world’s tallest skyscraper serves no purpose other than to posthumously restore its bankroller’s manhood with the salve of architectural genius. The metropolis Howard Roark helps re-imagine is not a place to be collectively inhabited but a monument to phallic petulance and Promethean conquest. It is a vision altogether infernal in its own right. If only it were confined to the Randian universe.
When the headline of a New York Times article on what is slated to be the tallest residential building in the country reads, “Another Tower for the New York Skyline,” it reflects an essential truth about the city: like other “high-end products” New York has increasingly become something that is more to be admired at a remove than enjoyed in person. Thanks to an unprecedented collusion between starchitects, megalomaniacal developers and the state legislature, which has extended tax subsidies to those least in need of them, the world’s most famous skyline has received a multibillion-dollar makeover during the past few years. New York’s homeless population has just reached levels not seen since the Great Depression; meanwhile, a wave of non-resident investment purchasers has made the daily occupancy rates at some of the city’s most eye-catching and luxurious buildings resemble those of beach resorts in hurricane season.
In this context, it is a testament to the Franco-Hungarian art cooperative Société Réaliste’s commitment to realism that it chooses to title its first New York exhibition, held at P! on the Lower East Side, A rough guide to Hell. The centerpiece of this multidimensional installation (curated by Niels Van Tomme and P! director Prem Krishnamurthy) is a timely meditation on the triumph of what, following Walter Benjamin in “The Work of Art in the Age of Mechanical Reproduction,” we might classify as “optical” architecture: in this case an architecture that not only obtrudes upon the “tactile” experience of ordinary habitual use, but one that has been literally disinhabited. Société Réaliste’s single-channel video work “The Fountainhead” (2010) offers a silent version of Vidor’s 1949 film in which every human being has been digitally removed from the picture. The protagonists of the 111-minute-long work are a series of office desks, modern couches, swooping staircases, and, of course, penthouse views of New York’s beloved skyline.
Société Réaliste, “The Fountainhead (2010), film still
This is by no means a loss to the film, which pairs Rand’s stultifyingly didactic melodrama with low points in the careers of Gary Cooper and Patricia Neal. A soulless but cinematographically adept piece of cinema, Vidor’s film was already an ironic affirmation of André Bazin’s assertion, in “Theater and Cinema: Part Two,” that the actor, in cinema, is aesthetically secondary to “decor and editing.” Société Réaliste has merely elevated to an absolute the modernist to highlight the traits specific to a given medium.
In so doing it has allowed the work’s underlying ideology to achieve its crypto-nihilistic endpoint. Of the man who once belonged to this vanished civilization, the urban dwellings of which lie before us like a photo-spread in Architectural Digest, we may say, as Roark does in his climactic ode to the mythical creative type: “His work was his only goal. His work, not those who used it; his creation, not the benefits others derived from it.” Ultimately, “he served nothing and no-one.” We might add that the colossal city he strove to establish was effectively “no place,” ou topos: the only utopia at the end of the Randian rainbow. Indeed, deprived of people, the urban landscape depicted in The Fountainheadbegins to resemble a set on a Hollywood soundstage, which, as it turns out, it is.
Of course the fact that this ideal metropolis is nothing more than a fairytale — and a nightmarish one at that — has not dissuaded the “unbridled individual” from vying for its real estate. In a work titled “Laissez-faire City” (2013), Société Réaliste replicates an advertisement that ran in an issue of The Economist in 1995, a year of particularly magical thinking, given that it was also the year the World Wide Web went mainstream. The self-described “impressive group of free market individuals” behind the ad proposes the founding of a new metropolis set on 100 square miles of land in Costa Rica. Self-governed, the city would be “based on the ideals and principles of Ayn Rand,” whose Atlas Shrugged— the apparent inspiration for their plan — is cited as a work of “prophetic genius.”
The selling price Société Réaliste has attached to this work is just over sixty-two thousand dollars: the present-day cost of republishing the ad in The Economist. As a work of historical irony, its impact hangs suspended between the willful forgetfulness that threatens to swallow the economic crash of 2008 and a more widespread recognition that, for most American urbanites, the laissez faire city is one — or rather two — in which we have already been living for too long. Staring at this advertisement, which features an Art Deco rendering of Rand alongside a miniature city skyline, it is difficult not to indulge in one’s own utopian fantasy: that someone buys the ad, republishes it, and the “impressive” individuals likely to be attracted by such a proposal fly south in droves.
On the awning outside P!’s Broome Street storefront, Société Réaliste has erected a permanent installation. In black letters against a red background we read: “lasciate ogne stranezza voi ch’intrate [abandon all strangeness ye who enter here].” The work borrows from words famously engraved outside the gates of hell in Dante’s Inferno (in Dante, the line reads “abandon all hope…”). In the catalogue for its 2012 exhibition “empire, state, building,” co-produced by Paris’s Jeu de Paume and Budapest’s Ludwig Múzeum, Société Réaliste associates this phrase with the false concern it detects in systems of governance that profess a cosmopolitanism belied by restrictive and assimilative immigration policies. As former residents of Hungary, a nation once cut off from the West, the members of Société Réaliste have the European Union in mind as their most immediate model. Against the backdrop of New York City, however, the appropriation of Dante’s phrase more readily appears as a mocking jab at the hospitality extended — with no acknowledgement of its conditionality — to “the homeless, the tempest tossed” on the pedestal of the Statue of Liberty.
Exterior of P! with awning in media police typeface by Société Réaliste (photo by Naho Kubota)
The injunction to abandon strangeness might also provoke reflection on the work’s specific urban context. Since the New Museum took up residency on a stretch of the Bowery formerly known as Skid Row, the area has undergone rapid gentrification under the ever-ambiguous guise of urban renewal. While cultural institutions sometimes provide space for reflection on socio-economic issues, they also contribute to rising rent prices and the displacement that results therefrom. The crop of new galleries that has sprung up in the area, P! among them, is undoubtedly implicated in this process; and while it is a gesture of good faith — indeed, of hospitality — to the surrounding neighborhood that P! lists its business information in Chinese on its storefront window, it also makes one cognizant of the transformation undergone by this section of Chinatown into, for better or worse, a relic of its former self.
The typeface that appears on P!’s awning was created by Société Réaliste and is presented as a work unto itself. It is downloadable from P!’s website during the show’s run and also appears on wall labels throughout the exhibition. Created by splicing together the logotypes of world newspapers, it comprises a contradictory patchwork of modern and gothic scripts. It may be going too far, however, to call it “strange.” Though it serves as a composite of widely varying cultures and political persuasions, it also evokes the homogenization that is, after all, intrinsic to most typography. Its range of letters is restricted to those of the Roman alphabet, and its individual pieces, diverse as they seem, congeal into a legible assemblage. The font’s title, “media police,” enforces the impression that this work continues Société Réaliste’s critique of the restrictiveness inherent to many of the most exalted partners of “freedom”: the free press, economic liberalism and its globalization, and the City of New York, whose mantel of diversity is maintained under the watch of a vast police force notorious for targeting minorities.
The neutralization of political-cultural discord recurs as a theme in “Circle of Errors” (2013). This work, which covers a large swath of the exhibition’s wall space, comprises a series of fake computer error messages — e.g. “Precise Mutation,” “Restricted Hospitality,” “Imagination is Fatal” — printed in white “media police” against a background of varying shades of gray. Collectively, these sometimes humorous, sometimes menacing phrases evoke the auto-censorship and velvet handcuffs that bind us to systems of control and thwart our impulses to break from prevailing discourses.
As a guide to the corridors of a living hell, Société Réaliste’s exhibition is rough to say the least. Like an ant on a Möbius strip, one finds oneself cycling between alternating faces of torment: sociopathic Randian utopianism and the restricted heterogeneity of liberal political enclosures. No exit is provided, except through the gallery’s door.
The members of Société Réaliste are Cynics sensu stricto. In their writings they make repeated mention of the philosophical vagabond Diogenes of Sinope, one of the founders of the cynical tradition, who would seem to typify their rejection of any but the most radical forms of cosmopolitanism. Famously, when asked by Alexander the Great if there was any favor the conquering hero could do for him, the philosopher responded, “Stand out of my light.” Somewhere on the Bowery, amid the few halfway houses that still remain, the shadow of a modern edifice grows long.
“We Went to the Lower East Side: P!, 404: Disordering Complexity” by Paddy Johnson, Whitney Kimball and Corinna Kirsch October 11, 2013
What’s on view: A new, Frankensteinian typeface called “media police,” which combines the fonts of various newspaper logos; scenes from the Fountainhead film, with human figures removed; and a copy of a 1990s advertisement for “Laissez Faire City,” a new city proposed on the ideals of Ayn Rand and unbounded capitalism.
Whitney: Like Malinowska’s A Hawk from a Handsaw, A Rough Guide to Hell looks at the consequences of unchecked capitalism, through abstracted paragons like newspaper fonts (evoking tridents and devil tails) and The Fountainhead (through shots of sterile, masculine film sets). It’s recent utopia, made to look hellish.
The brutality of Ayn Rand’s philosophy doesn’t fail here because it’s pure evil, but because it’s so purist that it’s dangerous to take as a blanket prescription for everybody. When I read The Fountainhead as an undergrad, I didn’t understand it as a capitalist manifesto—I read Howard Roark as an ideologue for artists and freethinkers. Here—in a 1995 advertisement calling for a “Laissez Faire” city in Costa Rica—it’s practically fascism.
Laissez Faire poster and write up.
Paddy: I don’t get that from the advertisement, though I agree that Société Réaliste is depicting a rather bleak picture of what Ayn Rand’s utopia might actually look like. Fascism is defined by devotion to a single leader, an emphasis on the military, and a love for the state. This ad isn’t advocating for that (though admittedly the rendering does remind me of Metropolis).
It’s worth mentioning that the purchase price for this work $62,124.75, the cost of a full page ad in The Economist, where it was originally run, plus the cost of actually placing it, which the group wants to do. So, in sum, $124,249.50. I like the pricing, but I’m a little disappointed that it would run without modification. Does nobody want to find out what the response to an ad like this might be?
Whitney: Do you mean it should be modified because it looks so out-of-date that it wouldn’t pass for a real call?
Paddy: Yeah, like, none of the contact information listed in the ad would be up to date, so how could anyone who wanted to start an Ayn Rand Island do so? This may sound like nitpicking, but keep in mind, the Occupy Movement was formed in response to a fake ad by Ad Busters. Ideas are powerful but they have to be actionable.
Whitney: I thought so … seems like a missed opportunity, now that I think about it ….
Overall, I thought the show was a little too formulaic, and the beauty of the font isn’t fully explored. They’ve used it to spell big paragraphs of “poetic text of common computer error messages” like “Disordering complexity/complete forgery/forget tautology” on grey and black backgrounds. For me, they might as well have written “The quick brown fox jumps over the lazy dog.” The same goes for the Fountainhead shots—it’s a logical move in the show, but didn’t really hit the emotional point it could have.
The computer error messages
Paddy: Does anyone understand why they’re using common computer error messages?
Corinna: I spoke with the guy manning the gallery about it because I didn’t get how a phrase like “disordering complexity” was supposed to related to a “common computer error message.” There is no such thing as a pop-up that reads “404: Disordering Complexity” or “Warning! Complete Forgery.” He told me, what they hit on was the rhythm of computer messages—which would’ve been conveyed better with some numbers, or some sort of visual cue like a pop-up window—with new text. So, yeah, the artists aren’t using computer error messages; they’re coming up with new ones that you’ve never seen before.
I mostly buy it.
Paddy: I still don’t get it. For the most part, it’s impossible to figure out that these are error messages at all without reading the press release. Also, what does this have to do with show concept, which is about creating a capitalist utopia? Who sees a nonsensical computer error message as utopic?
Corinna: Maybe the utopia bit is being overplayed in the press release. All societies, even utopian ones, deal with power, and who’s in power to say “no.” You have to say “no” to something; the regulated market is what a Randian society would refuse, I suppose. I see error messages as being one of Society’s No’s—they tell you when to stop, or when there’s no way in Hell you’re gonna access a page because you’ve physically reached an endpoint on the Internet. All that said, that might just be my interpretation, and it might be a little loose. The artists’ presentation is not straightforward—I wouldn’t have gotten much out of the text if it weren’t for talking to the guy at the gallery, or reading up in the press release. The artists have some work to do to make their points clearer.
Now from a design standpoint, I couldn’t stand the fonts. They look like some combination of steampunk and stackable cups. But I did think the fonts were smart, and set up a clear set of rules: here is what we know about capitalism, and we’re either going to erase it (the Ayn Rand video), cut it up (the fonts), or market it (the ad for Laissez Faire City). Anyway, it was a good show, but maybe it’s just good because I thought the critique was pretty straightforward—okay, maybe after reading the text and talking to the dealer in the gallery—and because I like European-style conceptualism (whatever that means).
Paddy: Those fonts are smarter than me. They’re assembled from different newspaper logotypes and include geographic locators in their names. I get that this is supposed to establish a kind of placelessness, but lacking a background in graphic design I have to be told that’s what they’re doing to understand the gesture.
That characteristic contributes to a larger issue that we’ve all identified; it’s a clever show that doesn’t communicate enough of its ideas through visual assets.
Black lettering on P!’s deep red awning reads: “Lasciate ogne stranezza voi ch’intrate”(Abandon all strangeness, you who enter here), a loose adaptation of the infamous inscription over the Gate of Hell in Dante’s Inferno. Hell is the ultimate dystopia, which makes the Inferno an apt reference to begin “A rough guide to Hell,” a show that is largely about how early 20th century fantasies of utopia gave way to a dystopic present. The artists—Ferenc Gróf and Jean-Baptiste Naudy of the Paris-based cooperative Société Réaliste—manipulate familiar spaces, both real and virtual, in order to highlight connections between architecture, communication, power, and politics.
Société Réaliste, “Media Police,” 2013. Archival inkjet typographical chart mounted on dibond. Photo by Naho Kubota.
The main room of “A rough guide to hell” is devoted to “media police” (2013), the most recent in a series of fonts developed by the artists. A large print with the alphabet, numbers, and common symbols rendered in the font also lists its origins, which are existing typefaces used by newspapers around the world. The range, drawn from publications based in the United States, France, Burkina Faso, Turkey, and Nigeria, among many others, make “media police” a global media Esperanto. The letters’ intense fragmentation frustrates any attempt to identify the original fonts, resulting in a global language system that subsumes its regional sources to render them part of a unified whole. However, the whole isn’t necessarily more than the sum of its parts: it’s clunky and difficult to read, as though generated by a computer malfunction. Appropriately, the nearby floor-to-ceiling installation “Circles of Errors”(2013) is a series of phrases, printed in media police font, that evoke technology and its capacity to break down in intentionally elliptical language: “prohibited coordinates….words untagged…concise mutation.” While the installation is not as unsettling as the gallery press release states (the font reminds me too much of Microsoft wing-dings), “Circle of Errors” points toward cracks in a system that’s not supposed to fail, while “media police” enacts a pointed critique of globalization. The immersive arrangement (the text not only covers the walls but it’s used on the awning and all signage) links the font it to the architecture, reminding us that virtual spaces are just as intentionally constructed as brick-and-mortar architecture.
The highpoint of “A rough guide to Hell” is “The Fountainhead” (2010), an appropriation of the 1949 film directed by King Vidor that adapted Ayn Rand’s novel (Rand also co-wrote the movie screenplay). Set in a modern metropolis, the original film told the story of a ruggedly individualistic architect who refused to compromise his artistic ideals in the face of public demand. In Société Réaliste’s version, the artists digitally removed all human figures from the film, which is then played without sound. The manipulated black-and-white version is reminiscent of early photography, when extended exposures resulted in images of empty-looking cities, as architecture was the only thing that would stay still for the camera. While the film’s spaces are predictably eerie in their forced emptiness, watching Société Réaliste’s“Fountainhead” gives the viewer the sense that the missing characters would have only distracted from the story’s real protagonist, which is the built environment: the seamless integration of interior design, architectural sketches, and the expansive panned shots of the cityscape are surprisingly seductive. This literal de-humanization transforms the film into a silent paean to an architecture of capitalism, obliquely suggesting that this architecture was never meant for people anyway. Perfectly autonomous, it facilitates the circulation of capital and information. As Société Réaliste’s intervention suggests, the human element is extraneous. And yet we’re here: the architecture lauded in “The Fountainhead” still dominates our cityscapes. If we’re to take Société Réaliste’s invocation of Dante at its word, we’re living in Rand’s dream world, now a modern-day nightmare.
P! presents the first solo exhibition in New York City by Paris-based French-Hungarian cooperative Société Réaliste. “A rough guide to Hell” spans several of Société Réaliste’s recent works revolving around figures and forms of capitalist utopianism. Pitting two discrete discursive investigations against each other — the typographic language of global-local media communications and the architecture of anarcho-capitalist modernism — the exhibition resolves into a singularly strange and unsettling total installation.
“A rough guide to Hell” premieres a new typeface. Combining the logotypes of international newspapers that include geographic locators in their names, media police (2013) is a Frankensteinian font that belies its diverse origins through a fractured assemblage. All communications about the show use the typeface; this includes the storefront awning signage, which hijacks a quotation from Dante’s Inferno. A new room-sized piece, Circles of Errors (2013), introduces a recursive poetic text of common computer error messages. The media police font will be available for free download for the duration of the exhibition.
The second axis of the show revolves around Ayn Rand and her provocative political and spatial philosophies. The Fountainhead (2010) is a 111-minute long appropriation of the 1949 feature film written by Rand. While the original film lionized New York as the stronghold of the brave, free world, Société Réaliste have digitally removed all human characters to present an empty narrative. Transforming the film’s heroic buildings into its sole protagonists, this intervention turns Rand’s original view into a nightmarish vision of capitalism’s architecture.
The final work in the exhibition, Laissez-Faire City (2013), is a new proposal based on a 1995 advertisement published in The Economist. The original full-page ad promoted investment in a speculative city in Costa Rica, based on Ayn Rand’s principles of self-rule and the rugged free-market. Laissez-Faire City will be on sale in the exhibition for the price of $62,124.75 (£40,050). This cost covers re-publishing the ad in today’s edition of The Economist — a quixotic memorial to capitalism’s idealistic moment.
With the support of the Cultural Services of the French Embassy in the United States and The Balassi Institute Hungarian Cultural Center New York. Thanks to apexart.
Société Réaliste Société Réaliste is a Paris-based cooperative created by Ferenc Gróf and Jean-Baptiste Naudy in 2004. Developing exhibitions, publications and conferences, Société Réaliste works with political design, experimental economy, territorial ergonomy, and social engineering consulting. From 2011–2012, its large monographic exhibition project, “Empire, State, Building,” was presented at Jeu de Paume (Paris), Ludwig Museum (Budapest), and the National Museum of Contemporary Art (Bucharest). This year, Société Réaliste has presented its work as solo exhibitions in Paris (“Thelema of Nations,” Galerie Jérôme Poggi) and Athens (“The Shape of Orders to Come,” Salon de Vortex), as well as in group exhibitions in Dresden, Brussels, Rome, Thessaloniki, Budapest, Paris, and Aachen.
P! P! is a multidisciplinary exhibition space located in New York’s Chinatown. Directed and curated by Prem Krishnamurthy, P! proposes an experimental space of display in which the radical possibilities of disparate disciplines, historical periods, and modes of production rub elbows. A free-wheeling combination of project space, commercial gallery, and Mom-and-Pop-Kunsthalle, P! engages with presentation strategies and models to emphasize rupture over tranquility, interference over mere coexistence, transparency over obfuscation, and passion over cool remove.
Since opening in September 2012, the space and its exhibitions with Åbäke, Thomas Brinkmann, Katarina Burin, Christine Hill, Oliver Laric, Karel Martens, Sarah Oppenheimer, Amie Siegel, and others have been covered by Artforum, Frieze, Art in America, Modern Painters, Design Observer, The New York Times, and The New Yorker.
Niels Van Tomme Niels Van Tomme is a New York-based curator and critic whose exhibition projects are shown internationally. He currently works at the Center for Art, Design and Visual Culture in Baltimore where his project Visibility Machines: Harun Farocki and Trevor Paglen will open later this fall.
Join us at P! for the closing reception of the Permutation 03.x exhibition cycle and the launch of the Permutation 03.x Catalogue. From February through July 2013, the exhibition space P! conducted an extended inquiry into the nature and means of copying. Offering counterpoints from disparate cultural positions, P! explored the copy through a six month cycle of events and exhibitions. The exhibition catalogue continues this inquiry on the printed page and features bootlegged contributions and original work by Åbäke, Walter Benjamin, Katarina Burin, Michel Houllebecq, Margaret Lee, Orhan Pamuk, Marjorie Perloff, Richard Prince, Peter Rostovsky, Amie Siegel, William Smith, and others
Featuring bootlegged contributions and original work by Åbäke, Walter Benjamin, Katarina Burin, Michel Houllebecq, Margaret Lee, Orhan Pamuk, Marjorie Perloff, Richard Prince, Peter Rostovsky, Amie Siegel, William Smith, and others
Thomas Brinkmann in conversation with Manuel Cirauqui
June 22, 2012 6:00pm Goethe-Institut Wyoming Building, 5 East 3rd St, NYC 10003
Techno-conceptualist Thomas Brinkmann and writer-curator Manuel Cirauqui conduct a conversation considering sampling as reanimation. Reanimation, the uncanny action of bringing back to life a dead body, pervades the early history of sound recording, evoking pre-Darwinian phantasms of scientific knowledge and method. Presented by ISSUE Project Room and Goethe-Institut New York. Complete event information
As part of the exhibition Permutation 03.4: Re-Mix, Thomas Brinkmann presents a solo performance with turntables at ISSUE Project Room. Also featuring performances by Joseph Hammer and Jar Moff. Presented in collaboration with ISSUE Project Room at the Goethe Society.
The final exhibition of P!’s six-month cycle on copying revives recent histories through spatial fiction and wild expropriation. Like musicians who simultaneously “cover” and claim a favorite song as their own, the works in Permutation 03.4 rewrite the linearity of succession and influence.
Techno-conceptualist Thomas Brinkmann reengineers the very instrument on which records are performed. Presented at Documenta X in 1997, his double-armed turntable stretches, syncopates, and contorts the playback of any track — effortlessly yielding albums that remix and elude their original source. In contrast, Semir Alschausky exhibits a 7 ½ foot wide “copy” of Paolo Veronese’s 1563 painting, The Wedding at Cana. Painstakingly rendered in a circular line pattern, Alschausky’s drawing challenges the amnesiac rhythms of cultural reference through its pen-on-paper hatchmarks and obsessive retracings. The impulse to resurrect and reimagine the past is also ingrained in Katarina Burin, who displays materials related to the archival publications of a little-known Czech architect, Petra Andrejova-Molnár. Within the historicized narrative of Modernist architecture, these unlikely treasures question the curated canon as a “collective” memory.
Cristina Goberna and Urtzi Grau of Fake Industries Architectural Agonism examine myths of autonomy through their reactivated structures. In “Night Curtain by Rey Akdogan Edited,” an original installation at P!, they “elaborate the dispersed kind of Situationist Post Minimalism” that is apparent in their recent architectural projects. Their “interest in the specificities of light […] result[s] in the gallery shifting its hours” to the evenings, and also means that a system of periodically dimmed lighting units creates “an almost cinematic dance of shadows on the walls.” The final piece in the exhibition is a reprise of Oliver Laric’s video essay Versions, which first appeared at P! in March 2013 and is currently on view in the exhibition A Diferent Kind of Order: The ICP Triennial. Using Laric’s work as a basis, The Julliard School’s Center for Innovation in the Arts has created a multimedia performance version of the video that — overwriting its non-definitive predecessor — is presented at P! as a new work. Undermining inscribed architectures and black-and-white narratives, Permutation 03.4 proposes the copy as a mere historical fragment: a critical moment of repetition and repression.
With generous support from Goethe-Institut New York Special thanks to Dirk Daehmlow
— Related Event and Special Schedule
Saturday, June 22, 6:00pm Thomas Brinkmann in conversation with Manuel Cirauqui Goethe-Institut Wyoming Building, 5 East 3rd St, NYC 10003 Techno-conceptualist Thomas Brinkmann and writer-curator Manuel Cirauqui conduct a conversation considering sampling as reanimation. Reanimation, the uncanny action of bringing back to life a dead body, pervades the early history of sound recording, evoking pre-Darwinian phantasms of scientific knowledge and method. Presented by ISSUE Project Room and Goethe-Institut New York. Complete event information
Special Opening Hours For the duration of Permutation 03.4, the opening hours of P! shift according to a schedule by Fake Industries Architectural Agonsim. Please see daily schedule, or contact email@example.com to make a special appointment.
Sunday, June 23, 2013 7.02 – 10.00pm Tuesday, June 25, 2013 6:59 – 10:00pm Wednesday, June 26, 2013 6:57 – 10:00pm Thursday, June 27, 2013 6:55 – 10:00pm Friday, June 28, 2013 6:54 – 10:00pm Tuesday, July 2, 2013 6:51 – 10:00pm Wednesday, July 3, 2013 6:47 – 10:00pm Thursday, July 4, 2013 CLOSED Friday, July 5, 2013 CLOSED Tuesday, July 9, 2013 6:37 – 10:00pm Wednesday, July 10, 2013 6:35 – 10:00pm Thursday, July 11, 2013 6:34 – 10:00pm Friday, July 12, 2013 6:32 – 10:00pm Tuesday, July 16, 2013 6:25 – 10:00pm Wednesday, July 17, 2013 6:24 – 10:00pm Thursday, July 18, 2013 6:22 – 10:00pm Friday, July 19, 2013 6:21 – 10:00pm Tuesday, July 23, 2013 6:15 – 10:00pm Wednesday, July 24, 2013 6:13 – 10:00pm Thursday, July 25, 2013 6:12 – 10:00pm Friday, July 26, 2013 6:10 – 10:00pm
Semir Alschausky lives and works in Berlin. He has exhibited at NGBK, Galerie Parterre, and Galerie NEU in Berlin, and has received past DAAD grants to work in New York. Alschausky is a 2012 recipient of the “Arbeitsstipendium Bildende Kunst des Landes Berlin.”
Thomas Brinkmann is an acclaimed conceptual musician and artist based in Cologne, Germany. He began sampling and experimenting with carved-groove records in the 1980s and studied at the Düsseldorf Art Academy. Using a custom-engineered, two-arm turntable, Brinkmann constructed full-length “variations” of techno albums by Mike Ink and Richie Hawtin, which were presented at Documenta X, Kassel, in 1997. He is also known for Klick — a series of percussive dance music performances, begun in 2000, in which he cuts and scratches the surfaces of vinyl LPs. Brinkmann has exhibited and performed at venues including PS1; Galerie Nourbakhsch; Open Space, Art Cologne; and Kunstraum Düsseldorf.
Katarina Burin’s work is influenced by the documentation and circulation of historical architecture and design. Pieces from her “PA” project have been presented in solo exhibitions at Ratio 3 Gallery in San Francisco and Galerie M29 in Cologne. Previous group and solo exhibitions include Andreas Grimm Galerie, New York / Munich; Country Club, Cincinnati; Form/Content, London; White Columns; and Participant Inc. She recently received the Institute of Contemporary Art Boston’s 2013 James and Audrey Foster Prize.
Fake Industries Architectural Agonism is an architectural office of diffuse boundaries and questionable taste that explores the power of replicas in the double sense denoted in romance languages—both as literal copies of existing works and as agonistic responses to previous statements—for the advancement of the field. Cristina Goberna and Urtzi Grau, its orchestrators, are currently part of the faculty at GSAPP Columbia University, Cooper Union, and Princeton University School of Architecture.
Oliver Laric lives and works in Berlin. Recent solo and group exhibitions include: A Different Kind of Order: The ICP Triennial (2013); Detours of the Imaginary, Palais de Tokyo, Paris (2012); The Imaginary Museum, Kunstverein München (2012); Lilliput, High Line, New York (2012); and Frieze New York (2012). Laric is a co-founder of the vvork platform (www.vvork.com).
ArtReview and The New Yorker on “Permutation 03.3: Re-Production”
ArtReview, Issue 69, Summer 2013
“As a whole, the show could be taken as an attempt to update the conversation on art and simulation. Ou’s black-and-white photographs, Double Light Leak 1 and Double Light Leak 2 (both 2010), take mechanical applications of paint – from a spray can and airbrush – as analogons of photography’s own shadow castings. Handelman, easily one of the best and smartest painters working today, offers Extrusion/Drift (2013), a large work that could be mistaken for a slab of marble, were it not for a reveal at the work’s left edge, which shows both the unpainted primed canvas and the layer of retroflective screen glass that gives the work its opalescence.
The connotations of luxury and illusion here are rich indeed, and this is where Rostovsky comes in. He wants to toss a brick through the art market’s cathedral windows – that is, through the semitransparent glazing of market orthodoxy that casts all art in the light of original and copies, fetishises the unique and throws vast sums of money at securing scarcity as an elite privilege. Rostovsky’s work to this point has taken the craft of painting as a given, while the images it presents, and the cultures that encodes them, have been his subject of inquiry. In the wake of the Occupy movements, however, he seems to have arrived at a conclusion that those images can no longer be separated from what paintings actually are: products, with a limited audience – not the 99%.”
The third exhibition of P!’s six-month cycle on copying rethinks the double exposure as democratic gesture: what it means for an image to be replicated instantaneously, ad infinitum, or uniquely limited. In Peter Rostovsky’s recent digital paintings, a speculative model of unlimited distribution and accessibility for all refigures the traditional labor of underdrawing and painterly technique. Marc Handelman’s trompe-l’oeil surfaces — included here both on canvas and as a site-specific installation on glass — incorporate reflective painting grounds that recast the viewing experience as fickle and dependent on context. In Arthur Ou’s analog photographs, multiple exposures and doubled mark-making disturb the flattened, singular image. Subverting expectations of form and genre, Permutation 03.3 stages an at-odds, dialogic engagement with classical and contemporary strategies of production and distribution.
Peter Rostovsky (b. 1970, St. Petersburg, Russia) works in a variety of disciplines that include painting, sculpture and installation. His work has been exhibited at The Walker Art Center, MCA San Diego, The New Orleans Museum of Art, PS1/MoMA, Artpace, The Santa Monica Museum of Art, the ICA Philadelphia, the Blanton Museum of Art, SMAK Museum in Ghent and galleries including Sara Meltzer, Elizabeth Dee, The Project, Danese, Salon94, and Gio Marconi. He teaches painting at New York University.
Marc Handelman (b. 1975, Santa Clara, CA) has exhibited at PS1/MoMA, The Studio Museum in Harlem, The Dayton Art Institute, The Orlando Museum of Art, The Rubin Museum, The Royal Academy of Art in London, and The American Academy of Arts and Letters. He has had recent solo exhibitions at Sikkema Jenkins & Co., New York, and RECEPTION, Berlin, Germany. He is currently a faculty member at Mason Gross School of Arts, Rutgers, and a graduate critic at the School of the Arts at Columbia University.
Arthur Ou (b. 1974, Taipei, Taiwan) is an artist and writer based in New York City. He has exhibited internationally, most recently in Photography Is Magic!, curated by Charlotte Cotton, as part of the 2012 Daegu Photography Biennial in Daegu, Korea, and has been featured in publications including Aperture, Blind Spot, Art in America, and The Photograph As Contemporary Art (2nd edition). He has published critical texts in Aperture, Afterall.org, Artforum.com, Bidoun, Fantom, Foam, Words without Pictures, and X-Tra. He is the Director of BFA Photography and Assistant Professor in the School of Art, Media, and Technology at Parsons The New School for Design. Ou’s work is concurrently on view in a solo show at Brennan & Griffin, 55 Delancey St, New York.
Permutation 03.2: Re-Place, March 8–April 21, 2013
March 8–April 21, 2013
The second exhibition of P!’s six-month cycle on copying focuses on replicas, remakes, and recurrences. Margaret Lee’s uncanny storefront display juxtaposes graphic backdrop painting with simulated fruit, while Oliver Laric premieres a new Mandarin version of his distributed video essay, Versions (2009–onward). London-based collective Åbäke captures silicon molds for a Danish/Chinese Pietà in “hacked intaglio,” and Amie Siegel’s Berlin Remake (2005) approaches East German filmic precedents as contemporary scores for reprise and re-performance. The presentation of these disparate works at P! establishes frameworks for considering authenticity and origination across a variety of cultural contexts.
Åbäke (founded 2000, London) is a transdisciplinary collective of four graphic designers. In addition to working with musicians, artists, fashion labels, and institutions, they have initiated and been involved in multiple collaborative formats including Sexymachinery (an architectural production), Kitsuné (a record label), Dent de Leone (a publishing house) and Drawing Room Confessions (an art journal).
Oliver Laric (b. 1981, Innsbruck, Austria) lives and works in Berlin. Recent solo and group exhibitions include: Detours of the Imaginary, Palais de Tokyo, Paris (2012); The Imaginary Museum, Kunstverein München (2012); Lilliput, High Line, New York (2012); and Frieze New York (2012). Laric is a co-founder of the vvork platform (www.vvork.com).
Margaret Lee (b. 1980, New York) has exhibited works and organized exhibitions at MoMA/PS1, White Columns, X-Initiative, Performa, Jack Hanley Gallery, and The Green Gallery, Milwaukee. She founded the artist run space 179 Canal in 2009 and is currently a partner in the gallery 47 Canal. Lee was recently selected by Beatrix Ruf and Peter Eleey as the recipient of the 2012 Artadia NADA prize.
Amie Siegel (b. 1974, Chicago, IL) re-orientates the fictions within documentary practices. Her work has been exhibited at institutions including MoMA/PS1, Walker Art Center, Hayward Gallery, Whitney Museum of American Art, and KW Institute for Contemporary Art. She has been a fellow of the DAAD Berliner-Künstlerprogramm, the Guggenheim Foundation, and a recipient of the ICA Boston’s Foster Prize.
Reading Group: Herb Tam & Xin Wang on Copying in China
February 23, 2013, 3–5pm
As part of the exhibition Permutation 03.1: Re-Learning, Herb Tam (Curator and Director of Exhibitions, Museum of Chinese in America) and Xin Wang (Research assistant, Metropolitan Museum of Art) lead a discussion on a range of texts examining copying in historical and contemporary Chinese culture.
As part of the exhibition Permutation 03.1: Re-Learning, editorial consultancy Superscript (Molly Heintz, Aileen Kwun, Avinash Rajagopal, Vera Sacchetti) leads a discussion on Orhan Pamuk’s The Black Book.
So, I didn’t go to Documenta 13, the major European exhibition that happens every five years in Kassel, Germany. I edited some of the notebooks, a series of short texts that fed into the show’s mammoth catalogue. I knew a few of the participants. But for reasons that shouldn’t be too surprising, especially to the other freelancer types out there, I didn’t go. Which means I’m hungry for any and all objects that come out of Documenta. But this one in particular satisfied: it is a guide to a section of the exhibition deemed its “brain.” The “brain” was the place where the artistic director, Carolyn Christov-Bakargiev, put various objects and artworks that informed her thinking about the show. Themes include classicism, German nationalism, and the photographer and journalist Lee Miller, who took brazen photos of herself and her boyfriend in Hitler’s bathtub. Please don’t ask me how this all relates or what Documenta was ultimately about. Just focus on this incredible origami construction, currently on view at P! in a brilliant show about copies, facsimiles, reproductions, etc.
Barry really made two guides. The first one featured reproductions of art works, including Miller’s photographs. Then the Lee Miller estate protested the use of her images, so Barry remade it by making her own versions of ALL of the images, not just those by Miller, often using watercolors. This was the guide available to the public. It unfolds into a poster, then refolds into an asymmetrical polyhedron. It is designed in such a way that there are phrases that are only legible when the guide is in its polyhedron form. This is all incredibly cool, and probably says more about the object, and ultimately the show, than phrases such as this: “Contained yet expansive, exhibition materials are presented in a non-hierarchical, non-linear array, as if to situate its contents in an endless space suspended in time.” Huh? I know, sorry, that makes no sense. But trust me, this guidebook/origami really does fuck with the space/time continuum and messes with your head in the best possible way. It’s almost as good as actually being there.
Here’s a twenty-minute long video that demonstrates how to put the origami together.