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The necessity for questioning the structure - a text by Tijana Miskovic


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about the EMERGENCY WILL REPLACE THE CONTEMPORARY art work at documenta Kassel d13

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The necessity for questioning the structure - a text by Tijana Miskovic

  1. 1. THE EMERGENCY WILL REPLACE THE CONTEMPORARY A selection of tent art works by Thierry Geoffroy/ COLONEL
  2. 2. Ideally, the artists should have an important position in our society as free and independent minds that can produce vital reflections about sociopolitical condi- tions of the time we live in. Unfortunately many times artists’ critical and impor- tant reflections are being used or misused for other purposes such as promotion of products, gentrifica- tion, and cultural colonialism. In that case, the unique role of the artist, as the one independently and criti- cally reflecting our society, becomes a simplified and bounded function with a purpose and task dictated by others. The only way the artist can avoid that his/ her role becomes a function is by constantly questioning the structureshisorherartisbeingpresentedwithin.Bien- nales and big-scale exhibitions like Documenta should, as the most influential contemporary art structures, be a natural object for investigation. The necessity for questioning the structure - a text by Tijana Miskovic DocumentaisconsideredtobeaVaticanofcontempo- rary art today, carried by a belief in the critical poten- tial of art. Documenta promotes itself as the optimal art platform for critical thinking and political postures, which is why decision makers and intelligentsia of the art world, pilgrimage to Documenta in search of latest tendencies. Documenta and other big art events such as Venice Biennale have thus an enormous interna- tional impact and a great power to influence the pub- lic opinion. This influence should be evaluated by par- ticipating artists as well as the audience, who should not only absorb the messages communicated to them through the curatorial strategies, without being skep- ticalabouttheirmotivation.Theyshouldnotfallasleep but be critical and constantly question the structure. A show labeled as “critic show” can give the public a feeling of being critical, but it can, at the same time, be drawing the public attention away from big and se- rious issues that authorities don’t want to create critic
  3. 3. around. There could be a diversion taking place in the curatorial choose. Curating goes hand in hand with filtration. Certain topics, artworks and artists get highlighted as cen- tral while others get a peripheral position or even go unmentioned. Furthermore curating always includes an educational element, which facilities learning and achievement of knowledge, values and beliefs. The person or the institution teaching would naturally also have the power to shape the knowledge and thus be in a superior position. The choice of content and the methods is influencing the interpretation of the artis- tic message and the receivers are being led in a prede- fined direction of thinking. Faking the intention can be another method for diver- sion also used in the world of contemporary art. Often a profile based on inclusion and interaction is being created in order to give an image of openness. Most of the contemporary art exhibitions are thus considered open, good and even humanistic platforms and are as such wrapped in a certain kind of unquestionable goodness, which keeps the critique away. A delay in contemporary art could also be seen as a diversion strategy. Even though we believe that the contemporary artists should react on the important issues and emergencies of today’s world, we are not giving the artists appropriate platforms for immedi- ate expression and impact in time. The artists cannot show art connected with the pulsing and unpredicta- ble present, since all the exhibited artworks have to be defined, produced, and explained in advance. Either because of the practical and curatorial planning or be- cause of a wish to control and have a possibility to cen- sure, most of the contemporary exhibitions are from the beginning in delay. To navigate within these contemporary art struc- tures, the art institutions, the artist and the art think- ers are furthermore recurrently victims of an ongoing self-censorship. The self-censorship makes it difficult to reach the authentic and honest artistic intention. What is exhibited is just one part of the story while the other, at least as important, part has been auto-cen- sured. Auto-censorship is more difficult to localize or fight then the direct censorship, since it is an embed- ded control function the contemporary art is carrying in the DNA of its structure. It is more invisible then imposed censorship coming from specific authority, and thus more sophisticated and complex one, which often has an even stronger control effect. A “critic show” can thus be a setting for fake criticism
  4. 4. that gives us an illusion of being critique and having the freedom of thinking when we, in reality, are direct- ed in a certain direction controlled by external forces and often interests of economic or political nature. This fake criticism within the contemporary art today could be the source of apathy in our society. If the lack of real concern or interest in making a change in- filtrates the art community, and what we consider to be the avant-garde force in our society falls asleep, we might risk that our world takes a direction of nar- row-minded and almost totalitarian thinking. Since 1988, Thierry Geoffroy/ COLONEL has been questioning big staged art events like biennales, art fairs, and Documenta, with critical art formats such as BIENNALIST – an art format that responds to and questions, through artworks the motivations of bien- nials and other global art events. He looks into the art events and their motivations asking questions such as: Could 860,000 visitors have been intoxicated by an apathetic gaze that keeps them away from react- ing? Are global art events designed to make people cry about something in order not to make them see something else? Is there a strategy for being delayed in order to create a distraction from the present and avoid debating important topics of today? If the most important contemporary exhibitions in the world like Documenta focus solely on past- or few present relat- ed issues contextualized by curators or art historians, how can we then expect art to be avant-garde? For decades artists have questioned the canvas, the pigment, and since the1960-70s conceptual artists like Marcel Broodthaers have questioned the structure of the museum which led to Institutional Critique in art with artists such as Daniel Buren, Andrea Fraser, and Hans Haacke. With his art format BIENNALIST, Thierry Geoffroy/ COLONEL questions the global art events. Hetakesthethemeofeachbiennialseriouslyandstud- ied in order to contribute to the debate the biennales want to generate. The artist is with this format often on-location testing the pertinence of the biennales. In 2007 Thierry Geoffroy/ COLONEL did a project called “The Next Documenta should be curated by a car” and “The protest school”. In 2012 The BIENNAL- IST project was respectively supported by the ZKM Museum Museum of Contemporary Art for conducting operations at the Athens Biennale curated by Nicolas Bourriaud and by the Sprengel Museum for operation done at the Venice Biennale. In dOCUMENTA 13 he realized the project “The Emer-
  5. 5. gency will replace the contemporary” which got a strong attention in the media and among art critiques. With a UN blue helmet as an artistic metaphor for inno- cence, Thierry Geoffroy/ COLONEL appointed himself to be “a peace-war researcher” and discovered the enormous presence of an active weapon industry in documentaßtat Kassel. The message was communi- cated as text on a tent placed under the Joseph Beuys tree on the lawn in front of the Fredericianum just af- ter the press conference June 6th, 2012. The tent with a statement “THE EMERGENCY WILL REPLACE THE CONTEMPORARY” was removed and confiscated by the dOCUMENTA organizers. Ironically enough this kick started, the same days, a growing occupy move- ment dOCCUPY, that made a tent encampment in the same area and which was welcomed by dOCUMENTA 13 curator. From March 30th to June 24th, 2017, Thierry Geof- froy/ COLONEL, lookes closer into the Documenta 14 and VeniceBiennale 2017 in the exhibition#documen- tasceptic, on location, in a specially designed online platform and in the gallery SABSAY in Copenhagen.
  6. 6. dOCUMENTA (13) - June 6th 2012
  7. 7. “THE EMERGENCY WILL REPLACE THE CONTEMPORARY”; 3 kilos, 230 cm x 170 cm; spray paint on tent; 2012; Statements on each side: “THE EMERGENCY WILL REPLACE THE CONTEMPORARY”, “FÜHRUNG, GUIDANCE AND NAVIGATION IS A THREAT”, “THE CONTEMPORARY IS ALWAYS TOO LATE”; in the art collection of Museum for Contemporary Art - Roskilde - Denmark
  8. 8. “THE EMERGENCY WILL REPLACE THE CONTEMPORARY”; 3 kilos, 230 cm x 170 cm; spray paint on tent; 2012; Statements on each side: “THE EMERGENCY WILL REPLACE THE CONTEMPORARY”, “FÜHRUNG, GUIDANCE AND NAVIGATION IS A THREAT”, “THE CONTEMPORARY IS ALWAYS TOO LATE”; in the art collection of Museum for Contemporary Art - Roskilde - Denmark
  9. 9. dOCUMENTA (13) - June 7th, 2012
  11. 11. THE EMERGENCY WILL REPLACE THE CONTEMPORARY is probably one of Thierry Geoffroy/ COLONEL’s most important tent artworks. It is a convergence of the artist’s focus on emergencies and his critical approach to the contemporary art structures. This single unso- licited artwork managed to destabilize the established contemporary art structure of dOCUMENTA 13. The impact of the artwork and its pertinence to the now, are thus as important values as its aesthetic and for- mal qualities. Using the strategy as a brush stroke, the global art scene as canvas and the emergencies of the world as his artistic motives, the artist, Thierry Geoffroy/COLONEL has, over the years, developed a unique take on art, which goes beyond the notion of contemporary and opens op new fields such as “Emer- gency Art” and “Ultracontemporary Art”. His artworks activate a new set of values and a new kind of artistic, humanistic and political ethos in the art. In a concep- tually firm grasp, the different aspects of quality are interconnected and get together in the synthesis of the artist’s final oeuvre. Tents as a tool for creating vigilante questions and awareness about the structure - a text by Tijana Miskovic
  12. 12. During dOCUMENTA 13, Thierry Geoffroy/ COLONEL was observing, registering and making opinions on what he saw in and around the staged art exhibition context in Kassel. Some of the messages related to his research were communicated as text on a tent placed under one of Joseph Beuys’ trees from the 7000 Oaks – City For- estation Instead of City Administration, on the lawn in front of Fridericianum, just after the dOCUMENTA 13 press conference, June 6th, 2012. This tent is today part of the art collection at Danish Contemporary Art Museum in Roskilde. Another tent was made June 7th with following state- ments: “THE EMERGENCY WILL REPLACE THE CON- TEMPORARY”, “I AM NOT WORKING FOR THE TOURISM OFFICE”, “ART IN DELAY CAN NOT HAVE IMPACT”, “THE CONTEMPORARY IS ALWAYS TOO LATE, NEVER IN TIME”. Thierry Geoffroy/ COLONEL’s tent created a chain reaction inspiring other artists, organizations, and initiatives to use Friedrichsplatz as their base and platform for expression. On the June 8th, two Chinese artists installed a tent on the same lawn and on June 9th, the Occupy movement started there their camp too. On June 20th the Belgian art magazine H ART pub- lished, on their front page, a picture of Thierry Geof- froy/ COLONEL’s tent with the statement “THE EMER- GENCY WILL REPLACE THE CONTEMPORARY”. Already next day, June 21st, the tent was removed and confiscated by the dOCUMENTA organizers, later to be found in the basement of Fridericianum by the artist Bongore. To create an attention in the media and among art critics, by circulating images and statements from the tents, is part of Thierry Geoffroy/ COLONELs artistic method, because it is a way of reaching a bigger au- dience beyond the art sphere. Maybe the fact that an unsolicited tent got the front page in an art magazine and “stole” the media coverage of dOCUMENTA, was the reason for the confiscation. To remove one tent made by Thierry Geoffroy/ COL- ONEL was easy, while it was more difficult to remove the many Occupy movement tents since this would provoke a more massive counterreaction. The Occupy encampment was, thus welcomed by the dOCUMEN- TA 13 curator on July 8th. In that connection, a new tailor-made name was given to the camp: dOCCUPY, which clearly marked the fact that, what should have
  13. 13. been a resistance movement, is now part of the es- tablished and authorized system. dOCUMENTA deci- sion to include occupy in their program was a strategic move to neutralize and make harmless the revolution- ary spirit of the protest, while still keeping their image, as an inclusive art event, intact. dOCUMENTA’s welcoming of the Occupy protesters did not seem like an honest gesture of hospitality, but rather a necessary solution or a strategic move they were obliged to do it, in order to save their image of openness. Even though dOCCUPY now was an official guest at dOCUMENTA, there was a predesigned time frame for their existence. A group of people who could servedOCUMENTA’sinterests,wereaskedtoinfiltrate undercover the camp in order to observe and control its development. Eight days before the end of dOCUMENTA, a voting took place in the camp to decide if dOCCUPY should close down or not. The voting was democratic, but since there were so many infiltrators advocating for dOCUMENTA’s wish to end the project and clean the exhibition areas before the art collectors with buying potential come to Kassel (in keeping with tradition, the last week of the 100 days long show) the result of the voting was to remove the camp. Furthermore, the removal of the camp was turned into a performance in which the camp members were playing their own death. A reenactment including role play, took place Saturday 8th of September at 3 pm. A part of the protesters from the Occupy movement was playing the role of police and fakely brutalized the campers while obliging them to pack and remove their tents. In this way, one more time, dOCUMENTA man- aged to turn a serious activist movement into a harm- less symbolic artwork conducted by dOCUMENTA au- thorities. Today, we can reflect on the fact that Thierry Geof- froy/ COLONEL’s tent artwork, which kick-started the growing Occupy movement, was removed, while the Occupy encampment in the same area, was wel- comed by dOCUMENTA 13. There would probably not have been any dOCCUPY project if the tent by Thierry Geoffroy/ COLONEL was not put on the lawn in front of Fridericianum in the first place. We can also analyze how a single artwork could cre- ate a disturbance in the complex structure of the big- gest contemporary art event in the world. Maybe it is possible to value artworks based on their capacity to challenge the established structures and propose new ones.
  14. 14. The four statements on the tent The main statement written on the tent artwork is “THE EMERGENCY WILL REPLACE THE CONTEMPO- RARY”. Its prophetic aspect makes us realize how Thi- erry Geoffroy/ COLONEL is not only able to grab the now but also to predict or the future of contemporary art. There are two key words in the statement THE EMER- GENCY WILL REPLACE THE CONTEMPORARY; the contemporary and the emergency. In his general ar- tistic praxis, consisting of different art formats and object-based artworks in a variety of media, Thierry Geoffroy/ COLONEL is interested in the relationship between the two terms. The first one, the contemporary, is stressing the con- nection between us and the time, whilw the second one, the emergency, stresses the artistic alertness to act in time before it is too late. The critique of the contemporary art’s ability to be in time is also expressed in the two other statments on the tent “ART IN DELAY CAN NOT HAVE IMPACT” and“THECONTEMPORARYISALWAYSTOOLATE,NEV- ER IN TIME”. The artist wanted to express that an isolat- ed focus on the past is dangerous because it creates a distraction and makes the impact in the present impos- sible. The fourth slogan on the tent “I AM NOT WORKING FOR THE TOURISM OFFICE” questions the role of the artist, which unfortunately often becomes a tool-like function with a predefined purpose, such as tourism. We can thus ask ourselves if the real potential and purpose of art should be to serve industries such as tourism, which arefundamentallybasedoncommercialandnotartistic or humanistic values.