2 January till 22 February 2011
Review by Laurie Cluitmans
translation: Pieter de Bruyn Kops
How men tell it
Survive, energy, swap
Tested to its very limits
Fill your volume with air
The weblog of the Israeli, Noa Giniger (1977), is filled with a seemingly random selection of words, pictures, film clips and videos. Only the titles of the material hint at its meaning, a meaning that is probably only known to Giniger and her guest. For six weeks Giniger retreated in the Kunsthuis SYB, where she was accompanied each and every week by an artist-friend: Gaelle Boucand (FR/DE), Anat Spiegel (IL/NL), Halina Kliem (DE), Shana Moulton (US), Keren Benbenisty (IL/FR), and Rada Boukova (BG/FR).
It is both the (shared) education at the École Nationale Supérieure des Beaux Arts in Paris, the Carnegie Mellon University in Pittsburgh, and de Ateliers in Amsterdam; and the affinity with each other’s work, that form the beginnings of the relationships Giniger has with each of these artists. Although they are now separated from each other geographically, the artists maintain in digital dialog. With ‘Zimmer for FAB’ Giniger created a place in the Kunsthuis SYB for a new and real, in situ meeting.
To take the time and space to come together, to treat each other, and to share ideas and inspirations, this was the basic idea. Joseph Beuys noted that ‘Artists don’t have vacation’ and Noa Giniger reaffirms this during her final presentation on Sunday afternoon, the 13th of February. Not necessarily regarding the moment of rest, but the delayment of daily chores and physical production seem central to her; the freedom of not having a plan or notion of a specific result. With the title ‘Zimmer for FAB’ she alludes through the use of FAB to the fact that she has only invited female artists: “Female Artists Be”; and subtly through the word Fabulous to the British TV show “Absolutely Fabulous” (AbFab). Although she relates Kunsthuis SYB to the concept of a ‘Zimmer’, or a vacation dwelling, this was by no means a traditional vacation. The standard idea of a residency – a period of private contemplation geared towards the production of new work – gets a new meaning.
The American art critic Lucy Lippard described the experience of being a tourist as ‘the apotheosis of looking around’, and that is also a fitting description for ‘Zimmer for FAB’. 1 The seven tourists in Beetsterzwaag went out on adventure, observed their surroundings, and at other times cloistered themselves within the walls of the Kunsthuis SYB to gather inspiration from films and books and to share these experiences, discuss them, and to cook. The images and words from these joined days have been documented onto the weblog. Initially, the cooking, a time to spend together, knowing each other better; the social ritual, pops up.
The blog reads like a diary, day-to-day, artist-to-artist. It is a collection of photos of the constantly changing creative patterns; a receipt for Long Cooking Bolognese; video clips from the movie Black Swan, David Bowie, Bruno Dumond; through books of Freud and Brazilian for beginners. Although eclectic by nature, the accumulations implicitly unmask the work and the methodology of each of these unique people.
The blog posts unfold from some temporary zone and become a part-result of this Zimmer. Giniger made a short video with Gaelle Boucand, ‘Would you prefer’, in which they bombard each other with questions: ‘Would you prefer? successful and unhappy? or happy and unsuccessful? Would you prefer being blind or deaf?’ While with Anat Spiegel an audio-fragment is heard based on a wordplay wherein the sentences and words of prior e-mail dialogs are cut up and reconnected at random. With Halina Kliem, Giniger shares in the creative process of making ephemeral art; one of the posts reads “have to do something with my hands”, and a creation out of pink layered cakes, “roze spekjes”, is the result. Beside the more ironic approach, their discussions about art lead to a collection of sentences and words that could be used as the scenario of a film, and are transformed into prose (as cited at the beginning of this text).
Together with Shana Moulton, Giniger went searching for the local land art: ‘ice-river’, two buckets in a tree and a big wooden horse. Their local research and finds lead to a new video that is placed on the weblog at a later date. The number ‘Chanson des Jumelles’ from the film ‘Les Demoiselles de Rochefort’ forms as the focal point for the time spent together with Keren Benbenisty. The two young women in the film seem to be copies of one another, acting and dressing in a very similar fashion. Searching for the double-meaning in the house and its surroundings, they made a diptych video in which both hum to the number on their computer. Finally Rada Boukova entered the Kunsthuis SYB and the random find of a ‘wind horse’ leads to the search for horses, on cookie tins, a self-fabricated version, and even the further finding of matching mood rings each with a horse.
The posts on the blog initially tell the story of the meandering wanderings and findings. The women chat often, with a humored, even absurdist, approach, as if they are venturing back to their adolescence, listening to their favorite music together in their room. That said, these meanderings, and this vacation-type period, are not meaningless, and not without result. Although the Kunsthuis SYB only formed only a small intervention in the daily practice of these artists, a similar period of seclusion and intensive sharing finds its way back into the larger creative process. For Giniger, the making of art is an intuitive and sometimes random process, in which she attempts to capture the moment. In some way she has been able to extend this process in the Kunsthuis SYB. Time and space were made free to experiences, objects, surprises, and the gathering of ideas without further testing and editing. ‘Zimmer for FAB’ seems the apotheosis of unproductivity and inefficiency, and this seems like a good tip for everyone.
1. Lucy R. Lippard, On the Beaten Track: Tourism, Art, and Place. New York: The New Press, 1999.