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What's going on at l'Atelier

27 October 2010

Christopher Savaramuthu has just been eating vermicelli in public, Sex & bytes & rock n roll is moaning, Twenty-Four Hours keeps changing, and mitumBACK is selling Europeans their own secondhand clothes back.

Christopher Savaramuthu has just been eating vermicelli in public. This would not have been such a remarkable event if the table it was on wasn’t suspended by a piece of rope, and gradually lifted up during the eating. So what starts as bending over the table ends like stretching out on his toes and trying to catch a few last strands of vermicelli with his fork, not seeing anything. Afterwards, he looked like a long distance runner after the race, even if the performance only lasted for five minutes. Sure he didn’t reach the end of the bowl in that time – eating vermicelli is a painstaking affair – but the table reached the ceiling.

This is the first time he’s doing the performance in public; it was only for the video camera before. “Well I’ve eaten vermicelli in restaurants of course.” Six or seven more bowls to go. More on Chris' performance   here.

Enter the machine. When you are in the Atelier, y ou hear Sex & Bytes & Rock 'n' Roll moaning. The moaning gets louder as you approach. Actually it’s robots playing guitars, one with a bow, one with a fan, and one with lego wheels and electric currents. What you see in front of you in fifteen old VGA monitors is pure acid, but acid from around 1990 rather than 1970. Angelo Wellens  & Karel van de Peer’s audio/video installation couldn’t have been made at any time before 2010, with the relooping of handycam images and the robotics, but in its allusions to Nam June Paik, and its do it yourself aesthetics, it is equally a piece of different decades.

And Jane Fogarty’s installation, Twenty-Four Hours, keeps changing. From time to time, you see her go into the room where her 1440 painted cardboard patches are laid out, to rearrange a few more. Last year in Vilnius, the only “painter” of all artists selected was Robbe Vervaeke whose phantasmagoric animatiom film Erszebet was all painted out. This year, Jane is the painter. In a way yes and in a way no, because the composition of the piece is much more in the arrangement than in the act of painting. You can call it an installation. You can call it a performance, even though there’s nothing theatrical about her way of moving them around. And indeed although they’re all monochrome, there is composition in that she always left the edge unpainted, like a frame. And some of them are not fully painted because she set herself the rule to paint each of them in one minute exactly – that’s twenty-four hours in total if it had been non-stop, and surely lasted longer in real life. (You also have to cut the cardboar d, and wait for them all to dry – and you can’t have 1440 patches of cardboard drying at the same time.) It all makes a wonderful ensemble.

Next to Sex & Bytes & Rock 'n' Roll is Karin Luuk’s Estonian Forest, a wallpaper that you can draw on. You’re supposed to, because it’s all animals in outlines waiting to be coloured in. After a few hours of exhibition, it is already getting quite full – the little joy in contemporary art of being allowed to do something that you weren’t allowed to do at home.

Next to that, Arnaud Caquelard’s in-close gives a black-humoured twist to the lego you used to play with, replicating it with concrete blocks and steel bars, and building a cage out of that. Do it yourself is not all that innocent child’s play.
 
mitu mBACK looks small by comparison: it consists only of a stack of lab els. (And videos, and a wall full of clothes, but it's the labels that it's all about.) It is an all the more overtly activist  type of do it yourself. The rationale behind it is that the label rebrands secondhand clothes that are shipped off from Europe to Africa so they can be sold back to Europeaqns as vintage brand pieces. Next to the stack there is a cardboard box for donations. Even if it was not intended as a statement about the state of art, it could be a symbol of what many artists are facing in these days of massive budget cuts in the cultural sector.

 

 















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