Goldsmiths Curatorial Critique

Situate the work; situate the conversation – Studio visits with Shuo-Yin Chang

Posted in Reviews by mingjiuntsai on February 27, 2010

In the artist’s studio:

There are nearly 100 frames in A4 size, wooden colour with golden line as decoration, standing on the floor. They look cheap even cheesy, and so are those printed emails that are framed in them. Those emails are replies to one email, an email sent by Ting-Tong Chang, title ‘What is Democracy?’ These replies are from various institutions, organizations and government offices or parties in the UK, Taiwan and China. In the most of the emails, it’s written that they do not have any information about this question; some of the replies ask Ting-Tong to look for the answer in dictionaries or Wekipedia; some say that it is not their roles to answer such a question; some of them persuade Ting-Tong to join the community instead of responding to the question; some reply that they hope Ting-Tong can address the question more specifically and they will investigate and deal with this inquiry in a rather sincere tone, and some suggest Ting-Tong should send the email to a more appropriate department.

The conversation begins with laughing at some of the replies. I start to talk about how I understand the concept of this work, which is the part that I think the work is successful and good. I continue saying that, however, I am also confused by Ting-Tong (the artist)’s mailing list, in terms of the variety of institutions and nationalities. So many different subjects seem blurring the central criticism of the work. He was worrying about the same thing. We talk about our ideas and then he says his ideas of the possibilities of installation. The discussion continues.

An email from the artist:

In the attached image, there are around 50 emails from varied government offices and parties, organizations and institutions in the UK being framed and hung on the wall. The artist keeps only the replies within the UK, and decides to hang them on the wall in a regular order, as a formal display. It is more concentrate and much clearer as we discussed last time, he writes.

The work looks great. I think it would be a good idea to include this work in the exhibition that we are going to work together in Berlin, and we should meet another time to discuss further, I reply.

In a conversation with the artist:

A spraying apparatus that is often set up in a toilet or public space for fragrance is filled with black spray paint instead of perfume and installed in the seminar room at the college. During the seminar, people sense a strange smell and gradually feel a little uncomfortable. They notice the tricky device because of the black paint dripping from the spray and the floor in front of the installation is becoming black. He said with a smile, people in that seminar either love the work or think it is provocative and hate it and him.

Listening to the story, I am smiling too. I like the situation of the work, subtle yet aggressive. I think this work will suit the show very well too. He thinks it is a good idea. We start to discuss how this work can be installed and what kind of result, effect and reaction it might cause in the exhibition. Gradually, the topic of the discussion is shifting from the work and the show to our interests and our recent reading. He talks about Art Power and I recommend Commenwealth and The practice of everyday life. A new conversation just begins.

A live performance – Diegetic Sound Design 5 (2010) by Nicolás Vass

Posted in Reviews by mingjiuntsai on February 1, 2010

There are six of them, in a hall. Either they are too small or the hall is too huge which makes the space seems a little bit empty. Maybe it’s both of the two causes. They are quiet, no sounds but the noise of operation. They are close to the walls of the hall and facing different directions, where are no specific objects in front of them.

Walking towards one of them, you are shown a pair of hands filling pastries, pastries on a table. The filling was creamy and white, and messy ingredients all over the table made those pies look not tasty at all. You look at the one next to it, which faces the same direction yet a little further. A man was putting the creamy and white filling into pastries, making pies in front of that table, which was against the wall. There is no table and pies. They are watching only the space and the wall.

On the same side of the space, far away from the previous two, there is one facing the centre of the space. Another one in the opposite corner of the hall is also facing the centre. There is nothing but people walking or standing in the middle of the hall. They two don’t show you these people. They were looking at emptiness and the space itself, and the empty space is the only image they show.

They are camcorders, six of them, in the hall.

The camcorders seem on, because each of the screens is showing the space where they are shooting. But they are not recording. There is not table with pies or the man filling pastries next to the wall where the camcorders are facing. People all around are not in those screens. There are also two more of the camcorders, facing a stage, at the end of the hall. On the stage, in front of a clean wall, there are few things and a table, with a frying pan and bacons, no pies though. In these two screens, some pies had been thrown onto the wall on the stage, and left the white creamy filling and pastries in pieces on the floor.

The camcorders bring you a live performance in the space where was a live performance. When you are wandering in the space, the relationship between you and them, the six camcorders, creates a physical and mental activity. With your imagination, you will envision the past performances taking places lively at the vacancy in front of you, and those different events might be connected linearly in a certain way in your mind. The fragments of the performance that happened in the past, showing on those screens, are displayed with the fragments of the huge space, where the camcorders and you are facing. The seemingly empty space becomes the perfect playground for your activity and imagination. The narrative of the performance comes from your narrating with the camcorders. The six of them and their screens become the elements of the montage for the ‘diegetic sound design’ of this work. If performance deals with time, space and the interaction with participants, Diegetic Sound Design 5 in ‘Testing Ground: Live at 176’ can be seen as the most lively performance in the most private way.

Nicolás Vass, Diegetic Sound Design 5 (2010) curated by Stef Hirsch in ‘Testing Ground: Live at 176’

The 23rd – 24th January, 2010 at 176/ Zabludowicz Collection

An afternoon tea chat with Burcu Yagcioglu

Posted in Reviews by mingjiuntsai on November 10, 2009

This was not a studio visit. The preparation for this meeting was more like a ladies’ afternoon tea chat rather than a studio visit. I did not even leave my house.

It’s a sunny afternoon, and home-bake chocolate muffins are sitting on the tea table. Burcu’s compliments on the house and muffins make the meeting more and more like a ladies’ home visiting. The conversation starts officially from showing the images of the exhibition space in Taiwan.  The gallery space in the Everspring Museum of Fine Art is on the first floor of the building. The huge French window and the dormer, which brings a lot of natural light into the space, is one of the features of the space. No plastering with the exposed form of the wall and floor is another feature of it. Burce loves it and is excited about exploring a new region.

When she brings out the small DVD player with a screen, once again, we become two friends enthusiastically discussing about how convenient it is and the difference between having a player and a laptop. However, business has to continue. I have seen the images of the installation view of her new video installation Subtitles of a Ghost’s Humiliations and Pleasures. Now, with my imagination connecting the video with the installation, I can almost feel the uncomfortably depressive atmosphere in the hotel room, where the work exhibited. While watching the video and waiting the impression of ‘please touch’ on her back to go away, I only wish the time can pass sooner. It’s not because I don’t like the video, but because the uncanny feeling. On the other hand, the second video creates an absolutely different sensation. Untitled is a one-minute video that records the process of a hair being pulled out of the skin, and somehow, I feel it very funny instead of irritating.

I apologize for my silly giggling reaction of the work. She laughs and says that she actually understands why I think it’s funny. While folding the DVD player, I ask about her idea of the show, yet she throws the question back to me and wants me to talk more about my initial thought of the title of the exhibition. ‘The Tender Touch’ addresses my idea of her practice of drawings, paintings, videos and installations. For me, her practice looks very feminine. It has the gentle and submissive impression, yet the sensitive, delicate approach expresses a tough concept in her works. Hence, ‘tender’ indicates the impression of her works, and ‘touch’ is an active movement from her. In a way, in my eyes, her works are like her, very graceful but always has a strong attitude about her idea or position, no matter as a female, an artist or a student. Burcu keeps smiling while I am trying to articulate my thoughts on her practice. Continuing, I say that sometimes I am like this as well, being gentle but having a tough character. ‘Yes, I think so.’ So she speaks. ‘I have the feeling for you too, and yes, that’s what I want my artworks show – gentle yet contain forceful messages. I really like the idea “touch,” but we can discuss about the term “gentle” more.’ Until now, I realise that it is a destiny to have this meeting as a ladies’ tea talk because we are two professional ladies sharing each other’s thoughts. ‘Sure, it’s just my initial thought, and it’s not grammatically correct so we won’t use it just like that anyway’ I say to her.

It was a sunny afternoon, we kept the information that we had exchanged for the show and said goodbye, looking forward to the next teatime.

Inside the Banksy versus Bristol Museum

Posted in Reviews by mingjiuntsai on October 7, 2009

There are two significant notices at the entrance of the exhibition, when you ‘finally’ enter the museum. One indicates that the exhibition is organised by an independent agency to work with Banksy, and the museum staff have had no form of contact with him. The other one says that ‘please notice some of the exhibited works are not genuine.’ These two notices are like the introduction of the exhibition showing you the interesting relationship between ‘Banksy’ and ‘Bristol Museum.’

As if entering a hilarious playing ground, there are an ice ream van, which is the Information, and ironical statues in the hall welcoming visitors. Looking at ‘David the suicidal bomber’ who is facing the ‘police on the electrical hobbyhorse,’ people seem cannot stop smiling. Then, you enter a room exhibits the Art of Banksy. It is like a Banksy blockbuster including his famous stenciling graffiti, oil paintings, sculptures and multi-media installations. After this dazzling room, you find yourself in a freak show. This hall exhibits the Unnatural History, which is written on the flyer, and in these big or small cages and glass boxes, indeed showing us the unnatural history. There are some complex expressions on visitors’ faces. They probably feel funny yet sad at the same time while looking at a tree of CCTV cameras, hams and sausages crawling in ecological boxes as if in a science museum, and Tesco frozen fish fingers swimming in the fish bowl.

There are 60% of the exhibited works are new and commissioned to this show, and works are all over the museum. People take the flyer as a map and start to play ‘hide and seek,’ trying to identify and locate those ‘genuine’ Banksy’s works. Some are easy to be recognized, a boat rolling out of the frame or a lady taking her rest for a cigarette in the harvest. All these appropriated paintings are written ‘unknown artist’ on labels. As for other placement-works, it is like a treasure hunting that always brings you a great pleasure, such as discovering the delicate ceramic dancing girl with a gas mask amongst the Boring Old Plates, a penis in a minerals cave or Banksy’s Anarchist rat sneaking in the Eastern Art.

The flyer is not only part of the show but also plays an important role to connect visitors, Banksy and the Museum, which can be seen as Banksy’s strategy to lead visitors having a complete tour around the museum. It might be, again, a kind of joke that Banksy tries to make about how people wander in the museum to look for his works rather than watch the original exhibited works. Anyhow, Banksy versus Bristol Museum is already a triumph to both Banksy and the Museum and leaves us a summer memory of ‘stolen art[1]’ in Bristol.

Time: June 13th – August 31st 2009

Venue: Bristol City Museum and Art Gallery, Queen’s Road, Bristol, BS8 1RL


[1] From one of the exhibited work, a stela with carved inscription “The bad artists imitate, the great artists steal. Banksy.”

Outside the Banksy versus Bristol Museum

Posted in Reviews by mingjiuntsai on October 7, 2009

Banksy v Museum/ 3hr 30min wait/ LAST ENTRY 4.30pm

Printed A4 notices are written different approximately waiting time at different locations alongside the long queue for Banksy versus Bristol Museum.  Neither these notices nor museum staffs who keep telling people about how possibly they will not be able to enter the museum can stop them from queuing. This is the last week of this over two months exhibition, and is also the peak of the general waiting hour of the queue.

While waiting, people talk and make jokes about Banksy’s secrecy and the phenomenon of this exhibition. They speak about seeing those famous graffiti in the street of Bristol, and, at the same time, also busy take pictures of some fresh paints outside of the museum.

Free Admission is probably one reason for having such a huge visitor number of this show (over 300,000 marks, which is the annual number of the museum). Whether the free enter policy is decided by Banksy or the museum, this strategy indeed keeps Banksy’s idea of his street art. However, I wonder how he thinks about that visitors have to wait over three hours to see the exhibition due to the limited space in the museum. Would that be somehow contradicted to his concept of art?

Looking at people in the queue and reading the news about the number of the visitors, also about the amount of the income of the museum shop and how this exhibition ‘boost to Bristol’s economy,’ I realise that the strategy of this exhibition has succeeded even before entering the real show. This exhibition takes place at Bristol Museum. From one aspect, this can be seen as Banksy responding to his background; from the other aspect, this is like sending his regards to this city, which has abundant graffiti. However, visitors come and queue to see what and how Banksy’s art ‘in’ a museum, just like other ‘big’ museum feature exhibitions. They want to know what and how he ‘deals with’ this ‘City museum and Art Gallery.’ Isn’t it exactly Banksy’s ironic way of art practice? People come and almost crazily spend time waiting to see his works in a museum but are not really that attracted by the profuse street art in city streets. The City Museum and Art Gallery has never had such great visiting numbers apart from this collaboration with a street artist. This time, because of the massive queue, barriers are not only walls of the institution, but are also built outside the wall, between people and people. Banksy probably just stays in the ice cream van, which is amongst the queue, watching and mocking at this passionate queuing show.

No matter falling into Banksy’s trap or not, the reality is, once stepping in the queue, you wouldn’t give up. After all, if this is really the one reason visiting Bristol, you will not want to miss the opportunity to participate or accomplish Banksy’s act, will you?

Time: June 13th – August 31st 2009

Venue: Bristol City Museum and Art Gallery, Queen’s Road, Bristol, BS8 1RL


Andres Serrano – The Unbearable Lightness of Being

Posted in Reviews by mingjiuntsai on March 13, 2009

Photography captures a certain moment in movements, records a specific image of events, people or scenery, and provides a frame of exposing precise emphasis. In Andres Serrano’s solo exhibition ‘The Unbearable Lightness of Being’ at Yvon Lambert in London, the early series The Morgue (1992) particularly creates a profound impression in relation to both the aspect of photography and this exhibition.

Different from people staging or objects in other Serrano’s works, the subjects in The Morgue have an ambiguous definition. How do we see corpses? What is in the photographer’s mind when taking the photograph for each corpse? We call the corpse ‘it’ in English, but somehow, there is no way for the viewer to appreciate the image as an object as seeing Serrano’s splendid Shit (2008). They were people. The close-up shooting of faces, figures, fingers, ear, feet and genitals of bodies reduces the sensation of life in this image that one encounters. The viewer is attracted and moves closer and closer to the image. There is a power in the photograph that catches your whole attention to every detail on the body. You might want to move your eyes away, but you can’t. The breathless sensation occupies you, due to realizing that those objects of these amazing images were people just like you. The bizarre reaction takes places one by one from your face to feet while looking at those body parts of a human in the photograph.

From Barthes’ point of view in Camera Lucida: Reflections on Photography (1980), photography transforms the subject in the image into an object, especially the portrait photography. The distance that photography provides the viewer makes the reality becomes ambiguous and de-familiarizes the familiar. In The Morgue, the close-up shooting in a way leads the subject into an object more easily and blurs the sense of a corpse as a dead human as a whole. This is exactly the reason that the viewer being attracted and approaching to the works. However, it is also what reverses the image from the object to a subject. The unfamiliar sensation becomes familiar as soon as the viewer relies the death of the subject. The paths of one’s reception and the reaction towards the image move gradually from visual, mental to physical and then go back from physical, mental to visual, which eventually drive your eyes away. At this moment, the object is already turns into a subject, and the unfamiliar becomes familiar.

The solo show exhibits Serrano’s photographs dealing with the concern of religious, taboos, violence and sex. However, The Morgue plays an important and irreplaceable role in it, for death is the issue which relates to everyone and always is the most difficult task that one learns during the whole lifetime. The objects wouldn’t become the most unbearable lightness of being unless they turn into the subjects and punches on your heart.


Andres Serrano – The Unbearable Lightness of Being

February 03 – March 28, 2009

Yvon Lambert, London

Sara Haq – The Overland Project

Posted in Reviews by mingjiuntsai on February 8, 2009

090206-sarahaq1How do you record a journey? Will you take photos, videos or write it down? These are often the methods that people record their travel. They are also the medias that Sara Haq chooses to record The Overland Project, which is showed at the Alexia Goethe Gallery. However, you might see a different impression of a journey here.

Several huge photographs of landscapes occupy the ground floor gallery. The images are in a line as if the windows of a train, where viewers are passengers looking out over the window. ‘Where am I looking at?’ You might start to wonder. You pass by the woods covered by snow and the landscape in a heavy fog. The view of trees’ shadows that are created by the speed of the train and these wires and poles, seems the only traces that convince you are looking at somewhere rather than nowhere. A soundless video under the stairway shows the viewer the running image of this journey, but you don’t know that your expedition is just about to begin.

Following the sound of an unidentifiable conversation to the first floor gallery, photographs, drawings and handwritings are full of the wall. A small black television in the corner shows some people’s talking on a train. You start the cruise. People on that train look like sharing their stories to the camera, and most of them are Asian. Those various sizes of photographs on the wall become not just photographs that document the journey because the drawing and writings on the wall connect and translate those images into an expression. These photographs, drawings and writings on the wall appear to be the elements that transmit the temperature, aroma, ambience and the frame of mind during this journey. While viewers looking at and going along these tracks, they may be amazed by an extraordinary scene, or laugh at a peculiar meal as though they are enjoying the travel with Sara. Via those images and words, you slowly realize that you are in a crossing from UK, Russia, Mongolia, China and Thailand.

How do you used to travel? Have you ever tried to enjoy the pleasure of a journey itself rather than doing a designated spot-ticking list? How does it feel to travel by a car, bus and train to cross half of the earth? In The Overland Project, Haq practiced a slow travel to explore the possibility of hearing and knowing other people and experience a journey. Through these medias, which we are all familiar to record a trip, this time, you can experience more then seeing snapshots, but walking into it.

Sara Haq – The Overland Project
The Alexia Goethe Gallery
16 January – 20 February 2009


Posted in Reviews by mingjiuntsai on December 10, 2008

This is wicked. Mondongo’s work looks like any other paintings at the beginning, but the peculiar images and bizarre smell catch your attention. As you move closer and see the materials and the texture of the work. Like the word mondongo means the traditional Argentine tripe stew; the works remind you the heavy soup bubbling on the stove. Slowly, you may find that you are like Hansel and Gretel who step into the candy house receiving something not as simple and sweet as it looked appears at first glance.

The images have told the viewers that they are not naïve narratives. They seem to be adapted from tales. Some skinny but large-breasted cat-head-figures display various sluttish poses in a wood. A violated and injured body lies prone on the grass next to a garden, and a church is in the other side of the lawn; a group of small creepy faces gather as a pile of stones beside the grass in this grey, gloomy work. On the opposite wall, little red riding hood is not afraid of the wolf, but seems to be seducing him instead. In another series, thousands of breasts construct the huge portrait of a beautiful smiling little girl, while hundreds of baby girls crowd inside the square frame of another work.

These images are probably not surprising or so unique. However, the closer you gets to them, the more detail you may see and the more sensations you will feel. These works are full of normal living-knickknacks. Furs, yarns, wool and ribbons form the cats’ heads and the trees; biscuits, jelly babies and even sausages, which are mixed with clay and rolled into strips, shape the bodies and objects. These artworks are not paintings; they are embossment. These materials may make the works looks like the crafts of children. However, the texture gradually creates an uncanny visual experience that brings goose bumps from head to tail.

The three-person group play and experiment with variety of ingredients on their works. They try to raise the concern of young girls’ anxiety of their body shape. The narrative images and playful materials build a contradictory phenomenon, which profoundly constructs the concept of their work and has a strong impression on the viewer. In childhood, reading tales is often the way we know and learn about the world. Girls know not to tell strangers anything via Little Red Riding Hood and learn to be kind because kindness will always defeat evil and can live happily ever after from Cinderella. These days, girls may not imagine themselves as the characters in these tales anymore. The contents of various fashion and gossip magazines and newspapers have become the standards for them. Appearances are more important then family relationship or morality. Sexy styles and boob jobs are what they learn from these publications. The stories within Mondongo’s work are tragedies. They may look just like any ordinary descriptions, but actually unpleasant contents. 

Materials are always the most attractive part of Mondongo’s work. Nevertheless, materials are inseparable components of their work. Artworks often tell stories. In Mondongo’s work, not only do the images talk, but also the materials, which create a more complex dialogue with the viewers.



Maddox Arts

21st November 2008 – 10th January 2009

Remnants (of our past)

Posted in Reviews by mingjiuntsai on December 1, 2008

Is a war the necessary process of achieving peace? Will people remember what is the cost for this calm moment? ‘Remnants (of our past)’ might remind you that this event – war – has happened and also makes you realize one crucial fact – it is still happening.

Stepping carefully on the shells of bullets all over the floor, they are golden and shining, and the sound when you walk on them is dulcet. The awful shooting is represented by this glorious metal-carpet ironically. On the walls, a number of identical wooden objects construct into geometric patterns. Arranged as concentric circles with a mirror in the centre or in lines, these wooden objects are very much like those legs that are hung in the traditional butcher’s shop, air-dried with no sign of life. They are in the shape of a rifle butt, which is the part that absorbs the sweat and heat from the holder’s hand. Treading upon these shells, your footsteps leave no trace behind. They are rolling under your shoes and make you walk with caution. Several metal chests for storing weapons surround a television, which shows the images of making weapons. In the corner of the exhibition site, a small chamber was installed with a missile and a chair inside.

The interpretation of this simple, quiet and formal exhibition is yet very emotional. There is no essential need to realize the history of the Ireland and England behind the exhibition. The show is a narrative of war, which has the image that everyone may be able to form without experiencing. That constructs human history and is still occurring. War is this shell-carpet generated by shooting, which people left no trail and may pretend what had taken place is nothing but an accumulated mechanical operation. These ham-like rifle butts remind you that a gun is not made only of steel but also of wood. This part of a rifle was hold by someone’s warm hand, and the other part is aimed at another’s head to ice him. The butts lined as hams indicate the dead life. You see your image in the mirror ringed by these wooden butts and it seems to recall that you are life as well, taking or being taken, you are one of them either way.

This is the scene of ‘remnants,’ but not only of the past. If you have noticed, in the title, ‘of our past’ is in brackets and tells you that ‘remnants’ are ongoing.  The leftovers of a war are much more than peace, history and memory. It is about life, culture and humanity. Gerard Mannix Flynn uses simple elements to construct his concern with the war between Ireland and England, yet he might also built the viewer a path to think about what is left after a battle.


Remnants (of our past) by Gerard Mannix Flynn

September 2008 – the New Year 2009

Presents by Farcry Productions at Dialogue, 43A Vyner Street

Rafael Lozano-Hemmer at Haunch of Venison London

Posted in Reviews by mingjiuntsai on November 18, 2008

‘Human Technology’ is a famous slogan of Nokia, a communicational technology company. Whether its communicational products are really ‘human’ or not, this phrase indeed represents the close relationship between technology and humanity in the present time. The issue of participation in art has been discussed for a long time. Rafael Lozano-Hemmer’s solo exhibition shows us the importance and influence of technology with art-participation. Going further, we can think about if it is ‘human technology’ or ‘technological humanity’ after experiencing the show.

The two works Microphone (2008) and Alpha Blend, Shadow Box 7 (2008) both have the intention to break the boundaries of time by way of the audience’s involvement. If you speak into the microphone, you will hear the previous participants’ recording coming out from the speaker instead of your own voice. Walking toward the four square screens on the wall, you can see your images on the monitors. However, it is not an ordinary simultaneous recording. Your image shows up with earlier visitors’ images and all the figures keep shifting as if time moves on inside the screens. It is a strange sensation. Like we are somewhat having a conversation and sharing the same spatial association with those we have never met.

The two works on the first floor are both very playful. Facing Glories of Accounting (2005), you will see a palm emerge from the bottom of the screen. As more visitors encounter the work, more palms show up, and each of them turns towards the direction the visitor stands. Isn’t it like a video game? Palms show up and down, and you can move your body to make ‘your’ palm to turn to ‘others’ palms which creates a parallel relationship – the real body interrelation out of the screen and the fictional animation’s connection in the screen. Less Than Three (2008) shifts the transport of voice into visible movement of light. Speak into one intercom and press the bottom, and the technology will convey your voice to the other side of the room. The pathway of the transmitting is random, and you are able to ‘see’ your voice ‘moving’ on the labyrinthine fluorescent-tube net.

Reporters With Borders (2008), which occupies the first part of the second floor, is a spectacle. Thousands of TV reporters’ images are juxtaposed and categorized into two sections: Mexican/ US, light-skinned/ dark-skinned or male/ female. They are all paused, and while you walk forward the screen-wall, those individual images, which are covered under the shadow of your body’s shape, start to broadcast.  Your body movement becomes the switch of these reporters. The closer you approach, the bigger your shadow becomes and more soundtracks play at the same time. The last part of the exhibition is Airport Cluster Plot (2001) and Pulse Tank (2008). The final work uses sensors around the tank to receive the participant’s heartbeats and translate the pulse into vibration on the water. The participant can therefore see the rhythm of his heartbeats become ripples in the tank.  With the reflection onto the floor and ceiling, the sensation is transferred to a visualized impression.

Lozano-Hemmer’s works exist only with the audience’s involvements, and they seem to exemplify perfectly for participative art. The essence of the works is to achieve the concepts through participation with the aid of technology. These technologies of detecting, recording and broadcasting exc. bring the absorbing human reactions and shape the works complete. We may see how amazing technology can govern artworks. These works cannot happen without any of the techniques. For example, what did happen in the exhibition is, the speaker of Microphone does not operate. Under this situation, the Microphone is nothing more than a microphone. Hence, the exhibition can also excellently show the un-breakable bond of technology and our ordinary life. People seem cannot live without technological products anymore. The significant idea brought out from this exhibition becomes ‘technological humanity’ rather than ‘human technology.’

Rafael Lozano-Hemmer

Haunch of Venison London 

15 October – 29 November 2008

I Feel so Divided

Posted in Reviews by mingjiuntsai on November 11, 2008

What is colour to a blind person? How does a deaf man describe music? Can a mute imagine his own voice? Through the juxtaposed medias in Felix Gmelin’s solo exhibition ‘I Feel so Divided,’ you may be aware for the first time of how the sensation works.

You might feel disappointed at first sight. The whole impression is basically flat. There is rarely any colour, or more specifically, gray is everywhere. The voice from the two speakers and the regular sound from the slide projector create the peculiar atmosphere in the space. However, you may find that your perception gradually changes via the process of seeing the works. The black and white images and the indiscernible audio atmosphere become clearly printed on your mind. Gmelin uses several materials – film, sound, painting, photography and text – to cause various sensations and construct the theme of the exhibition.

The visual artworks basically need to be seen, using eyes, of course.  What do we do with the other senses such as ears, mouth, nose or the spatial sense of body? When ‘film’ appears for the first time in history, people started to perceive moving actions and scenery on a two-dimensional screen. Subsequently, audio was added into film, and it became a fairly important media and material of art practice. Nonetheless, in some aspects, the style of film seems to make the sensations more restricted and separated from each other. The relationship becomes complex. The sounds go with the images, which means that hearing follows seeing. If there is a subtitle, and it will go with the dialogue, which indicates that visual follows audio. The senses are bounded and also disturbed by each other while seeing the film. Moreover, there is no more spatial experience of interpretation. The distance between the audience and the work is literally the distance between eyes and the screen.

Gmelin may try to bring this issue of the sensation toward visual art. The documentary-like film with a convincing vocal describes the content of the video in which a group of blind children learning and knowing the objects on this world. Opposite this work, there is another film showing the relationship between visual art and blind people, but the video and the audio don’t appear simultaneously as a film should be. Looking around the gray and muddy images on the wall, they are mixed with paintings and photographs. But it is hard to distinguish which ones are paintings and which are photographs because they are both so tactile and alike. In fact, the percept of these images is much more touching than vision.

There is a text shown by the slide projector on one of the images. It repeats the quote from Jean-Luc Godard – I’ve got a machine for seeing, called eyes. To hear, I’ve got ears. To talk, a mouth. But they feel like separate machines, there’s no unity. A person ought to feel unified. I feel like I’m divided’ (1965) – sentence by sentence in the order of German, French and English. It seems to have a continuing function in this exhibition. You have seen all the works of the show, but you might feel that you would like to see it all over again because the senses are reorganized. At the second time, you may have the impression of the tactile sense of the gray, muddy photographs while seeing the first film. You also be able to have the impression-montage in your mind that generates a different interpretation of the second film. You may see how our senses work independently and also together thereafter.081109-divided3

Felix Gmelin: I Feel so Divided

Vilma Gold

10/ October – 9/ November/ 2008


Too Late

Posted in Reviews by mingjiuntsai on November 4, 2008

You receive an invitation to a party, but you don’t know that you will always be too late for it. You go to the party you can never attend, and still spend a long time seeing all the evidence of a party being left behind. It is like the increased number of people who spend time on seeing the empty wall in the Louvre Museum while Mona Lisa is stolen.

What was brought to your mind when you see the title ‘Too Late’ and the photo – a line of young men fall asleep in front of the door of a bar ‘The Mirror’ – which supposed to be the image of the work in the exhibition? You probably think that it is an image of these young men falling asleep because the pub opens too late for their waiting and this exhibition is about photography and time. You will not know what it is until you are there and find out that you are the person too late for being one of them in the queue for the party. This image that Elegreen & Dragset choose gives a clue to the viewers and leads them to think that it is an exhibition about ‘time.’ While being in the site, it may make the viewers to think it is an exhibition about an ‘event.’ Yet being more accurately, the exhibition is about expectation and absence. It starts when you know the title of the show and it doesn’t finish even when you walk out of the door.

The title is a signifier that has the signified of time. The image, which is also a signifier, strengthens the idea of time and makes the viewers to be almost certain about their expectation. However, the expectation may be broken by the actual set of the exhibition. All these small photos on the wall are like documentary decorations of the place, and you see the familiar one among them. There was a big gay-party that took place at the space where you are now. You cannot open the locked VIP door and then you start to walk around the cosy red sofa, the big mirror ball on the floor, the mass bottles and cigarettes everywhere and the toilet of ‘pleasure.’ The reason of the seeing around is not to look at these objects in the scene, but try to figure out the party that you missed and fulfill the expectation of seeing it. For you, all these evidences are signifiers that have the signified ‘party,’ hence, even you are not part of it, but you can still ‘see’ it, in some ways.

If we read this relationship between the viewers and the exhibition from Lacan’s concept ‘desire,’ we can see that the viewers live up to their expectation of the party via the absence. The concern is not about what can be seen rather what cannot be seen. Since being too late for the party is the unchangeable truth, it makes the individual imagination of the party to satisfy to the viewers’ expectation more effectively. Moreover, all the elements of a party in the show leave the viewers the image of how is it after a party. This is a unique experience for them to join an absent party.

You cannot enter the VIP room to be the one who faces a whole shelf of wine on the first floor and neither can you be like the two who have fun in the small toilet. But you attend a missed party that creates a deep impression. Elmgreen & Dragset once again built a scene, but this is not like having a PRADA boutique in the middle of a desert to be seen; it is having a phenomenon not to be seen in the central London.victoriamiro-toolate

Elmgreen & Dragset: Too Late

Victoria Miro

14/ October – 15/ November/ 2008