Wednesday, March 13, 2013

Zeitgeist Projects at Fad Office

organised by @fadwebsite @TheOtherArtFair
may 2012

curated by Chantelle Purcell and Kay Roberts, 'The Other Art Fair', Ambika P3, London, 2012 

Much of my practice and output consists of written art and literary prose, whether for my own work, collaborations with others, project input and sometimes en lieu of critical essays. Often, I generate architecture, landscape, weather and processes, delivered with imagery and lingual phrasing, presence and overall experience thats at once some familiar but strange, hybrid cross-between nature and artifice, deliberately given unclear attribution and moral ambiguity. Some of these "stories" are born out of reaction to site-visits, research and insight, which I follow up, develop and perfect.

A notable instance, was way back in 2001, when I accepted Dr Clementine Deliss’ invite to have access to the then newly work-in-progress Chelsea Millbank (London Institute / University of the Arts etc), housed in buildings just acquired from Royal Army Medical Corporation, who's military hospital and training academy it'd been, then much earlier before was the notorious Millbank prison. Yet another former Military Hospital reused as an art academy / institution. My offerings appeared in 2 (or 1 & 1/2!) numbers of Dr Clementine Deliss' 'Metronome' serial anthology publication. That time, 2001's THE STUNT, a slender menu-like program, based on Chelsea College of Art & Design's ephemera for their festivity of that very same name back in the 20th century — and THE QUEEL of 2002, a more substantial book, christened after Chelsea College of Art & Design’s short-lived early modernist era culture review — also dressed up to look like Royal Army Medical Corporation's Wipers Times journal. Nota Bene: with the exception of The Bastard / Magnetic Speech, 2001 (a non visual book of untranslated texts and audio c.d album of voiceworks), Dr Clementine Deliss always modeled the design, production, package and appearance of each 1 of her 'Metronomes' on historical material relevant to places, concerns and activities which lay behind and came into it.

Anyway, as well as being struck by the immediate impression, environs, architecture and lowdown gleaned, what came to me most was how the location had always been some kind of institution or other. This experience and process led to some statements about organisations and social conditions in THE STUNT, and 2 "stories", 1 lengthy and the other more abrupt in THE QUEEL. The longest "story", 'Restricted-Access Free-Range Closed-Shop Open-Prison', is a heavy-going op-art force-field, describing the genesis and progress of a built-up environment, by negligence and accident, from out of dissonant elements. The other, ‘Remote-Control Divine-Appointment Natural-Selection Chosen-Few Promised-Land Cornucopia’, addresses the issue of recruitment and exploitation of human and any other resources, for whatever usage, then disposal thereof. As well as these 1 & 1/2 published outlets, there was a modest launch for THE STUNT in late 2001 (which I ended up not being present & correct at — thanks to the Cycle Post Diplome Internationale residency at Ecole Regional des Beaux Arts de Nantes and travel elsewhere in Europe), then came 2002's full-blown Day of The Queel (also Chelsea Millbank's inauguration) that I did somewhat attend and was severely involved in a bit.

During my time in Nantes, myself, Kris Delacourt, Nico Dockx and Michelle Naismith began our 'Disquiet Tectonica' "collaborative research project on new audiovisual writing and uncanny architecture", ‘Disquiet Tectonica’, Ecole Regionale des Beaux Arts de Nantes, Nantes, 2002; ‘Tectonic Disquieta’, Galerie Richard Foncke, Ghent, 2002; ‘Pyrotropism’, Utopia Stations, Biennale di Venezia, Venice, 2003; ‘Televator’ and ‘Spectaculation’ etc, de Collectie Interventies, MuHKA, Antwerp, 2003-’04. Before, during and after the “Disquiet Tectonica” series, I’ve collaborated with Kris Delacourt, Nico Dockx and Michelle Naismith, both separately and alongside others, on different joint-ventures.

Quite a few works I've done with Nico Dockx (and sometimes other people he involves) are site-visits. More of the same formulæ and end-result as before. Terminating in exhibition, live event, publication, audio and moving image outlets. While Nico Dockx is my most prolific and recidivistic such serial collaborative partner-in-crime, theres also other notable such ventures I've written for and about as well. 

1990's Glasgow-era break-n-enter moving image and stolen materials work by James Thornhill (now one half of France based politicomeddity duo, "Claire Fontaine" — these earlier PRE Claire Fontaine JAMES THORNHILL solo works still get shown as being by "Claire Fontaine" — sometimes with my involvement in connected events and material). Over the years, Rut Blees Luxemburg's dreamlike magic realist photographic studies, mostly overlooked but pœtic and meaning-laden urban features at night (I sometimes aid & abet her during the course of duty to produce them — giving me 1st hand knowledge — as well as any discussions between myself and Rut Blees Luxemburg). In 2006, my productive time at the A.I.R (Artists in Residence) Antwerpen program in Antwerp, amongst much more else besides as well, partly lead to a quartet of works, heavily referencing many aspects of the host building I stayed and worked in. Performance artist, Ilona Sagar's 'Grandeur Mass', moving-image installation (her investigation and critique of the supposed power of Town Halls — whilst also emphasising their bathos and anti-climax shortcomings), is accompanied by my untitled prosaic response, read out as voiceover soundtrack by Anna Clover; I recited that and it appeared on cards for Ilona Sagar's 2008 graduation show at Goldsmith's College, London. Veteran London performance, assemblage and sound artist Richard Crow's 'A Demised Premise', 2009; appraisal and celebration of his domestic house, working space and sometime secretive "Institution of Rot" performance club and venue, which he finally lost and had to quit after many years. I strove to define and summarise as much as possible into a brief 2-part pœm of the same name. Richard Crow filmed my recital, strolling around the "Institution of Rot", footage served as stand-in for me during 'A Demised Premise' eviction party or "wake" — due to my unavailability elsewhere around the only date it could happen. Some clips are posted on youtube. A still picture and my text have since appeared on 1 of Richard Crow's artist's pages of his "Institution of Rot" forensic archival dossier, in 'Dokument, Dispositiv, Deskription, Diskurs', Œi, Stockholm, 2011. Hopefully, the full 'A Demised Premise' can appear elsewhere at least once by itself.

A sideline of mine, is to sometimes write inside-stories, recounting behind-the-scenes background to these projects and my own contributory input. Heres 1 case-study specimen — perhaps the only 1 not as overgrown as my work I'm going on about. Maybe this demystifies anybody bewildered by what I said so far — unless issue gets much worse further confused than it already is.

C-Side-Speshulz Rite Up Le Soleil Noir Anus Solaire

In late 2005, the author’s serial collaborative partners-in-crime, Nico Dockx and Building Transmissions (Antwerp based and internationally active), invited the author on a site-visit to somehow or other react to “Schloss” Teufelsberg, at Grunwald, near Berlin. At that time, Nico Dockx was on the prestigious Berliner Kunstlerprogramm / DAAD residency in Berlin.

“Schloss” Teufelsberg is a derelict, ruined and overgrown development, akin to a phallic lighthouse, with giant Buckminster Fuller geodesic fly’s eye dome balls, all on top of a prominent hill. Despite its location, condition and status, “Schloss” Teufelsberg is still fenced off and kept locked, although it has often been entered and vandalised. However, for the author and other guest’s site-visits, permission and authorised supervision was needed.

When Nico Dockx 1st saw “Schloss” Teufelsberg, he assumed it was some kind of former meteorological station. Enquiries and explanation revealed “Schloss” Teufelsberg to be a Cold-War U.S and allied-forces military base, where Eastern Bloc / Iron Curtain / 2nd World media signals and messages were intercepted, maybe sabotaged and possibly recorded for analysis and usage, then printed out, shredded, pulped and recycled — to make consumerist fast-food packaging. Another revelation was that the hill is artificial; with deliberate or inadvertent catharsis and symbolism it seems, being built and landscaped out of rubble from war-torn Berlin’s bombsites and Axis headquarters; all covering up an Axis training-academy. After the end of the Cold-War, demise of Communism, break-up of the former Soviet Union and fall of the Berlin Wall, like much else on both sides, “Schloss” Teufelsberg was abandoned and left.

Not much later, certain entrepreneurial property-developers attempted exploiting “Schloss” Teufelsberg; needless to say, economic conditions, legal and environmental agencies and pressure soon put an end to all that; some work begun stayed incomplete and unfinished, neglected and exposed to the elements of the great outdoors and natural world.

To digress for a brief while, “Schloss” Teufelsberg reminded the author of several things. Many other supposedly top-secret and discreet “spook” and intelligence-service premises end up looking so blatant and unavoidable, whether or not its ever known, suspected, alleged or admitted, at the time or since, what they really are or were. “Schloss” Teufelsberg’s image and form brings other examples to mind: as well as the same engraver’s much better known ‘Carceri d’Invenzione’ (‘Imaginary Prisons’), Giovanni Battista Piranesi’s map of a multiple-penetration coital shaped house and grounds or settlement; the French 18th century “visionary” Claude-Nicolas Ledoux’s ground-view plan for an unsurprisingly enough unrealised “architecture-parlante” “maison du plaisir”; some 20th century German expressionist building; Kurt Schwitters ‘Kathedrale der Erotische Elend’ in his ill-fated but legendary Hanover “Merzbau”; Jean Tinguely and Niki de Saint Phalle’s ‘La Vittoria’ pyrotechnically self-destructive phallus in Piazza Vittorio Emmanuele II in Milan, to “celebrate” or at least commemorate the Parisian Nouveau Realiste group’s 10th anniversary; the lating greating John Latham’s proposed “Skoob” (book) sculptures, on his beloved, “Niddri Woman” “bing” (local Scottish vernacular, meaning an industrial waste slag heap), that he so called due to it being laid out like a primitive tribal earth, fertility or love goddess (much later, his ashes were scattered there); Tracey Emin’s original and editioned graphics depicting the lido (or dildo as it is or was known!) landmark in her hometown of Margate; doubtless, theres quite a few or too many other instances as well.

Just the same as all too often with the author’s works, this gleaned insight, these circumstances and other factors were included towards ultimate end-result generated.

The 1st outlet for any of this project was actually named after author’s own title for their own work. Meteorlabyrinthesis (pt.1), by Building Transmissions (Kris Delacourt, Nico Dockx, Douglas Park and Peter Verwimp), exhibited and on view at DAAD Galerie, Berlin, during the Summer of 2006 (when there was a major football-game in Berlin, the author was on the A.I.R Residency in Antwerp, Building Transmissions were also in Berlin’s Sonambiente festival — and the facades of DAAD Galerie and other buildings in Zimmerstrasse were at risk). Meteorlabyrinthesis (pt. 1) was mostly an audio-installation, consisting of loudspeakers throughout the DAAD Galerie space (and another outdoors in the car park round the back). Infinitely and randomly varying software “chose” extracts taken from a spoken-word recording of the author reciting ‘Meteorlabyrinthesis’ and acoustic field-recordings made by Building Transmissions on-location at “Schloss” Teufelsberg; always different each time, never the same sounds twice per speaker, without any fixed sequence; a la both chance and systems musical composition and impromptu, as well as generative and process experimental literature.

At the erroffnung, the author recited ‘Meteorlabyrinthesis’, unaltered, in its entirety. Also, during this occasion, the author and “media-techy” Martin Howse were to meet up again, having previously known each other in 1990’s and earlier millennium London, before Martin Howse’s relocation to Berlin. The motive behind mentioning this is explained very shortly.

Meanwhile, back to “Schloss” Teufelsberg. The plot thickened. By late 2007, the eccentric and reclusive U.S film-director and transcendental meditation enthusiast, David Lynch, announced his intention for his “David Lynch Foundation for Consciousness-Based Education and Peace” to establish a “Meditation Centre” there, in the hope of bringing wellbeing to the world. For his (rare?) public appearance, some associate of David Lynch dressed in white robes and gowns, as though some prophet or guru. None of this went down well or got the go-ahead. In sympathetic keeping with the predecessor, the proposed building was to have also been phallic (albeit golden and more palatial).

In Summer 2008, what was by then described as “The Teufelsgroup” appeared as part of, The Rest of Now, the 7th Manifesta itinerant art biennale, in Bolzano, directed by the Indian RAQS Media Collective. Alongside everything else, ‘Meteorlabyrinthesis’ was published in a special edition of Die Neue Sudtiroler Tageszeitung, local newspaper (number: 143/16, Thursday 17th July 2008). Another of the author’s serial collaborative partners-in-crime, Rut Blees Luxemburg, included her photographs of “Schloss” Teufelsberg features and details (daylight and black and white, unlike her more usual colour nocturnes), in her monograph, Commonsensual (Black Dog Press, London, 2009), also including 2 of the author’s texts for and about other works and projects of hers. Anri Sala’s moving image input to the effort has been shown at Galerie Johnen, Berlin. The full “Teufelsgroup” membership cast credits score reads: Rut Blees Luxemburg, Building Transmissions, Kris Delacourt, Rik Desaver, Nico Dockx, Nikolas Hirsch, Jan Mast, Jean-Michel Meyers, Douglas Park, Ruth Rosenfeld, Anri Sala, Helena Sidiropoulos, Krist Torfs, Jochem Vanden Ecker, Peter Verwimp.

Its possible there just might well be more projects, events, shows, publications and editions by “The Teufelsgroup” — and further stages to the ongoing “Schloss” Teufelsberg saga.

When the author was invited by Martin Howse to perform in the Breakthrough live radio broadcast events, at various venues, throughout Berlin, in 2009, ‘Meteorlabyrinthesis’ was one of the texts the author especially decided to recite. Amongst other reasons, this was because of its substantial length, the Berlin links, the fact it so heavily referenced broadcasting and transmission — then last but by no means least, the association with Martin Howse.

Enough of and so much for that and then. Back to this, here and now. Instead of enforcement and infliction of my epic 'Meteorlabyrinthesis' as an example, I move onto something else I did with Nico Dockx, 'Grand Complex Split Block (offshore hermitage internal affairs)', Brussels, 2003.

‘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 access 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, Sonia 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 homaging Marcel Broodthærs' wordless version of Stéphane Mallarmé's classic Un Coup de Dés Jamais N'Abolira Le Hasard — and a thwarted monograph / catalogue raissonne from an early 00's Marcel Broodthærs 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.

Finally, rather than subjecting captive victims to endure that deluxe penal festive ordeal (to dredge up another of my titles), I prefer to serve up 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 conjuror, 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.

Secret Liaison Hideaway Airspace (amœba joinery simple growth)

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

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

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

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

Also, curves, arcs and circles, sometimes; as well as cubic and rectangular holes and lumps; 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; before ending up staying like that forever; agreeing to recline and lie flat down backwards; all of their sides, heads and tœs touching onto and joined with those of the rest; opaque filled in conservatory, hollowed out crystal mountain, resinous jelly great pyramid and upholstered marquee tent (lop-sided, asymmetrically irregular and the whole lot) once crossed paths and came together; for, as age-old legend has it (this very day re-enacts itself to time-honoured tradition), this was the very spot where.

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

©, Copyright, Douglas Park

Douglas park, lecture, Fad Office Party, curated by Kay Roberts & Chantelle Purcell, The Other Art Fair, London  
Photo credit: Trinity ∴ Arts Communications


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