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A dialogue continued with the curator and artists of A Body Presented to Me and You at Souterrain in Amsterdam.

session two

sunday, 27 + 28 october 2009

sunday, 25 october 2009

johanna.domke asks Philip Tonda: I was courious how it worked out for you after initiating the show with a theme relevant for you

Philip Tonda: I’d say that curating and making this show happen is very different than making work myself. I enjoy being the one that has the overview in the organizing process, and to get to know the work of the other artists. Seeing the exhibition in the end was real joy to me, and it felt very confirming; all the preparing and all the conversations took shape as art works and that was the conclusion in itself. It did not really need words anymore; it became one big body of it’s own, consisting of the individual bodies of the 5 individual works.

i was still busy with my own work during the process, but the curating took most of my attention so i didn’t make finished works. After the exhibition opening i managed to work on my own art works though, and that was nice to do at this point.

I don’t think my own art work has changed after curating the show -i am still busy with some of the same projects as before, one of them is an interactive sculptural video installation, and another project is a research between the outer appearance of a person in relation to the self perception of the person. I’m still busy with those projects and they won’t be ready in the near future.

I see the works of the exhibition that I curated as separate from my own work in the sense that I really enjoy it in a somewhat similar way as when going to an art exhibition that touches me. It does not influence my work directly – i respect it and accept it for what it is, and appreciate the individual work and the individual artist; knowing that my work is having its own individual personality as well.

Silvan Laan

[10/27/09 , 12:12 PM] amber lauletta says to Silvan Laan: I’d like to talk about the warble. How did you choose this bird?

[10/28/09 12:49pm] Silvan Laan says: he bird in question is a willow warbler. This particular bird has a special significance for me; it is one of the commonest birds in the landscape of my youth (the dunes of the Dutch coast) and its song is the herald of summer, it symbolizes for me the love for life and procreation and the freedom to roam.

[2009/10/27 12:37 PM ] amber lauletta says: In the publication you mention georges perec, can you talk more about that?

[2009/10/28 12:15pm Saskia de Brauw says:

There is one simple reason I mention Perec, he is my hero, my example. One of his books Species of Space and other pieces is like a bible to me.

Perec represents for me a combination of the conceptual and the emotional.

The idea and intuition. He describes in a very precise and detailed manner of what a space is composed of and by doing so he maps out a situation in which an event will take, has taken or is taking place.

For example, in a nearly dry and analytical way he makes endless lists of the objects in a room. These objects are always positioned in relation to human beings, to bodies.

By mapping out the room the reader starts to understand more about the people’s habits, fears, longings, emotions. I can read in Perec’s descriptions of space, how it is used by people.

He slows down time as to a point where we can really start looking at what there is in front of our eyes. The most simple and daily things and realities surrounding us become curious objects of interest and research.

Space seems to be either tamer or more offensive than time; we’re forever meeting people who have  watches, very seldom we meet people who have compasses. We always need to know what time it is (who still knows how to deduce it from the position of the sun?) but we never ask ourselves where we are. We think we know; we are at home, at our office, in the Métro, in the street. That of course is obvious – but then what isn’t obvious? Now and again, however, we ought to ask ourselves where exactly we are, to take our bearings, not only concerning our state of mind, our everyday health, our ambitions, our beliefs and our raisons d’être’, but simply our topographical position, our position in relation to a place or a person we are thinking about, or that we shall thus start thinking about.”

I love the simplicity of the idea and the complexity of its outcome. The smallest thing could be an endless source of research and more questions. I like questions not especially answers.

In my work for Souterrain I started by simply looking at a large shadow on a wall that is see when I look out of one of the windows of my house. This shadow that changes during the day is a clock, or in Perec’s terms, tells me something about my topographical position towards other people and places. I filmed this shadow during one full day. In the installation I have replaced the objects that are in my house by glass plates. I used words on the glass plates to describe these objects or thoughts that appear when I am in my house. Projecting through the glass plates – shadow words appear on top of the image of the shadow that I see from the window in my house.

It is about moving in a space and being a container of thoughts – visualizing the space surrounding us and the space inside of us and how they effect one another.

This is what I can write now, My had is a little full with other things.

If you have more questions or if what I write here doesn’t make enough sense please let me know.

[10/27/09 , 12:12 PM] amber lauletta says to Silvan Laan: You use science as a barometer to define art, indicating art explores the chaos of nature where science qualifies the rational aspects. (I’m paraphrasing) how does this piece explore that idea?

[10/28/09 12:49pm] Silvan Laan says: I think scientists and artists share a fundamental wonder and curiosity about the world, appreciating the aesthetics of the natural ‘system’. Each tries to acquire an understanding, but their methods of investigation and the kind of knowledge they produce differ substantially. I think the artist can utilize an analytic, ‘scientific’ approach, but his main compass is of a more intuitive nature. Maybe the opposite is true for the scientist.

Saskia de Brauw

[2009/10/28 2:04pm] amber lauletta to Saskia de Brauw : I’m curious what questions you would have for someone viewing your work or reading that passage?


[2009/10/28 3:28pm] Saskia de Brauw says:

Possible questions I could have ( this is a limited list and should be seen as one possible answer to your question):

Questions on which the answer could be yes or no:

Do you know how the objects in your house are positioned?

Are you aware of how you move through your house?

Is there a rhythm to this movement?

Is it connected to a certain hour in the day?

Do I communicate by visualizing ideas?

Did this project leave a mark on me?

Questions with a clear answer:

Where do you live?

When does a house become home?

What are the objects connected to your surrounding space?

Why do I use glass for this installation?

What sensation do you have when you watch your own shadow reflected on the wall?

How can I lead the audience into experiencing what I want to communicate?

Questions with no clear answer:

When does a house become home?

What are the objects connected to your surrounding space?

Why do I use glass for this installation?

How do I move in between thoughts?

How do thoughts move me?

What am I expressing exactly?

What sensation do you have when you watch your own shadow reflected on the wall?

Did this project leave a mark on me?

How do I communicate?

Do I communicate by visualizing ideas?

How can I lead the audience into experiencing what I want to communicate?

Is our body experiencing time or space?

hmmm, I don’ t know if this is the list I should make, but this is what came out now.

I want to send it as quick as possible.

Like I said, there are so many things today, my head is a bucket of water and is really full and heavy.

So I just send it away. Words like quick sketches.

[10/27/09 , 12:12 PM] amber lauletta says to Silvan Laan: How does your piece respond to “a body”?

[10/28/09 12:49pm] Silvan Laan says: In preparation for this piece, I have been reading scientific literature dealing with all aspects of the life of the willow warbler. I was amazed to learn that male willow warblers (almost) never sing exactly the same song phrase. While individual song phrases are highly variable, they share the same overall structure, and are easily recognized as willow warbler song by the trained observer. In analysis of 108 songs of 15 males (1620 songs), only one male sang the same phrase twice. For this research, sonograms (sound recordings digitally processed into graphs) were used.

A particular song phrase, lasting on average c. 3 seconds, may, once uttered, never reappear in exactly the same form, ever. This fact illustrates for me perfectly the stunning variability, creativity, if you will, that is present in nature. To express my sense of amazement, I chose one particular song phrase out of the many billions that have been uttered in the sexual history of the willow warbler, and ‘immortalized’ it by transferring its sonogram onto a wall.

The wall painting is accompanied by a replica of a willow warbler nest, enlarged to human proportions. The nest shares the transient nature of the song; it is built by the female in a little over a week, and has a functional lifespan of 4 to 5 weeks (until the chicks have fledged). After this, the nest is abandoned and scattered by wind and rain. My piece in this exhibition has a similarly transient nature; the work will exist physically for two months, the duration of the show. Afterward, only photographic evidence remains.

The connection to the ‘body’ is rather loose, but can be seen in the fact that our own bodies are also of a transient nature, which is the cause of the eternal human concern for mortality, aging etc.




Luciano Pinna

While preparing for the Neighborhood Watch Project: Projection WalkPhilip Tonda was also preparing to curate a show in Amsterdam – A Body Presented To Me And You – at the Souterrain Amsterdam – center for contemporary art.

Sept. 13. 2009 – Nov.o1.09

His current curiosity is the body and its relationship to the tactile world, as well as a body of work that brings the artist out of his head, and the ephemeral aspects of experiencing the body. For his contribution to Nhw project, Nightsculpture Reinterpreted, he invited dancer Taylor McLaughlin to interpret one of his earlier works Nightsculpture, 2007 . The piece was an investigation for Philip which occurred in real time at the night of the event as he and the Taylor worked through the concept behind closed glass gallery doors. The continued during the course of the night to reinvent the performance. The experience was engaging to the public as many gathered to watch the performance and Philip engaged the viewers to speak more about it.

A Body Presented to Me and You carries that same themes but for this exhibit he has invited 5 artists to create their own pieces -Augusta Atla (DK/UK), Saskia de Brauw (NL), Johanna Domke (DE/DK), Silvan Laan (NL), Luciano Pinna (NL).

The process and dialogue leading up to the exhibit is documented in curious conversational form in the exhibits catalogue.

Text by Amber Lauletta


For its coming-out onto the Parisian art scene, the young, dynamic collective Transit Système chose the mellow setting of the Parloterie wine bar, inviting friends, collaborators and enthusiasts to get to know its works, its members, and their vision and mission for raw instinctive artistic production.

First and foremost a group of artists – painters, illustrators, photographers, graphic designers – and creative producers committed to aesthetic creation, Transit Système is also a collective dedicated to the development of alternative, fresh and innovative means of promoting and distributing art today. The collective wants to free Art from the constraints of the establishment in which it is so often represented. Theraw instinctive artistic production on show at the Parloterie is not limited to the artistic works on display, but involves the entire event itself – we the spectators are invited to go on an intimate journey with the collective, to reflect and dialogue with them. We are encouraged to participate, short and long term, with Transit Système, firstly as spectators by getting a paint tattoo of the group’s name – a fun instrument, incidentally, of promotion – and then, for the artists among us, as future collaborators with the collective; collaborations that Transit Système is eager to explore and embrace.


The choice of venue is an interesting one. Art openings in general, and in Paris in particular, are usually confined to more formal and traditional places. The Parloterie, conversely, is an easy and warm space. Its red walls and cozy lighting create an intimate cocoon in which the collective can make its debut onto the art scene. And indeed, the nest-like feel of the space is symbolic for the members of Transit Système. As much as a coming out, this is also a coming of age for many of them, a statement to the world that they are Artists, a rite of passage for them to completely embark onto this path, both individually and as a group. The event at the Parloterie clearly illustrates the synergy of the group. Despite different mediums, diverse subject matters and forms, the artworks fuse together successfully into a seemingly casual yet unified collage that merges into the space.

Walking into the Parloterie, we can sense above all that this opening is the culmination of the creation of Transit Système – the proof that the accord that its members felt was so evident between their styles and energies could become something dynamic and effervescent. And it is this effervescence, this vibrant energy to create and share art that we can take away with us.


Transit Système: Liz Bullen, Antoine Alliot, Aude Mc Gill, Molly SJ Lowe, Sophie Boniface, Marine Nyiri et Emilie Prud’homme

Molly SJ Lowe’s works are also currently being exhibited at the 1er Salon des A.J.T. (Artistes Jeunes Talents) at the ESPACE DIALOGOS in Cachan (Val de Marne).

Marine Nyiri won the SFR Jeunes Talents contest and her works will be exhibited at Paris Photo

text by Elisabeth Lastschenko

Artspace Galleries presents los enmascarados, an installation by Adrian Sierra with Valeria Cetraro.

12 October 2009 – 12 November 2009

Architect and multidisciplinary artist Adrian Sierra retains structural ? in his performance-based installations, photography, and film. Parallel to architecture, Sierra’s work ventures into vast territories of exploration using the body to reinterpret form and space.

Sierra’s multidisciplinary approach is exemplified in F x D, a performance art project realized in LA in 2005. F x D, from the formula force x distance = work, is based on repetitive, simple geometric patterns developed from the artist’s preoccupation with architecture. The geometric system, becoming increasingly complex over time, is the plan for a performance and to a simple structural beginning is added costume, make-up, video, music, movement and direction to create a “hyper-active,” a multi-sensory experience. The spectacle interacts with the spectators, disrupting the original pattern and leading to a display, which becomes progressively disorganized and amorphous.

los enmascarados plays on architectural principles in a different way. It challenges the functionality of space – usually an architect’s main concern – by exploring the body’s interactions with its architectural surroundings. Like F x D, los enmascarados is a performance based on evolution. Working with two different performers (one female, one male) in two different locations (LA and Paris), Sierra sets up a performance space for his models. He works with them in a sort of free form choreography, taking inspiration from them and their reactions to the space. Rather than imposing particular poses or compositions, the photographs are the result of an organic evolution of the interaction between body, architecture and photographer. The mask too was a spontaneous development – a simple prop brought along by the performer, which gives the photos a new dimension. In contradiction to the up front nudity of the models the mask creates a screen between the subject and the spectator, creating a tension between intimacy and estrangement.

The installation of los enmascarados includes text by Valeria Cetraro, which plays on these contradictions. Also an architect, Cetraro has always nurtured her interest in visual arts and written expression. Her poetic interpretation of los enmascarados wants to articulate some of the ambiguous qualities in the photographs without ascribing a fixed reading. The photographs remain open to interpretation.

los enmascarados is on exbibit at
Artspace Galleries

54 ave de la Motte-Piquet
Gallery 66
75007 Paris

Text: Caroline Rossiter