The public exhibition of Speakers’ Corners began in March 1st, Thursday evening. On that night, a conversation between Mary Mattingly and Geoff Manuagh was presented by Mark Shepard as part of Urban Research Group. They focused on the topic of mobility, Mary’s recent works with the Waterpod and Flock House, and Geoff’s research on the BLDGBLOG and a planned research trip to Mumbai. It was an interesting conversation and an audience of roughly 35 people were fully engaged and delivered thought provoking questions. Mary and I worked late in to the Friday night, as she was building the Flock House Pod and I was reinstalling and reorganizing the Speaker’s corners. I was unhappy with the way the installation was functioning. With museum pedestal and curtains, it felt like a unfinished construction site that visitors are alarmed to step into. The idea of opening up a space, inside of gallery or out in the public, is integral to this project. So I cleaned the exhibition and reworked few objects.
Speakers’ corners exhibit is giving me a chance to think about the idea and practice of an ‘open lab: studio as an exhibition’ and presentation of work in progress. It is mostly a practical needs that I need a studio/office space to produce work and utilizing an exhibition space is a short term solution which I will continue to undertake this spring. On the more conceptual realm, I believe the process of creating a work is as interesting as the completed project, and I have been unsatisfied with presenting my projects through a static exhibitions in the past. It is also great to meet with strangers and become friends, using the space and the art to work as a social mechanism. The downside of all that is the inherently shortcoming of visual experience and that I can’t really concentrate on the work until the exhibition is close to the public. Also the stress of being presentable, and cleaning constantly is a bothersome burden, because otherwise the exhibit looks like a studio; bunch of raw vegetables before being made into a stew. However, today’s experience proved there are more benefits than the loss.
The exhibition had surprisingly pleasant visits from artists. An Internet artist Glitchr came by, also Alexander Kosolapov and OWS Archive members. Glitchr explained his work as ‘something like OWS but on the internet’. Soon after finding out Alexander’s a Russian artist, I was telling him and a friend about Susan Buck Morss’s Dreamland and Catastrophe. Little did I know that he is the artist who made the painting on the book cover as well as an interesting and controversial ‘It’s the real thing, Lenin – Coca Cola’ billboard project in the 1980s. To my surprise, he was not aware of the author or the book, possibly due to my bad pronunciation. At any rate, we had an interesting conversation about art and politics, and art as a reflection and mediation of a society. His word of advise was that artist should not expect immediate recognition from the society, but should maintain to produce in response to the society. The conversation rang a bell with my recent thoughts on ‘unworkability’ or to use a more vulgar term ‘Uselessness’ of art. Maybe it really is only ‘Unmarketability’ of emerging art that I’m frustrated with. With Avant garde aesthetics and ethics incorporated in the system, and ‘experimental’ is becoming increasingly marginalized or ‘ghettoized’ (like for example of so called New media art), it feels like art is often not only unmarketable and useless, but simply not-working, devoid of any social significance. But encouragement from artists and public who visited today gave an exciting fuel to continue burning my energy on the most useless resistance. OWS Archive members were interested in collaborating on a content ‘Swap Day’. The ‘Activist Technology Demo Day’ was a sweat experience and I continue to reaching out to host reading groups and classes. Few of The Public School NY classes and OWS working groups are in the works to use the exhibition space to meet. Art exhibition as a practical space to do such classes excited me. Some NYC commercial galleries have offered to host classes, which can be problematic and/or productive. But I am all for opening up any space to do somethings that the space was not intended to do. The liberation of space often leads to encounters with new collaborators and building of collective power. Power for what? that’s a good question.
I had a great conversation with other visitors, students, art collectors, parents and children. Eyebeam’s location on west 21st street, between Haunch of Venison and Paula Cooper and Gagosian, puts this experiment in a distinctively ‘fine art context’. Therefore, for people expecting a gallery art might be disappointed by the installation or find interest in conversation and exploration, there is lots of chance at stake. One catch is that the artist needs to be present at all times, for this art to work. Sometimes’ artists’ presence might disturb with other’s experience of the work. The fine line between the intervention and interruption needs to be explored more. I was talking with a writer about Brody Condon‘s work Level Five, and how one can not be an observer of the project. It is only possible to be involved in the project 100% participation, otherwise one needs to watch the video. I think it is an extreme but a reasonable mechanism to condition for ‘real participation’ to occur. The language of participation and that of participatory process is something that should be contextualized and prepared prior to being introduced to an unassuming public audience. I’ve also been thinking a lot about works by Machine Projects in LA and artists such as Lyz Glynn after attending her talk at Performa, and missing the performance by few minutes in One Manhattan project. I really wished to see her performance but ended up arriving late and was incredibly sad. Her projects like 24 hours Roman reconstruction project is so fascinating in it’s inherent impossibility, it’s aesthetic is not that of failing but trying. The collective try to build Rome in 24 hours, and the excessive and obsessive process (thus the aesthetic of ‘trying’) and the final exhaustion and destruction (aesthetics of ‘failing’) seem to support itself, to the point it doesn’t matter if it’s trying or failing.
The dodecagon stage, which Ruariadh and Claire built last summer, I reassembled it by myself this time. It was like larger than life IKEA!
This image was the evening before Thursday opening. Things were much cleaner by Saturday. This looks more interesting though.