By Accident

14/03/2009 - 04/04/2009

David EvrardDavid GarcheyDouglas ParkMatthew Burbidge

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Critics pick, Art Forum (April 2009)

 

14th of March - 4th April 2009
Le Commissariat, 13 rue Ternaux 75011 Paris, France
Gallery open from 15h00 to 20h00, from Wednesday to Saturday

With the support of / Avec le soutien de la Communauté française Wallonie-Bruxelles et de la DRAC Ile-de-France

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EN:

“We cannot produce accidents to order” (William Burroughs and Brion Gysin, The Third Mind, 1978).

Douglas Park is a London based writer, poet, raconteur whose art practice deals with indexing, fragmentation and cultural mimetic transmission. One of his areas of research is the examination of marginalized elements of contemporary art history through the prism of the "accident". This is the starting point for this exhibition and it takes the form of both a prototypical model for cultural remapping and a hypothetical historical flux density measuring device.

To facilitate his research, Komplot have invited a group of artists to respond to a privately circulated underground text in which Park created a lexical analysis of accidents that have occurred in contemporary art history (be they personal setbacks; interpersonal, political, legal, media and public adversity and backlash; grievances and disputes; resource and facility shortages; technical hitches; conservation, storage and transit issues; changes of mind etc).

Matthew Burbidge has created a free-wheeling film portrait of Douglas Park, resulting in an over-the-top fast and dangerous ride careening out of control through the landscape of post war contemporary avant-garde. David Evrard, working in tandem with graphic designer David Garchey, acts as iconographer by illustrating the text of Douglas Park. He creates a parallel world of images suggesting that history itself can be treated as a found object. Film-maker & poet Jean-Philippe Convert is the interpreter, frantically re-writing the  unorthodox stories created by Douglas Park to enable their smooth passage from London to Paris.

FR:

L’artiste anglais Douglas Park dégage un flot continu de paroles, comme une encyclopédie de l’art contemporain. En novembre dernier, il a envoyé à ses amis une liste avec de descriptions de pièces, lesquelles résultent d’accidents dont les artistes ont tiré profit. Cette liste comprend autant d’artistes proches de lui à Londres (Artists Anonymous, Richard Crow, Coum Transmissions) que d’artistes plus historiques tels que Rasheed Araeen, Joseph Beuys, Daniel Buren, Marcel Broodthaers, Andre Cadere, Jacques Charlier, Gilbert & George, Susan Hiller…  Au total, une soixantaine de pièces. Le texte relève d’une histoire expérimentale de l’art : accidents de travail parfois non catalogués. 

Excités par ce défi, nous nous sommes demandés ce que nous pourrions faire de cette énumération. Alors Matthew Burbidge a filmé une soirée pendant laquelle Douglas monologue dans un pub, délirant et précis dans les méandres de sa mémoire. David Garchey met en page le texte que David Evrard illustre avec des images qui n’ont rien à voir, tentant de proposer une équivalence à l’objet trouvé. Jean-Philippe Convert sera l’interprète francophone de Douglas. Komplot et Le Commissariat seront là pour vous orienter avec quelques surprises iconographiques à découvrir sous le manteau. 

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FRAGMENTS from an INTRO by Douglas Park (© 2009)


“... Nothing is immune or exempt to social, political, cultural and economic forces or scientific and natural laws.  Much that’s included becomes real-life satire on the irrationality and superstition of anecdote, biography, legend, mythology and romanticism...”

“Between the critical and creative approach, crossover arises with idea that great scientific and technological discovery and invention come out of mistakes or carelessness. “ 

“... Fate striking work at any stage of production, exposure or whenever, only for drastically affected outcome to be kept by the authors, deliberately addressed and appearing as part of their output –as well as actually generating other work... such circumstances include (both foreseeable and unexpected): accidents, complications and mistakes; personal setbacks; interpersonal, political, legal, media and public etc adversity and backlash; grievances and disputes; resource and facility shortages; technical hitches; conservation, storage and transit issues; side effects, spinoffs, unfinished business and afterlife; changes of mind; hindsight, improvements, updates, amendments and retraced steps later...”

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EN:

The following attempts to introduce, describe and explain every exponent and example coming to mind and recommended of a seemingly overlooked but nonetheless worthy idiom or genre identified.  This cultural area being fate striking work at any stage of production, exposure or whenever, only for drastically affected outcome to be kept by the authors, deliberately addressed and appearing as part of their output –as well as actually generating other work.  Existing, original, intentional and self-conscious meaning, expectations and plans can change beyond recognition, actually become further added to –or even lead to entirely new possibilities opening up.

Questions asked encourage and provoke playing with and defiance of proscribed constructs as to whether any process, product, experience or situation is ever predictable, fixed, definitive or controlled in ongoing and inconclusive reality –and also the feasibility of choice and freedom within any conditions.    

Such circumstances include (both foreseeable and unexpected): accidents, complications and mistakes; personal setbacks; interpersonal, political, legal, media and public etc adversity and backlash; grievances and disputes; resource and facility shortages; technical hitches; conservation, storage and transit issues; side effects, spinoffs, unfinished business and afterlife; changes of mind; hindsight, improvements, updates, amendments and retraced steps later etc.  Still more factors are flexibility, opportunism and capitalisation.  

Without detracting from anything, consideration, definition and selection policy struggled with overlap and similarity with other (equally relevant) tendencies and instances not brought about or operating in the same way.  These include: useage of other’s work; “challenges” (attempting to influence other’s decisions); works engaged with important and serious episodes, phases and circumstances in the artist’s own life; the reappearance of imagery from and of other works; retrospectives, surveys and monographs as work; archival and preparatory / working material as work; involvement of other’s input in production; solicited and curated contributions submitted to works and projects akin to collections, archives, publications, programs and exhibitions.


Further addressed is explosion of clichés and constructs expecting specialness and supremacy to cultural practice, lifestyle and products –against the inescapable reality of external determining factors occupied; nothing is immune or exempt to social, political, cultural and economic forces or scientific and natural laws.  Much that’s included becomes real-life satire on the irrationality and superstition of anecdote, biography, legend, mythology and romanticism (most notably: Wassily Kandinsky’s famous “revelation” about the light filtering through tree leaves and branches, passing on further through his window onto some blank canvas or unfinished work-in-progress –supposedly the “inspiration” behind Kandinsky and other’s early abstraction).  Between the critical and creative approach, crossover arises with idea that great scientific and technological discovery and invention come out of mistakes or carelessness.   

While belonging more to the (ho, ho, ho) homage (of visual and lingual puns on attributes of major figures and works etc), certain artists and work falling outside this category deserve a mention for addressing issues at stake.  

During the rise of the conceptual-era, the Belgian autodidact satirist and social commentator, Jacques Charlier identified ideological and ethical contradictory flaws and downright hypocrisy behind-the-scenes of these supposed radicals and manqué revolutionaries.  As well as other works parodying his contemporaries, Charlier photographed workmen struggling with the strain of carrying Daniel Buren’s rolls of striped wallpaper and textiles, Andre Cadere’s clashes and arguments with ordinary gallery and museum personnel about if or where he could place his “barre de bois-ronde”, also capturing the visitors and behaviour at vernissages and other occasions.  Additionally, Charlier drew deadpan cartoons and comic strips, including visual and written impressions of what each major male artist’s penis might look like, specific attacks on Buren and Cadere in particular –and even observing the procedures and speakers at a conference.  Around the same time, the U.K artist Tony Rickaby, as part of his concerns with class values, wrote and published his bookwork, An Unknown Art History (Art Net, London 1975) and Six Unknown Yet Influential Artists of the 1960’s in General Schmuck periodical (edited by Felipe Ehrenberg and David Mayor, Cullompton, 1975).  Both of which are series of short fictional stories about well-known 20th century modern “master” artists crossing paths with some ordinary member of the public during everyday life –with coincidental similarity to their work.  More recently, the U.K contemporary artist, musician and educator, Bob & Roberta Smith produces his signboards telling stories which mix and match the people and events of art and cultural history.  

FR:

Ce texte est une traduction libre de celui de Douglas Park qui tente d’introduire des exemples de pièces qui lui sont venus à l’esprit ou qui lui ont été recommandés comme « accidentels » : Changements de plans en cours de route résultant du hasard, d’erreurs qui sont récupérés par l’artiste comme partie intégrante de l’œuvre qui s’en voit transformée.

Au-delà de toute tentative de catégorisation ou de définition d’un nouveau genre, Douglas Park parle de processus, produits, expériences ou situations qui sont imprévisibles échappant par définition au contrôle de l’artiste et correspondant à une réalité qui influence ses choix et sa liberté. De telles circonstances impromptues – accidents, complications ou erreurs, pour des raisons personnelles ou relationnelles,  politiques ou résultant de l’adversité, de la censure, de pièces cassées, de disputes, de retournements de situation, de problèmes de ressources, de transport, effets secondaires indésirables, projets non terminés, problèmes techniques, incompréhensions – sont autant d’éléments inattendus survenant lors de la création et la diffusion de pièces qui sont exploités comme des facteurs favorables par les artistes faisant preuve de flexibilité, opportunisme et créativité.

Il est donc question de l’intrusion ou la prédominance des réalités politiques, culturelles, sociales, naturelles ou économiques dans la création de produits culturels et de styles de vie dont personne ne peut se départir. Ces faits sont racontés par Douglas Park comme anecdotes, éléments biographiques ou romanesques, légendes, mythologies, satyres qui rendent compte de l’irrationalité de la vie. Rappelons-nous de Kandinsky qui aurait eu la « révélation » en observant les motifs des feuillages réfléchis sur sa toile à travers la fenêtre. Au-delà de l’art, il est bien connu que les grandes découvertes scientifiques ou technologiques sont des trouvailles résultant d’accidents, d’erreurs, d’oublis.

Si cette liste représente un hommage singulier à des grands noms de l’histoire de l’art, elle n’en est pas moins parsemée d’exemples moins connus relevant de cette anti-catégorie pour le moins atypique qu’est l’accident. En préambule, Douglas Park note trois exemples qui inspirent son approche de l’histoire de l’art expérimentale.

Dans les années conceptuelles, l’autodidacte satiriste belge Jacques Charlier a commenté autant de contradictions de l’intelligentsia, des radicaux de gauche et de la jet set de l’art qu’il parodie dans ses photographies et dessins. Montrant des ouvriers qui transportent des toiles striées de Buren, les discussions de Cadere avec des galeristes et institutions pour placer ses barres de bois rondes ou la faune de vernissage. Sans oublier ses fameux dessins de bites d’artistes.

A la même époque en Grande-Bretagne, Tony Rickaby, dans ses recherches sur les valeurs de classe, publie An Unknown Art History (Art Net, London 1975) et Six Unknown Yet Influential Artists of the 1960’s in General Schmuck periodical (éd. Felipe Ehrenberg and David Mayor, Cullompton, 1975). Ces deux livres font coïncider des petites fictions sur les « maîtres » du 20ème siècle avec des histoires de personnes ordinaires dans leur vie quotidienne. 

Plus récemment, l’artiste anglais Bob & Roberta Smith a produit des panneaux qui racontent des histoires où se rencontrent des gens et des événements de l’art dans un contexte culturel plus large.
 

© Douglas Park, 2009  

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