YL: I’m trying to connect what you just said to the terms I guess I’ve used a few times: gestural, very loose. I would say there’s a kind of self-aware, temporal, almost atmospheric presence in the space…You can feel it when you’re in the space.
SK: It just occurred to me that what I imagined from the exhibition, because it was an exhibition to establish a theme and then realize a plan, that there were thoughts at the beginning about what it might be and initially the reason why it was called Sediment was because it was taken from two quotes from Paul Chan and Hal Foster which were very strangely similar. And they were reflective of my initial interest in the exhibition. The quotes are, paraphrased, something like “form is nothing other than content which has been historically sedimented.” And so my initial interest in this exhibition was how has the book as a form became so sedimented and crystallized that it is almost an invisible form that we unthinkingly engage with, and that familiarity has a value and we know the book, we know how to engage with it, so we can seemingly get unmediated access to what is the quote-unquote content of the book. So what does that quality of engaging with this very crystallized form versus a very new form that is unusual to us? And so in a way this seems to connect well with what this paused exhibition, is that we’re slowly thinking through and trying to generate this form, but it is new enough and responsive enough that it hasn’t had the chance to crystallize yet.
YL: Back to the same question again, about people asking you to label the works. We are not trained to encounter such an exhibition; we are trained to see the other type of exhibition, where proper information/identification is provided. So there is a kind of resistance here, immediately. Where is the entry point for someone who is not trained—not culturally trained—to access this stuff here?
SK: I think the most unfortunate reaction might be that someone would think of is [that the exhibition] is purposely obscure or just a front that is trying to purposely block access. In the way that a lot of this exhibition has slowly generated itself, this is something that has recently come up. Now we have to deal with and think about how this lack of exhibition standard might be perceived.
YL: I like that—lack of standards. That could be the a sub-title for the show…
SK: So in a way…its kind of like unsettling the form of the exhibition to…
YL: …decrystallize it.
…Lack of standard, I like that. Well then how do you deal with this demand for you to behave, to provide label and identification, or in other words to live up to standards? Do you see it as a compromise?
Sediment, Installation view, 2012. Courtesy G Gallery
MM: When Shane and I were speaking yesterday about requests for a map…people have been mistaking the list of participants as a map or [something] to orient you in the space. So a wall didactic is definitely a no, but is there a way to negotiate the nature of this exhibition and a sort of more crystalline method of viewing. It does feel like a compromise though, we are very hesitant to…is there a way to somehow hold the integrity of the original impulse? I don’t know if there is.
YL: Here’s a hypothetical question: if there’s an intelligent audience, coming here, and she said “Oh, I get it. This is an exhibition about exhibition design.” She gets the logic of your operation, but the work didn’t seem to matter to her at all. Because it’s not about the work, it’s about designing the show.
SK: I wouldn’t generally have a problem with that, I dunno, maybe you feel otherwise [Michelle].
MM: It’s a tricky line to balance on because on one hand, there’s this totally new, innovative way of presenting works—multiple works as one work—but then there’s this [idea of] placing too much emphasis on the exhibition-design-as-artwork, and is that taking away from the individual pieces? So the flip side of that is that the exhibition space or that structure recedes into the background and the works themselves take prominence. I’d like to think what we did here sort of mediates those two?
Work by Yam Lau. Courtesy the artist.
SK: Yeah, I think for me there are things that might be seen as compromises. It’s a negotiation. In the one sense the exhibition design maybe becoming so prominent, or the lack of inclusion of titles, are two example of where we have to negotiate and acknowledge the works that are in the show. To minimize the work of each artist would never be the intention of the exhibition, but the structures of which make that exhibition possible are also going to be highlighted. I think the difference for me is that it is an ongoing negotiation of what is too much exhibition design, how can the works still remain a focus—or one of many of the focuses of the exhibition. So there are all these negotiations which are ongoing, but as we mentioned, the show has, as a thing, has stopped, and the continuing negotiations that we’re making amongst ourselves is not really manifest in the show—the show is stuck on the night of January 13th.
YL: I hope this interview will be part of that process, this ongoing discussion and negotiation. The fact that we are talking about these interesting topics means that the project is doing a lot. But what I’m also interested in is that Sediment is looking like a way of operation; that the operation could generate many more projects. I hope there will be more.
I don’t know if you guys have been thinking about future projects. With iterations people could gradually become familiar a new way to do things. The kind of questions such as why are there no labels, why does it look like none of the other shows that I’ve seen, etc may not arise once audience have been introduced to different way of doing things. It’s all about training, right, the more you do, the more visible you are, provide access to what you do. Do you have any thoughts about future projects? Are you working as a team?
SK: I don’t know. I think my general sense is that I would actually also hope that there are more projects. So far nothing has been talked about but that’s just my general sense. Somehow doing this show has changed both of our practices, or maybe our thinking about our practices. And so wherever, however it materializes I think that there will be some momentum brought forward from this show to others. ■
Interviewed by Yam Lau, artist and writer based in Toronto
Image courtesy G Gallery
13 January – 26 February 2012
at G Gallery, Toronto
Curated by Shane Krepakevich and Michelle McGeean
Barbara Balfour, Bill Burns, Hyang Cho, Céline Condorelli, Joel Cottrill, David Court, Dave Dyment, James Gardner, Xan Hawes, Shane Krepakevich, Tiziana La Melia, Karl Larsson, Yam Lau, Micah Lexier, Laura Marotta, Michelle McGeean, Parker Branch, Roula Partheniou, Marek Rudzinski, Stephanie Shepherd