Laznia Centre for Contemporary Art, Gdansk
ul. Jaskócza 1
artists & participants
Every story is, according to Michel de Certeau, a travel story, a spatial practice. Narrative structures, such as our life, are spatial structures. Their network contains the vertigious multiplicity of spatial trajectories and metaphors. The present epoch has been proclaimed the epoch of space: "we are in the epoch of juxtaposition, the epoch of near and far, of the side-by-side, of the dispersed". Connections and intersections are our everyday practice. Space has seemingly appropriated us, it possessed and determined our psychophysical states of acting and being. Everything seems to be spatialized and space becomes the dominant practice of everyday life: trapped between a torture chamber and pleasure-palace, between fascination and lament...
Taking as a point of departure three theoretical contexts where space occupies the central position (Sigmunt Freud?s notion of "das unheimliche"; Michel Foucault's "other spaces" - heterotopias with their counter-sites qualities of sociopolitical implications as well as Walter Benjamin's outmoded and repressed space with all its auratic traces of philosophical and historic charge), the exhibition "Bewitched, Bothered and Bewildered aims at exploring the psychological associations of space in a multiplicity of its emotional overtones.
The exhibition mapps the extremes of space. Focusing on spatial pathologies (agoraphobia, vertigo, claustrophobia, to mention only a few...), it identifies space as a cause of mental disorder, fear or estrangement, ultimate trauma. Histeric, panic and neurotic overlapp with other spatial stories of psychic unrest and unease. The exhibition delineates spatial distortions and perversions (warped space) as well as space's anxiety and enigmas (haunted space); space of discomfort, perfectly domestic and yet alienating; space half-spoken, half-pronounced - a promise, a puzzle, a magic spell, temptation...
Gordon Matta-Clark's work and his architectural investigations as a prime example of wounded and mutilated space will initiate a series of approaches - between extreme violence as a brave act of (desperate) dominance through radical (but failed though) attempts at taming space triggered by (lost) illusions of perfect harmony to the tenderness and intimacy, an ultimate act of slaveryand suppresion. Three films, "Splitting", "Bingo" and "Substrait (Underground Dailies)" document Matta-Clark's process of experimenting with a space through the famous "cuttings", but also they register the enigmas of unknown underground spaces of New York (tunnels, subways, railways).
Sculptures and objects by Swiss artist, Urs Fischer evoke the absence of space, its imprint, skeleton, trace on the horizon, a famous "lack". In an ironic way, the artist is connecting the spatial element with mental aspects of identity: humorous, but also poor, as if neglected works are quite accurate comments upon the wealthy anonimous consumer society, in a similar way to the frozen interiors of another Swiss artist, Christoph Büchel: a metaphor of emotional coldness and anemia.
Described as the "traumatic alchemy", large-scale prints of cult Swiss artist, H.R. Giger present the world on the edge of decay and gigantic explosion: it is a perfect matrix for the spiritual and psychodelic "fantastic realism", in which space and architecture are the dominant elements of erotic phantasy.
Mysterious and mistical photographs of American artist, James Casebere continue this subject by introducing hidden and latent space of castrated imagination, half-wicked, but delightful and enchanted, truly seductive. It is another version of a personal utopia world: haunted houses, empty spaces, traces of "previous events" in enigmatic interiors of hospitals, prisons and other places of isolation and seclusion. Casebere's photographs uncannily transpose the familiar architectural forms into mysterious tableaux, on the border of melancholy, nostalgia and existential Angst, in a spatial vertigo of identity: between the place of punishment and enclosure and a shelter and sanctuary.
Evoking similar feelings, Paul Thek's sculpture, "Uncle Tom's Cabine with Tower of Babel" constitutes the most clear visualisation of Freudian "uncanny", a term which often has been translated as "haunted house": in an almost Hitchcockian scenery, there where the very well known fairy-tale loses its plot, a drama of abandonment and horror is being enacted.
Monumental multiscreen video installations of British artists, Jane&Louise Wilson oscillate on the edge of nostalgia and painfully marked corners of oppression, a perfect study in nuisance and angoise. It is a moving report on the space which is touched by pathology and filtered by the collective fear and fobias. These are half-documentary filmic analysis of characteristic sites of institutional architecture, where the collision of space, power and control occurs.
Computer generated "Passage" is a filmic etude which belongs to a new, more poetic and lyrical series "Interiors" of American team of artists, Aziz&Cucher. Slightly moving image depicts an empty room built of skin, uncanny space which evokes in us a feeling of being inside somebody's body (somebody's skin), an experience which the artists compare to the phenomenon of psychasthenia, namely a some kind of pathology of subjectivity which causes the confusion of physical identity and the loss of body's borders: an environment becomes the consciousness of the subject and the organism takes on the features of an environment as a form of a camouflage.
Norwergian artist, Knut Asdam in his project "Psychasthenia" refers to this same phenomenon. In his installation consisting of slide projections of suggestive images of cities, an artist explores psychological and sociological impact of architecture of a city and how it controls its unseen inhabitants. It is a moving vision of a city perceived as a landscape of fascination and fear, rich in nuances of urban experience, opening infinite possibilities for a solitary walker: freedom, pleasure, temptations, but also tremble of emotions and dangers.
Experimental films by German artist, Matthias Müller remind of traveloques that expand and concretise this particular experience of a city: "Pensao Globo" is an intime lyrical tale about the city of fate and decay, Lisbon, narrated by a man awaitening death; "Vacancy" is a nostalgic image of Brasil, a city of hope, the ultimate utopia of the 20th century, an image as a collage of amateur film materials and films shot on the location in this city in the 60. It is incredibly precise elaboration of fear and trauma, where the empty naked space as well as dense urban structure become the metaphor for human feelings and consciousness.
Film "Dictio pii" by Austrian artist, Markus Schinwald is a captivating, truly deranged, oneiric story of spatial discomfort: trapped in a labyrinth of an anonimous dusty hotel interior the film's heroes are the objects of hallucinations on the crossways of the architectures of body, clothing and site. Here space is psychodelic: it manifests its almost aphrodisiac hypersensual potentialities and intensities. It is both seductive and repulsive: truly uncanny, troubled and perplexed.
Installations of Monika Sosnowska explore the vast spaces of fairy-tale imaginations untill the loss of the feeling of space itself, and especially its scale and real dimensions. Sudden disappearance of space and architectural elements, and on the other hand its unexpected re-appearance in a peculiar quotation marks of a reality - these are the proceses, that built a surprising tension for these works located there where the border between the physical and mental space is blurred. As such they play with our senses by exploring space's unknown virtualities and potentials till the limits of annoying space - a trap for emotions and their agents In a way, all this is a seance in a ready made spatio-therapy...
Works by Katarzyna Józefowicz are situated on the opposite pole. Artist finds a source of her obsessions in the most common everyday spatial experience, linked to our closest living environment: her "Cities" perform the most thrilling apotheosis of claustrophobia and spatial entrapment, exposing the pain and an open wound of urban reality.
Photographic wallpaper of British artist, Paul Noble provides us with the unique registration of an utopic city ? phantom: on the edge of poetic hybrid, alphabet's logic and morbid phantasis of visionary architect.
Quotation from Bernard Tschumi, "Architecture is an erotic act: push it to the excess" has been used as an ironic motto for a work "Stonewall" by Italian artist, Monica Bonvicini: opressive construction of steal and glass, synonim of an architecture dominated by men.
Connections between psychic charge and architectural form are traced in projects of Swiss architectural office, Decosterd&Rahm and serigraphies of Daniel Libeskind. Libeskind's "Line of Fire" constitutes identity landmark of architect's thought, for whom the architecture and space are the terrytories of memory and history. Conceived by Decosterd&Rahm, installation "ND CULT" is, according to its authors, a prime example of religious architecture: matterialy defined spiritual space, in which the oxygen content of the air is reduced to 6%. It provides a space on the borderline of death, where perception and consciousness are modified in a way probably close to that of mystical states.
Exhibition BEWITCHED, BOTHERED AND BEWILDERED. Spatial emotion in contemporary art and architecture aims at exploring the problematics of how emotions and emotional states are being generated by space and its elemental system of organisation: architecture. It is an attempt at uncovering the space, revealing its less obvious and visible, unexpected layers and aspects, that are to a large extend influencial for human behaviour and the sphere of unconscious.
Exhibition is accompanied by a catalogue (Polish/English version) with a rich photographic material and texts by curators (Heike Munder, Adam Budak), artists (Philippe Rahm, Stephan Willats, James Casebere, Markus Schinwald) and philosophers and theoreticiens of architecture, Mark Wigley and Antony Vidler. The catalogue's texts will elaborate the notion of "uncanny" from a variety of points of view: aesthetics, philosophy, psychonalysis, sociology, architecture and literature. Pressetext
BEWITCHED, BOTHERED AND BEWILDERED
Spatial Emotion in Contemporary Art and Architecture
Kuratoren: Heike Munder, Adam Budak
Kooperation: Migros Museum, Zürich
mit Knut Asdam, Aziz & Cucher, Monica Bonvicini, Christoph Büchel, James Casebere, Decosterd & Rahm, Jan Dibbets, Urs Fischer, H.R. Giger, Katarzyna Jozefowicz, Daniel Libeskind, Gordon Matta-Clark, Matthias Müller, Paul Noble, Markus Schinwald, Monika Sosnowska, Paul Thek, Jane & Louise Wilson