25 October 2008
EXERCISES IN SEEING (LIVERPOOL)
A one night only exhibition with opening hours from dusk till dawn.
Artists: Jesse Ash, Liudvikas Buklys, Gintaras Didžiapetris, Rosie Farell, Benoit Maire, Darius Mikšys, Elena Narbutaite, Mandla Reuter.
Text for the audio guide by Aaron Schuster
Curators: Valentinas Klimašauskas, Jonas Žakaitis.
Venue: The Royal Standard, Liverpool.
We have not seen the EXERCISES IN SEEING exhibition, but we have heard about it from its numerous audio guides, whose authors did not see it either. Apparently, the exhibition escaped visual perception completely. It first took place this summer in Vilnius during the shortest night of the year, now it will have its second incarnation in Liverpool, at The Royal Standard.
To quote one of the audio guides from the first show, EXERCISES IN SEEING was a new statement in the old discussions on 'immateriality', 'visual dimension of cognition' and 'site-specificity'. According to another audio guide, “the show was aiming to inspire new ways of experiencing works of art instead of imposing definite canons of ‘seeing’, ‘understanding’ and ‘explaining’”. And yet another writer declared: “While visiting the show I remembered Sol Le Witt’s (I have not seen his works or read any books of him in my life) statement that ‘perceptual art depends on visual forms and conceptual art is made to engage the mind of the viewer rather than his eye’ and suddenly I realized that EXERCISES IN SEEING blurred this statement based on strict oppositions”.
"There had to be 8 international artists and 9 pieces in the show, but I found 9 pieces and at least two exhibitions in this show”- someone said. “This is not a show, this is much scarier! At a certain point I felt like I was inside of the movie 'From Dusk Till Dawn' directed by one of those crazy 60s' conceptualists. The lights were switched off, but I have to say that I silently begged that nobody would switch them on. I preferred not to see what was happening around – I understood more than enough to leave the show in darkness” – confessed another visitor.
Yet this show is not about rumors and it is not conceivable through rumors. One source of inspiration for the exhibition was a movie titled ‘Les Amants Du Pont-Neuf’ where one can see how ordinary ways of ‘seeing art’ are physically altered. Michele (a nearly blind woman played by Juliette Binoche) is secretly taken to Louvre at night, as she cannot experience the works of art during the daytime because of all the tourists, security personnel, etc. Similarly, EIS attempts to give the viewer more privacy and more ways to interpret the art works than one could hope for in bright daylight.
Further information on the pieces in this show, was collected by listening to the artists and visitors. Darius Mikšys, who is showing (or hiding, to be more precise) an empty bottle of perfume, said that, "despite rumors that perfumes expire because of their unstable chemical composition, there is not too much room for chemical reactions in an empty bottle". Darius sold this everlasting source of fragrance on E-bay just before the show. 'Holes in Philosophy' by Benoît Maire literally gouges out holes in a dictionary of philosophical terms. When examining the dictionary you feel that these holes expand into the exhibition space and the book cannot be closed anymore. Jesse Ash hid an eye in his collage and made photos of other galleries at night, while Mandla Reuter uses sound to arouse certain anticipations and invites you to cross the fine border of the cinema screen. People have seen one part of Liudvikas Buklys piece traveling on a Lithuanian Railways train. However, the missing part of the piece will be shown to the visitors of the exhibition. Gintaras Didžiapetris will start a presentation, which will involve all the participants of the show. Elena Narbutait? will show a picture that casts a shadow upon itself, while the piece by Rosie Farell will cast a shadow upon everyone and everything.