Tokyo Morandi Variation and Reminiscence / Text 1

EN /

Traces are not just that which remains after
something has left, they can also be a sign of things to come.

“Tokyo Morandi” is an exhibition project that allows the participating artists, by examining varying approaches in differing media, to probe the only indirect knowability of emotions, cognitive information and rational processes in humans, and to explore this in the context of space, object and installation.

“Tokyo Morandi” scrutinizes the complexity of various disciplines, methods and procedures to pose questions on storage, combination and retrievability of sensual as well as rational content. How can a space become a walk-on (stage)setting; how can film, dance, music and installation achieve a coherent unity, that fathoms the interplay of alienation and appropriation techniques in the shape of repetition?

A focus point for all the works on display is the art of Italian painter Giorgio Morandi, a lifelong maker of still lifes, placing repetition at the centre of his art, with his variations of ever the same and numberless arrangements of empty bottles and vessels. This repetition of his painted “empty” objects fills them with questions of perception: By what relation between each other do they create their meaning, their form? What are the “internal” correlations of reality? How is the artist’s eye connected to the sensation of the viewer?

Repetition and abstraction, ecstasy and cognition are terms to be thought of as being closely connected. Repetition leads to the disciplinary and formal in terms of a reduction, while at the same time, repetition becomes a heightened subjective sensation of “Joie de Vivre” and a state of awaking and recognition, as is often described for music, and that also figures in discussions on the perception of imagery in Cézanne and Matisse. This “awakening” can cause, as in the works of Johann Lurf, Sophie Trudeau and Michaela Grill, an intoxication, a state of ecstasy, in which a human can dissolve or become someone else.

Camilla Richter‘s (Berlin) glass installation relates to a clarity and strictness of form, which in symbiosis with sensuality and alluring play of light, invites the viewer to follow the ever-changing lighting situation in the space.

In the video piece by Sophie Trudeau (Montreal) and Michaela Grill (Wien/Montreal), what seems to be a choreography of bewildered joy becomes a story of appropriation: The protagonist is T.E. Lawrence wearing the traditional Bedouin outfit for the first time. He is Lawrence of Arabia from this moment onward. His dance marks the moment of transformation.

The works in “Tokyo Morandi” are interested in abstractions of form, thought and emotion. This means that they use processes of abstraction as paths for reaching climax on a quest for ecstasy through “formality.” Contrary to Morandi, most of the artists leave the interior space. Their works are pretty and intense, they seduce and get frantic in their repetition. There is a big desire to reach another state of being through repetition – even risking the fear of obsession.

Simon Faithfull’s Going Nowhere 5 is calm and psychedelic. It is shown with the sound of Jessica Moss‘ new album Pools of Light. Going Nowhere 1.5 is the third and most recent in a trilogy of film-works that now spans 20 years. This episode of the trilogy again shows a figure that seems locked in a futile and Sisyphean quest. A small sand-island in the North Sea is filmed from a drone as the tide gradually eats away at its coast. A tiny figure walks purposely round and round the island‘s perimeter – spiraling inwards as the water slowly rises. Eventually, the dry sands of the island vanish beneath the waves and the figure is gone.

Faithfull says about his exploration of Morandi’s work: Morandi seems to have avoided travel and the unknown at all costs but his work nevertheless shows an intense inquiry into the forms of the everyday world around him. When Morandi began to investigate landscape (rather than his usual still lives) instead of leaving his small house to explore the landscape outside, he apparently bought a telescope and painted the flattened scenes revealed from an upstairs window. The intensity of this fixed and flattening eye is something I admire and try to emulate.

Mike Moya presents something that was never published before, recorded and played with Sophie Trudeau and Timothy Herzog, a melancholic imaginary soundtrack of a child growing up at their grandma’s house. Mike Moya‘s sound of childhood, accompanied by birds in flight as metaphor for the dynamic shelter a family provides for a child growing up, is a most sensual work, by repetition becoming complex and soaring.

A soaring, buzzing and flitting can also be found in Markus Krieger’s installation, fit in with painstaking precision, constructed with mathematical accuracy, it stretches across the room from wall to wall; the installation’s quiet whirring of engines spreading through the space, mixing with the surrounding noise.

Kimberley de Jong and Mauro Pezzente present a video work layering Industrial Sound as the background noise we live in, repeated, constant motion forwards. The sound of laughter, birds and bells create the melody, weaving breaths of life into existing patterns.

The decisive forms of a cinematic view, that for example make Maria Hinze’s drawings possible, and also motivate Richter’s work or Gambletron’s objects, allow the viewer to focus and to digress. The stillness of contemplation and the motion of intoxication, spreading out, in pro-creation and growth, making the distinction between ecstasy and contemplation visible in Maria Hinze’s drawings, showing forth that sensual and cognitive states are taking place simultaneously, increasing in intensity by repetition.

The image of the contemplative and the parallelism of events, such as the movement of the stars, describe a mental path back to Simon Faithfull’s exhibited work that could be a convincing reversal of the starry sky image, hardly changing for the duration of a human life. Faithfull though does not direct his view from earth skyward, but lets the viewer look, via a drone, earthward from high up in the sky; towards an ocean landscape, where an island vanishes under high tides. The image of change in a starry sky, being almost imperceptible to humans in the moment, leads the recipient back to the still lifes and paintings of Morandi, in relation to the almost imperceptible change in the repetition of the always identical theme. He was a composer of form. Repetition inspired in him the discovery of the new.

Disciple of light and time traveler, Philippe Leonard (Montreal) explores the spaces in-between and the optical unconscious. He roams the world catching glimpses of light with his camera. Crafting his images using celluloid, analog video and high-definition digital technologies, he strives to create a unique hybrid visual matter through. Fleurs d’Automne is the portrait of a season, a transitional landscape. A formal exploration of dried sunflowers as a still life, following Morandi’s obsession with the idea of exhausting form through repetition, and perhaps revealing its essence in the process.

Also in Karl Holmquist contribution one finds lines repeating on paper or in memory form patterns and a different perhaps less abstract idea of meaning and language.

Gambletron 2018 Circles: Emanations Sephirot Transmission II: A sculptural radio transmission/ broadcast and performance platform taking the shape of a Kabalistic structure revelatory of the infinite. This work explores the evocation of totality that often occurs during improvisational performance. This is the second chapter of a sound sculpture that was created for the 2017 Festival Music International de Victoriaville.

Frédérick Arbour (Berlin) and Karl Lemieux (Montreal) present a filmic work, developed in collaboration. Karl Lemieux says about his abstract animation work: “Since my first short film, I am dedicated to formal experiments that address the image from the point of view of sensation. “Untitled” (2018), an abstract animated film constructed by hand painted and collage on 16mm film and dark ambient music, tries to escape, by abstraction, a certain order of the visible and audible to propose work on internal sensation. What interests me in this work, is the material and the treatment of ecstasy; formally, I am interested in the relationship between image and sound, that is to say, to develop a radical proposal on own powers of cinema. More specifically, I am inspired by the initiated in the world of noise music research, in many cases, also works across textures. I am touched by what the film conveys sensation as (physical), not just as an emotion (psychological), even if the viewer can feel an emotion of fear, terror, joy or panic. I think there is also a subtle physical sensation that revolves around the rhythm of the images, sound and editing. What interests me above all is the question of experience – experience that can be experienced before a film, a physical experience all at once personal, human.”

Johnny Nawracaj from Montreal comments on the influence of Morandi: I was hoping to also show a completely new, Morandi-inspired piece. Using Morandi‘s paintings of empty vessels as a conceptual guide, I have developed a new two-channel video work exploring seemingly vacant architectural spaces that I envision as the gills and bladders of buildings. Video of a rooftop air filtration system in Santiago, Chile will run alongside similar footage of a Montreal rooftop water tower. Gentle movement of the camera reminds to viewer of the presence of my body holding the camera. This work of video still life reframes Morandi‘s fascination with the empty vessel in a contemporary field of association. The massive urban vessels I depict are in silent tension with the human body. They hold water and move air to service our daily needs and yet we are alienated from them. My obsessive observation of these vessels through the lens is akin to Morandi‘s fascination with painting the empty vase. The object in service to the human body appears haunting when its being is observed out of the context of human daily needs.

The simultaneity of perspectives and the synchronicity of emotional, physical, cognitive and conscious sub-conscious states, and an approach that considers terms such as repetition, abstraction and ecstasy as interwoven while moving towards a process of recognition and insight, are with regard to content and form main focal points of the exhibition.

A unique aspect of the exhibition that opens on May 9 at Meinblau project space is the selection of artists from Berlin and Montreal. Musicians such as Sophie Trudeau, Mauro Pezzente and Mike Moya of Canadian post-rock collective Godspeed You! Black Emperor will premier works developed within the thematic context of the exhibition, which will in co-operation with Kimberley de Jong’s dance performance and films by Karl Lemieux and Philippe Leonard, display their discrete and electrifying imagery, that also characterizes Gambeltron’s and Nick Kuepfer’s site-specific contributions to the exhibition. Performance pieces and the overall connection of the entire installation will merge the various artist positions for the exhibition’s duration. Performance pieces and the overall connection of the entire installation will merge the various artist positions for the exhibition’s duration.

A closing event co-hosted by Arkaoda Club takes place on May 13 with an afternoon concert by Gambeltron, Nick Kuepfer, Mike Moya, Etkin Cekin and Niklas Kraft, with DJ sets from Fog Puma and Eli Pavel.

Text: Falko McKenna, Maria Hinze
Translation: Falko Teichmann