After a whirlwind browse of Offprint London in Tate Modern’s Turbine Hall last weekend, manaXi and I went to the event ‘One Hour Long Exhibition’ at South London Gallery (SLG). Artists Chosil Kil and Marie Lund invites artist and writer Jesper List Thomsen and musician Johannes Lund for the sixth instalment of ‘One Hour Long Exhibition’, an unscripted and unrehearsed performance ‘exploring the temporality of an exhibition through a natural sequence of actions’ in 60 minutes. I was interested to see this event as a current research interest looks into the notion of temporary exhibition-making, gallery constructs and curatorial projects.
Chosil Kil is a South Korean artist based in Bergen and London. Her work creates conversations between the written word and a language of space, contemplating mundane materials. For ‘One Hour Long Exhibition’, Chosil pushed a large cardboard box into the space, closed by a cord, then opened to reveal a blue helium balloon on a ribbon floating inside. The balloon was eventually released and placed in the space reaching for the ceiling. The artist went on to place blue plastic carrier bags filled with penny coins across the space that were eventually emptied by hand, dropped onto the polished concrete floor creating another sound to the exhibition.
“Things can fall. Always vertical.
Like water falls. Waterfall. From head to toe. Not the other way around.
Sometimes into the in-between space. Into the gaps.” – Chosil Kil
Jesper List Thomsen is an artist and writer based in London, part of the artist and curatorial collective Am Nuden Da. He instigated the exhibition by exploring the notion of writing and reading through a verbal, almost spoken word, performance in the space. The pace and speed of the narration set the pace for the installation of the exhibition, in part difficult to keep up with and process, especially when the imrpoved saxophone tones of Copenhagen musician and composer Johannes Lund kicked in, further building the aural soundtrack alongside Chosil’s pennies as they hit and rolled against the floor.
As these three artists played out, Marie Lund, a Danish artist based in London, silently unpacked blanket wrapped sculptures, curating them within the space where they seemed to be placed after clear consideration. The works called ‘Handstand’…
“…are there in the same space, but the space does not unite them. They are alone together. They seem to come from the same place. They recall parts of the body. One series recall heads. Another series legs. But they are all there on their own. They are simply next to each other just like the bodies of the viewers are next to the sculptures. On top of some of the leg-like sculptures, Marie Lund has placed bust-like sculptures. Here, the sculptures are too close to go together – like the sculptures that recall legs are too far apart to go together. The sculptures that recall legs are not legs. They are the inside of a pair of pants. They do not stand as legs stand. They stand because the concrete, which was inside the pants, is by now dry. The concrete carries marks of the stitches and the fabric. The concrete has taken on the shape of pants and the pants the shape of concrete.” – Marie Lund
The information stated that the artists would arrive at the gallery with their artworks, instruments and text pieces, and together with the visitors, enter the empty space at 5pm where for one hour it is used as a platform to install, to adjust, to perform, to read and finally to pack up. I felt there was an audience expectancy, a want for more, as a handful of restless people including myself misunderstood the event outline making an assumption we would be involved in someway…in the “exhibition-making” process, however this was not the case. As we entered the space, there was no guidance or introduction, not even silent guiding or invitation through gesture…no ushering to interact or to re-view. Only through the distribution of coins by Chosil Kil was there near interaction, an interaction of sorts, as she placed them around and by people’s feet.
With sound from movement, installation, verbal narration, spoken word, whispering, tenor saxophone tones, falling and dropping coins, feet move and scuffing and the hubbub of the audience, it created a disjointed and cacophonous exhibition. To me, the event questioned the art system and institution, the infrastructures that make exhibitions and events happen, and ultimately, the value of the art – who is art for? ‘One Hour Long Exhibition’ seemed to create barriers between the artist and curator, performer and audience, artist and audience, when there was a want of collaboration, also raising questions as to what is the point of art if not for the public and public engagement? This “selfish act” and experience due to the distant levels of creative control, left the audience to be a forced observer of the paraphrased curatorial process. I left the event “art hungry”, which doesn’t happen very often. I wondered what the other instalments were like?