CHARLIE BILLINGHAM MICHAEL DEAN KIM FISHER DOUGLAS GORDON CHANNING HANSEN TOM HUMPHREYS JAMES HOFF NATALIE HÄUSLER DAVID KORTY MATTHEW LUTZ-KINOY SOPHIE REINHOLD SHOZO SHIMAMOTO ZIN TAYLOR
Supportico Lopez has the pleasure to announce “The Word Today Serves No One Except To Say To The Grocer Give Me A Pound Of Lentils”, a group exhibition that features new and historical series of works that reach from traditional to extended practices of painting and is determined to serve as a declaration of intention.
The status quo of contemporary art critically refrains from making painting, possibly emanating from its traditional identity and complexity, or perceives painting in all as a commercial tool, that is certainly not detached from its toxic esthetical value and, bluntly speaking, decorative power.
is painting Tizian?
Can painting be considered complicated?
Is painting a major means?
Supportico Lopez is pleased to announce Go and Come Back a group show with works by Julian Beck, Marco Bruzzone, Henri Chopin and J Parker Valentine. The show takes place in Venice, California at Paradise Garage; the two galleries have swapped venues for one month.
Go and Come Back refers to the way we keep people and places close to us on our journey. Supportico Lopez brought the name of a little, chaotic Neapolitan street to Berlin and now to LA. Julian Beck and Henri Chopin have been part of our journey since the beginning and we are happy to present a selection of their production on the occasion of this show. The idea of a cyclical process, with the possibility of going further and coming back, and without deconstructing or deleting the entire process, is central to the work of J Parker Valentine. The photos on the wall are of shadows sculpted on a bathroom floor. They create an uncanny experience always on the edge of nearly becoming something, someone, then again someone else, in a space between memory and imagination.
Marco Bruzzone works in a place between art and life, and during the last four to five years has focused on the politics of food. Food sustains our bodies, but is itself alien; functioning in our memories as a symbol and sustaining memory itself. Perhaps memory is nothing but food, reorganized. On Bruzzone’s flag presented here, a coffee bean seems to levitate in a state of suspension, as though it were hanging on a wall as a curio or relic in a museum, like something that had a meaning somewhere in a different time.
At the age of 18 Julian Beck dropped out of Yale in order to paint and write in his home city of New York. Less than two years later, in 1945, he would earn his first exhibition ever, “Art of this Century,” alongside Rothko, Pollock, Motherwell, Kline and De Kooning, at Peggy Guggenheim’s groundbreaking gallery. He would continue to exhibit at other important venues (MoMA in New York, Pittsburgh International Carnegie Institute, Bernard-Ganymede, and Tibor de Nagy) until 1958. Although inspired by the prominent group of abstract expressionist painters he was associated with, fascination with Beck’s lively paintings derives from his extensively varied techniques and styles. He preserved his “autodidact’s willingness to try anything”; Go and Come Back exhibits a selection of drawings and a painting realized between 1944 and 1952.
Henri Chopin (Paris 1922 Norfolk UK 2008) was an avant-garde artist, poet and musician, widely considered to be a pioneer in the recognition and distribution of sound-poetry. Henri Chopin was a little-known but key figure of the French avant-garde during the second half of the 20th century. Known primarily as a concrete and sound poet, he created a large body of pioneering recordings using early tape recorders, studio technologies and the sounds of the manipulated human voice. His emphasis on sound is a reminder that language stems as much from oral traditions as from classic literature, of the relationship of balance between order and chaos. His personal production — consisting of typewriter-poems and sound performances — is an inspired attempt to open the medium of poetry into a form described by Chopin as ‘a poetry of spaces’: demonstrating ‘the sensory superiority of sound as opposed to normal speech, and [...] free man from the straightjacket of words and letters and from his obedience to didactics.’
The little section of the show Greetings from Napoli are “postcards”. The artists of the gallery are sending us as a form of necessary, possible, hidden, continue, poetic, trascendental, accidental, point of connection.
To Elena Mantoni
JULIAN BECK // NOW IN PARADISE
SUPPORTICO LOPEZ BERLIN, 02.05. – 28.06. 2014
In 1965, a group of artists and theater-makers, collectively known as The Living Theater, headed by the Gesamtkünstler Julian Beck and his wife, Judith Malina, arrived in Berlin as a start to their self-imposed exile, after a series of futile court cases with the United States Internal Revenue Services (I.R.S.). Berlin, through the figure of actress Helene Weigel, opened its arms wide to embrace these great and radical artists. This year, 2014, Berlin, through the figure of the Berlin-based gallery Supportico Lopez in collaboration with the Fondazione Morra, will open its arms a second time for the homecoming of Beck’s art, with an exhibition of his paintings and drawings created between 1944 and 1958.
Julian Beck, born 1925 in New York City, is mostly recognized for his foundational role in The Living Theater—which name itself begins to approach the depth, versatility, and sense of human engagement that makes their work enduring still. It is a theater that lives, that allows all aspects of the human experience—political, religious, sexual, etc.—to form and to inform the work; it is a theater of change, in constant flux, a mode of theater that attempts to understand, and en route to understanding, a theater that comments on our world. However, Julian Beck began as a painter, and as a painter, he became a theater-maker. Beck’s oeuvre allows us to look at the living artist: for that which must be said is given the freedom to find its unique form, and in such an overflow of media, even a painter who no longer paints still inhabits and senses the world as a painter.
In 1943, Beck met his future wife and collaborator, Judith Malina. Together, they attended Erwin Piscator’s theater workshops, performing their earliest experiments in their New York City living room. By 1947, they began to envision a new kind of theater, which would soon be inaugurated “The Living Theater.” It would take however, nearly another ten years before they would receive recognition for their work, and which would be, concomitantly, around the moment when Beck would stop to make paintings. Whether Beck ever stopped to see the world around him through a painter’s sense of movement and color, is not our question. Beck perhaps stopped to make paintings in the conventional sense, because the Theater, in its fluidity and multiplicity of formal possibility, began to take precedence.
Surrounded by such landmark figures as John Cage, Merce Cunningham, Jonas and Adolfas Mekas, Allen Ginsberg, as well as the artists around Peggy Guggenheim’s Art of This Century Gallery, including Robert Motherwell, Mark Rothko, Willem de Kooning, Franz Kline, Jackson Pollock, Clyfford Still, as well as the older generation of European Surrealists, it could be said that Beck and Malina were deep in the nucleus of some of the most exciting and radical departures in the history of American art. Upon looking at Beck’s fecund body of paintings, drawings, as well as his set and costume designs, one cannot help but note the influence that this creative hive exerted on his work. But Beck is, first and foremost, an autodidact, and so is able to bring together such diverse influences into a vigorously idiosyncratic Weltanschauung—or perhaps his work arrives more closely to the word syncretic. It is as if the spirits of Mondrian, Kandinsky, Picasso, Cocteau, the Surrealists, as well as mystics, Norse Gods, and the bodies of Blake’s visions passed through his body to make an impression or, perhaps, with more urgency, an expression in charcoal, ink, pastel, oil, and collage onto the living surface of his support—his cave wall.
Beck’s earliest works were created roughly between 1941 and 1943, during his brief time at Yale University. Unfortunately, most of these works have been either lost, destroyed, or remain obscure. But, from what information we have about these works, we can confidently assume they were mostly ink drawings and other experiments produced by “an artist as a young man” still hacking his way through the thicket of external influence and self-discovery. His major influences seem to have been the Surrealists as well as Jean Cocteau.
Upon his withdrawal from Yale in May 1943, Beck returned to New York City, where he became acquainted with Peggy Guggenheim. And it is precisely at this moment that Beck self-consciously dedicated himself to making art. Around this time, all of the most important components of Beck’s later career began to roll into action—his friendship with Jackson Pollock and the other New York School artists, as well his introduction to Judith Malina. Works of this period were exhibited at Peggy Guggenheim’s gallery; and seemingly in dialogue with the contemporaneous Abstract Expressionists, the paintings are “non-figurative” explorations of the tactility of his materials. And yet they go beyond craft: they grope toward an expression of reality in its fullness, toward the reality of the unconscious, as well as the pulse and experience of the world as it happens around a human being and his or her art.
Once Beck began to unravel the energy of his inner world and its relations to physical reality, his production became nearly inexhaustible, and it is in this spirit, between 1950 and 1955 that he created nearly 50 percent of his entire body of visual work.
After 1955 until his last painting in 1958, Beck’s work became increasingly experimental, using all available means including painting, drawing, collage and the incorporation of objets trouvés. By the end of the 1950’s however, Beck halted work in this direction, creating his penultimate painting, The Sugar Industry, in 1958. In its manifestly political subject matter, The Sugar Industry looks out onto the vista of innovation that The Living Theater would continue to engage with in its dedication to political action and critique. It is as if Beck had reached the logical point of departure from painting on a flat surface, already indicated by his inclusion of three-dimensional objects erupting out of the works, to arrive at a new kind of painting of the body, painting in space, that is, a physical theater developed through a painter’s extended touch.
TEXT BY CAMERON SEGLIAS AND MARIE SCHLEEF
‘It’s Easier To Love Your Song Than It Is To Love You’
I opened my mouth to speak, but a much better point was made. This was as much to my surprise as to everyone else’s. Initially stunned, agreement followed. The first few exclaimed “That’s it!” and then soon others “Yes, that’s the answer to this whole thing!” I was right but I didn’t realise why. Not straight away at least. In time I understood what I had said and like everyone else, agreed wholeheartedly. But I had not the slightest inkling of where the thought had come from. In fact, I intended to say something else, but a garbled mix of two sentences using mostly all the same words, but with entirely different meaning, was brought forth to unanimous praise.
Tonite let’s all make love in London
“Tonite let’s all make love in London” is a project that intersects formal choices of different kinds, while continuing to comply with those that are the axioms of my artistic research, connected with a focus on the cognitive/perceptive processes of the human mind. The direction here is not scientific/speculative, but political, in a certain sense; the artwork contributes to expand awareness, to widen and “raise” consciousness of the self, of the other, of history and space.
Psychedelic (*) music, among the various expressions of modern rock, is the best soundtrack for my path of “liberation of the self,” both from a private and artistic viewpoint.
The show includes an audio work, a 40-minute track – realized with the Neapolitan musician and sound designer Marco Messina – that combines through cut-ups and today’s tools of sound design, American and English psychedelic songs from the 1960s: the idea is that certain combinations of sounds are truly capable of triggering particular perceptive mechanisms in the listener.
I cannot imagine any journey towards cognition and perception of the existing world without considering the relationship with color. The monochrome canvas is interpreted in its possible shadings, corrupted by the presence of material elements: the suggestion is to look at the world around us, renouncing assertive (obtuse?) determinism in favor of openness to the possibilities of doubt: blue is not always itself, and the same goes for yellow, though without denying the precise essence of blue and yellow in common and shared perception.
(*) The term “psychedelic” – that comes from the Greek, and is composed of two words, psykhé (soul) and dêlos (visible, clear) – was coined for the first time in 1956 by the psychiatrist Humphry Osmond, who in a letter to Aldous Huxley used it to define substances that “free thought from the superstructures of social patterns.”
Special thanks to James Lowe and the Electric Prunes, Marco Messina, Mauro Marchingilio, Marta Orlando, Paul Griffits and Jana Nowack.
JULIAN BECK STEVE BISHOP ADRIANO COSTA LENA HENKE ALEXIS HUNTER VINCENZO LATRONICO TOBIAS MADISON & FLAVIO MERLO KATRINA PALMER CORIN SWORN PILVI TAKALA JAY TAN
From Morn’ Till Midnight is the title of a painting dated 1946 by Julian Beck (*1925, died 1985), founder of the Living Theatre, abstract expressionist and poet. Alongside Robert Motherwell, Mark Rothko, Willem de Kooning, Jackson Pollock and Yves Kline his lively paintings were exhibited at Peggy Guggenheim’s groundbreaking gallery “Art of this Century”. Although inspired by this prominent group of abstract expressionist painters he turned the act of painting into a live gesture which involved the whole body, making the picture and the painter a single entity. Along with his wife, actress Judith Malina, he was the original engine of the avant-garde performance group “The Living Theatre” established in 1947. This is where he would fuel his artistic fervour until the end of his life, promoting ideas of anarcho-pacifism and liberalism throughout Europe, South America and the US.
From Morn’ Till Midnight tries to translate his idea of living acts into the concept of possibilities and time. Imagining the time lapse of a day as representation of a life-time-action, the space is conceived as stage for creation, destruction and poetry. The artists involved share the common trait of a demand for confrontation with action, voiced by dynamic gestures, opposing time that elapses passively but provoking change though active participation.
The central visionnaire installation by Tobias Madison and Flavio Merlo is an in-situ work that uses water to amplify sound. The work is intended as a play activated and performed by the computers, the gallery itself through its water and workers as an actual Frankenstein. The recording of the performance Frankenstein by the Living Theatre held in Berlin in 1965 is filtered, edited and sent back through the help of water; a swimming pool and sculpture of a stage that recovers the idea of action and freedom.
S (oú s’insinue une impression sourde)
S (oú s’insinue une impression sourde)
S (where a muted impression slips in)
Xerox prints hung on a wooden box covered with raw canvas.
Raw is the materiality of what can be seen, the canvas is unprepared and stands as a vertical plinth.
The xerox prints in the space are painted with spray paint on the back and oiled on the front in order for the spray paint to break through them.
Break, they take a rest to dry a bit.
Rough colour particles in the air, then “came the desire to exhibit its nudity”.
The images on the prints stand as backgrounds which enhances the post production work on the paintings, each print is burnt with the same image, a metronomic branding that leads to an hidden loop which has to be broken at one point.
“S” like a broken loop or “the place where one was conceived matters much more than the place where one was born”, nevertheless each painting speaks with different voices, their mental approach leads to different directions, as the light shifts color a journey with different ambiances, with different tones, from early morning golden micka flakes on the shore, to outdoor sodium light lamp on a coast road at night where insects and bats flap around it.
“S” like a broken loop, due to the instability of the xerox prints which breathe according to the hydrometry of the space, they settle in, stretched when the air is dry, they get loose like a felt curtain when it rains outside. An emotional unpredictability.
“S” as if the gaze confined inside the glass tube of a neon which causes its radiant light, finally found the trick to break the loop it was trapped in. Now released the gaze spreads its raw nudity and vanishes in the air, the paintings could be seen as an attempt to catch it back, or at least some traces of it, but how does one catch something as immaterial as a transparent gaze?
After the rest, after the break.
The oiled prints are covered with large brush stroke of poppy oil, these brush stroke are applied blindly as the oil is transparent, this surface is then covered with spray paint to transfer the raw color of the spray can, in some kind of DIY printing process. The surface on which the prints are transferred with pressure, is the plywood panel the painting frame are made of, one can not predict the result of what’s gonna be printed on the wood neither what will be left on the print itself, the only thing of what we are sure of in this process is, the color of the can will be caught in its very materiality such as a neon tube gaze could be. The printed traces on the wood are blanked behind the raw canvas the frame is covered with, the loop is softened …
There is this distance, this very distance beyond which, one can’t read the details that balance the paintings, one slips into an interstice, an interstice is implied in the constellation of details which balances the paintings. Therefore the whole is forgotten, but the presence of the set remains printed as a negative image in one’s memory, it recalls us in a muffled way, muted like a drone sound as one is snatched by the details.
Break, they take a rest.
The structure of an empty frame lies on the floor, oversized in a little room, covered with the stigmata of the painting’s printing process, a patchwork display of leftover debris out of which emerges a fluttering image that one could grasp. Radiant light dots over the muffled loop, a Chinese ghost in the crowd breaks its flow, where “the language became a series of “blank”, “muffled” tonalities”*, it just floats.
LA CREVETTE AMOUREUSE
This upcoming edition of the Berlin Gallery Weekend is dedicated to the French avant-garde poet Henri Chopin (1922-2008). Through Peppe Morra, director of the Morra Foundation in Naples, one of Chopin’s close friends and supporters, we have the possibility to exhibit the manuscript La Crevette Amoureuse (1967/1975). It is part of the trilogy of Le Dernier Roman du Monde, which Chopin started to write in 1961. La Crevette Amoureuse, however, was never printed until 1994 and only had its exhibition debut in 2012, as part of the group show “Ecstatic Alphabet” curated by Laura Hopman at the MoMA in New York.
The manuscript is a continuous movement of construction and deconstruction of meaning itself.
True to Chopin’s style, a certain Dada spirit hovers over the narration. We will open these 146 pages to the public in collaboration with the architects Kuhn-Malvezzi who will design the display of the show.
Wild Parrots have infested the park by where I live. A company of twenty moved in, and never left. Parrots are incredibly loud and bossy – like a gang of random thoughts loitering in the public space. They spot the ground and trees with their color, and fill the air with their speech. I imagine these birds, these organic recorders of other people’s sounds, collecting fragments of thought from the people passing by. When the Parrots take flight, their voices fill the air with the amalgamized chatter they have collected – overheard ideas and wonky propositions, repeated elsewhere for the benefit of others.
I stroll with one of these birds, the colored body tucked beneath my arm, re-telling ideas I’ve had about this and that, making them mean a little more. Models and metaphors are explained in detail. I tell accounts of one thing so I can explain another. Thoughts gathered into a story after being loosened. Surfaced in a way that only a good walk can bring about.
As the parrot takes flight, the stories become part of the air. This bird floats through the trees, talking as it goes. Vocalized propositions filling the atmosphere, residues of speech and thought settling onto the landscape below. Ideas about one thing are collected into forms of another.
Parrot Soup is the telling of stories, where thoughts about the big are relayed through the small
Parrot Soup is thoughts collected on the surface of a panel
Parrot Soup is a mobile – 64 eyeballs, a color spectrum, a form of black, and one of pattern
Parrot Soup is language in space
J. Parker Valentine
24 November 2012 – 6 January 2013
Who Made Who
When we talk about drawing we inevitably talk about movement within time, a stroke, a line, a cut, a present molded instantaneously into a past, another line and a future descends, passes again, past becomes present and the future is long gone. Time travels, utopic in essence.
But when is the decision made, at what point is it finished? Even though she could re-work it again and again, travel further, movement is freedom, inherently we don’t say stop, so when does it suffice? So many decisions to make none of them bigger than that final one, judgment unnecessary, the question of right or wrong has left the game.
We can say that there are factors of sales, expectations, pressure, but if we believe, and we continue to share an optimism not based on opinions but interest, a belief that there is a moment of purity, that the right decision is nothing but personal instinct, a personal moment of clarity, sincerity a necessity, seeing something there that is full, rich and the closest possibility to an end. In this moment the work is free to stand alone to be taken and loved or hated, put in reference, closed and finished, reopened again.
Finished only when placed or hung, J. Parker Valentine’s practice moves from the studio into the exhibition space, where pieces are set in close dialogue with the space surrounding them. Her drawings are mapping devices, prototypes for impossible sculptures, utopic architectures.
Taken in various apartments she has lived in between 2004 to 2009, the video montage in the small room tells a fictional story seemingly placed in one location. Looking out the window it gives us directions, situates us in space, with the impending leave-taking of someone. The moment of departure, the letting go, mirrors the artistic process of the artist while it functions like drawing as we generate lines wherever we go. The photos on the wall are shadows sculpted on a bathroom floor – Gestalten. The artist draws with the shadows to create an uncanny experience always on the edge of nearly becoming something, someone, then again someone else, in a space between memory and imagination. The two large fabric pieces further investigate space creation. Talking to the artist she highlights the importance of the negative space in the works, the body relations, the form that happens between.
Who Made Who is a statement with a feeling of a question, a palindrome that moves back and forth, Who interchangeable with What, the subject of discussion is object. The title implies authorship. It is a phrase about power and control, at the same time referencing found objects or allowing things to happen without control. In this sense the show gives way into the interior world of J. Parker Valentines practice. Although the discrete pieces act on their own, they are connected physically by a structure creating movement through the space that allows for collisions and relationships. A moment arises in which we can find a consensus, not by opinion, but by association and memory that leaves open what we see as the beginning or end for us, finished or unfinished – a reference point to something we have seen before or not yet.
Who Made Who is a double solo show realized at Galerie Max Meyer in Düsseldorf and Supportico Lopez Berlin.
Natalie Häusler’s installation Case Mod (from: Case Modification) exacts from the gallery space a field in which intimate and reciprocal encounters between audience and art practice are put to the test. Häusler compiles a situation, combining several elements derived from a simultaneity of studio and writing practice. Emerging forms, in this case, watercolor, sculpture and poetry, query whether they can uphold their fragilities and force of expression when exposed to the viewer and to each other. They articulate their mutuality when arranged in the exhibition space, producing crosscuts and intimacies, of visual, written and audio material, as well as of object and spectator/reader/listener. The audience becomes belated witness of the art practice as such, which the installation at once showcases and archives. Yet the present moment is highlighted, as the visitors leave their own marks on the piece, subtly shifting the color palette or destroying it altogether. Audio recordings of the voices of close friends, who are practicing artists and writers, reciting the poems, track down their intimate reception by an audience that is involved in both activities, production and reception. They capture the moment of surprise, when the poem was read for the first time. The intimacy of this contact is shared with the passing visitor, who must come close to the audio shelf, to be able to hear the individual reading. These shelves, each of which is cut and built from one sheet of stained glass, and customized for its assigned set of outmoded electronic equipment, serve as seductive support and hazardous repellant at the same time. The temporary construction of a space of this kind is part of Häusler’s inquiry of forms of intimacy, risk, close contact with the material, and inclusion to question modes of reception.
The book “Watercolors” documenting a one and a half year long correspondence in form of watercolors sent via email between Natalie Häusler and Californian artist David Horvitz is part of the exhibition. A book launch will be held on January 12th at Motto Berlin.
NATALIE HÄUSLER, born 1983 in Munich currently lives and works in Berlin. She received her MFA in 2011 from Bard College/Milton Avery Graduate School of the Arts, New York and a Diploma with honors and Meisterschueler degree from Braunschweig University of Art. A selection of recent exhibitions include: +6|2012 Shortlist Columbus Art Award, Kunsthalle Ravensburg, La Lucidezza, Reception, Berlin (2012), Als Morandi mit der Kinematographie liebäugelte, Supportico Lopez Berlin (2012), An Impossible Distance, Border, Mexico City. Her work has been shown at PS122 Gallery, New York, Soi Fischer Projects, Vancouver (hosted by Butcher Gallery, Toronto), Chelsea Art Museum, New York, Galerie Warhus Rittershaus, Cologne and Schnittraum/Lutz Becker, Cologne. In 2010/11 she received a one-year DAAD scholarship for New York and will be the holder of a grant for the Cité des Artes, Paris in 2013. She is a co-founder of the poetry press American Books (Natalie Häusler/ Ed Steck/ Brett Price).
For the spring exhibition of this year Supportico Lopez is having a temporary space upstairs the main gallery. In the main space there is an homage to the great figure of Gino De Dominicis, at Supportico Upstairs there is on view the group show “Als Morandi mit der Kinematographie liebäugelte” with works by Nicholas Byrne, Nicolas Ceccaldi, Marius Engh, Natalie Häusler, David Keating, Alek O, Niels Trannois and a project by Marius Engh & Tarje Eikanger Gullaksen
Supportico Lopez is pleased to announce his first solo exhibition with the italian artist Giulio Delve’.
Giulio Delvè (Naples 1984) elaborates on and brings to his studio the results of his document-searching and book-reading, and of his analyses of places and situations that have caught his attention and stimulated his interest. He observes and analyzes objects, architectures and elements in order to generate a reflection on their function and what can result from an alteration of this function. His is a reflection on power and the capability of symbols to establish space-time connections.
Azione meccanica (di una roccia effusiva su un solido amorfo) – Mechanical action (of an effusive rock on an amorphous solid) – is the title of one of Giulio Delvè’s works on display, which provides part of the title of the exhibition itself. A small, precious sculpture, an urban mineral, the physical and crystallized result of a violent gesture of protest with a strong political, anarchic meaning, namely, the launching of a sanpietrino – a cubic paving stone – against a shop window during the national demonstration of October 15 2011 in Rome, which saw harsh clashes. It is evidence of a political action, the result of a mechanical gesture. Evidence brought to the artist by a friend, a real, physical, sculptural element chosen for its capability to embody a specific moment of that event, more concrete and real than a photograph. Likewise, another sculpture on exhibit seems to strive to materialize reality, in this case, the artist’s own personal reality, through a cast of the arm of his heroin-addicted uncle. The other sculptures are a series of elaborations and studies created by Delvè and material recovered from (or found in) the studies of others, like the large head resting on a table, almost as if to underscore that the detail of his analysis and the tension it unleashes are better activated when going through a progressive and still undefined phase. The space of the gallery is divided into two stages, different, but both extremely rigorous in their communicative code. Emptiness and fullness. The front of the gallery space has remained a laboratory. Delvè’s studio thus seems to have acquired an appendix: the process is still ongoing.
“Amongst those who deploy a destructuring strategy, based on a re-reading of objects in the urban context, we find Giulio Delvè (Naples, 1984). His work employs tools that differ from a mere conceptual exchange. The basis of his method is a gradual analysis of the city’s external elements, which he often collects and leaves to decant in his studio. In Delvè’s work there is nothing ethnic or historical, he is more interested in exploring the few shared elements of a society which do not often have a unifying form to draw upon. It is a theoretical enquiry based on solid empirical grounds, that does not avail itself of a structure ‘created’ around the object, making this young artist’s work an objective examination of social practice.”
(Cura Magazine no.10, Winter 2012)
Giulio Delvè creates assemblages and installations made with materials endowed with an intrinsic narrative function because they are tied together by a fabric of visual connections, historical information, and personal and collective memories. His works often take on a stratified structure and evoke themes and specific forms of the preformative process that is at the very origin of their creation, as if the act of constructing was an appendix, an extension of the mental operation whereby the process of creation itself, rather than its final result, takes on fundamental importance.
Vincenzo De Bellis
(from the catalogue of the Ariane de Rotschild prize, Milan 2011)
THE FABLE OF THE BEES
The Fable of the Bees by Jan Peter Hammer is an exhibition based on the 1705 poem by Bernard Mandeville “The Fable of the Bees: or, Private Vices, Public Benefits.” In his poem and ancillary prose Mandeville brings into being the counter-intuitive argument that better people make the world a worse place, since so-called vices such as egoism or greed stimulate social prosperity, whilst altruism or honesty result in collective atavism and disinvestment. In spite of the harsh reception of Mandeville’s work, which gave great offense to contemporary readers, his core idea that private vices lead to an increase in public benefits was later recovered and popularized by the British Utilitarian School. Adam Smith’s “invisible hand” parable is an off-shoot of Mandeville’s fable minus the cynical crudeness, with an added veneer of scientific respectability that makes the argument much more palatable and less contentious. Fables and parables are moral tales whose aim is to instruct, each of which contains a lesson to be learnt by its readers. Though 18th century’s classical political economy embraced a moralizing function, economics has since gone to great lengths to hide its ethical foundations. Claims of neutrality notwithstanding, choices of economic policy remain largely political.
In Jan Peter Hammer’s eponymous video “The Fable of the Bees” – shot in the guise of a You Tube home-made production – an eager young professional unwittingly channels Mandeville’s reasoning, providing a good illustration of the adage that “practical men who believe themselves to be quite exempt from any intellectual influences, are usually the slaves of some defunct economist.”(J.M. Keynes)
The other work in the exhibition, “That Which Is Seen and That Which Is Unseen”, is a performance in which a hired security guard sits idly by a lump of cash, during the gallery’s opening hours for the whole length of the show. The guard’s task is to survey the money, yet the sum he is guarding is his own wage, which he will collect at the end of the assignment. That is, whereas the guard’s function is to watch over the money, the money’s function is to pay the guard for watching it. Reminiscent of Beckett’s literary compactness, guard and money are locked together in an absurd play, whilst in a Dadaist abstraction of the business cycle capital and labour cancel each other out. “That Which Is Seen and That Which Is Unseen” is a title borrowed from Frédéric Bastiat’s 1850 text “Ce qu’on voit et ce qu’on ne voit pas”, in which Bastiat lays out yet another parable, the “parable of the broken window”. Positioning himself against Mandeville’s notion that destruction brings net-benefits, Bastiat states that, “In the economic sphere an act, a habit, an institution, a law produces not only one effect, but a series of effects. Of these effects, the first alone is immediate; it appears simultaneously with its cause; it is seen. The other effects emerge only subsequently; they are not seen; we are fortunate if we foresee them.”
In our times of debt deflation and economic uncertainty what remains largely unseen is that though money has no price, securing its value comes with a high social cost.
Press release: Ana Teixeira Pinto