Friday, December 30, 2011

Cairo Drifting

Last Friday we arrived in Cairo

and dashed off to Tahrir square
to sample the enormous energy of the joyful crowd, 
protesting and celebrating at the same time

later on from our Nile view room, the whole city seemed as excited

next day, 
we started drifting along the Nile

negotiating a big catch

crossing bunker underpasses

the bunkerish Hilton

and the burned Hilton

finding ourselves inevitably strolling through Tahrir

but a few wrong turns and we encounter the closed-off Mubarak headquarters

we observe the closed off mosques in the Islamic museum

prohibitive signs in languages we cant read

layers of fortifications

ancient dead-ends

we arrive at the spooky Citadel fortress, but nobody's there

we pass under elaborate structures that appear to hold the city up

we get lost in the back streets of somewhere

ending up the wild cotton market

the day changes but we are still in back street markets instead of museums
under elevated highways
and tree facades

botched Parthenons

finally a cat sleeping on a mountain of Cotton

followed by Mountains of Investment

that always end up as Mountains of Rubble

pyramids of loss
Gothic Minarets
that seem to become integrated into buildings
embedded green mirror minarets
and everything looks like something to preach from
though the message is ambiguous 
we enter a mosque during prayer
but escape up to the minaret again
observing the city from up high
scanning the horizon for pyramids

even the roofs of buildings 

are a desert of ruins

Saturday, December 17, 2011

De ou par Marcel Duchamp par Ulf Linde or maybe par Jan Aman

One of the strangest and most extraordinary exhibitions I saw recently was "De ou Par Marcel Duchamp par Ulf Linde ", based on a discussion Jan Aman and Ulf Linde had years ago, and now organized by Aman with Daniel Birnbaum and Moderna Museet, Henrik Samuelson and the Royal Swedish Academy of Fine Arts.

Rather than a show about Marcel Duchamp or Ulf Linde, it was a show a show for Ulf Linde, choreographing their relationship and exchange of objects and copies and words. 

Jan Aman is perhaps one of the most daring curators working nowadays, with a history of programming institutional exhibitions that have considerably broadened what we understand as curatorial practice: Over the years he programmed historically important shows such as Maurizio Cattellan's HIM (The Hitler piece) or Carsten Holler's One Day One Day" while experimenting with architecture workshops that ended up as real tools for the city planning office of Stockholm and engaged the entire city into discussions. Other shows took groups of artists to peripatetic journeys into the NASA headquarters, or became social experiments into the notion of Authorship and artistic production such as Miriam Backstrom's solo show, and much more. I was lucky enough to work with him on a few of these projects, and could clearly see the evolution that lead to something like "De Ou Par"
Instead of a regular exhibition, the show was based on 31 brief instructions:

 walking in you saw a strange green room, 
with some random cables on the floor, after just passing a tilted green wall, all the time thinking what is going on here, where is the exhibition?

Then a green room packed with replicas which maybe were the boite en valise explored as a room?

 hidden behind the green room, the Coffegrinder, a piece deliberately hidden in a super narrow dark passage,

later on a room with a gigantic ramp, 
leading up to perhaps 
the strangest ever hanging of Modern Masterpieces

underneath the world of notes and information, making us look at works we've seen many times before in an unexpected way