berg spotting

19 Mar 2010

 ...bags of mostly water search to find my definition*

I went to see the Zero Budget Biennial (my review is here). This modest group show works well, in part, due to the critical framework the curators have constructed but, mostly, as a result of the unapologetically self/art-aware and downright fanciful endeavours the artists represented here have embarked upon. The mission in each case, whether a calculated walk into a wall or a simulated step off terra firma, facilitates a journey far, far away from the never-quite-accurate-enough job descriptions that dog the art work and the exhibition.

One important point the curators (intentionally louchely) highlight in their text is the insularity of debates on biennial politics, the likelihood of the expert view coming from within the party HQ walls, so to speak. As much as I try and keep this thought in mind while working my way through Vimeo footage of the Bergen Biennial conference – an event brought about by the question of whether or not this city should host one – it's hard not to get (willingly) wound up in the web of tangential threads cast by the changing panel of practitioners. While I plan to unravel some of these lines of enquiry in later posts, first off, one of the biggest autopsy subjects in the acoustically tricky room appeared to be the curatorial strategy; the danger of an organisational or thematic voice drowning out the subtle register of the artist-peculiar questions pitched for consideration.

Talk of labels, and looney endeavours leads me, inevitably in this discursive space, to fellow blogger and artist Neville Gabie's extraordinary project for TPB. Gabie's mission statement and findings speak for themselves. What's most interesting for me about this commission is that for all the logistical toil involved, it traverses most ideological borders with ease. Thought-provokingly slippery in every sense the project positions one between the artwork/act/intervention; empiricism and mysticism; issue and hyperbole waiting as if for a ball thrown to drop. It's art (in the most temporal sense) designed to test the systems set for the contextualisation and display of objects, with the ability to shift shape (between mass and fluid) and likely pass through curatorial or any other hands that guide.

*'My Definition of a Boombastic Jazz Style', Dream Warriors, 1991

Posted by Rebecca Geldard at 1:20 PM