The result of an ongoing work program extending over the entire nine months of training given by the École du Magasin, the curatorial project developed by Francesca Agnesod, Nadia Barrientos, Guillaume Hervier and Andrea Rodriguez Novoa is being held in three spaces that are indissociable and unique: the virtual space zonedobsolescenceconcertee.org where the statement of curatorial intention is developed along with exchanges with the artists involved; the transitional space where boxes for archives, conveyors of fragmentary memories, are to be used by the artists; and finally the exhibition space, attesting to the extended time of presentation of what we have deliberately called the advance archives.
Entitled Principe d'incertitude (uncertainty principle), the project is inspired by the principle stated by Werner Karl Heisenberg in 1927, according to which it is impossible to know precisely both the speed and the position of a particle on a microscopic scale: Thus the properties of the material at a given instant cannot be fully appreciated. This principle, one of the pillars of quantum mechanics, is known by two different names: uncertainty principle and indeterminacy principle. In his first article, Heisenberg uses the term uncertainty, which is still the most widely used description, although it is not quite accurate; the term indeterminacy, preferred by physicists, was adopted later on. By extension, the lexical hesitation the principle is the object of reflects the difficulty encountered when it comes to defining this type of phenomenon.
We have opted to place ourselves in the space between this redoubled uncertainty and to question the present of works that can only be partially apprehended. The thoughts focusing on sets of problems associated with the appreciation of time on our website prompted us to scrutinize the ways and means of potential obsolescence that artists sooner or later come to take into account in the prospect opened up by what will become of their work. Thus, instead of observing the various deflagrations of the appearance of the work which, from its creation to its exhibition, then, using the circulation channels, from its documentation to its interpretation, are part of its passage through time, we have taken the initiative of reversing the process. We have invited Armand Behar, Santiago Cirugeda, Edith Dekyndt, Dora García and the I.I.I.I. [ Louise Hervé & Chloé Maillet ] to assemble, inside a box for archives that has been handed to them, advance archives for a work that they will not be called on to produce.
Strictly speaking, an archive relates to the preservation of a document regarded as essential which will be of interest to future generations; in fact, it anticipates a heritage whose posterity it both premeditates and legitimates. Our advance archive is established ahead of the making of a work which is not destined to be produced, and brings together fragments, traces and peripheral materials that provide information about its existence in the form of clues. So we will be not so much the spectators of a work the completion of which at a given moment interrupts its coming into being, but more the witnesses of the multiplicity of stories that its phantasm allows. Foreseeing the legitimacy of an archive: a pretext for emphasizing its precariousness and revealing its potential.
The advance archives will be presented to the public from 31 May to 4 September 2011 at the MAGASIN - Centre National d'Art Contemporain. A series of events, devised in collaboration with the invited artists, will provide the opportunity to activate the contents of the boxes on the opening day of the exhibition on 29 May. In order to give an account on-line of how the process is going in the physical space, zonedobsolescenceconcertee.org will broadcast the setting up of the exhibition live from 23 to 29 May.
What if history were written back to front? If we follow Armand Behar's approach, looking forward to what is left over precedes confirmed history as much as the object produced. Histoire d?une représentation, the work the artist has been working on for ten years, is a long-term venture. In this endless prologue where di- rections are reversed, where history comes after its archaeology, and the present is written backwards in relation to our discoveries, the document is ahead of the existence of the object and turns out to be a source of possibilities.
For Principe d'incertitude, Behar is undertaking a writing project with one of the curators which is intended to carry on throughout the exhibition; this four-handed correspondence entitled La Déconvolution d'Euler is the first part of a potentially unending tale focusing on the pieces already produced by the artist in the context of Histoire d?une représentation; he will be called on to work on it subsequently with different collaborators. On the day of the official opening, this correspondence - being temporarily kept in an archives box - is exhumed and revealed in a single reading. The textual fragments that the successive opening of the envelopes has brought to light are unfolded on a table one after the other. The entirety of this fragmentary story is composed as the potential archive of a civilization that seems to have completely faded from memory in an imaginary future: A few objects preserved in a memorial pit by a whimsical old lady spark the curiosity of an archaeologist who bizarrely enters into contact with her. Through this anachronistic dialogue the precariousness of all transmission that takes place over time is revealed. What remains of vanished civilizations other than an infinitesimal part, the tip of an iceberg, from which archaeology attempts to reconstruct a whole? Are not all exhumations, all revelations, all exhibitions a fabrication? What comes down to us from bygone societies other than the vestiges of those who have the supreme power: the power to write its history?
Santiago Cirugeda has been defined as a social architect, i.e. an architect who exploits the flaws in the legal system and turns them to the benefit of the community. He deploys architecture as a language dedicated to awakening our awareness of belonging to a collective and provoking the reappropriation of public spaces that we can claim the use of and which we have a duty to occupy, since it is our gestures that construct them.
The proposal he develops with Recetas Urbanas for Principe d'incertitude is based on research carried out in collaboration with the curators of the exhibition. Taking advantage of the imminent partial demolition of the south wing of the building housing Le Magasin, Santiago Cirugeda designs an architectural extension that re-appropriates materials generated in the process. In line with the architect's instructions, one of the curators embarks on two parallel processes: one concerning the different scenarios for applying for permission for a permanent building, and the other relating to temporary installations as part of socio-cultural events. Each of these two approaches is undertaken in the name of different legal entities: a person of no special importance, a local association and a cultural institution. All the documents necessary for initiating these moves form the archive which is made public for the duration of the exhibition. These different schemes, developed to the point where they could be implemented, though they never will be, reveal the sets of problems associated with the rights of different users and highlight the different possibilities for improving our living space.
"Artists should take part in space expeditions, just as scientists and millionaires do."
With the project Zero Gravity Days, Édith Dekyndt claims her right to the artistic colonization of space, and since 2001 she has been aspiring to take part in a space travel project: Taking on several fictitious identities to increase her chances, she postulates a reality TV game that would promise the winner a stay on a station orbiting the Earth. As the game has never been organized and her requests to the space agencies have remained unanswered, her plan so far has proved futile. Several documents have been brought together to compile the archive of this project that could not take place. A portrait of the artist showing her in the act of jumping, caught at an indeterminate instant between the movement of rising and that of falling back to the ground, is the emblematic image of her desire to escape the law of gravity. Originally produced for the exhibition Any Resemblance to Persons, Living or Dead, Is Purely Coincidental at the B.P.S.22 in Charleroi (Belgium) in 2004, a print on a canvas sheet and a series of postcards addressed to the space agencies nonetheless retain their value as advance vestiges of a hypothetical work. In suspense between the past when they were materialized and the improbable future when the project will be realized, these objects thus commemorate the artist's unrealized journey into space.
For Principe d'incertitude, the image representing the project is physically suspended between two states the implementation effected and the fictitious canvassing. The archives are displayed in the exhibition space to be reactivated by the public who are invited to take the postcards away and update the artist?s idea by potentially taking over its perpetuation and transmission. Ten years after this ephemeral colonization of a zero gravity reality was put forward, email exchanges have been recovered and collected into a folder. Furthermore a video credit title sequence presenting a text taken from the rereading of her own archive by the artist has been produced for the occasion.
Instead of producing objects, Dora García stages situations and makes them turn out well. She works with peculiarly human materials such as language and social relations. Visitors expecting an immediate confrontation with a physical form are quickly disappointed: the interest lies elsewhere, at the heart of the unobtrusive circumstances daily life metes out, or else in the more complex social relations that work and responsibilities involve. Interpolating simple instructions between what she offers and the spectator, it is also artistic institutions that delimit a stage and its audience in a real theater that she criticizes in this one-sided way of looking that consigns the person coming in to the role of a mere spectator.
So there is no point in looking for the tangible presentation of one of her works in the exhibition. Preferring the no less effective indication of an absence to the peremptory presence of an object in the space, the artist has subtly misappropriated the context in which she was invited to appear: Rather than producing the material archive of a work the existence of which she should initially pretext, Dora García has directed her input to the point of time of an event that will take place only on the day of the official opening. The description of this proposal defines a list of questions that was drawn up in dialogue with the curators. For about twenty days leading up to the opening of the exhibition, one question a day was sent to Dora García as a text message, and it was up to the artist to answer with another question. These questions of various types have been given to twenty individuals to be interpreted orally in a random way on the day of the official opening, so introducing by this impromptu choral ricochet a breach in what reinforces the course of events.
By instigating novel situations at the threshold of which she paradoxically disappears, the artist thus hands over her presence to the person who answers, endowing him or her with an active role in working out the meaning. Therefore during that day Principe d?incertitude will unobtrusively become the megaphone for a precarious relay between questions that seem to answer one another strangely.
The vestige of a para-scientific experiment initiated by the artists Louise Hervé and Chloé Maillet, the archives box recovered from the Sagne des pins peat bog reports on the different ways in which soft tissues are preserved in an acid environment.
These organic tissues, these human bodies preserved within peat bogs and sometimes dating back to the Iron Age, were the object of research by many archaeologists as early as the 19th century. They were found in peat bogs, virtually fossilized, the skeleton having been dissolved by the acidity of the marshy environment, while the flesh had been miraculously preserved without any impairment. Through this experiment the result of which they present on the day of the official opening, Louise Hervé and Chloé Maillet wish to exhibit fragments or it and spin out the story of this thinking about the phantasms of preservation of the human body, by introducing their assiduous reading of science fiction novels, political novels set in the future, and novels about scientific discoveries, recounting the contiguous history of freeze-drying, cryonics and catalepsy. The setting of our own finitude at a distance through this archives box recounts the sometimes complex dimension we maintain both with our history and the speculations we make about the preservation of our memory.