Andreas Vesterlund, Skup Palet NYC-office, arrives in GBG Fri 11.11.11 at 11 am. Brings wallpaper with artichokes and palm trees, a piece of floor and some tools.
11/10/2011 – YOUR MENTALITY IS ALERT
AV is on his way from NYC to work with us for ten days. What our work will look like is unclear. He is bringing some pieces, imagined and material, we have others. There is particleboard in the Eastern European interrogation room, and an idea of interacting with the previously existing context has developed. It is not possible to work as a gallery anymore. Especially not here. The Pallazzo is a place for method innovation and repeated attempts to let disparate activities intermingle. Nothing can be pure or dedicated only to either this or that. We need to break down our own notions of how production works.
11/10/11 – A BEGINNING
11/11/11 – SUPERSTITION
AV has arrived at the Pallazzo. In our preliminary conversations, we’ve really only decided one thing; we will not produce an exhibition, but the result might still have that function. It’s hard to avoid imitating the properties of a gallery. Do we need to disguise our work, and if so, how much? The wallpaper is coming too. Bird cages instead of artichokes. Three rolls. I still want to use them, AV says, I want to build a place for them. Today’s date is all ones, that’s still pretty special. We’ve talked about yesterday’s full moon and these ones several times already. J has had enough. Chronology is a way of measuring time and finances, it means nothing more than that, not a more successful marriage, winning the lottery or a good harvest. That’s a reasonable objection. When we go to throw out the recycling, we find a tiny horse by the cardboard disposal. Usually the garbage room is full of useful stuff, but today only this horse. It’s too small to be of any use and is missing one leg.
11/12/11 – GEOMETRY
A geometric point lacks extension in space. A line is one-dimensional and indicates only length. For us to be able to see it, physical width is required. We have bought wood beams. 20 of them, 7 x 4.5 cm. AV says: You’re talking about area here. Be consistent. They are 2.5 meters long, for visibility, 7 cm wide. Depth has nothing to do with this, extension in space is what we’re after.
11/13/11 – A STRUCTURE MADE OF WOOD
AV is building a wall. J describes it as unwieldy. It needs to be big. Also because of the need to be able to cut it into smaller pieces. Building has gone on for most of the day. It is currently impossible to understand that AV is not in fact building an exhibition, and will not have an art opening, but we do understand that a circular saw is needed to get the job done, so we go buy one.
11/14/11 – EVERYTHING CAN BELONG
The wall is undeniably there, and it’s pretty big. It is not sculpture. Neither is it part of a room. The way it looks right now, it doesn’t really want anything. An attempt at stage setting. Gudrun is coming tomorrow. At the breakfast meeting the question of whether we should take a vote on this is raised. Hell no, says Kahuna, a watered-down democratic decision is the last thing we need. AV wants plastic mat for the flooring. J goes to the garbage room and comes back with several pieces of a completely different material. Samples of wall-to-wall carpeting, precise little squares in dull colors, tufted wool, acrylic and polyester. J says, Until tomorrow, this wall is a part of a specific event taking place here. We need to decide how this should work. AV builds the floor to wrap around one of the columns.
11/14/11 – NOTHING IS ABSOLUTE
P arrives. He brings a text belonging in some sort of shared history.
The compression artifacts in what Hito Steyerl describes as “Poor images” portray a history of wills. Traces formed only when someone wants to simplify, indicate, complicate, add to or alter. In the meanderings and new layers of language, similar artifacts can be seen. Tiny traces of previous usage and remains of things that were not included, but also attempts at expressing that which doesn’t quite belong, or cannot quite be described; things we try to weed out. It is in the artifacts and defects, in the dirt, in the wills that I search for my love story.
P and AV drives to Järntorget to buy a wallpaper smoother. Everything starts over, continues or stays the same.
11/15/11 – G DAY
J installs a gradient of fluorescent lights along a wall. AV has built a disconnected wall. It is placed lying down as an extension of the structure at the opposite end of the room. A floor or a wall, a stage? A room exploded in a very controlled fashion, or never really fixed in the first place. The two parts try to connect by lining up, building another room in the room. The rhetoric of an exhibition lingers between the columns in the garage and seem impossible to break up. Not even in our own conversation. Our exploration of the functions of this space turns into a struggle between wills pulling in opposite directions. No one expected us to agree, this is not a collaboration. Still, irritation is growing. Everyone feels the need to have their decisions validated by the group and to interfere in everyone else’s work. Initiative wanders and dies. As if everyone’s integrity is at stake.
11/15/11 – THE ELEVENTH HOUR
Creative processes tend to value willfulness as a specific quality, as opposed to other more democratic systems. Am I leaving enough of an imprint on our collective shaping of a room if I refuse to take part? Can I get behind what you do with my vision of what this is? Is the opportunity to pursue and take responsibility for your own agenda really equivalent with ownership? A right to defend it from external attacks? Though our movements through the structure are calm, and our venture in the eye of an observer is progressing toward something which can be considered a finished product, we are walking over land mines in a self-inflicted war zone.
11/15/11 – POWER STRUCTURES
G is about to speak. She will explain the structure of power in society and how it works through separation by gender. Normative thought manifests in ideas of the Other as either the same or different. Such ideas lead to violence within the body politic and reinforce class society. The crowd gathered to understand consists mainly of women. This is no surprise. The privileged doesn’t always realize that everyone is a loser in a system like this. G is dynamic and beautiful. She will speak about these thinks as long as it takes. It’s a simplified educational model, drawn in black marker directly on the wall, she speaks in a way that creates identification even with skeptics and doesn’t exclude the non-initiate. Yes, of course you can make that choice, G tells a woman in the audience, of course you can take comfort in the fact that we’ve come pretty far. But since society still looks like this, she draws angry circles around the statistics on the wall, I consider that choice a question of solidarity.
Our construction has become a backdrop, a stage set in which a coming-together of people is taking place, a forum for talking about structures and the necessity of breaking the established order. Limits are often moved first in the cultural field, G says, that’s where we can build new modes of identity and thought. Yes, these are very familiar views.
11/16/11 – YOUNG LADS AND BURNING FENCES
P is trying to understand his own positions by writing a story based on encounters from the past. A wants to understand him, or at least understand his interest in the alien voice which has made its way into our whole construction. P says, I have to learn Roark’s defense by heart, but first I need to figure out how agreements work and why there is competition between us even though we want the same things. You don’t want to categorize the world or values, A says. Dichotomies is a simplified and useless foundation, but the easiest way of building an Us. Ayn Rand is trying to get to me, according to her I can never be, I am a second-hander, P says. You can claim that the role of the architect is adaptable, can belong to different people from time to time, that the idea of a certain approach can inhabit different bodies temporarily, individuals and collective simultaneously, A says. D and I drove around Hisingen like lost sheep, P says, we thought we were looking for a burning fence but in truth we were searching for a lowest common denominator. It made us distressed and sad.
Anders from VARV has shown up. Tomorrow he will hold a lecture at HDK, which will not be a lecture. An unstructured conversation without goals, that’s what I want, he says. We’re standing in the kitchen. AV is in the process of preparing a pork based dish. There has been a fair amount of pork these past days. Equal importance has been awarded this pork, roasted for many hours, marinated in various sauces, smoked and charred with a blowtorch. At every point of worry or uncertainty we have returned to the pork, talked about how it should be cooked and made peace in eating these very carefully prepared meals. Now, the remains of a roast will be mixed with mascarpone and hickory salt. We talk about where we stand. I think the most important thing is to be able to engage fully, Anders says, in whatever it might be, engage, take the time needed to exist in something. It doesn’t have to lead anywhere and it doesn’t have to be art at all. I have a bookcase with books, and it is just a bookcase and nothing else.
When Terror starts talking about how she wants to build a large catapult during the upcoming HIEP Lab week, Anders goes off to print pictures of different models. One is more like a canon, you need to cast a barrel to build it, but if you did that you would be able to shoot beer cans to the opposite side of the river. AV is the one who calculates this, after finding out that the bridge measures 418 meters from end to end. The can would land exactly on the edge if you fired the cannon from a protruding rock. Anders nails the blueprints onto our tourist information booth. I think I need to build some sort of small catapult at least, there’s something nice about that, AV says. It could shoot fortune cookie fortunes.
In the beginning, Skup Palet was an idea in need of a headline. We borrowed that from a language not ours, because we thought we would be able to empty it of meaning and fill it with our own content. Maybe not for M, since he is from Poland, but for the rest of us the name functioned as an unknown field. Naming something is a ritual act. When J and I chose to move our artistic practice to Sockerbruket and work within Hey it’s Enrico Pallazzo, the thing that was Skup Palet turned into a voice through which we could act inside another type of collective. For AV and P, who have had their practices in other places, the content is partly different, but that doesn’t matter right now. No common decisions need to be taken, we all do our own part. The literal translation of Skup Palet: we buy pallets, is enough. We travel, together and separately, from point to point.
AV wants to continue and complete the construction he’s had on his mind for a while. I enjoy the doing itself, joining one piece to the next and arriving at some kind of conclusion, he says. Building exhibitions is fun. A believes we need to start questioning the ways in which we produce art. It works the same way as Gudrun’s response to the woman choosing to be a housewife, she says. It’s a question of economy. Color, design and nostalgia have been claimed by marketers and tied up in branding. For me, AV says, the conversation is the important part. The discussion arising while I build and do.