“Saisons Increase” is a rare and ambitious art project by Australian artists A Constructed World (Jacqueline Riva and Geoff Lowe) in collaboration with CAPC curator and museum director Charlotte Laubard. Over one year they have staged four exhibitions of an eclectic and intriguing kind. The project more often than not invites the audience to actively engage in the execution of the work.
Highlights from “Saisons Increase” include “Explaining contemporary art to live eels”, which, like the title suggests, invited the audience to talk about what contemporary art is and could be to live eels that were contained in a pool in the museum’s main space. Another project is a suicide shrine located on the CAPC’s roof, which includes books, pictures, mementoes and texts related to famous and unknown people who have taken their own lives. The audience is invited to add what they feel is relevant. Additions not only comment suicides, but also invite us to remember things lost and to discuss melancholia in general.
There is no way of avoiding the word amateurism in connection with the work of A Constructed World. Everything they undertake and present has a tinge of clumsiness and a temporary or sketchy feel to it. They use a lot of cheap materials and mix the everyday and mundane with existential questions about life. Their artwork is the opposite of the monolithic and timeless that we tend to meet in museums and that we too often expect art to be. So what reasons do we have to take the work of A Constructed World seriously? How could a flimsy plectrum with the sketchy portrait of Hobbes possibly compare to well-crafted granite, oil on canvas and cast bronze?
I decide to go to the bottom of it all. I go to Bordeaux and see the documentation of the work with the eels. I see the “Suicide Shrine”. But I also have the opportunity to see the performance “Hobbes Opera Part 1, 7 Nation Army” which is a prelude to the fourth and last part of “Saisons Increase part 4, The Art of Good Government”. The event is simple. After a short introduction, a woman sings and five people play an extended version of the White Stripe’s “7 Nation Army” on a six necked guitar and bass accompanied by a drummer. When the song is finished, the drummer continues to break his drum kit and two men dressed in work-wear enter and saw the six necked guitar and bass into six individual instruments.
There is no denying it. I cannot veer away from what I am taking in. There is a risk-taking going on here. As a visitor I am met with something inexplicable that hits me in the gut. I have to accept that the fearlessness the two artists express and inspire has been conveyed to their performers. The dynamic dialogue holds a force that is to be reckoned with.
The people on stage are just like me, no more, no less, Yet they get up there and they gleam with confidence as they rock and destroy. All the insecurity that we are used to in the art world is nowhere to be found. A Constructed World has created their own aristocracy and we are all invited to join. It might be gone tomorrow. But who cares about tomorrow when you are part of a new kind of global family tonight. Life is beautiful and so am I and everybody else, inside out.
When the performance is over, the audience approaches the scene. There is a sense of release in the air. Everyone is happy and they all touch the instruments. They pick them up and play a riff. There is no boundary between the audience and the performers. There is a sense that we have all played a very import role in this exchange. We were as much performers as audience, or rather there is no difference between the two. For a moment in the Bordeaux night, Beuys’s device that everyone is an artist became true. I lived something that I have never lived before. It was an experience that is related to sharing and to the destruction of a profound fear in my heart.
The world is run by fear and just like Hobbes A Constructed World taps into human fear in a way that is very uncomfortable. But they do so in a fashion that allows us to change as human beings. They help us to grow and realize a part of the potential that is inherent in all of us, but in order to do so we have to face our own fears. They know that the art that was libratory and allowed men and women to find their own way 30, 40, 50 or 150 years ago has become a tool to instil fear in us today. A Constructed World understands what change means in the most profound way possible. They have decided to fight this institution and give a glimpse of hope for all of us to express ourselves in a way that is fit for our time and age and that encourages all our faults and not the opposite. Their work takes the guise of amateurism, but it only does so to dodge the fear that is locked in our hearts (art lovers, artists, curators, collectors and everybody else alike). This is how A Constructed World has found a professionalism that goes well beyond what we are used to seeing and that lights a light in my being, that change is possible and that tomorrow can belong to those who deserve it (again with all their imperfections) and not to those that try to scare us away from our own potential and who believe in shallow and superficial perfection.
When I awoke this morning, all the aristocratic and nepotistic traits of the French were still there. The architecture of Bordeaux in all its beauty spoke of the invincibility of the bourgeoisie. I knew that the day would be filled with human conflict and a battle against the social conventions and narrow-mindedness of the world. But what I lived yesterday, means that I know that I am not alone and that change is possible. The tram-drivers are on strike and as I walk among the smartly dressed Bordelaise to take the train back to Paris I whistle the unmistakable riff of “7 Nation Army” and hold tightly onto my Hobbes plectrum.
Se A Constructed Worlds performance: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xpy2JmiVAq4
2008-12-19 Per Hüttner (text och foto)