NOVEMBER 24TH 2002 - JANUARY 12TH 2003
love and devotion was invited, by curator Catrin Lundqvist, to perform two "events", or projects, at Moderna museet. Two projects that at first glance seemed quite different, but soon showed to be several parts that formed a whole. We decided to investigate the museum as any other space of investigation, show and see how it works. In the same way as other spaces in the world, a modern museum has it's rules and conventions that is very easy to slip into. Also as in other spaces/circumstances/situations etc the artist is invited into a structure that has been there for years. But also into a visual setting that has been already designed and formed, not only by an architect but also often by an interior designer. The artist comes in, as in f ex the case with official artcommissions, to do something like the final "decoration". To decorate means to enrich, adorn, beautify, polish, garnish, illuminate...to take one synonym further: illuminate, in turn means...to comment, explain, interpret, criticize, treat or ventilate, discuss, deal with, go into a subject. This latter meaning could actually be applied to the attitude we developed in the process of getting to know The Museum of Modern Art in Stockholm. We went into the subject which was the museum.
At Moderna museet we have added things, offered new options, made already existing possibilities more visible, made the physical environment more comfortable for the visitors etc. We decided when we were invited to do the show to produce everything within and from the institution itself and in that way connect different people in the staff in new ways with eachother.
We also wanted to make the institution more transparent to the visitor. In the process we were especially confronted with the fact that no room, space, situation is neutral and that we ourselves as artists were influenced by, as well as influencing, the situation. Everything took form on location, rather than as is done mostly with white cube shows, still to this day, where the artwork is produced outside of the exhibitional space and then brought in. The museum was by us considered to be a site of production.
Choosing the synonym to decoration: llumination, that was exactly what we ended up doing to the classical white cube. We "composed" a lightpiece for the room that focused on the space itself. The artworks from the collection, placed (by two curators of the museum) outside of the cubic room were in a way brought into the cube by us, through coloured lightreflections. Yellow for Siewert Lindblom, orange for Donald Judd, purple for Olle Baertling and a yellow stripe for Leif Elggren.
Aside the exhibitionspace other spaces/situations we worked with in the museum was the entrance, the window facing the street, the auditorium, the workshop for children , the hallway and many different groups of the staff. We also used the officearea and the kitchen of the staff as our sites of production. To enliven parts of the "stuff" the museum is hoovering we brought out works of art from the collection, a photo and several films and videos. In the workshop for children different categories of specialists from the museum met each other and the children.
Our first visual intervention was a Christmas window-dressing of MM to communicate the museum to the passers by. Several areas of the museum were possible to utilize, mainly the outer parts such as entrance, hallway and the glassed window-screen fronting the street outside.
Our work with the Christmas window-dressing consisted of several parts. As we decided to use an image already in the museum's collection, looking through the collection was the first step. We found Arthur Tress' photo "Man in Steam" which seemed to be an image that could tell us lot about how it can feel at Christmas-time. We had talks with Leif Wigh, curator of photography at Moderna museet to get to know more about the work, its context and the artist. We also asked Leif Wigh to write a text about this work. After Arthur Tress' generous approval, we got into the technical stuff, and staff. The original photo was exposed inside the exhibition hall.
To make the museumentrance a little more visible we enlightened it, creating a carpet of red light that illuminated it, and its visitors.
This was an event also involving the marketing and advertising-sections of the museum, and all together we decided on our suggestion that the invitation card to the events were to be send out on some of the major languages in Sweden; Spanish, Finnish, and Polish just to mention some. Maybe we would get lucky to find that some of the cards actually would end up in the hands of a person that felt the text on the card to be both informative and inviting. We also decided to hand out some of the cards personally, at the Central station, to see if there may be some persons in the stream of travellers that wanted to come to our show, but that had not got any invitation beforehand. The documentation of this handout was later shown inside the
museum's café area.
From the 16th of December we opened our interventions within the exhibitionseries "Udda veckor" (Odd weeks). In this part, we were told to stay strictly within the white cubic room placed in the exhibition hall especially for the "Udda veckor" project. Compared to the first event, this part seemed more secluded within the museum, and more focussed, space-wise. Our investigation of this situation started with the question "What is this cube?"
A cube is a cube is a cube ...or? It's interesting that f ex the temporary space of the Moderna museet in Stockholm so obviously recreates the white cube - the white cube has a million faces and the question is if we are gowerned by conventions or if it is the ultimate room for exposing art?
Is the white cube relevant for artists that are in the midst of society and not standing outside as spectators? Or is it a room as any other room? What do these rooms look like in that case? Are institutions like Rooseum in Malmö, Sweden and Palais de Tokyo in Paris, France on its way to create a new way to view the rooms of art, or is the convention recreated again? When more and more rooms - common public places - are turned into private property, when the square is no longer a square for meetings but instead for commers - is the white cube a space that maybe should be marked as a cultural heritage space? A room created for art is something fantastic when the air of the street and the square is owned by this or that consortium. Is it time for an act of saviour or not?
For the show at the Moderna museet we printed 5000 posters with an unfolded exact copy of the museums cubelike exhibitional space, in red. The posters were placed in the middle of the cube to be used, taken careof and carried away with by the visitors...
We used the museum's spotlights to illuminate the cube's outer sides in aqua-green, and enlightened the other objects in the room in similar ways, such as works by Judd and Baertling. This made the cube more clearly defined as an object of choice, and as such maybe easier to ask questions about. "What can it be used for"?
Inside the cube we illuminated its form, with spotlights already existing in the museum. This light-scheme was especially programmed for the cube, and through it some of the possibilities and status of the cube visualized, in a loop.
We also opened an entrance to the cube that used to be shut, to give further access to the room. These small interventions of the secluded space of the cube made it visible as a part of the larger space of the exhibition hall, and also of the other side of the museum, i.e. the city.
The two initial projects became two major parts of the projected area, i.e. where our investigation was visualized. We got into the inner offices, sank down in every group of furniture available, talked to the staff, and enjoyed its stock of knowledge, served drinks, suggested a new work-shop programme investigating the museum, pointed at possible alternative routes in the museum than those mostly walked, among other things.
As part of our aim to enliven the collection we choose several films and videos
from the collection and made a program. Short films in daytime and longer ones
at night at afterworkhours. The film we showed were: Vito Acconci "The Red Tapes", Öyvind Fahlström, "Du gamla du fria Provocation" and "Kisses Sweeter Than Wine", "Rock My Religion" by Dan Graham, "Homage to Jean Tinguely«s "Homage to New York" by Robert Breer, "Head" by Cheryl Donegan, "Es war Nacht, es war kalt und wir hatten viel getrunken" by Rosemarie Trockel, "Family Tyranny" by Paul McCarthy, Mike Kelley, "Brasilia hall" by Dominique Gonzalez-Foerster, "It Wasn't Love" by Sadie Benning.
We also bought cushions to make the auditorium more comfortable.
We made two signs that suggested an alternative entrance to the exhibitionspace
of the museum. The alternative route made other activities of the museum visible
which you otherwise could miss.
One of the spaces you would pass in case you took our alternative route, was the
workshop for children and grownups. We suggested a program for the workshop. They
followed our idea and worked with investigations around what an artmuseum can be.
A copy of "the cube" was built were different people from the staff would present
their skills, from the guards to the curators.
The 10th of January 2003 we did our final part of the project after
having been invited to do an evening in the series "Here and Now" initiated
by Catrin Lundqvist. We invited Nicolas Bourriaud, director of Palais de Tokyo, Paris. Our idea was to introduce his thinking and writing to the Stockholm
audience. We feel that many people here use the concepts he has coined without
not really having gone into depth into f ex his writing. We also thought it would be
interesting to hear of his experiences from Palais de Tokyo, beeing another
type of artinstitution than Moderna museet. The first part of the evening he gave a lecture around Palais de Tokyo, while the other part evolved into a conversation
around the artinstitution as such and around our work at Moderna museet as an example.