Reflection of the reflection of the reflection…
©photos Das graufeld / Lu Mogosanu 2017
I have recently responded to the invitation to conduct a series of workshops at one of the local Youth Art Schools, attended by groups of primary / secondary / high school students.
The challenge i set myself was to broach with the young participants the broad topic of installation art. Let aside the somewhat technical terminology, installation art – understood as a dialogue between artist, space and the receiver (audience) – is subtly embedded in our culture and in our ancestral forms of communication.
Before we might consider how the historical avant-garde reprocessed it, it is fundamentally about a root gesture: that of assuming (altering) the given space in order to communicate, to engage with the Other. The (art) history is abundant in examples of this kind.
The ebullient and effusive taking over the space with its occasional show-off indulgence that we are witnessing in the contemporary art today – a heritage enduring from the early prototypes of the avant-garde (e.g., as formulated in the works of Duchamp and Schwitters) is ever since an unfolding reaction (expiation) to the aseptic demarcation of spaces into what we know today as “public” and “private” (which again, was a reaction to previous outworn precepts…).
I still have a vivid memory, watching Jenny Holzer´s pulsating words way back when, in 2009, cast onto the glass of Louvre. One cannot avoid thinking of the incised dialogues, rhymes and crisp notes on the ancient walls of Pompeii – the archetypal graffiti / public space intervention – as we might dub them today. The appropriation of the inhabited space, the conceptualization of space as tool for the message, go far back in our chronicles. What about the original drawings and hand prints onto the walls of ancient caves – earliest gestures of communication that are engaging its audience millennia after?…
Being at the crossroads of various expressions (i.e. architecture, sculpture, painting, theater, sound…) several artists and theoreticians have notably addressed the topic (see: A. Artaud, Le Théâtre et son double; J. Beuys´s concept of soziale Plastik; A. Kaprow, Notes on the Creation of a Total Art; Roberta Smith´s articles in NYT, N. Bourriaud, L’esthétique relationnelle, Mark Rosenthal´s and Claire Bishop´s analysis on installation art to name briefly just a few…).
Taken in account the limited duration – 2-3 h / workshop session and the limited space of a shared 35 m2, it was a valiant and nonetheless bracing enterprise to imagine a concentrated workshop concept based on the straightforward sensory experience.
My first day workshop was with a 6 graders group. We went head-on and hands on to act out the epitome of immersive installation: Yayoi Kusama. I plunged beforehand in dots and points a number of elements of a breakfast ceremony, along with building a polka-dotted minimal quarter in my workshop´s assigned perimeter – in order to demonstrate an adequate disappearing act.
After watching a succinct 10 min. documentary on the artist and her practice, the participants proceeded to dip their disguise in the seemly dots.
Among head disguise pieces, some motley skulls hatched and i had a great time assisting them to emerge into the aspired shape.
It was then on the young students to record and document with my camera the happening. And so they did, here are some of their shots.
For the following day workshop i preserved the build-in “oxygen tent”-like enclosure. The challenge to the 17 y/o students on the installation playground was to create a gallery opening situation. I had previously acquired key components for the décor and got on, brush-in-hand for the making of.
And then, the opening moment came…
The third day workshop was about memory. The 18 y/o participants received each a camera and were asked to pursue for 1 1/2 hours, on a surface of max. 1km around the workshop, instants that they would like to preserve in the form of photograph. Recapitulating Christian Boltanski´s “The Heart Archive”, i addressed them a question. Should they leave behind a legacy of memories, to a brand new generation, millenniums from now, in form of photographs of this particular day, hic et nunc, what would they be?
After they would take the photographs we´d print them and subsequently exhibit them in the build-in “gallery situation”. Each student up to 11 photos. Then we enacted the “Grand Opening”.
The students went gratified home, with their printed memories on the dye-sublimation printer.
The Art of Memory acquired on that day a new category: Photographs.
Almost eleven years ago i saw Venice for the first time, in a hasty couple of hours stop on the way to France. It was late October and no tourists waves. The ténébreux air of the city stroke with its power to ingest one in its convoluted structure. This initial impact adhered to my memory and spurred me to return someday.
I´m glad we did, Venice was yet another. One smothered by masses of tourists. One robbed of its concealed shades and privacy. In the middle of the crowd, through the thicket of “selfie-sticks” and suitcases, grasping scenes of daily life – like a grandmother guiding the granddaughter on the ancient steps, a man in white scrub greeting his wife and kid on the stairs of the pharmacy, people walking by carefully to avoid the strident groups of holidaymakers, are strangely moving. The abruptness and asynchrony between the two worlds, within the narrow public spaces is painfully disconcerting.
Together, my boyfriend and i, we had to choose from the many spots of the city we wished to visit and managed to find our way on foot. There are certain images, figures, tones and scents with whom one place resonates. We stopped at first to the Gallerie dell´Accademia to sense the nuances of the Venetian Renaissance and Mannerism.
The Feast in the House of Levi, Paolo Veronese, 1573, 555 cm × 1,280 cm, oil on canvas, Gallerie dell´Accademia, Venice
Vecchia, Giorgione, 1506, 68×59, oil on canvas, Gallerie dell´Accademia, Venice
It is prodigious to lay eyes on Veronese´s “Feast in the House of Levi” – a work commissioned for the Basilica di Santi Giovanni e Paolo and also target for accusations of heresy under the Roman Catholic Inquisition. As it is singular to see in depth the layers of Giorgione´s canvas.
We came across, on our way back and entered to the Music Museum – an exhibition dedicated to “liuteria” – the making of instruments – throughout the ´700 epoch.
Next day, another visit was to the Scuola Grande di San Rocco, to see Tintoretto´s most poignant in situ masterpiece. The ceilings and walls in Sala Capitolare and in Sala dell´Albergo depict scenes of the biblical saga from Fall to Redemption. They were executed by Jacopo Comin / known as Jacopo Robusti, often called Il Furioso and consecrated to the art history as Tintoretto, between 1564 and 1590.
Roughly 1270 years before that, in 303 AD, Diocletian was issuing the edicts against all Christians clergy. Less than a decade after that episode, Constantine the Great converts himself to the new religion and makes it soon after to the official cult in the Empire. In 1440 the Gutenberg press was to change radically the way the (sacred) image was communicated to the masses. The thoughts that came to mind while watching cardinal scenes of the genesis of our culture, were straightaway related to the making of the image – in its intimate process and as a fundamental apparatus – code of signs – to the transmission and perpetration of a culture.
To paraphrase Sartre who dedicated many pages to Le Tintoret, we´re in the heart of an “evolution which was to substitute everywhere the profane to sacred: the various branches of the human activity arose one after the other from the promiscuous vicinity to God”(J.-P. Sartre in Le Séquestré de Venise…)
Wandering off into the city streets with lingering odours of seaweed, moor, fish and muddy waters, staring at the blooming glycines and spotting shrouded little pearls of minimalist graffiti, we were too late for Peggy Guggenheim…
The day before we left Venice we stumbled upon “Acqua Alta”, the dreary bookstore where books come to die a sullen, miserable, slow death. Bound together and used as walls and stairs, in the inner patios, facing rain and winds – the perfunctory dystopian place lures queues of tourists… The flamboyance is atrocious for one who esteems the paper medium and, on a dissociate note, inciting to dust off old reads on the subject, from McLuhan´s “Gutenberg Galaxy” to Derrida´s “Of Grammatology”, going through Ed Ruscha…
Lavish we did also, on the Venetian cuisine. “Nero di seppia” was on the menu and naturally, the debonair Aperol spritz. I say, So long and thanks for all the fish…
© Photos Mogosanu/Poppmann 2017
Speaking about precious surprises, since about two weeks i´m the happy owner of this amazing etching received as a gift from the fellow blogger Liz Daggar / @electrofork. I love it all, the neat line, the subtle textures, the atmosphere. Thank you, Liz! Her website – electrofork.wordpress.com, filled with brilliant gems will boost your spirits with lots of good, fresh vibes !
My reply work was finally mailed this afternoon to her…
The spring break starts tomorrow evening. Just enough time to pack the things and head to Venice.
A lovely Passover / Easter time and many sunny April days overall… 🙂
Am very happy and honored – thank you! It made my day and filled my lil´Transylvanian heart with mighty energies. 🙂 A lovely spring time from Berlin!!
Born in 1980 in Transylvania (Romania), Luiza Mogosanu graduated in 2004 from the Arts and Design University of Cluj-Napoca, Romania. She went on to study History of Arts in Sibiu, Romania and in 2008 moved to France where she completed a Masters degree on the topic of Contemporary Autobiographic Art (autofiction) at Sorbonne, Paris. The…