13 July – 10 September 2017
Featuring works from: Francis Alÿs, Yason Banal, Erick Beltrán, Dora García, Liz Magic Laser, Michelle Lopez, Gabriella Mangano, and Silvana Mangano
There is no there
Tuesdays – Saturdays, 11am and 4pm
The exhibition Re-enactments* takes up the issue of situations, whether constructed, instruction-based, document-orientated activities, or those positioned as gestures, within the parameters of a traditional exhibition format. It seeks to expand our experience and understanding of the performative medium, its possibilities and its challenges, while at the same time engaging the forms by which concept, scripted situations, documentation and the durational can co-exist within an institution and its traditional framework. While it can be argued as having Fluxus happenings as its forerunner, the works in the exhibition look more to the acts and manifestos developed by the Italian Futurists (Filippo Tommaso Marinetti’s Futurist manifesto was written in 1909) and agitprop in the Soviet Union, long before George Maciunas’ Fluxus. The sources of these practices are problematic, that is, the Futurists aligned themselves with Mussolini, while agitprop was employed as propaganda to indoctrinate the masses, their incarnations, have, in the hands of contemporary artists, ironically been employed to critique social, cultural and political systems. The Italian Futurists employed the ‘performative utterance’, unlike the loosely organised ideas of chance encouraged by Fluxus; theirs necessitated contextual conditions, even that of institutional protocols to be present for the work, that is, for the performative situation to manifest.
The performative has always been grasped as an ‘event’ which engages with the concept of time, whether this is stretched or instantaneous, focused or discussed at length, constructed and documented for later consumption. The challenge to include and structure these within the institutional, long-term duration of an exhibition, led to performance festivals presided by a programme of events over a short period, to contain and allow for a variety to be presented, engaged with, and experienced. The artist was also central to these engagements, and activated only by their presence, thus producing the aura of spectacle around the artist’s persona.
By including work that moves away from the centrality of the artist, the exhibition questions the role of body and language, blurring and momentarily merging the live act with its mediating instrument, through video, sound, or hired performers. Document, object, situation, action, re-enactments are ways by which mediated action can be interpreted and accessed.
*The title is lifted from a video work present in the exhibition by Francis Alÿs in 2001, where he sought to work out the dilemma of action, active participation, and its documentation.