Tempo, tempo, tempo

Alen Ožbolt: Tempo, tempo, tempo

We're in unclear, confused hours, tempo, tempo, Time.s New World was American. Time.s New World is Chinesian. 20.11.2019, 1.29h, but there’s more here than these two, the duality between the “day” and “night” side as well. Art’s being, its liveliness, worldliness, and our view within art, a view that circles, walks and dies. There are some paths, thoughts and compilations here, some collages that I have been walking, hearing, writing, reading, recording, gluing … and shredding for more than two, almost three years. Various notes that are helpful in furthering my thinking and making future decisions on our collective exhibition: our because it is no longer mine, personal, my own, one band or one head exhibition, there’s more of us. An exhibition that will come to be will be new, now it’s slowly, very slowly, after months, after days, after day and night taking its future shape and it also has projections, contents, even concrete contents, images, words and a title. The title is already reliable at this point: “Introspection”; this could very well be introspection no. 3 or 5, because I’ve already used this principle of thinking and working in the past.

Looking back at what was, whereas the exhibition is yet to take place (although some still call it a “project”—a business word and an obscene term, indeed!), its future is yet to take place. An attempt at an exhibition, we’ll see what will come of it, and if you’re reading this then you already see: presence and attempts to put the past on display. Obviously—at least in its main part—some archaic pathos as well, we’re dealing with a different space and time here, supposedly. Not here and not now.

But how thick actually is the present and how narrow is the present in its explosions? Transplantational models of the past, the past is enacted, history is recorded, on celluloid in the past, now in digital. The digital is all.in.brace.ing, it is produced totally, but that remains mostly rhetorical.

The exhibition and space are, of course, given to us for a very short time, “short-term memory”. Only for a certain time and a certain space and under certain circumstances. And I.we pretend that the gallery is a public, open space. Now, here I.we have a rant, a door that is a quite narrow entrance and first there’s the reception room and then the hall. And then another hall and three more. And this space is never empty, neither is it uninhabited. The basic coordinates from 2018 are still the same in 2019 and will remain so in ’20.

Old memories are from childhood. How to make present that which is past, not as one, single, perhaps as seven and twenty-four, two and at least four seasons, and yet here time should be stopped and exempted from present-day motion, be outside the rushed pace. “Think of temporal events such as rain, snowfall, wind acting upon and altering either immediately, temporarily or slowly over time the geography of a place.” The world is more peculiar than it is a hell, and today dreams are no longer permitted, and tomorrow is not a new day. Not only society, not only an artwork and not only an exhibition, the artist as well is a battle field.

I’m walking and thinking, but backwards. Reshaping the past is supposedly a concept and construction of the future, but now I seriously doubt that this can get us anywhere. The past, contrary to expectations, does not really give any promises. Time is our own concept, no doubt, our idea. And time is, we can see how it eradicates, how it fractures, it’s a trace in a material or a sequence of events, scenes, human, biological and natural and planetary. If these alone are no more, neither is time. Even space amounts to nothing, if one removes from it all points, objects, bodies, water, earth … then space is no more, neither is the horizon. The past is a concept as well, only the present moment can last, when we are after that which has already happened.

That time was called “post-modernism”, and it was also called “the east”, and “ex”, but when I.we say “I”, this is still “my own” memory, not only a collective one. If spirit exists, it does so in memory, from memory. And memory is in motion, it is always in motion, it never stands still, we can pursue it, recognise it, but we cannot fully capture it and cram it into filing cabinets, into archives, catalogue it; only partially into exhibitions, conditionally, because memory does not consist of material alone. Nevertheless, traces are images, paintings, sculptures and it is within us, memory, it floats, holds on and remains in motion, in a body it is time that at once is and has already passed. When certain current, i.e. external images, scents, sounds, words, poems, songs speak inside us and others remain silent, the old time also resonates and remains silent, it speaks and burns what is and isn’t inside us at the same time. Our thoughts wander, we’re haunted by past images, scents, words, people … and, of course, by all those we’ve never even seen or heard. The reason why the past is not present is because it is never completely the present. Repetition of what has passed nevertheless exists, even when it spins and turns.

Again: a museum is not only what it puts on exhibition, to an even greater extent it is what it conceals. “What they put on view says a lot about a museum, but what they don’t put on view says even more.” The gallery is a symbolic as well as concrete space, and man is in a sign, in a representation and also in real space and he is on the path, along the path of observation: THE TEMPO OF MAN, THE TIME OF SPACE AND THE SPACE OF TIME are all intertwined in the exhibition. Even though man climbed to the top of it all, it is time, or rather the forces of time that endlessly shape space. Do we know how we understand material and spatial measures of time? SHAPES OF TIME, MEASURES OF TIME, space and/or shape, and then a transfer that is a movement. It’s not necessarily chaos, but it undoubtedly is a multitude, even though this is a stereotype, but that’s how we sense the presence of what has passed, the social as multiplicity and as a people. While the individual, on the other hand, is terribly small, tiny.

Observation—in this case—is mirroring, reflection, dialogue and negotiation: observation‑conservation. Numerous appearances, recognizing and sorting them … and of course censorship as well, loss and unfaithfulness, disloyalty to what has passed. In any case, the museum is. And this is, as well (!): we’re in this together, for I am also a spectator, perhaps even more than a creator I am now a spectator. The works are still searching for themselves and some of them are concealed and are away from here and also away from me. Sometimes, after I come closer, I have the feeling that they aren’t even mine, that I didn’t make them, literally: it’s not me, it’s somebody else.

As I’m writing this I’ve found myself in an extraordinary situation: in the last couple of years, I’ve moved the warehouse, which is a depository, an ‘art-depository’, several times and in my hands I’ve held works, in numerous hands rubbish and the weight and volume of the past. I’ve done many steps with them, if an artist was to take a different direction, he would have reached Triglav. How to even integrate all this?! I’m still in it, because I haven’t solved the problem of the present space, nor the space of the “historical exhibition” mentioned above.

So, for the last two and a half years I’ve been in some kind of a latent situation of ‘what has passed’ and, on numerous occasions, in an uncomfortable contemplation of the past and physics, the weight of ‘the bodies of the past’, which, in this case, are material works. There are also works that have been lost, destroyed, that are not here. Matter is and material is and dust is as well, and ashes are for an overview exhibition.

What art, and I as an artist, also needs besides a slowdown and affirmation is a lot more time and more views, withdrawal, idleness, to be able to take some time and space, and not do so at the service of more and more references, more and more events, but sometimes also just for the heck of it, not only to establish this or that ‘new’ work, new project, new exhibition, but to take a pause, a break and only then create some sense and perhaps even a common surface.

But I could, for instance, take or just choose some works that on the surface thematise the past, because they’re a frozen process, frozen time, material taken out of motion—paintings with air, pigmentation, sand, wet paintings etc.—considering that works are also very fluid and transient.

The time of today can also be understood as “insanity of the always new”, and this is why I am very interested in observation, in establishing a retrospective view, a view in a different, the opposite direction, even if that’s very painstaking and burdensome. “The oppositional view”: not the view today, here and now, not even “the future now”, forward, but backward, a back view, a view back. In concrete terms, this means: to find and bring old works and put them into this time and the contemporary context, to look at them in the light of today with the help of only a few projections, light and shadows. By that I don’t mean that this will be about recycling, about procedures of “re-use”. At this point I cannot say, though, because I can’t yet know what the effects will be. Of course, all of this, this method, this procedure is nothing new, there are many examples, activities, he, she sometimes calls it “reconstructions”, and here, with this, something new is always—probably—sparked off … Only that in our case I wouldn’t understand it as “reconstructions”.

The world is falling apart before our eyes. “Historical knowledge” can only be chronological sheet‑like flatness, and historical ignorance is no better. In any case, historiography is external. The present, the past, the past-before-past … Art is not merely a document of today, or, indeed, of the future. It can be an outline, sometimes it’s concentration, elsewhere it’s the negation of time. A polyphony of times, and their simultaneity as well. Do different temporal layers therefore co‑exist? Within a single space, single event—simultaneously? Spatial and temporal permeability, that is why chronology will intentionally be destroyed in this case. Because the present does not (neither does perspective) comprehensively capture the past and is incapable of doing so. There are various views, perspectives, different ‘counts’, different ‘measures’ of the space of time. “Seemingly freely open visualisation of temporal dispersal or, rather, the illusion of free passage between different visual‑temporal layers is translated into its opposite, for with fragmentarity, partiality and sporadicity each and every attempt to historically reconstruct the past in fact announces that the view of temporal comprehensiveness cannot be captured, because it doesn’t exist.”

There’s something else besides this “doesn’t”, and that is: how is it inside and within, how we are … when we are larger from the inside than we are from the outside, than we are large, that is, small on the outside, the personal internal space is larger than the outside space. And this is not fiction, it’s how we feel it: personal space goes within, deep down, into the inside and sometimes it also stops there, while external appearance, the world is continuously going out, it’s continuously growing, expanding and switching, everything ‘outside’ keeps changing, continuously. And here we have the question of how and how much does the possibility of memory and remembering in actual light years of images even exist in this infinitely large media world, “emotions pictures/in-motion pictures”, “save as …” ask themselves: “What will remain of new media art?” Tempo, tempo, tempo, space and spatial relations in time, a moment in continuous movement: we observe, hear a “moment in continuous motion”. The old is no longer what is present, even less so contemporary, while art is alive or it is no more—because old art is in-animately-alive. Art—what is modern—is not something ordinary, well‑known, it is a breakthrough, something that’s new. NEW, NEW … HAS A LOOSE SCREW …

Who has the power and influence in contemporaneity, the strings, wires in the chaos of hyperproduction and who has it under control? The present is non-transparent, where is the field, the struggle of art? Its shape and actual measure, what are they? Here we see an edge, even an ending, a defeat with the variability, the speed of changes, in the frameworks and edges of visible art, which is split between eradication and endless repetition in the same moment. A present present and an absent past, these are the standard frameworks of contemporary, what before was modern art. “Having a new loose screw” is a schizophrenic procedure in the contemporary (practical + theoretical) artistic landscape that is, among others, represented by the “editor”, i.e. the curator, when he becomes the fundamental imperative in contemporary artistic practice: news, novelties. “Break the boundaries or get out!” screams the modernist and now even the contemporary dictate, which over and over again announces the nobility of the new for all future times, and the imperative of the new is the old that should hold true forever and ever.

I no longer walk, I sit and I read on: “Gentrificiation of breakthroughs is also taking place”: “The imperative of an extremely high frequency of such breakthroughs is very violent and subjugating, not only towards artists, but also towards theoreticians/critics who are forced to make quick evaluations and approximate selections, because there’s always a new project on the horizon,” is what she writes and describes as a schizophrenic process in theory and practice and of course before that and before that and before that in “the artist at work”. The proximity of art and capitalism: “Such cynical and other shifts from what were initially more real, even ‘existential’ inclinations of the breakthroughs that took place in modernism are nowadays the novelties that have replaced the romanticised insanity of the artist. It is no longer the artist who’s insane, insanity has been transferred to the surface, which has gone mad. The institutional demand of art has now become participation ‘in the endless production of novelty and in the training of creative contexts with which it will be possible to win on the contemporary market of provocative and political art projects’.” More and in many more places. NEW, NEW … HAS A LOOSE SCREW …

Looking back at what was, whereas the exhibition is yet to take place and “the present moment will be yesterday”, let there be multiple images of time, even though we don’t live multi‑temporaneity, quite the contrary, we live transience. In front and behind, the face and then the back. And it is inside. Above, below, beside, behind, before … you. Up above, below, beside, behind, before … you. This is this, there is there, here is here … There and there, and there and there, there … This and this and That and this and this and her, as an exhibition. And thus and thus, as well. Attempts, a temporary spatial manuscript and an accumulated and condensed assemblage: the chosen works that are presented in the conceptualised and currently made-up exhibition, in a depository, are connected and united by love and love alone.

Translated by Miha Šuštar

Tempo, tempo, tempo

Tempo, tempo, tempo

Alen Ožbolt