The concept of the project is to further research the idea of performance as staging and as accomplishment. In this context the participants look at the construction of a marketable self, how that functions in the art world, and how the culture of the art market might have an effect on the persona of the artist and the work’s reception. The new myth of the artist operates inside ambivalent structures: between ideal-typical, pre-established forms of behavior and, within those, a pointedly individual performance. What are the parameters, gestures and forms of such a performance?
The understanding of “performance” in this context includes two senses of the word, as staging and as accomplishment. What kind of performance will lead to success? How does the political figure in all this? These are just some of the questions the artists and writers grappled with during the residency.
“I’m a sissy and a wimp,” reads the sentence above Abhishek Hazra’s helmeted head during the opening of the exhibition. The artist is submerged in a heap of shattered pots. On the opposite side of the room one sees a black silhouette – a reference to Ai Weiwei’s infamous piece Dropping a Han Dynasty Urn (1995). Quoting this icon of contemporary political art and performing the part of one condemned to inaction and inevitable complicity, Hazra interrogates an artist’s position as a political actor.
In a performance video titled, The Incompetent Enthusiast, Hazra explores the figure of the enthusiastic yet incapable amateur. As someone who is particularly interested in the natural sciences and mathematics the artist perceives this role as his own – on one hand it repeatedly confronts him with his own limitations, on the other it provides infinite freedom.
By drawing on the walls of the gallery and disfiguring its characteristic architecture Aditya Pande engages closely with the exhibition space itself. His interventions, comprising drawings, sculptural elements, sound, video and photographs, evolve from words (only recognizable on second or third glance!). In the works titled Half-full and Not in Fool Form, the words ‘Do’ and ‘Fool’ signify the ambivalent relationship between the artistic impetus and every artist’s fear (and joy) of failing. Both words get blurred during the drawing process, in the same way the meanings of the words tend to dissolve the longer one analyses them. During the week of the exhibition the artist works on the installations by modifying them and documenting the stages of development. Thus design, projection, performance and documentation all fall into simultaneity.
Through the course of the residency, Julia Prezewowsky interrogated the creation of individuality, specifically in the context of creating an artist figure, through elaborate strategies and tools offered by business literature and the market. Evidently, the art world hesitates to acknowledge the degree to which this discourse is adopted in the production of a marketable persona and to augment demand for certain kinds of artistic production. Prezewowsky creates a center for learning and exchange to make visible the processes of seeking counsel, advice and expertise from a variety of professionals who become a “Personal Board of Directors” for interested artists and art professionals. The space offers the opportunity to have one-on-one and group advisement sessions, consult business and art literature and find answers to pressing questions about gaining confidence, charting a path, consulting the stars and planning a successful career!
Kym Ward draws on methodologies of market research and works with a professional focus group leader to create a participatory performance piece within an environment that allows participants to engage with ideas of object-hood, the artist’s hand and the interaction between the producers and consumers (collectors/viewers) of art ‘products’. The process of market testing, involving careful observation, discussion and association with a product assumes an entirely different context when an artwork is under scrutiny. The revelatory nature of the exchange between participants and the facilitator is underscored by the artist’s own connection (physical and intellectual) with the originality and value of the idea. Further, the dichotomy between those on the inside (participants) and outside (observers) mirrors art world divisions between the arbiters of taste and those who watch and follow.
Rattanamol Singh Johal and Barbara J. Scheuermann provide a set of ironic dictates, satirizing both the artist-curator relationship and the very idea of a mantra for success!
About the Participants
Through her artistic practice, Julia Prezewowsky (born 1982) investigates and dismantles the operating systems of various exhibition(ist) contexts, ranging from a gallery opening, to a self-help meeting or a television program. In highly staged scenarios, which she designs and constructs, she explores the roles of subjects and objects, questioning concepts of autonomy and individualism. The artist obtained a BA from Chelsea College of Art & Design in London and is currently enrolled at Goldsmiths University, London and will receive her MFA in 2013. She has recently participated in group shows at Savvy Contemporary, Berlin; Stedefreund, Berlin and FOLD, London. She is the director of Gallery Nature Morte in Berlin.
The performance artist Kym Ward (born 1982) received her BA from Chelsea College of Art & Design in London in 2006 and is currently participating in the MFA program at the Piet Zwart Institute in Rotterdam. She was awarded a scholarship last year by Goldrausch Künstlerinnen Project, Berlin. Her interest in the reality of modern labour and social practice runs from the everyday to the infinite, often employing the languages of slapstick comedy and the absurd. She has recently exhibited at September Gallery, Berlin; Franklin Furnace, New York and FOLD, London.
Barbara J. Scheuermann
Barbara J. Scheuermann (born 1975) obtained her Ph.d from the institute of art history at the University of Cologne in 2005. Currently she works as a curator for contemporary art at the Wilhelm-Hack-Museum, Ludwigshafen, Germany. She divides her time between Ludwigshafen and Berlin, where she has been running the project space Babusch. Project Space for Art from and about Elsewhere in her flat since 2009. Previously she worked as a curator for contemporary art at Tate Modern, London, and as an assistant curator at Kunstsammlung Nordrhein-Westfalen, Düsseldorf, as well as at the Haus der Kunst, Munich. Most recent curatorial projects include Dot.Systems - From Pointillism to Pixelation at the Wilhelm-Hack-Museum 2012, The Secret Life of Abstract Forms at Hopstreet, Brussels 2011, and Where am I? at Experimenter, Kolkata, in 2010. In 2010 she travelled to Delhi, Mumbai, Kolkata and Bangalore to continue her research on contemporary art practice in India, funded by the Goethe-Institut. As an independent writer and art critic she has contributed to numerous art magazines as well as to several exhibition catalogues and other publications, particularly focusing on concepts of identity, performativity and narration.
Born in Lucknow in 1976, raised and still living in New Delhi, Aditya Pande studied at the National Institute of Design in Ahmedabad, where he received his degree in Graphic Design in 2001. He has participated in group shows at Nature Morte, New Delhi (2008 and 2010), Nature Morte Berlin (2009) and Bose Pacia, New York (2008 and 2009) as well as having solo shows at the Alexia Goethe Gallery, London in 2009 and at Chatterjee & Lal, Mumbai in 2008. His works most usually take the form of mixed media applications on to highly complex computer-generated pictures, but he has also experimented with photography, video, ceramics and installations. He was most recently included in the exhibition Cynical Love: Life in the Everyday curated by Gayatri Sinha at the Kiran Nadar Museum of Art in Noida.
Abhishek Hazra (born 1977, lives and works in Bangalore) approaches his art practice from a wide variety of positions and disciplines, with a particular emphasis on the study of the historiography of science. He uses video, performance and prints that often integrate textual fragments drawn from real and fictional scenarios. He has had two solo shows with Gallery SKE in Bangalore, who also presented his works in an Art Statements booth at the Basel Art Fair in 2011. His works have been included in many international exhibitions and continue to tour with the large Indian Highway exhibition, which was originally conceived and curated by Hans Ulrich Obrist for the Serpentine Gallery in London.
Rattanamol Singh Johal
Rattanamol Singh Johal (born 1987) is a graduate of the Macaulay Honours College of the City University of New York (CUNY) with double majors in Art History and Political Science. Having completed his postgraduate work at University of London’s Courtauld Institute, where he investigated the interplay of aesthetics and politics in globalised contemporary art, Rattan returned to New Delhi in July 2011 for the IFA-Khoj Curatorial Residency during which the exhibition Elusive Truth, Evolving Medium: Evaluating Contemporary Political Documentary was conceived. The exhibition took place at Khoj Studios in November 2011 and was invited to the British Council’s Queens Gallery during Persistence Resistance – an annual festival of political documentary – in February 2012. He recently participated in the Independent Curators International (ICI) Curatorial Intensive (in collaboration with Performa 11) in New York City and was part of the curatorial team of KHOJLIVE12, an evening of live performance that coincided with the India Art Fair in January 2012. In February this year, he joined Khoj International Artists' Association in a full-time capacity as Curator & Manager, Archives & Publications.