Saturday, 7 July 2012

Energy yes, context?

"Belief may be no more, in the end, than a source of energy, like a battery which one clips into an idea to make it run" J.M. Coetzee 

Listening to Thomas Hirschhorn talk about art and participating in his workshop it is hard to resist a sensation that his battery is fully charged and firmly clipped into his ideas. How to take position and how to give form to this position? seems to be a question that repeats most in his work. The answer very often resists cultural, economic, religious and political conventions and boils down to "Energy yes, Quality no!". Though the slogan well resists the dictatorship of communication and information and gives courage to the struggle both in and with the art market, it decidedly excludes the context. Can one fully ignore the situation in which the work of art was produced and exhibited? Isn't then the lack of context a context in itself? A workshop with Hirschhorn, during which each of the participants was asked to present a short clip of his or her own moving image work and expose it to the public measurement of energy, can offer an answer, if not another set of question marks. When a moving image work is presented in its two minutes trailer version, devoided of the possibility of articulating its own framework and sometimes even enriched with the superfluous sound of rain and bright natural light falling into the room (conditions of the projection space), one can easily think about it as a new and unintended context for watching the work. It is like TV channel surfing, if not more disappointing. 

Perhaps there is a danger in a simple yes/no energy measurement. Perhaps stating that the first two minutes of watching a moving image work in an exhibition space are crucial for spectator's attention is not fair. Perhaps we are no longer talking about energy, but about attraction. And to create attractive, glamorous, fashionable and cool works, according to Hirschhorn, is to work either for the art market or against it. One or the other, it's loosing energy.  

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