time and place:
1994 to 1997, School for Conceptual Tendencies

 

I have no idea how's elsewhere
but in School for Conceptual Tendencies
for the better part of the year
we do whatever we want
and at the end of the year
we defend our work in front of a committee

The commitee is made of five people
usually faculty members
sometimes visiting professors
or related professionals

What we usually do throughout the year
walk barefoot on grass and snow
walk backwards in forest
remain silent in a landscape
collect fragments and observe shadows
talk to leaves and write computer code
record and sample sounds
sometimes we collect our own bodily fluids
sometimes we work with fire and ice
often we engage in meta-scientific taxonomies
make field-notes, keep diaries, read books and drink a lot of tea

And
what a surprise
here comes the end of school year
exams are near
and teachers are not necessarily on the same trip

they would like you to present something
anything, really
just something
paintings, objects, performance, installation
even a pile of garbage would do
if you can defend it
you see
just like that guy sweating in a penguin suit
you've got to learn how to sell your shit

In the School for Conceptual Tendencies
students seldom work directly with materials
so, at the end of the year everyone is under slight pressure
namely
how to translate
the inner experience
into something perceptible

So, we frantically brainstorm
trying to (re)invent all these
interesting, boring, funny, cheap, eclectic, thoughtful, stupid, incomprehensible, unnecessary
ways to translate invisible into visible

Which reminds me
how once I worked with voice
it all started with writing messages in a non-existing language
it seemed to me such a sad thing that so many words are lost
just because they have no meaning
so I embarked on this quest for lost words

the path finally led me to some voice recordings
sounds outside the realm of language and writing
kind of very personal form of glossolalia
in the end I came up with an installation
mostly made of small dioramas filled with found artifacts
all according to their audio-associative properties
the aim was to write an unwritable sentence

Okay
The committee was happy
I sold my story

and me..
I was really happy that
at a first glance
the hole thing seemed invisible

But, the real thing is..
the thing that is the thing
that is..

On an important level
all this translation business
is neither good nor necessary

It comes from a very wrong place
from a very conventional understanding of art

And this is why
I was so impressed
changed

when
once
in a similar situation
(end of the year pre-exams fever)
Šejn
(our professor)
told us how
(in his opinion)
these exams
should really look like:

The studio is totally empty
(white walls, dark wooden floors)
all traces of activities throughout the year
erased

In the middle of the room
a line of candidates
stands still

The committee approaches slowly
and gaze
into the eyes of each apprentice

 

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