GAM 14


Milica Tomić, Dubravka Sekulić

In the fields of art and architecture we see an expansion of the exhibitionary complex: biennales, triennales, and exhibition spaces proliferate, blending with sites of consumption. When art and architecture stand at the core of capitalist repro- duction, caught between market-oriented culture and real estate, exhibition strategies are often seen as reinforcing inequalities. However, beyond being a site of both the production and distribution of art and architecture, exhibiting reappears as a site of contestation and, indeed, political confrontation and labour struggle. In GAM.14 we see exhibiting, as opposed to exhibition, as the deliberate refusal of temporal and spatial closure, thus bringing forth new sites for investigative (dis)play, media manifestations, and crossover collaborations. GAM.14 is a collection of current positions from the disciplines of art and architecture assembled around the conceptual effort to distinguish the act of exhibiting from exhibition, opening the potential of exhibiting as an exploratory space to address urgent social and political challenges of our time.

Taking a magazine as a site of exhibiting and uninterrupted spatial and temporal exposure intervening in a socio-political context, we start GAM.14 with reference to the intervention made by Camera Austria International 69/2000 (aka The Black Issue) into the political context of the 1999 right turn in Austria to which we see many parallels today, establishing continuity. GAM.14 defines an exhibition as an act of representation, while exhibiting embraces what is excluded and removed in order for an exhibition to be constituted. The act of constituting exhibition, as a closed temporal and spatial event, becomes a screen obfuscating the production relations, labour, the economic and social situation, and ultimately the conditions of exhibiting as such. In this constellation, we introduce the rupture between exhibiting and exhibition as a way to confront the appropriation and erasure that takes place when the work of art, and the relations that produced it, enter the exhibition. Exhibiting appears on the exhibition as an extra, bringing back the struggle of the erased.

In the first section “Exhibiting – Modernity Rift,” GAM.14 addresses the fatal relationship between modernism and exhibiting. The implications of the relation between modernism and exhibition are at the core of a conversation with Vincent Normand, who proposes understanding the exhibition as “a construction site of the modern aesthetic subject,” the privileged site which is at the same time produced by and central to the production of modernity. Ivana Bago argues for the act of titling and an artwork’s entry into the public sphere as the exhibiting departure point. While increasing emphasis on the title may be a sign of the reduction of an artwork into a currency, for Bago it is a springboard for the analysis of new positions of relation between artistic labour and artistic work. Following Walter Benjamin, Sami Khatib elaborates on the opening exhibiting offers by pointing out that the exhibition of art commodities, even those artworks created to be commodities, also exhibits something extra, beyond the economic function of the circulation of commodities.

For GAM.14 acknowledging the role of exhibition in the production of the middle class and class consensus makes it possible to use and subvert it as a site where the subjectivity of the excluded produces itself, by its own decision and determination. Exhibiting begins in the moment of emancipation, i.e. the capability to think a problem as public matter. If art is optical machinery to see the contemporary condition (Nicolas Bourriaud), exhibition is the shop floor on which this machinery operates. Ana Dević reminds us that understanding the exhibition as an extension of a revolutionary class war creates a rupture in both representation and the cycle of commodification. Ana María León and Andrew Herscher mobilize exhibiting to fight against the normalization of exclusionary processes in the city carried out in the real space of an exhibition. Here, virtual tools were used to reintroduce class war into the site of “representational triumphalism” and to produce a rift through which the excluded brings reality back into frame and challenges authority.

The second section of GAM.14 “Returns of the Excluded,” shows the importance of addressing exhibiting in the context of art in parallel with architecture. Vincent Normand argues that the origin of exhibition is not in the cabinet of wonders, but in the anatomical theatre, i.e. not in the act of collecting (curiosities) but in the spatial construction of the specific gaze and production of knowledge. Within modernity the modern human is subjectivized through exhibition, and is the object of this process. The alternative process is exhibiting, which opens a site of subjectivization of all actors involved in the constellation of relationships that are framed as exhibition. Understanding the struggle between exhibition as the tool of modernity and exhibiting means considering the struggle to make visible, take voice, and capture political space. How to introduce into exhibition that which has been rejected, temporally and spatially framed out, and blocked as relation? Nicolas Bourriaud reminds us in conversation that art has always had a capacity to bring back what the ruling class rejected, and that the very site of exhibiting becomes one of subjectivization for a different politics. The core proposal is that the limits of exhibition within the modernist subjectivity are not overcome by including, as passive objects, those subjectivities subsumed by modernist primacy, but rather by forging alliances to transform exhibition from a site for the production of objects to one for the production of (political) subjects.

The “Praxis Reports” in GAM.14 suggest various approaches, with speculative proposals (Strain) of how the temporal and spatial frame of representational exhibition can be destabilized, interrupted, and manipulated to achieve exhibiting. Approached as a philosophical problem, exhibition can become a site for investigation (Springer – Turpin), a model (Kuehn), research (Franke), an aesthetic instrument for understanding real ity at another level (Latour), exposing (Majača), “displaycing” (Mende), and mirroring (Miljački).

We invited the Museum of American Art in Berlin (MoAA), and artist Armin Linke, in conversation with graphic designer Žiga Testen, to use some of the pages of GAM.14 as a site of exhibiting. By putting the ideological context in post-war Europe to the fore, MoAA’s visual essay reveals how the inclusion or exclusion of artworks in an exhibition played a constitutive role in the articulation of the modernist canon. Linke’s photo essay proposes that a new reading is established with each exhibiting constellation, raising the question: Is not the archival methodology used by each individual artist the basis of exhibiting?

Ana Bezić opens the third section of GAM.14 “Exhibiting – Sites of Departure” by exploring when exhibiting starts and how disciplines such as archaeology use interpretation as a mode of exhibiting. This becomes pertinent when the conceptual apparatus of exhibition is mobilized to problematize rather than pose solutions. Continuing the “Praxis Reports,” Barbara Steiner extends an exhibition into exhibiting by publicly analyzing and making visible the correlations that create the very institution she heads. WHW disrupts the authority of the collection, exhibiting works with their public and artistic labour that the collection attempts to cut. Antje Senarclens de Grancy’s contribution discusses examples of exhibiting as a site for the construction or disruption of interpretative authority and historical truth, ex- emplifying how the shift of focus from exhibition to exhibiting enables us to use the very format produced by the modernist impetus of institution building to challenge the modernist institution. Exhibiting creates a rupture in the hypostatic societal relations of the exhibition in which society can find the language and logic different from that prescribed by the institutions. With Bart de Baere’s voice we address the institutional impact of this shift by insisting that the constant return to the work of its unruly part, which defies commodification, is the horizon on which the new public exhibiting institution should be conceptualized.

Reconsidering exhibition as an enclosing form means acknowledging exhibiting as a process capable of bursting enclosures by becoming a site of knowledge production and access to the hidden. Our position in favour of exhibiting opens space and time, in which the exhibition has a potential to go beyond “representational triumphalism” into a space of emancipation with the possibility to develop a focus on exhibiting as a self-determining form.