The Calling: International group exhibition about avocation and calculation
Curator: Jan Van Woensel
Artists: Mōnikā Bartáčková (CZ), Eitan Bartal (IL), Kristina Bartová (CZ), Barbara Bervoets (BE), Barry Camps (BE), Patrick Conrad (BE), Kris Dewitte (BE), Lucie Frydlová (CZ), Martinka Hakenová (CZ), Vojta Kuřátko (CZ), Annie Letovich (LV), Ina Leys (BE), Charlotte Lybeer (BE), Christophe Malfliet (BE), Max Razdow (USA), Lee Ranaldo (USA), Bob Szantyr (USA), Marie Sedelmayerová (CZ), Jan Stremes (BE), Andrea Uhliarová (CZ), LG White (UK), Emerald Rose Whipple (USA)
"The Calling" is an exhibition that displays the artwork of invited students of Ladislav Sutnar Faculty of Design and Art and professional artists from U.S.A., Israel and Belgium. The starting point of the exhibition is a quote from the influential artist Vito Acconci who said: "Think of this world as a white sheet of paper; a blank page. Get past dreaming and doodling. We can use that page to make fictions on, for one thing, and to make calculations on, for another." Curator Jan Van Woensel explains that "The Calling" is a project that has an open structure and comes with a wide spectrum of artistic visions, concepts and philosophies. All of them come together in a labyrinth. The exhibition space is open, like Vito Acconci's blank page, and we can go in any direction from here. Each painting, drawing, sculpture, photograph, video and performance work in "The Calling" individually and collaboratively decides where we go to, as artists, as visitors, as people. "The Calling" is a unique experience. (Curator Jan Van Woensel, March 2019)
Corita Kent was a Roman Catholic nun based in Boston, U.S.A. Henri Rousseau was a tax collector based in Paris, France. J. R. R. Tolkien was a philologist based in Bournemouth, U.K. Walter Michiels is unemployed and lives nomadically in Belgium. Barbara Kruger is a graphic designer based in New York, U.S.A. Henry Darger was a custodian based in Chicago, U.S.A. Bruce Wayne is a philantrophist based in Gotham City, U.S.A. Charlotte Brontë was a Governess based in Haworth, West Riding of Yorkshire, U.K. Franz Kafka was an insurance assessor based in Prague. Nicolaus Copernicus was a Roman Catholic cleric based in Royal Prussia, Kingdom of Poland.
They got called away
Recently, I had the honor to curate Jaroslav Vančát's exhibition "Imagestructure" in Ladislav Sutnar Gallery. Although Vančát produces still images from what he calls digital paintings, builds installations, conducts an interactive group performance since 1997, is recognized as the first Czech person to work with algorithm-based art; he doesn't want to be called an artist. Jaroslav Vančát is a theoretician. But, considering the opinion that all art is motivated by concept and by extension, theory, I asked him about the difference between an artist and a theoretician.* Vančát understands that a theoretician works on his theory while an artist creates art. Art is in flux, ever-changing, subjective and thus unreliable. Theory strives toward system, cohesion and certain truth. Due to its defective nature art is impossible to subject to a system and art is never truth. In the company of theory, art appears theatrical. The artist sits in front of his blank paper. For hours and days and weeks he stares at it. He waits. Then, he draws a line –––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––– It is the wrong line.
*If before the painting is the concept of the painting, is then not the painting the result of a concept-based evolution that mirrors evolution of theoretical thought even though it is inevitable for the painting to derail from the concept? Can we argue that the painting, or any other artwork, is
the unique consequence of a concept; and always imperfect?
From early 15c. Late Latin calculatus
past participle of calculare, from calculus
"the result of reckoning, the solution for a problem."
"(...) I cannot imagine that someone should have so completely misunderstood the last sentences
of the book and hence the fundamental conception of the entire book."
Ludwig Wittgenstein finished his Tractatus Logico-Philosophicus in 1918, in times of mayhem, personal distress and considerable trauma. Having volunteered to join the Austro-Hungarian Army he survived some of the heaviest fighting on the Russian and Italian fronts during World War I. Towards the end of the war a series of events occurred in the same year. He was captured and imprisoned; his uncle passed away and his brother killed himself, the third of his siblings to commit suicide; his alleged lover died in a plane crash; his life work was disapproved for publication. Wittgenstein was physically and mentally spent and contemplated suicide, but he turned to gardening and to teaching mathematics in elementary schools instead. He lived in isolation in rural Austria. When his abstruse Tractatus did get published in 1921, Wittgenstein obstinately disowned it for being a pirate edition. In his opinion it was placed out of context and misconceived by his sole supporter; his University of Cambridge teacher Bertrand Russell. ("I had first thought Wittgenstein might be a crank but soon I decided he was a genius" – Russell, 1911). Being regarded a marginal figure to the elite institution of academic philosophy Ludwig Wittgenstein further self-marginalized rather than to comply.
"(...) I once probably made a big mistake, and I think it was in Frieze magazine, I don't remember now, when the interviewer asked me about Richard Serra, and I said: I would like it so much more if when you got inside a "Torqued Ellipse", there would be a hot dog stand inside. So that there'd be something for you to do. If Richard Serra read that, he'd probably, he's probably out to get me you know?" Vito Acconci places the importance of architecture in the experience of the time that one has with the physical space rather than in the palpable presence of the concrete space. Throughout his career, time is a significant and recurrent motive. Starting as a poet, Acconci measured his writing time with the exact duration of his walk from 14th street and 7th avenue to 14th street and 6th avenue in New York City. By doing this he made reading time equivalent to writing time and established permanent connection between both experiences. "I will always be the person who made Seedbed and I think I made a mistake; it ruined my life (...)". There's an interesting story about an avant garde poet of not much success who disappeared. He gained some short-experienced notoriety with what could now be called his pre-Bas Jan Ader-like performances. He would climb up and jump off a ladder that he installed in a gallery or another space where people could come together and recite his poetry while in the air. When he'd land on the floor he'd stop delivering his poem and he'd start again; up the ladder, jumping off, reciting, landing, and again, and more, until exhaustion; and he was never able to reach the end of his poem during his fall although it was not clear if the poem actually had a beginning or an ending. He would read faster, talk louder, breathe heavier, climb slower, fall clumsier. On the one hand, his intention was to pay anti-homage to the 17th century Metaphysical Poets through an absurd act of kamikaze or a simulation thereof. On the other hand, his intention was to open the boundaries of poetry to the dimensions of space, time, spirit and body. Then, the actual poem gradually became less important than the concept of the inevitable impossibility of the poem, which can be said to be the respective undercurrent of this man's oeuvre; the failure of art as a form of art.
(...) or more situated in existential nihilism; perpetual failure as a condition of life
Jan Van Woensel
Foto: Marie Plná