from one tourist to another

15

CONVERSATION BETWEEN (CURATOR) JOEL MU AND (ARTIST) VICTORIA LAWSON, 11 APRIL 2008

7:09 PM JM: "curating as tourist" was the in point.... I was interested in rethinking curating and you?

7:11 PM VL: we were talking about your 1 - 40 results and that one came up for me

7:10 PM JM: that’s right because you were researching the touristic or something like that.....

7:13 PM VL: yes i was looking at the way that tourism and travel has influenced the contemporary social space

7:14 PM and we were talking about stendhal and stendhal syndrome. About the idea that someone could be so overwhelmed by art and the italian environment

7:15 PM as a tourist. we were wondering if that was still possible or even that it was possible in sydney,

7:16 PM JM: as our project started to developed, the idea of collaboration was discussed and how a collaboration could somehow exercise a stendhal moment seeing this moment through an action via a concept and then into exhibition

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7:17 PM VL: well we were looking at creating a work for the exhibition and i realised i didn't have to perform. that the work would gain greater tension if you performed the work as a curator.

7:18 PM that we should try and give you stendhal’s syndrome

7:19 PM JM: that's right. and for some reason, I was drawn to this performed masochism.... For me, this was an attempt

7:20 PM to move away from being the curator to some idea of the curatorial from my perspective this seems rather radical for you—

7:21 PM JM: collaboration with a curator—

7:20 PM JM: given the conventions of curating

7:21 PM is that 'radical'

7:22 PM VL: it seemed to be a way to explore the power relationship between the curator and artist in a show ostensibly about curating

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7:25 PM but its possibly not when Hans Ulrich Obrist has created a number of exhibitions doing just that. and there have been quite a few works where artists have given curators direction.

7:26 PM i think it becomes interesting as a collaboration

7:27 PM because you have been challenged by some aspects of this work (for example being photographed—even from behind) in the same way that an artist needs to negotiate the performative, viewer / viewed relationship you have had to look at this in ways that you might not have otherwise

7:28 PM JM: Hans Ulrich Obrist of course belongs to the emerging tradition of advanced curating techniques

7:30 PM who like Alexander Dorner, Seth Siegelaub, Harald Szeemann and then of course there’s the Documenta project

7:31 PM are, from a historical point of view, establishing a view of curating that extends beyond the conventions of the museum..... but yes to look at the collaboration differently

7:32 PM I renegotiated my relationship to you and vice-versa

7:35 PM VL: actually i was talking about the performer / viewer relationship but of course that applies to the curator / curated relationship. i think its interesting that you had to look at the photographic document and your embodied relationship with it and within it

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7:37 PM JM: but then this was a curatorial conceit. its funny in away, that a project that started out, at least procedurally, about curator/artist relations has moved to a work that in my opinion is a lot more complex and layered for me

7:38 PM i wanted to reference acconci in our collaboration [in the photographs] i wanted to acknowledge his "Following Piece" as being interesting

7:39 PM VL: and the invisible viewers followed you as you performed

7:40 PM JM: but we also wanted this following visitor to be a tourist a tourist who we knew would be there taking the picture

7:41 PM i wonder, what space the tourist occupies in this collaboration

7:42 PM VL: that's interesting because that seems as if you are performing as a local rather than a tourist and a local fantasising about being a tourist in their own or maybe another environment. maybe our question was whether a local could be so overwhelmed that they could get stendhal's syndrome.

7:43 PM or maybe we are just outlining the implicit failure in our project. the failure that we knew already existed as part of the conceit of the project

7:44 PM or maybe we are secretly (and now not so secretly) hunting the tourist

7:45 PM JM: getting the 'syndrome' was always the desire—and the implicit failure—Stendhal himself suggests, in the touring experience the tourist is loaded with expectation and let downs

7:46 PM you are quite critical of this touring less so than i am

7:47 PM VL: well that was why we also decided to work with the text piece and created the idea of Lahdnets syndrome

JM: as a document or itinerary?

7:48 PM VL: as an inbuilt awareness of the work's opposite. inbuilt into both the lists you made and the subsequent tour and also as a document in the gallery space

7:49 PM i'm critical of the tourist and of myself as a tourist. tourism informs an identity and the project of globalisation

7:53 PM JM: but that where i think the tourist or the touristic is somehow subverted implicated by our interests

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COUNTRYCITYCULTUREARTISTCURATORHOSTGUEST

7:57 PM VL: in the project?

JM: in the project i see two possibly three threads developing First, the critical space

7:58 PM Second, action—which i see more than the performance actually and the Third this imagined space

7:59 PM (and this where, i think the last phase will actually begin) to then return to the critical what is interesting is how these threads intersect....

8:00 PM JM: you were the one offering the invitation and i was the invitee

the host

and the guest

country

8:01 PM city

culture

artists

curator

VL: and the next idea—i invite you to reverse the détournement

8:02 PM JM: perhaps not a reversal but a continuation a change in location in cities in berlin you become the guest

8:04 PM VL: and i become the tourist seduced by sites and sights

JM: and possibly by yourself—as i was, rather unexpectedly in berlin

8:05 PM i will give you the guide book

8:09 PM and other books

VL: when you start to talk about the possibility of self-alteration you are working with performance—tourist as performer—tourism creating a subject

a tourist

8:10 PM so i will be touring to become a 'tourist' the conceit becomes more implicit

8:11 PM and perhaps the project becomes more social

JM: then there is this unbecoming, where the tourist hits a detour. Mine was felt through the text-work—the lists.

VL: about relationships

JM: and yes, perhaps that’s where yours will be located in a city where you need to make relations because you have

8:12 PM .... existing relations

in sydney the tour was a mnemonic piece or a mnemonic set up.

 

countrycitycultureartistcuratorhostguest—concrete performance

curator, joel mu and i have been working on a collaboration since may entitled from one tourist to another. The first stage consisted of the curator being given texts to absorb—including Stendhal's Rome, Naples and Florence and other material on stendhal's syndrome. He was then instructed (by the artist) to visit locations around sydney to attempt to achieve the syndrome—generally described as nervous exhaustion, usually resulting from an overwhelming abundance of visual beauty. It was posited that he might find himself the sufferer of lahdnets (stendhal written backwards) syndrome—exhaustion resulting from the affect of touring a contemporary city and navigating its infrastructure.

mu has provided me with a guidebook for berlin and drawn an F for fuck (exasperation and sex) over a map of greater berlin, pressing the pages together to create a mirror letter. I will be walking over the site of the mirrored F marking each point with a google photo of the area printed onto sticker paper and stuck to the walls of the local sites while I try and get Stendhal's Syndrome. In preparation I've read texts Joel has provided me with, to sensitise my mind to the art and culture of Berlin, such as Fucking Great Art—Berlin edition, the magazine (German based edition on Berlin) 32c, and index.de an index of galleries in Berlin.

stendhal rode out of germany on his way to history in naples, florence and rome, and remarked on his happiness at leaving such a dreary place. i'll arrive in berlin attempting romantic, nervous exhaustion and overwhelm, just as he experienced it in florence, marking the a symbolic return of the tourist and the possibility of a new experience—lahdnets syndrome—desensitisation and a surfeit of touristic excess.

google view berlin

mu chose the locations for his sydney walk by making concrete poems (the artwork was originally installed in an exhibition he was curating devised from an acconciesque premise—all the artists had to make a work drawing on acconci's oeuvre, mu was referencing acconci's poetry) from the texts and the lonely planet, sydney (also provided to him). he narrowed the field of locations with selections based on stendhal's touristic and romantic impulses. He translated this to his own experiences of sydney. he was instructed to have tourists take his photographs in his chosen locations.

the second stage involved the curator providing texts to the artist about a city with which he is familiar—in this case, berlin. to maintain the relationship with acconci's ideas he drew the letter F (fuck and exasperation) at an angle on a map of greater berlin (lonely planet) and pressed the pages together. the ink created a mirrored F on the opposite page. i've wandered the mirrored F in berlin. I used google earth to survey the site prior to travelling there and narrowed in on the locations to create an image of each point on the itinerary instead of having tourists photograph me to document my movements (which was mu's idea based on acconci's following piece).

f first point f second point f third point
    f fourth point
f fifth point f sixth point f seventh point
    f eighth point
    f final point

i am the tourist this time and i'll be placing these images in situ, marking my movements, and documenting them, then returning them to google by uploading them to their site. this allows mu to see the end result from sydney and to let him know the end has been achieved.

 

concrete performance 11.12.08

 

'standing on the edge of...empire...falling off' exhibition, sydney college of art, 2010

 

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