May 01, 2009

Curating The Agency of Words

Curating The Agency of Words was an interesting challenge, given the disparate works that I had selected. One of the elements of my curatorial style is the importance of understanding the spaces and spatial relations between works, the proportions and sightlines of the gallery and the often subconsciously influenced meanderings of the viewer. I would characterise this as something along the lines of a classical minimalism. As I located the works in preparation of the hang it became clear that there was something missing, the works did not gel together. Standing in the middle of the gallery, I realised that the problem was the absence of a problem. My thinking returned to my 50 Heads poem "Entscheidungsproblem" which opens with the line "is there some procedure which could solve all problems one after the other?" This was a theory from the history of mathematics that suggested that ultimate all problems could be solved through each solution resting on previous solutions. It was disproved by Gödel. But it raised the question whether artists do/can or should think that they accrue creative (or in the context of the festival) linguistic solutions. (Another reference to 50 Heads is the location of 3 Carl Middleton Apology prints - the book finishes with a poem called Apology")
So the curation invited Entscheidungsproblem at its centre - which takes the form of Helmut Lemke's fishing reel version of that poem. While now there was a central context, the implications of this were that my usual interest in 'manipulating' the perceptions of the viewer through balance and location of interest could no longer hold sway. The composition of the show now needed to orbit its central question: so the artworks function very subtly turned inwards either actually or implicitly. With the linear reading of the spatial experience re-oriented, the relationship of the works as (found) objects begins to feel more Duchampian, and with the addition of a 19th Century Grandfather clock (textual face) the curation does what it does.
As Marcel Broodthaers said: "Every exhibition is one possibility surrounded by many other possibilities which are worth being explored"

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