Acupuncture of Exhibition Space
Gallery installation, 60 000 nails, processual sound, video performance, variable dimensions
29.5.-3.7.2019 at FaVU Gallery, Brno, CZ
The Acupuncture of Exhibition Space Project took place on 29.5.-3.7.2019 at FaVU Gallery in Brno. The exhibition consisted of approximately 60,000 nails nailed to the 117 m² gallery walls (three connected rooms), along with the dropped plaster, which was a by-product of the installation process and from a hidden subwoofer that amplified noise of the street next to the gallery. All the rooms were dark all the time and visitors could only light with headlamps. The installation of the exhibition took place over a period of five days, at which time only three actors from the group worked on it. The concept of the exhibition was based on the conditions and contexts of the gallery itself, as well as on the ideology and history of the exhibition space. The 5-day performative installation followed a pre-set time schedule for choreography of work in space. During this work the whole gallery was darkened from the beginning of the installation to the last day of the exhibition. The actors also used only headlamps during the installation, so they could only watch one specific point each time the nail was nailed to the wall. This is also to ensure that they are not disturbed by the surroundings beyond the light point, and also to deny any thought of the aesthetics of the nail composition within the work area. In this way of work, these surfaces were difficult to distinguish from each other in the process because the walls and nails were identical and the work consisted of monotonous repetitive operations. Movement through the gallery had its strict rules when alternating and moving from wall to wall. The space was divided into 60 blocks for this project, based on its architecture. Before the start of the work, there was a draw of the order of the places where the actors will move, so that all of them work simultaneously and independently of each block separately, undisturbed in several cycles.
At the same time, the artists were shrouded in the same workwear, from head to toe, in order to prevent the identification of a co-worker at the time of moving from place to place in these difficult light conditions. During these five days, each member of the group alternated in cycles several times at each of the blocks, resulting that it was not possible to tell who nailed where and how - thus disappeared individual manuscripts from the walls. They also had a rule not to communicate with each other in any way, which would not have been even possible, especially because of speaker noise and nailing. The workflows of the concept were set up to exclude subjective decisions within the implementation process. During the installation, as well as throughout the duration of the exhibition, one of the walls concealed the already mentioned large subbass loudspeaker, which was connected to a microphone placed on the street and reproduced its noise (transport vehicles, trams, sketchy dialogues). The noise of the street is in itself a significant problem of this institution because every time the tram passes, it regularly shakes this old school building where the gallery is located. The loudspeaker reproduced this noise several times more, at only low, but significant frequencies, abstractly throughout the space, evenly, which had the effect of strengthening the atmosphere (in comparison to the whale's belly). Due to the even distribution of subfrequencies in space, it was not possible to find their source, the position of the hidden speaker behind the wall. The sound of the gallery was coming out, behind its door, but it wasn't so easy to tell if it was a reproduced sound or real street noise, because the volume was equally dependent on the street situation.
Before entering the exhibition visitors were given headlamps, thus having a similar experience to watch and hear the exhibition as the authors during the installation. That is, except the sound of nailing with hammers and beeps which determined the schedule of work and rest. The visitor also created his / her individual approach to looking at this space full of nails, they could search the space. The more visitors were in the gallery at one time, the more the possibilities of looking at the exhibition changed by multiplying the points of light that intersected into sorts of networks, abstract grids. Conversely, in the situation of the only visitor, who put the light on correctly, could see the exhibition without shadows at the right angle of the nails covering the shadow. These elements were reflected in the photo documentation of the exhibition, when it was not entirely possible to reproduce the endless possibilities of looking at the exhibition in its immersive nature. Therefore, after the end of exhibition, the space was also documented under full "photogenic" lighting. The hundreds of hours of video footage were generated during the installation process, because the actors used GoPro cameras together with the headlamps. These records show the working procedures and various states (mental, sometimes even physical), but on the contrary, it is not possible to tell to whom, when and where the specific views belong, because they all look literally the same. The installation process was also recorded on a 360° camera format with a central point of the gallery. During the first days of the exhibition, GoPro cameras also received few visitors, whose records are very interesting material about the movement and perception of this almost ritually acting space.
At the end of the exhibition and the removal of nails, large pieces of walls fell off, exposing the remains of past exhibitions, several layers of paint and previous partial repairs from inconsistent building materials, and the overall dilapidation of this historic building. The gallery therefore had to be completely reconstructed, revitalized.
Acupuncture of Exhibition Space is a metaphor of the gallery space as an independent actor, organism, and its stimulation. It works with space as an accumulation unit in the network, as well as with the network itself. The initial starting point of the project refers to the theory of French sociologist Bruno Latour. The actor-network theory, known simply as ANT, involves not only people, but also objects, organizations, and concepts. ANT is based on the concept of a heterogeneous network of actors in mutual material and semiotic relationships. Latour is trying to explain how (not so why) the actors in this network have come together to act as a whole. ANT argues that every actor, whether a person, an object, an organization or a concept, is equally important to the network.
Similarly, acupuncture as a treatment method takes individuality together in a comprehensive understanding of the condition of the whole organism instead of its separate parts. Whatever happens in one part of the body affects another part of the body, similar to the Latour's network system. Each network is made up of connection points that make up the system and can be referred to as 'acupuncture points'.