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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.


 

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


session one


sunday, 25 october 2009


amber lauletta to Philip Tonda: why did you invite other artists to explore your concept of body instead of just doing it yourself? why curate this idea?

[19:47:27] Philip Tonda says: Because I was curious to see how other artists deal with this subject. In the beginning i thought there might be very different approaches than my own in the end the approach was not so very different – in the sense that i felt that i understood each artist and each work though

[19:48:19] Philip Tonda says: of course each work is individual and has it’s unique character. But you know; in the start i hoped to have artists dealing with for example cyber space – something that is somewhat far away from myself to deal with. But in the end i did not find an artist that i could cooperate with who dealt with that in a way that i found interesting. and also i was interested in the political body, but did not find an artist who dealt with that

[19:50:10] amber lauletta says: it’s sort of interesting that we end with a cyber interview, then.

[19:50:23] Philip Tonda says: yes indeed, but in the end i really like that the exhibition has something intimate about it – the works i mean. and i guess it makes sense that i chose these artists, very much because of the mix between being actively reflecting, and yet giving much and main attention to the visual work in the end

[19:53:10] amber lauletta says: Yes, what is interesting from the photos is that the title tells us this is a body presented but it seems like the experience of the works is that the viewers body is presented to themselves.

[19:54:06] Philip Tonda says: I think you somehow get aware of the space as a whole, and of the interaction between the works, and yes for sure also about your own presence there. Which was something i very much wished for from the start, i even wrote that in the first concept to the exhibition space, but eventually it cam all natural from the artists themselves.

Augusta Atla

Augusta Atla


[19:55:56] amber lauletta says: I notice the correlation between your two works, Augusta and Luciano – SUBTRACTION.

[19:56:22] Augusta Atla says: what do you mean by subtraction – absence?

[19:56:31] amber lauletta says: yes. The title of the exposition, A Body Presented to You and Me, indicates that something will be given

[19:57:02] Augusta Atla says: Yes, somehow I have been working with the absence of the body – as a longing for a viewer to look at the work and a longing for the viewer to long for a presence of the artist. The exhibition space can be understood as a vacuum space for two beings that wish to meet through the work, but never does – as the work is the mediator.

[7:53:26 PM] amber lauletta: it seems like the experience of the works is that the viewers body is presented to themselves.

Luciano Pinna

Luciano Pinna


[19:58:47] Luciano Pinna says: For me this summarizes quite nicely part of what I wanted to achieve with my work.

[19:59:02] Augusta Atla says: not solely – because the work is always made by an artist, so it is more tricky than that

[20:00:08] Luciano Pinna says: but not only to themselves, but to actually discover the full extend of the work, 2 bodies need to be present, in which they act as viewer and participator of the work and vice versa.

[20:00:31] amber lauletta says: just to address Augusta, is this a hope that you need to feel you have accomplished? or is it just a working concept? I mean do you ever fully know that this is how someone experiences this piece?

[20:01:51] Augusta Atla says: no, I can never know anything, it is just an interest of mine to use absence in the work as much as presence…. the space between the line is as important as the work…

[20:02:25] amber lauletta says: the space between the line, I like this

[20:03:02] Augusta Atla says: actually, as I see it, the work is not so important, what is more important is what is NOT there

[20:03:21] amber lauletta says: right. the absence.

[20:03:30] Augusta Atla says: And that I can never know, but try to elaborate through experiments

[20:03:58] amber lauletta says: yes and if I understand you give up some elements of your work for others to decide, like in the case of the printer choosing what order to print?

[20:04:37] Augusta Atla says: I always feel that if I feel I know what a artwork ‘wants’ to make me feel like as a viewer, then I feel not treated with enough ave and mysticism and wonder

[20:05:54] amber lauletta says: so if I could just use this point to illustrate luciano’s work – in that he contrives an interaction.

[20:06:25] Luciano Pinna says: yes, actively

[20:06:56] amber lauletta says: but how does your work exist outside that interaction? as it in when it lies dormant?

[20:07:07] Luciano Pinna says: interesting question. For me that is the essence of my search: when does a work start to exist, and which parties contribute to it?

[20:08:50] amber lauletta says: so you create this action.

[20:09:50] Luciano Pinna says: yes, but I don’t want it to be forced on the visitor

[20:10:17] amber lauletta says: I feel the accidental element makes that intention clear.

[20:10:32] Luciano Pinna says: I like the duality of it, that a passer-by can be a viewer or participator, and that it is not always clear which is which. My ambition is to create a playground of the real, in which it is completely transient who is doing what, and where the artwork ends and the exhibition space continues

[20:12:33] amber lauletta says: you and Augusta also both reference ‘line’ you’re reference is the phrase that is captured on the person, “truth lies beyond this line.”

[20:13:07] Luciano Pinna says: beyond this space

[20:13:35] amber lauletta says: and where does truth enter into this experience?

[20:13:49] Luciano Pinna says: good question. One that might be only answered by experiencing the work, or work in general. It is also a nod to the statement of nauman: “The true artist helps the world by revealing mystic truths


[20:16:10] Augusta Atla says: hm… I am not saying that ‘truth’ lies beyond this space… and certainly I disagree with Luciano here, very much

[20:16:43] Philip Tonda says: truth is a peculiar word indeed… i guess it is to be found individually .. ?

[20:16:47] Augusta Atla says: I, as an artist, have no superior knowledge –

[20:16:58] amber lauletta says: yes, you were just talking about keeping that mysticism sacred.

[20:17:32] Augusta Atla says: it sounds like a old fashion christian way of understanding the artist – as a mediator for God – oh no!

[20:17:58] Philip Tonda says: but what does “beyond this space” mean for you Luciano?

[20:18:10] amber lauletta says: Yes, but even in that it creates a sort of, or references, a sort of mysticism.

[20:18:12] Augusta Atla says: I did NOT mean Mysticism!!! I mean mysteriousness – there is a whole lot of difference

[20:18:37] Luciano Pinna says: I must admit it is a bit hard to keep track of the discussion….

[20:19:04] Augusta Atla says: Mysticism derives from Christianity and other religions, and I do not agree with Rothko, nor Mondrian, in their strange okkult favour for art

[20:19:34] amber lauletta says: Augusta – I was talking about Luciano’s specific sentence “truth lies beyond this line” I was not implying this to your work. just to say that you referenced this idea of “line” in your dialogue earlier.

[20:19:43] Augusta Atla says: is it a very difficult talk to have as a chat – even PHDs are difficult to tackle this subject, so dont worry. I know, I was just implying that I dont agree with Luciano talking about mysticism… but sorry for the confusion


[20:20:45] Luciano Pinna says: the sentence is : truth lies beyond this space


[20:20:55] Augusta Atla says: thank you

[20:20:57] Luciano Pinna says: sorry to be picky about this

[20:21:14] Augusta Atla says: that is what I do not agree to

[20:21:25] amber lauletta says: no it’s great to have the true sentence.

[20:24:03] Philip Tonda says: truth lies beyond this space

johanna2

Johanna Domke


[20:26:12] amber lauletta to johanna.domke so your work seems to be a psychological investigation. As well as addressing bodies in these very specific situation.


[20:26:50] Luciano Pinna says: In some way an artist is seeking for some truth, whether that is only for himself, his surroundings or in the work itself

[20:27:16] amber lauletta says: I’m just curious if, for you, that the investigation ends there? what is your hope for the experience of the person watching your films?

[20:27:18] johanna.domke says: more about the individual being exposed to structures

[20:27:19] Luciano Pinna says: and that is part of what I try to investigate – that there is some truth in an artwork, if at all or not. that is why the sentence: truth lies beyond this space can be interpreted in several ways

[20:28:28] johanna.domke says: the work itself is quite much a process, as the people taking part are shaping it as well

[20:28:49] Luciano Pinna says: truth is outside art or this artwork in particular. Or that it is only inside art or this artwork in particular

[20:29:05] johanna.domke says: i think the search of truth is an interesting question, in the sense of experience. I was just thinking it in relation to my work, as I am talking about a general experience – but I still think it is individual

[20:32:41] amber lauletta says: what is individual?

[20:32:55] johanna.domke says: and it is very hard to talk about a general truth

[20:33:27] Luciano Pinna says: I agree

[20:33:31] amber lauletta says: i do as well.

[20:33:36] johanna.domke says: the experience of the public space that I am referring to

[20:34:43] Luciano Pinna says: that is why the sentence is not just written on the wall of the expo, but projected onto a particular body, and only their really visible by another viewer

[20:37:23] amber lauletta says: i feel truth of experience sort of takes a more rational approach to something organic.


[20:37:48] Philip Tonda says: luciano i am curious what you imagine as” beyond this space”.. Basically i interpretate it as you mean that truth is not something graspable, Am I right?


[20:38:13] Luciano Pinna says: that is part of it, but for me it also refers to art in general, but more specific this work

[20:38:55] amber lauletta says: i feel like “truth lies beyond this space” means beyond this experience – this gallery. truth lies in human experience.

[20:39:24] Luciano Pinna says: that could be a point of view, but not necessary

[20:39:30] johanna.domke says: but why are we actually looking for truth?

[20:40:24] amber lauletta says: this was why i asked.

[20:40:29] Luciano Pinna says: it is the duality of it that I search for. Is it beyond this the gallery, or only to be found in the gallery

[20:40:30] amber lauletta says: it seems a bit severe to me.

[20:41:22] Luciano Pinna says: Again I would paraphrase Bruce Nauman


[20:41:26] Philip Tonda says: I still hardly understand the word. I think there are many truths. And every art work has it’s own truth.


[20:41:47] amber lauletta says: i am also coming from that perspective.

[20:42:22] amber lauletta says: what’s interesting about your films, however, is that even though these people are having their own experience, they are sort of forced to react the same ways.

[20:42:28] johanna.domke says: I think looking for truth is a very moral approach, that actually does not fit with an artistic view on things that goes beyond dualities

[20:42:52] amber lauletta says: i think truth is a constant for the artist, even if it takes different shapes, not to find truth, but use it as a compass.

[20:43:16] Luciano Pinna says: For me this is a yes and now, what I mean there are of course many truths and it depends on your perspective, but what this work tries to question is whether there is any truth in art at all


[20:44:05] amber lauletta says: and what did you find at the end of this experience?

[20:44:40] Philip Tonda says: As an artist you have to stay true to your own interests..

[20:44:51] johanna.domke says: there is maybe a general truth that takes form in law and order, that I maybe as well describe in my films when people are forced by public structures to behave in certain ways

[20:45:24] Philip Tonda says: maybe that’s a kind of general truth.. for me at least.. to be able to feel what i find interesting and deal with that

[20:45:30] amber lauletta says: can you define public structures?

[20:45:39] johanna.domke says: but it is of course a construction of truth on a moral base

[20:45:43] amber lauletta says: do you mean constructs or physical structures? but truth can be personal.

[20:49:14] johanna.domke says: I am talking about structures in public that make you react certain ways – you are supposed to walk here, stop there sit there and wait, buy something so you don´t get bored and so on. It´s commercial, social, architectural and psychological structures that make you behave in public in certain ways. in sleepers for example it is cheap air fares that make people sleep at an airport, which is a very direct confrontation of the private with the public


[20:50:30] Luciano Pinna says: I see that the word truth causes quite a strong reaction

[20:50:37] Philip Tonda says: yep!

[20:50:44] amber lauletta says: i agree.

[20:50:51] Philip Tonda says: how do you feel about that at this moment? is it surprising you?

[20:51:52] Luciano Pinna says: I find that very interesting. The odd thing is, my angle is not directly a moral one. I am far more interested in the dynamics of the work itself. Maybe i could illustrate this by another example. Somebody asked me once, What is the difference between an illusionist and an artist?

[20:52:47] amber lauletta says: okay i see.

[20:55:20] Luciano Pinna says: my fascination is primary the artwork itself. This doesn’t mean I am not aware of the world outside of it, or what implication there might be.

[20:55:59] amber lauletta says: why choose words? why not a symbol or image? what was behind this decision? I feel it changes the element of surprise of your piece.

[20:56:44] Luciano Pinna says: It started with a word, then I came up with an image.

[20:57:17] Philip Tonda says: I see it as if you are questioning art as having agency or not? to a certain level you really need to believe in the art in order to make it happen. And you think you believe in it, but also questions that at the same time..?

[20:57:26] Luciano Pinna says: The sentence was the outcome of a process to define the word. Yes.

[20:57:48] amber lauletta says: what was this word?

[20:57:49] Philip Tonda says: i mean i think you believe in it. but also question it

[20:58:06] Luciano Pinna says: yes Philip, that is my subject. Maybe that is because of my previous study which was Applied Physics.

[20:59:00] Philip Tonda says: yes that makes sense


[20:59:02] Luciano Pinna says: And this research approach is still in me to some extend. I have the tendency to create obscure scientific experiments for understanding and truth.

[21:00:30] amber lauletta says: i see. but i feel research is a part of an artists work, and i see a HUGE parallel between science and art.

[21:01:07] Philip Tonda says: research yes. But the outcome of a scientific research is different than an artistic research

[21:01:08] amber lauletta says: this idea of hypothesis – just to be extremely elementary. Yes, but re=”but “>there is the questioning. the curiosity. As well as the reflection and re constructing of the question

[21:02:17] amber lauletta says: listening to the results.

[21:03:53] Luciano Pinna says: I try to apply a kind of questionable scientific approach to constructing a work that questions itself.

[21:04:34] amber lauletta says: i mean you have a question.

[21:04:48] Luciano Pinna says: And in this I need the visitor/passer-by/participants/actor

[21:04:52] Philip Tonda says: So you find it important to question the work itself? In every work or only in this one?

[21:06:02] Luciano Pinna says: For me the recurring aspect of a work investing itself is important. It might not always be visible in the end work, but I am conscious of this aspect when making it


[21:07:22] Philip Tonda says: I had a personal question; to see how the artists would deal with a subject that i felt related to. And for me it was also very important to make an exhibition which were held together by something else than a political theme. You see a lot in Holland, and i was tired of this – the political context. I was more interested in each work having it’s own agency. Also to see weather the works would interact with each other. which seemed to work


[21:14:50] amber lauletta says: so i was just reading more of the publication. You mention capturing this moment and then distroying it – this moment when a work becomes ‘a work’

[21:15:32] Luciano Pinna says: yes. that is what fascinates me, almost physical. As if one could use some microscope and reveal the inner workings of it.

[21:16:31] amber lauletta says: that moment.

[21:17:28] Luciano Pinna says: yes. in a way, it is a similar moment as the conscious now moment. It is this intangible quality that fascinates me – where does it reveal itself? Is it miraculously attached to the surface of a work or is it contained within its structure?

[21:23:44] Philip Tonda says: You speak about when a work becomes a work, Luciano?

[21:24:17] Luciano Pinna says: yes. But also where my fascination comes from, or what I try to aim for.

[21:24:34] Philip Tonda says: What do you think then? For me a work contains the background of it. For the same reason it does not interest me to see paintings hanging in a living room.

[21:24:38] amber lauletta says: it seems so ephemeral – how does it relate to the body?


[21:25:17] Luciano Pinna says: I know, it sounds for me academic than I hope the work will be in the end. I know, it sounds far more academic than I hope the end result is. It is a starting point for creation, but the end result should not be an illustration of my fascination.

[21:26:50] amber lauletta says: Right, this is the inner workings.

[21:27:17] Philip Tonda says: i think your work for this exhibition is very much relating to the body in the theme as in the physical presence – or absence of presence- in a direct and non academic way as well, luckily

[21:27:46]   Luciano Pinna says: thanks, I was hoping it would.


 

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