Filtered down into the frabric
Speakers, motion sensors, spoken word bulletins, dimensions variable
A project in collaboration with Isabelle Sully
Filtered down into the fabric was a temporary public address system installed into the existing infrastructure of an academic institution in the Netherlands. Its intention was to play with notions of authority through working with the apparatus of the institution by both revealing it socio-spatially and existing within it in conversation. It was originally produced for the occasion of Songs for a Deaf Ox, an exhibition in the context of Sonsbeek Biennial in Arnhem, denoting the end of a collective research on the non-transmittability of form.
Songs for a Deaf Ox follows a 9-month research into non-transmittability of form. At the beginning stood some questions: Could it be that forms do not under all circumstances transfer well? Could it be that despite global transnationalisation, which is mimicked in the art world, diverse value systems might be in place? Could it be that heterogeneous contexts feed into the meaning of a sign and the forging of a form? Could it be that the often implicit cultures of gauging value, meaning and risk cannot be contained in the categories of either economy or art, either locality or globalisation? And if all this could be, what to do about it?
A first step would be to make explicit what is usually implicit, i.e. to render the cultures of gauging value, meaning and risk visible.
A second step would be to research in earnest the appearance of form that is non-transmittable.
A third step is to ask whether we even want everything to transmit. Perhaps we might not agree with the costs of transmittability? Perhaps we object to the way that form and content can only appear in the art world when they conform to certain rules of visibility, - when they conform to a dispositif that crushes much that inspired us about the aesthetic experience in the first place? Perhaps non-transmittability might be used as a weapon against a contemporary exhibition machine?
A fourth step is to begin, in a conscious way, to find ways of keeping the source of our inspiration alive.
After spending some time researching non-transmittability of form in Indonesia, students were asked by their teachers to show their outcomes. They choose to privilege their own interaction with each other, using the moment of presenting to an audience some nuggets of newly acquired knowledge as a way to re-live their collective research process. The exhibition Songs for a Deaf Ox is based on the same commitment to each other. It is the physical trace of an exercise in rendering (somewhat) intelligible each individual's work of art. With this exhibition Avan, Isabelle, Peter, Maja, Nil, Sebastian, Florencia, Daisy, Valentina, David, Hu Wei, Pilar and Helen demonstrate that to take care of each other's work means to take yourself seriously as an artist.
Ruth Noack, Berlin, May 2016