Sunday, August 14, 2011

Re-Placing the Making - Group Exhibition at Semper Depot, Austria

An international art exhibition at The Exhibition Space ATELIERHAUS AKADEMIE DER BILDENDEN KUNSTE, 1060 Wien Lehargasse - Ehem. Dreihufeisengasse 6-8, Vienna. Austria on 13 July 2011. Curated by nasir baharuddin and the artists are shima abu hasan, aminah abd rahman, abu hasan ahmad, samsuddin lappo, annabelle Ng,

This exhibition will features the idea of placing and site specific hypotheses about integrating pattern of distance. It tries to cross a new culture border about imagination and spatial representations of a place in relocating the visual imagery to a different setting. Artists were portraying the passion of imaginary and how to put in place as fiction of thought. So, Austria was chosen as a destination in relating the imagination of place as a reality and would be bought in relocating the painting to different readers. It is a suggestion on how a location will be built and speculates a new distance within artistic sensation, which might construct interrelation communication and discover various deliberate meaning.

Re-Placing the Making
Nasir Baharuddin

With ‘make’, ‘place’ comes into being. The place of creation. However, the task of ‘making’ is not merely confined to the ‘re-placement’ of what has been produced. The art of ‘making’ is planned in such a way that its ‘placement’ achieves an all-encompassing reaction to what has been ‘made’. ‘Re-placing’ means to see the connection between what is made with the situation and atmosphere from its existing location to another. This is the outcome when the re-placement of the making is carried out contextually.
The aim is to enable what is ‘made’ to transcend beyond the realm of its place of making, either tangibly or ‘spiritually’. It is hoped that a multitude of images will result from the play of ideas that takes into account socio-cultural context as well as the fictional landscape thoughts of its original environment. The aspiration is to channel the object of these ideas into a language to be ‘read’ at its intended location. Production is the process that gives rise to suggestions on what the information and source of a creation are, and generates pictures on its ability to function as something that is responsive, illustrative and which is capable of shaping views.
This exhibition attempts to show the link between place, through the agency of the visual object, and cultural patterns to be enjoyed as a language that can be interpreted by a diversity of readers. This would be a most interesting observation indeed because the artist wishes to personify the spirit and soul of the ‘self’ while his visual language speaks of ‘codification’ outside its geographical character.
This is evident from the personalities and styles which the artists convey, in the spirit of sharing, through their statements that represent the ‘self’ in relation to their immediate environment. The nature of these dialogues are not meant to set ‘boundaries’. Rather, it suggests a visual language that is more engaging and open, only that these statements are relayed in different manners.
Picasso once said, “While a painting is being done, it changes as one’s thoughts change. And when it’s finished, it goes on changing, according to the state of mind of whoever is looking at it … it isn’t up to the painter to define the symbols.” Picasso went on to say, “otherwise it would be better if he wrote them out in so many words! The public who look at the picture must interpret the symbols as they understand them.” From these two statements, it can be said that ‘production’ invites speculation on the object of production.
The object of production, among others, conceptualizes acceptance, giving, knowledge and change. This means that an art work will constantly suffer changes in its interpretation from the moment a person begins to think until the world around him itself experiences changes. A fragmentation of information which never ends and links different understandings to one another as dictated by his experiences.
A change in place will also give rise to a change in interaction. The change provides a more comprehensive reflection of meaning to the perception to what has been done. The reflection of meaning will engage the artist into a discourse about his art work in relation to the changes in his social surroundings. Hence, it becomes the artist’s responsibility to plan and to know how the reaction to a social setting outside his environment behaves as this will consequently pull audience from outside his own socio-cultural context. As such, the location of the change of place plays a responsive role towards reflection, perception, and review of social reality according to an experience beyond the perimeter of his thoughts.
In other words, when a change in location occurs, it will promote a discursive arena at the placement of production, allowing for interpretation to take place according to the social thinking patterns of that location. Promoting a discursive arena lies with the relationships between location and context of production as well as the choice of language to be used. This is achieved from the object discourse or the image framework structured in a more open and effective manner so as to form a history in the mind regarding the reflection of the picture produced.
The historical picture reflection will act as the background image and process of how an interaction is formed in establishing a more constructive shift of thought. As such, the experience of making provides diversification in the nature of making where its activities become non-static and continue to function in creating values or a change in values. This depends on what is done and its connection with the power of perception and the outcome of interaction.
In fact, the interaction outcome will determine whether a work of art will cross boundaries, be it the boundary that exists within the self, the environment or the social system as well as the cultural activities that are connected to the change of place based on a different worldview. This matter will have a bearing on the definition and functions of art, whether the concept of art is seen from the perspective of beauty and not viewed from outside the boundary of art which can serve to introduce the approach to a person’s state of being. For example, it can be viewed from the aspect of its form of discipline, or its language, the material presented, history and political culture as well as its context of production.
The context of production not only acts as the foundation, it also needs to take into account the question of innovation which will show the dichotomy between commitment and quality according to the role played by the artist’s surrounding. Walter Benjamin explains, “the dichotomy between commitment and quality which informed the contemporary debate around the role and place of artists, stating that rather than presenting an either/or scenario, political commitment or tendency and high quality had to go hand in hand.” Benjamin’s explanation tries to connect work of art as a social product in relation to the context of time, whether the product of the art work is able to leave a mark of production that corresponds with its time.
In other words, the way it is juxtaposed and its connection with the prevailing condition of time. This should be clearly understood since every place and situation, either consciously or unconsciously, will generate a reflection of sign as well as the cultural activities of an environment. As such, every sign that creates an agent from the product of culture will mirror the power of thinking, its status, in addition to the strength of values from the ‘spirit of self’ as the display of image relating to the cultural system it holds. This behaviour of values should be looked at as a picture of an artist’s actions as every production will create a change in language and location and whether it can be turned into an acceptance or will it generate critical reaction from its place of display. The willingness and preparation in creating a location will place a production value to its placement in a responsive manner.
Contemplating about the change of transformation to a place of making causes an artist to play a role and to be committed not only as a form of interaction, but also in shaping a mind shift and able to create a social change on what is being suggested. This is because art not only creates the process of interaction, it is hoped that from the mark it makes, art can also provide a stimulus to the way of life and in the shift of perception to what it should be.
This responsive does not only apply to the artist but also to the audience so that every reflection of production will give a stimulus to a person’s visual system to enable him to experience the existing differences which will later prove to be significant to his life. It is hoped that the artistic marks will give inspiration to various social contexts, and that the attitude of openness towards the boundary of the mind will give a new light and open all kinds of possibilities to be viewed as a suggestion of change.
Although the form of production is in its placement, various fragmentations will take place due to the diverse nature of socio politics. However, it is hoped that this diversity will create opportunities of similar in nature, or to be considered as a continuity with potential. This is what is keenly hoped for as art is not only seen as the clash of values and commitments as well as the way it is presented, but rather how the clash plays a role in the social system of a place as a social reality. It is to be emphasized that every production will give rise to a discursive clash but due to the inherent nature of reality, assessment can be made on what is being suggested and its ensuing reaction.
It is difficult to establish whether a production is truly successful or otherwise as it is subject to a person’s experience and his cultural background. It is also dependent on how the negotiation of acceptance takes place as what is voiced by Arundhati Roy when writing about contradictions on a contemporary Indian writer, “how such a role cannot be fixed or externally regulated, but rather it is a role that needs to be constantly negotiated.” Negotiation is a mechanism where crossborders are seen as an opportunity/a potential that may play a role in creating continuity in the existing location of production.
In a similar scenario, it cannot be denied that there will be an overlapping of aesthetics in the artistic political scenario, but this can be assessed from the aspect of quality, commitment and the form of suggestions as well as ability. What is important is how awareness is created and how change can be effected especially in terms of self space and the availability of reference according to time. An artist should not be wrapped up in his ‘cocoon’ of expressions only but should make the effort to assimilate himself into the social system of not only at the place where he lives but also in the social systems elsewhere. The question of whether an art form is ‘new’ or ‘old’ should not be a point of contention but what should be emphasized is how it functions to weave into to the socio-culture and politics of production.
Whether an art is considered ‘low class’ or ‘high class’ is not fundamental as it is only a template to fill the empty space of an institution so as to feast the eye. It is merely a creation of a visual sensation based on style and trend of materiality and representation. And its discussion is confined within the four walls of that institution only. What is important is how it is able to create a shift in its relationship with the socio-cultural context and politics of a place and see its significance in the ever changing visual language. As what Clement Greenberg advocates about art, “Pastiche, trickling down and bubbling up of high/low culture, and a general blurring of borders and cultures were presented as alternatives to medium specificity, as well as to modernist transcendental ideals. Artists and theorists working within and around feminist frameworks in particular paved the way in the exploration of alternatives to the grand narratives of modernism.”
Consequently, how the role of the ‘soul’ becomes the key basis in the work of art, to surpass genres, geographical and historical backgrounds which operate collectively to be diffused through art space in a gallery or museum. To serve to the public a suggestion of production leading to an event relating to aspiration and innovation of awareness on creation and response. The process that begins in an intimate space and later, spilling into a public space. The aim of every operational can be linked to the diversity of cultures, patterns of thinking and cultural issues in the effort to invite society for a collaborative stand on views and hopes arising from a production. More importantly, it is to build a process of negotiation on the fragments of layers of meaning of everyday life. And later on, to be able to penetrate artistic environment of different contexts, as an assessement and measure of the connectedness of an issue.
In closing, it is hoped that this exhibition will pave the way to a two-way connection through the medium of art production so that for every suggestion, there will be a reflection and not merely existing as a static visual material that is non-responsive or tied around the illustration within ‘a square world’. Further, to show how it is channeled through a package of cultural system of a people and their pattern of thinking and how it is linked into a different system, all stemming from the talk about the ‘beauty’ of a production.

1. Arundhati Roy, 'Shall we leave it to the Experts?', , p.2, 24/5/2003
2. Beatrice Leal : How art changes in different contexts
3. An extension thought from Ilaria Vanni : What does art really do? A reflection on art, context and agency.
4. Greenberg, Clement "Modernist Painting" (1961) rpt. in Art in Theory 1900-1990: An Anthology of Changing Ideas. Charles Harrison and Paul Wood Eds. Oxford, UK: Blackwell, 1992, pp. 754-760
5. Walter Benjamin, 'The Author as Producer(1934)', rpt in Art in Theory 1900-1990: An Anthology of Changing Ideas. Charles Harrison and Paul Wood Eds. Oxford, UK: Blackwell, 1992, pp. 483-489
6. A special thanks to Petronas Gallery Curator Badrul Hisham Tahir, Museum Director of Tengku Fuziah, University Sains Malaysia, Hasnul Jamal Saidon, Assistant Curator of National Art Gallery, Faisal Sidik, Raja Mariam Raja Mohammad, and all Malaysian Artists for their contribution in giving the inspiration and thoughtful in writing this article, directly or indirectly.