Olga Miłogrodzka, The recycling of ideas is inevitable anyway
“The Dump” is the title of the project in blog form, where for years Maurice Benayoun has shared his unfulfilled artistic ideas. This internet storage yard, a „dump” of ideas, inspired Agnieszka Kulazińska, the curator of CCA Laznia in Gdańsk to prepare a project (“The Dump – the recycling of ideas”) where 8 young artists decide to conduct creative work on an entry they chose from the website. In reality, they took on a very difficult task – extracting an independent piece of art from someone else’s ideas. After seeing the exhibit, I am no sure whether they were successful. To be honest, none of the works displayed in Gdansk seemed to be an independent and consistent work which, at the same time, preserves its clear relation to the chosen concept of the French artist. In most cases, I could not go beyond the point of processing the borrowed concept. There were also ideas which did not seem sufficiently clear and adequate in art form.
The video by Dave Ball (“The Table Tennis Player and the World”), despite its literary presentation of the idea contained in the blog, has successfully managed to distract my attention from the essence of the problem it tackled. On his website, Maurice compared creative work to a game of tennis, giving three different scenarios. In the worst case scenario, that on which Dave Ball focused in the video, a player hits the ball while being completely alone on the court – he does not have an opponent responding to his attacks nor a wall from which, at least, he could bounce the balls back, thus making the game impossible. In the film we can see a girl trying to play table tennis. Even though she is surrounded by tower blocks and the sounds of everyday life of the city, there is no one there to stand on the other side of the net. After each serve, the ball flies over the table and lands on the grass. The problem is that if it wasn’t for the text on the screen and the clockwork behavior and lack of purpose displayed by the player, the video would make me rather think about the problem of social pathology and the related stagnation, helplessness and loneliness, not the creative individual who, through work, searches for ways to communicate with the world, desires its reaction and reply. This is why I view the video as not very communicative. For me it lacks suggestive means of expression. I could say the same thing about the project by Vesna Bukovec “I promise to change the world but only if 10 other people will do the same”. After reading the author’s description of the exhibition, I must admit she was very well prepared. The material gathered during the research reinforces the dismay expressed by Maurice in relation to the barrenness and even hypocrisy of many web-based activist and social campaigns. None the less, the sketches drawn by Vesna (inspired by the website which encourages readers to collectively make resolutions about changing themselves and the world) don’t really say much. They did not even reflect 10 percent of the said problem. I view them as a sketch, a stroke taken from the picture of a wide and rich context.
Metka Zupanič went quite far in her interpretation of the ideas selected by Maurice, treating it as an excuse for completely independent contemplations. She became interested in the idea of designing a bibliography generator which produces a list of books which would then serve as a point of reference for anyone reading a scientific work. She then took the idea to the world of art; to the way young artists receive their “promotions” to be exact. On the floor of the gallery she created a maze of names of the most important centres and museums of contemporary art, which have consistently led from the less significant to the centre marked by four of the most important institutions: MOMA, the Tate Modern, Bilbao and MUMOK. This was a courageous and independent move. However, I get the impression that this has significantly weakened the link between implementation and Maurice’s idea, and has actually brought them to an idiomatic similarity. The concepts of “referentiality” and “hierarchic order”, although adequate in the context of both scientific work and bibliography, as well as the institutions of art and artistic career, have very little in common – they say nothing new and do not complement each other in any way. That is why, when looking at Zupanič’s work, I felt not only a craving for more, but also slight confusion.
Equally mysterious was the exhibition by Łukasz Ogórek. From the blog, he picked up the idea of creating a picture in a public space, which appears only when all the voices surrounding it disappear – a picture that in this way demands focus and conditions which will allow it to have an immediate and direct impact on the observer. I wonder: was this interactive work, “91.0 MHz” – a tiny radio collecting all the sounds from the room, from which the viewer moves along the gallery, and as he comes closer to the microphone, causing feedback, supposed to illustrate the dynamics of this relationship or not? If my guess is correct, then I have the same problem as in the previous works – a comparison of the feedback mechanism with the feedback in the process of communication is probably brilliant, but not necessarily revelatory. It does not add any comment to Maurice’s idea but – ironically! – effectively distorts the clarity of the idea.
What impressed me at Laznia was the project by Kama Sokolnicka, although it would be difficult for it to function outside the exhibition and its curator competition. She built her own warehouse in the gallery. In a small room, she gathered scraps and waste used in the construction of the exhibition. The entire place is closed off with glass, so that viewers can only look inside. Kama’s dump is a reverse of the internet warehouse of ideas. In contrast to the virtual warehouse, it contains real trash which is proof of the completed work of the artists. There is no open form, it does not demand interaction – it symbolically closes the exhibition and disables the possibility of recycling and re-use. Maybe it’s better this way?
In the text accompanying the exhibition by Agnieszka Kulazińska we can read that we live in a world characterized by the overproduction of information and images, in times of the great quote, the recycling old trends and endless interpretations and repetitions. She provocatively asks the question – why produce new ideas when you can use the ones that already exist? Using existing ideas in order to create new and unique ones – it is not an easy task, but why not. After seeing the exhibition, I would conclude that it is enough for us to be aware that we do not live in a bubble, and whether we want to or not, our every action is a response to ideas and concepts which start now as well as have started in the past. It’s an old truth, but a true none the less. The recycling of ideas is inevitable anyway. I do not see the need to stimulate it.
Please read also the curator answer: https://thedumprecyclingmysli.wordpress.com/2010/12/16/agnieszka-kulazinska-it-is-a-fact-that-recycling-of-ideas-is-inevitable/