Wednesday, March 13, 2013

Grand Complex Split Block (offshore hermitage internal affairs)

'Grand Complex Split Block (offshore hermitage internal affairs)’, is my critical prose story and title, accompanying Nico Dockx's slide-show, from our explorations throughout Victor Hortia's between-the-wars modernist architecture for Palais des Beaux Arts / Paleis voor Schone Kunsten / BOZAR Brussels, as well as the context and issues of such an institution. Original hopes and plans for acces
s to the archives weren’t allowed or possible, except for subject or even item specific requests. Instead, permission got granted for carte-blanche free-reign to conduct a misguided detour all over the entire premises, not only public spaces and features, but also private, hidden, overlooked and secret undercarriages. As often with such ventures, the immediate appearance, environment and experience was taken into account, reinforced by insight gleaned from enquiry, research and thinking about the history, architecture and politics. ‘Grand Complex Split Block (offshore hermitage internal affairs)’ was my and Nico Dockx's contribution to 'PARANOID CRITICAL TRANSFORMATION METHOD, REVOLUTION / RESTORATION 01', program curated by Dirk Snauwært, Christopher and Barbara Vanderlinden, Palais des Beaux Arts / Paleis voor Schone Kunsten / Bozar, Brussels, 2003. Our performance was where I 1st met future serial collaborative partner-in-crime, Sonya Dermience of Brussels'Komplot collective.

More recently, ‘Grand Complex Split Block (offshore hermitage internal affairs)’ appeared on Nico Dockx and Helena Sidiropoulos' pages in Prix de la Jeune Peinture Belge 2009 / Prijs Jonge Belgische Schilderkunst 2009, exhibition catalog, Bozar, Brussels, 2009. I also recited it, alongside other guest-speaking (or live-demonstration) of Nico Dockx and Helena Sidiropoulos' 'Projet pour un livre / Projet pour un filme' bookwork, Curious, RA 13 and Stockmans nv, Antwerp, 2009 (with black-out "censored" bookplates, very much homagingMARCEL BROODTHAERS Marcel Broodthaers' wordless version ofStéphane Mallarmé's classic 'Un Coup de Dés Jamais N'Abolira Le Hasard' — and a thwarted monograph / catalogue raissonne from an early 00's Marcel Broodthaers Artwork retrospective). This was for an event at Palais des Beaux Arts / Paleis voor Schone Kunsten / Bozar, Brussels, 2009. Regurgitation and exhumation excuse for both catalog and event being same crime-scene and target.

GRAND COMPLEX SPLIT BLOCK (offshore hermitage internal affairs)

Intrepid expedition committee sets out on a mystery quest, all roped together so they don’t lose track of each other, laying snail-trail of cords behind them, helping them find their way back to drawing-board square-one again afterwards. Having no goal or mission to begin with, after many false starts, misdirections and changes of plans, they arrive at entirely the wrong address. Yet it all turns out to be the very breakthrough needed, just what the doctor ordered all along.

For, as age-old legend has it (time-honoured tradition re-enacts itself to this very day), this was the very spot where: opaque filled in conservatory, hollowed out crystal mountain, resinous jelly great pyramid and upholstered marquee tent (the whole lot, asymmetrically irregular and lop-sided) once crossed paths and came together; agreeing to recline and lie flat down backwards; all of their sides, heads and tœs touching onto and joined with those of the rest; before ending up staying like that forever; each single one of them, grown out of, built up from, broken down as, cut up into and taken apart leaving triangular gaps and solid wedges; as well as cubic and rectangular holes and lumps; also, curves, arcs and circles, sometimes.

Original discovery and ongoing reinvention was, has always been, still are and ever will be by spring-cleaning operation, laying down the foundations and paving the way forwards. Broom, dustpan with brush and feather-duster sweep up, scrape off and clear away protectively layered coatings of dirt, left behind, stuck onto mid and thin air worktop surfaces; rough scouring pads and harsh detergents thoroughly scrub them down; for sponge to soak up and towelling to dry out; then mop and bucket to wash and polish; while sink plunger unblocks plumbing and drainage. Ensuing produce is gathered up, harvested and earns interest to be spread and rubbed back in, mixed up with still more to fortify, build and make new. Flat blades lay it on thick and slice through atmosphere. Coming from opposite end, chisel, file, hammer, pickaxe, hatchet, shovel, drill and saw cut, bore, pound, grind and hack, tunnelling through, heading straight ahead towards same direction. These separate parties carry on regardless, unaware of what the others are doing, nearby, at the same time, despite each serving cross-purposes, pitted at complete odds against the other. Half-way between, they meet up, introduce themselves and are brought together, fortunately, without incident. The two different sides involved dig out and clean up their neighbours. That whole episode got out of the way and put behind them, members of both personnel stumble upon, unearth and revive fossil fuel light, motion and sound sources, as they do so, loosening gaseous and liquid powdered gold; providing raw material reserves and specialist equipment with which to draw, engrave, sculpt and paint one marvel after another. Tool-kit cases transfer into fireplace hearths, valeted for conversion as cabinet niche and display vitrines, the housing that shows off these treasures.

Around here, there is no, was not and never will be any beginning to start with, middle somewhere in between, finite end to it all or happy ever after. There is nowhere that ever remains the same way or stays still for very long. All chambers and their contents, always on the move, shift in transit, travel about, pass through moving monastic hospital corridors and tunnels, climb up and down stairs, take in everywhere slowly and go nowhere fast. Entrances, exits and the places themselves, approach and linger awhile, then leave to go somewhere else. One way or another, everywhere leads towards and connects up with somewhere else, but completely unclear as to how or why. Getting to or simply pinpointing anywhere is impossible, but then again, so is getting lost, because sooner or later, everywhere turns up unexpectedly anyway. The movable and itinerant centre can and will end up anywhere, usually tending to be more or less 3 doors, each frame touching onto the next one, all opening inwards onto somewhere far larger than enclosure occupied. Meandering and digressing direction and route arrives at terminal destination of arrow shaped room somewhere, helpfully indicated and pointed out clearly by everywhere else (however unfindable whatever that turns out to be), with many intermediate transitional landmarks and milestones along the way.

The most unfathomably deep of walls contain narrow and low mouse-holes, while whole wide continents are walled-up in cramped cupboards, behind wafer thin partitions. Every space, consumed and taken up by impenetrable obstacle races and assault courses, far exceeding capacity of actual size limits. A mesh of strategically positioned grills channel traffic of cargo deliveries to order and commuters on pilgrimage alike, beamed through 4-sided tubular chutes, ducts and pipes. Ultimate jewel in the crown is a vivarium tank, housing the only ever known real live feint clouds to be held in captivity, preserved inside clear blue sky, extracted from their natural habitat, to happily drift, float, ramble, swim and waft about in. All in all, seaside holiday resort popular entertainment venue and open-air swimming-baths, throwback to advanced, but fallen ancient civilisation and empire, with a touch of stern fortress, naval port and aircraft carrier battleship (with lifeboats, cabins, gangways and engine rooms) thrown in for good measure, perfectly completing everything.

Having seen all the sights there are to be seen (many times over at that), the visitors return, finding their way back the way they came, coming out into the light of day, greeted by coincidentally laid-on festivities.

©, Copyright, Douglas Park

Recital / slide-show, ‘Grand Complex Split Block (offshore hermitage internal affairs)’, with Nico Dockx, 'PARANOID CRITICAL TRANSFORMATION METHOD, REVOLUTION / RESTORATION 01', program, curated by Dirk Snauwært, Christopher & Barbara Vanderlinden, Palais des Beaux Arts / Paleis voor Schone Kunsten, Brussels, 2003

“Essay”, Nico Dockx & Helena Sidiropoulos pages, 'Prix de la Jeune Peinture Belge 2009 / Prijs Jonge Belgische Schilderkunst 2009', group exhibition catalogue, Palais des Beaux Arts / Paleis voor Schone Kunsten, Brussels, 2009

See also recommended further reading: 'Secret Liaison Hideaway Airspace (amœba joinery simple growth)', 11 postcard sequence, with Nico Dockx, Extra City, Antwerp, 2011

My more recent mutation of 'Grand Complex Split Block (offshore hermitage internal affairs)'. Originated for my and Nico Dockx's card sequence, published as part of 'Museum of Display', group show, Extra City, Antwerp, 2011. Mostly a word-by-word reversal of 'Grand Complex Split Block (offshore hermitage internal affairs)', other aspects were turned upside down and back-to-front. Even the title is an opposite. Everythings turned onto their head. I got the idea from Mark Wallinger's 'Regard a Mere Mad Rager'. Footage of comedy conjurer, Tommy Cooper, looped backwards and projected onto a mirror. Mark Wallinger’s hope and claim being the quality, merit, personality, artistry and humour will still be present and powerful — even when the other way around.
 — with Jacques CharlierBarbara Vanderlinden andFareed Armaly at BOZAR

via Facebook, Douglas Park Page
Oct. 2012

Revolution/Restoration at Palais des Beaux-Arts de Bruxelles

Palais des Beaux-Arts de Bruxelles
Palais des Beaux-Arts de Bruxelles
23 rue Ravenstein 1000 Bruxelles
Tel.: 02/ 507 84 44
Fax: 02/507 85 15
Paranoid Critical Transformation Method* refers to a series of interpretations exploring the current context and conditions of change. The programme forms part of ‘Revolution/Restoration’ – an initiative of the Palais des Beaux-Arts that sets out via a number of multidisciplinary projects to promote reflection about the PBA as a building and an institution. The Palais – a multidisciplinary arts centre designed by Victor Horta – opened in Brussels in 1928, on the eve of a global financial crisis. It came under fire in the late 1960s from certain artists and intellectuals, who characterized it as a bastion of bourgeois culture that had to be ‘recaptured’. Today, the PBA is once again keen to provide space for critical and artistic reflection, so as to redefine its position in relationship to the processes of change that currently have the world in their grip. The Palais des Beaux-Arts has played a crucial role as a presentation space for contemporary art in Belgium. The institution finds itself today in the thick of transformation. Large-scale plans are afoot to thoroughly restore the building – Victor Horta’s most important art deco project. The Palais des Beaux-Arts – which was conceived as a multidisciplinary cultural centre avant la lettre and established in a building with the complexity of a miniature city – is undergoing a thorough transformation. The artists Nico Dockx and Christophe Terlinden developed a spatial recycling project – an ensemble of utilitarian and functional modifications of the former auction rooms. To this end, they are using the remains of earlier exhibitions – the sedimentary leftovers of years of exhibition practice (catalogues, furniture, pedestals, display cases and so forth) to create a base for future operations. A website – the new, technological and virtual form of public space – details the activities associated with Revolution/Restoration that will be realized in the course of a three-year, cumulative process. A series of lectures and symposia will be organized using this platform.
Curators: Dirk Snauwaert & Barbara Vanderlinden
Participants: AMO, Sven Augustijnen, Thomas Berns, Yann Moulier Boutang, Antonella Corsani, Lieven De Cauter, Nico Dockx & Christophe Terlinden, Okwui Enwezor, Giselle Donnard, Brian Holmes, Pierre Klein, Rem Koolhaas, Dieter Lesage, Douglas Park, Anne Querien.
Contact & info:

* The title refers to Salvador Dalí’s unusual interpretative method from the early 1930s – the paranoid critical method that provided the artist with a unique process of interpretation of reality. In this way, we are seeking to highlight the contribution of experimental, critical and contemporary artistic practice and hence to build on the studies that several artists have made of the Palais des Beaux-Arts in the past. The current study does not take the form of an exhibition, but will be updated cumulatively and at different locations within the PBA. Spatial recycling, a programme of debates and lectures on the theme of transformation and the development of a workstation with a website-cum-newsletter form the basis for this long-term programme, in which artists and authors will track the far-reaching restoration of the Palais des Beaux-Arts.
* Title after an idea of Fareed Armaly.

audio-visual performance by Nico Dockx & Douglas Park, Paleis voor Schone Kunsten, Brussel Belgium, (as part of ‘Revolution/Restoration’- pt.: Paranoid Critical Transformation Method, an ongoing collaborative research project organized by Barbara Vanderlinden & Dirk Snauwaert),
(ltd.ed. of 3 works)

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