More dramatic readings of the worst artist statements, gallery press releases and art criticism. This is the last one for the time being, but I’ll be back soon with more highfalutin claptrap and a new dinner jacket. The art work being described (or not, as the case may be) was a “one nigth event” [sic] that took place in Lisbon this January. I suppose they could have further minimised the chances of anybody actually seeing whatever the hell it was they were showing by doing it in a boat 100km off the coast of Portugal or something, but theirs was certainly a brave step towards the high-end art world’s ideal of art not being visible to the general public at all.
The title ‘Aula de Ginástica’ [Gymnastics Class] evokes a notion of time, a unit, a moment, a class, an exercise or set of exercises and, in this particular case, a spatial construction based on mental exercises that correspond to a set of reflections on the possibility and fulfillment of a project. Its presence is absence circumscribed by a geography that radically affects the EMPTY CUBE project in terms of its display potential: in what it shows for a single, unrepeatable moment and in the rarefaction of its space as the symbolic place of the exhibitive project.
Its presence is absence? My approval of whoever wrote this is annoyance. I have to say that for me ‘Gymnastics Class’ doesn’t evoke a notion of time, a unit or whatnot. It mainly evokes my PE teacher at secondary school who loved watching boys in the shower under the pretences of “making sure they washed” and doted on them until they hit puberty, then switched to bullying them relentlessly for the apparent sin of growing up. Charming fellow. Looked like a male version of Margaret Thatcher.
Alongside this, designer Vieira Baptista combines a number of models and prototypes to reveal methodologies and processes that present the ephemeral as a transitory moment in the creative process itself, without losing sight of the viewer’s itinerary, which leads to a surprisingly deceptive plane. However, the geography and concomitant geometry imposed by his reflection on this project make it possible to visually construct the vectors of a now imaginary space that repeats itself in the memory of past EMPTY CUBE projects. EMPTY CUBE itself is suggested by the action of someone who intervenes in a space, be it the same space with which we are familiar or a different one, defined by Miguel Vieira Baptista’s design pieces on the walls of the host space.
I defy anybody to work out from this description what was actually being shown or done in the gallery or what it was really about. “Design pieces” doesn’t count either, because what is a “design piece”? There’s no obvious connection between these “design pieces” and the gibberish about methodologies anyway. I think this is one of the purest artbollocks texts I’ve done so far, at least in the sense that it’s all bollocks and no art. That’s why it’s hard to offer any kind of lengthy commentary on it. Some of the others gave the impression that there might conceivably be something worth seeing if you like that kind of thing and were able to ignore the nonsense that was being written about the work or the artist. Other horribly overwritten texts might have been edited down into something that had a factual core, if anybody on the premises was capable or inclined. This essay is an overinflated cream puff of a text, and that’s doing a disservice to cream puffs because at least they have cream inside them. There’s some half-cocked reference to the currently fashionable conceit that artists are a kind of researcher or technician of ideas, but when you crunch this one down there’s absolutely nothing potentially or actually informative in it whatsoever. Conceits– clever evasions, ingenious McGuffins, highbrow but hollow proclamations– are what contemporary art all too frequently has at its core instead of ideas, emotion or the sharing of experiences.
For the “nigth” time: if an art work needs this much description in order for people to understand it or in order for the artist and their representatives to justify its existence, then it’s not really a work of art. Or if it is an art work, it’s an art work that needn’t exist and needn’t be seen because you just described everything worth knowing about it.