gerlach en koop: I WAS ONLY ON ONE LEG
01 The MOCA has long had this history of calling itself the artist’s museum. Why would it do that? And what would an ‘artist’s museum’ actually entail? Aplace for artists, of artists, by artist’s?
We know that in 1979 a group of about 150 artists came together with the idea for a museum for contemporary art and a committee of fifteen was formed to help shepherd the civic project into existence over the next years until the building opened in 1986. Today, MOCA’s board of trustees includes four artists, which is indeed quite unusual. But what does it mean when the first exhibition held showed paintings and sculptures from eight different big corporate collectors?
John Knight’s cornerstone proposal was accepted and acquiredin 2010 (MMX indeed) forthe exhibition ‘The Artist’s Museum’ that celebrated the museum’s recovery after near bankruptcy in 2008. The text was engraved in one of the sandstone plates outside, near the entrance.A few blocks away is the building that housed the Los Angeles Stock Exchange from 1931 until 1986. It carries a cornerstone that looks just like Knight’s. Is he making us look for more similarities? The building houses a nightclub now.
There’s no definite answer. However, like Anthony Carfello wrote (in ‘Cul-de-Sac’): ‘Every time a member of MOCA’s senior staff uses the phrase ‘artists museum’ in an interview or press statement when describing their program, or when a board member is referred to as a ‘self-elected representative of the public interest, Knight’s strategic questioning is renewed.’
‘The Artist’s Museum: MMX’was partly funded by the artist and musician Mayo Thompson (Yes indeed, the co-founder of The Red Krayola, also known for his involvement in Art & Language).
02 Ventura, the central character in the film ‘Colossal Youth’ by Pedro Costa is being forced into moving as his slum community is being demolished. As the realtor explains the beauties of the new house, Ventura quietly points to a cobweb near the ceiling and matter-of-factly states ‘there’s spiders everywhere’.
03-05 As his work for the Museum of Contemporary Art in Chicago Michael Asher 'removed from the facade the two horizontal rows of aluminium panels that are in line with the Bergman Gallery and placed them on the interior wall of the gallery. The ten panels from the east side of the building and the eight from the west are arranged inside so that they correspond exactly to their previous positions outside’ (quoted from the museum hand-out prepared by Asher). After the exhibition the aluminium panels would be reinstalled on the exterior of the building. Five months prior to the actual installation the museum decided to buy the work for its permanent collection.
The paradoxical and beautiful thing about this work is that when not exhibited it will be kept in storage—like all work—where time is slowed down and everything is set on preservation, but in this case the storage is outside! No slowing down of time. No preservation but slow decay.
A couple years later the museum changed the architecture for an expansion, therefore the work no longer exists.
06 Willie and Eddie travel from New York to Cleveland to visit Eva. When they go out to see Lake Erie it is lost in a complete whiteout. An emptiness. A massive, white expanse with no horizon.
‘You know, it’s funny,’ says Eddie ‘You come to some place new, and everything looks just the same.’
(‘Stranger Than Paradise’ by Jim Jarmusch)
07 On 9 March 1978 Christopher D’Arcangelo took a Gainsborough painting (‘Conversation in a Park’, 1745) from the wall in the Louvre, placed it on the floor nearby, and posted a piece of paper on the empty wall with a statement asking:
When you look at a painting, where do you look at that painting?
What is the difference between a painting on the wall and a painting on the floor?
When I state that I am an anarchist, I must also state that I am not an anarchist, to be in keeping with the (—) idea of anarchism.
[With ‘anarchism’ written upside down].
On Saturday, March 5th 2005, Ben Kinmont and the Antinomian Press conducted a one-day public publishing event from a van in front of the Louvre in Paris. The publication he produced concerned the work of Christopher D’Arcangelo, an American artist who was active primarily in New York and Los Angeles between 1974 and 1979. D’Arcangelo’s activities were focused on ideas of anarchy and how to function as an artist in a capitalistic economy. His work included construction projects in private homes (in collaboration with Peter Nadin) as well as actions within and against museums, which occurred in the Whitney, the Guggenheim, the MoMa and the Louvre. Unfortunately Kinmont got no permission by the Louvre to distribute this free publication in the Museum itself so he distributed it in the park to people passing by.
‘Sometimes the history of a project must revisit a point of its occurrence to continue the story.’
08 The boy in Bruno Dumont’s ‘P’tit Quinquin’ wants to see how life will unfold without him by jumping off his bike that continues down the yard towards an inevitable crash. Crashing yourself without crashing yourself. A habit maybe. Or an exercise.
09-17 ‘No Such St.’ We understand that 330 E Waldon Place, CA 90031, Los Angeles doesn’t exist as an address, because the envelopes sent there by Mandla Reuter came straight back to him. ‘No Such St.’ We typed the address in google streetview to see what happens (How many people would have done that?) and oddly enough it shows us an empty plot roughly at 472 Clifton Street. Possibly because this empty plot of land is somehow the geographic middle of the postal code area CA 90031, Los Angeles—the only part of the address that refers to something real. It is the area called Lincoln Heights. The google car visited 472 Clifton Street nine times in all. The first was in September 2007. The whole plot appears heavily ploughed just before the photo was taken. Then June 2009 and three years later June 2012. Again in April and September 2014, and in May and December 2015. Again a three year gap until January 2018. March 2019 was the last time. It seems that this piece of land took more than a decade to recover, from something. Only recently grass started to grow again.
18-19 A friend told us about a work by Maurice Blaussyld that consists of a big speaker box with its interior completely stripped: tweeter, woofer, electric wiring, padding, everything. This box however is not all there is to the work. With the exception of the first exhibition Blaussyld remakes the entire object every time it is exhibited, but always slightly bigger than the last one. So the object expands. From an object that can no longer reproduce sound waves it has become something resembling a sound wave itself. A sound wave travelling very, very slow, too low for human ears to hear.
This is how we understood the work and the images and captions we found seemed to confirm this reading, but not completely, and not unmistakenly.
An artwork can travel on information—like a package that is rewrapped every time it is shipped somewhere new—but the information can be inexact, incomplete or even incorrect. In most cases the wrapping is not done by the artist. Sometimes it needs the information in order to travel at all, sometimes the information just speeds up the travel. Wrapping can be fixed real tight so new wrapping will cover the old one that remains. Wrappings can be contradictory. Sometimes the wrapping is part of the work, sometimes the wrapping is the work.
20 In the video ‘Then, I decided to give a Tour of Tokyo to the Octopus from Akashi’ Shimabuku travels with an octopus in a fish tank, taking a bullet-train to Tokyo. Like tourists, they visit the Tokyo Tower and the famous Tsukiji fish market before getting back on the train to return the octopus back home in the Akashi Sea. For us the saddest ánd most beautiful moment in the film is when we get a glimpse at the octopus just before it is taken out of its tank, and see that it has turned completely white, in an attempt to blend in with its tiny enclosure.
21-24 This is one of the best works we’ve encountered in ages, ‘Bohemian Grove’ by John Knight in Cultuurcentrum Strombeek at the outskirts of Brussels, two years ago. It is the third ‘version’ of a project that started in Berlin in 2013. Here is a chronology:
Panelling on the outside of the building in Berlin that housed Galerie Neu until 2013.
In 2013 this panelling moved to the project space of the same gallery called MD 72, in Berlin too. It was adapted to the space of MD 72 by cutting holes for doors, windows, electric sockets etc. From the top to the bottom, from the outside to the inside.
In 2014 the panelling moved to Galerie Gladstone in New York. Again it was adaptedto the spaces of the gallery but obviously including the cuts made for MD 72, evoking the doors and windows of the previous space as ghosts.
In 2017 the panelling moved to Cultuurcentrum Strombeek. Again it was adapted to the spaces of the centre but now including the cuts made for MD 72 ánd for Gladstone, evoking the doors and windows of the previous spaces as ghosts.
‘Bohemian Grove’ will record its own history, will grow larger and smaller simultaneously, with every exhibition. A process of dematerialisation. The ghosts of exhibitions past will increasingly thin out the remaining material presence the work has, until nothing but a few very dispersed sawdust particles remain. And doors and windows we cannot enter because we are in the hands of time.
25 ‘Blank it all out!’ A scene from Mike Leigh’s ‘Naked’, 1994.
27 The Fall performing ‘Blindness’ at the now closed The Hammersmith Palais, London April first 2007. The eyes are the eyes of King Edward III, a portrait engraved by William Blake in 1786, taken from the publication VII by Mark E. Smith, 2008.
28-30 When we were in Los Angeles to install for the exhibition ‘Stories of almost everyone’ in the Hammer Museum (https://hammer.ucla.edu/exhibitions/2018/stories-of-almost-everyone/) we used the opportunity to make a rubbing of John Knight’s cornerstone at the MOCA. We needed three sheets and almost forgot the ’.
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