Sunday, 25 November 2012

exhibition in three episodes: review in three parts by Claire Briegel

Edgar Schmitz – Surplus Cameo Decor
18 October 2012 – 14, December 2012
Cooper Gallery

exhibition in three episodes: review in three parts
episode 1: palasthotel, 18 October – 6 November

Before seeing Schmitz Surplus Cameo Decor in reality—in as much the setup of palasthotel can be termed as such—I began talking to someone who had already been to the preview, commenting upon the discrepancy between the sparsity of the set-up and the apparent superfluity of information encircling it. The conversation that ensued streamed into questions of encounters and experiences of art, the role of art in relation to the institutions that circumscribe it, and the responsibility of the complex discourses surrounding art to reflect it rather than support or even swallow it (or is it art's responsibility to fulfil its promises?)
With such questions in mind, as well as the shards of information that had already been presented to me, I did not enter the eponymous palasthotel as a distracted viewer. The initial encounter with Schmitz' gallery-come-backdrop was one of engulfment; the scene is both decor (setting the scene) as well as being tangible and (temporarily) inhabitable. This element of the decorative—coming across in the scene's ambient backdrop snapshots and the mesmerising bronze glow—is not something viewers normally experience in an embodied sense. Decor is either meant to indulge a certain sense of ambience without being an element in itself, or simply exist to be looked at. The scene that has been occasioned here allows the incomplete elements that normally become engulfed by the mastery of the whole to exist together in semi-real / fictional time. The ambience created by the interplay of these lofty super-signifiers—the seductive bronze two-way mirror taken from the Palasthotel in East Berlin, the neon reflection that is at once glamorous and sleazy, snippets of isolated conversation and suggestive filmic stills—creates such a saturation of stimuli, the viewer cannot help but be in some way immersed (albeit within the bitter-sweet reality of being in the German Democratic Republic of foreign travel under StaSi surveillance in the semi-fictional palasthotel).
This isn't to say that the viewer wouldn't leave the exhibition feeling slighted by the scene's persistent oscillation between suggestion and promise. I would say that the exhibition doesn't deliver completeness, and with regards to the conversation that pre-empted my visit, part of the pleasure of this exhibition is in the overlapping and intersection of 'remote' dialogues infiltrating the present scenario and the snippets of incomplete meaning within it. In the same way that Schmitz' manipulation of reality interrupts the fictional scene—the use of real, borrowed and notorious material, the references to veritable historical and political moments, as well as the durational existence of the exhibition in real time including real 'celebrity' appearances via Skype—I would say that the art work resonates beyond its material manifestation and 'ambient attitude', enveloping the discursive and fluctuating networks of understanding that surround it, and muddling the distinction between art and discourse.
Rather than making viewing arduous and confusing, I think the first episode of Surplus Cameo Decor allows its viewers (should they choose so) to indulge in and accept a certain level of mystification and incompleteness. The episodic duration of the exhibition itself makes space for an experiential process, which in turn affects the responses that ensue - in which there is a real and persistent sense of there being more-to-come.

Claire Briegel studies at Duncan of Jordanstone College of Art & Design and is part of Exhibitions' Student Curatorial Team.

Wednesday, 14 November 2012

SCT: A Currency of Ideas, Afternoon 2

On Tuesday 13th November, Holly Knox Yeoman and I returned to the Board Room at DJCAD to continue working with ExhibitionsDJCAD, Student Curatorial Team (SCT). The intention for the second part of our Workshop ‘SCT: A Currency of Ideas’ was to hear back from the students about the projects//exhibitions they would like to devise and to assist them to begin collaboratively developing their ideas as well as to consider their next steps.

To begin with, members of the team put forward their initial thoughts to the group. These ideas reflected their own diverse personal interests from investigating the artistic process in which the unintended is given room for creative development, to an ambitious interdisciplinary project, which would invite the viewer to more fully understand some of the craft and possibilities in printmaking. The SCT were encouraged to sketch//draw//write to help share and record their ideas during the discussions.

Morgan Cahn also told us of her plans for Fun-A-Day, which will return to Dundee in 2013, and invites participants to set themselves a simple//creative//fun//interesting project to undertake every day in January. These works will be installed for a new audience to investigate and enjoy, and is planned to take place in Roseangle CafĂ© Arts, early February 2013 (check out last year’s Fun-A-Day Wordpress here.)
Holly went on to discuss Fluxus and Richard Demarco’s involvement with members of the movement in Strategy-Get-Arts (1970), a ground-breaking “non-exhibition” taking over the Edinburgh College of Art. This led to discussion about Holly’s work at The Demarco European Art Foundation (DEAF), how Holly and I began collaborating on an on-going project barter and also introduced the opportunity for the current SCT to visit, research and possibly work in response to the archive housed within the Foundation. Last academic year’s SCT had a group visit and it is a dialogue Exhibitions DJCAD and DEAF are keen to continue.

 Dickie Webb's '12 x 9 x 9' (2011) installation at Demarco European Foundation

Strategy: Get Arts Catalogue and Joseph Beuys, 'What is Art?'

The SCT were encouraged to form smaller groups and barter their ideas – exchange//develop//remove//improve – to start to shape the curatorial projects they may undertake. Although still in the early stages it was excellent to hear how the plans evolved and to watch new working relationships begin to develop during the Workshop.

Once re-grouped we discussed general practicalities and asked them to consider the timeframe they envisaged for their proposals, the use of the DJCAD exhibition spaces and how to best go forward with their ideas as groups.   

We really enjoyed our experience of working with the SCT, we will be keeping in contact and cannot wait to see the projects discussed progress and become a reality!

Saturday, 10 November 2012

Student Curatorial Team: A Currency of Ideas

On Thursday 8th November Katie Reid and I met the Exhibitions DJCAD Student Curatorial Team (SCT), introducing them to exhibition methods and structures through the workshop 'A Currency of Ideas'. This workshop is devised in two parts, covering both examples of University, local, national and international projects, the practical and conceptual logistics involved in devising exhibitions and providing a space for SCT to discuss the direction they would like to take this opportunity. 
The SCT is made up of both new and existing members, some of whom Katie and I have worked with in the past, through being the "guinea pigs" of SCT or at other DJCAD related exhibitions. It was a really good mix of students, ranging from Fine Art, APCP, MFA, TBA, Product Design, Jewellery and Illustration.
Katie and I planned part 1 around our relationship and the projects and institutions we have been involved with. We scattered the DJCAD Board Room table with books//articles//exhibition handout materials of both examples of our own work, related projects such as May Meet In Mutual and the work of other artists and curators we have researched over the years. 
We gave an outline of how we approach curatorial projects and included discussion on how to avoid errors we had made in the past. Previous Cooper Gallery projects, particularly A CUT A SCRATCH A SCORE, provided opportunity to consider the curatorial decision to programme multiple events and how in doing so is a challenging prospect but often beneficial in aiding the reception, meaning and critical discourse surrounding a project.
Our collaborative project barter brought forward conversation about how significant a curator's role is in bringing recognition to the practitioners whose work comprises the exhibition. Next week, part 2 will be held on Tuesday 13th with the SCT invited to bring their initial ideas as well as some images//articles//gallery handouts that they could barter - exchanging thoughts on how to develop their projects for the coming months. 
In part 1, some really good curatorial ideas were discussed and we look forward to hearing how these might have further evolved over the next few days and seeing these ideas come to fruition!

- Holly 

Friday, 9 November 2012

Educational Film Screening Event

Educational film screening event in connection with Edgar Schmitz' Surplus Cameo Decor. A selection of films influential to the artist. A colourful evening of fine film, disscussion, pizza and popcorn.

A Currency of Ideas; Student Curatorial Team workshop

A few shots from an observer of the discussion:

Heads down, think-in