Walking & Falling
11 Feb - 28 May 2006
11 Feb - 28 May 2006
Anna Gaskell (US), Ann Hamilton (US), Rebecca Horn (DE), Sigalit Landau (IL), Richard Long (GB), Bruce Nauman (US), Danica Phelps (US), Sam Taylor-Wood (GB),
Vangelis Vlahos (GR)
Curators: Elisabeth Millqvist and Tessa Praun.
NOTES ON WALKING
One foot on the ground at all times. The front foot must touch the ground before the back foot leaves it. This is stipulated in the British rules on racewalking from 1862. For a tightrope walker the difficulty lies in the limited foot space. Walking up a mountain the slope creating the resistance is the big challenge.
All truly great thoughts are conceived by walking, Nietzsche once said, and historically the culture of walking has many aspects. Pilgrims walk to their destination and the voyage is as important as the arrival. Japanese poets have walked to become inspired and more aware of their surroundings. In comic strips the professor paces back and forth, to think or find a solution. The Situationists (an artist group in the 1950s and 1960s) walked and let chance govern their steps, a method intended to revolutionise everyday life.
For most of us, everyday walking is something we do without even thinking about it. But when gravity is cancelled, like in space or under water, our experience of how to walk is void. We need a sense of balance to keep our bodies in the right position in relation to gravity. If that sense deteriorates, if we have a cold or are blindfolded, it affects our ability to walk. When children learn to walk they fall over repeatedly. In winter we often slip and lose our balance. For a moment we don't know how it will end - walking and falling are less than a second apart.
In "Anteckningar om att falla" [Notes on falling], the dancer and choreographer Margaretha Åsberg compares falling with being unbalanced, a failure, a dancer's worst nightmare, and writes that no one falls with maintained composure. Michael Douglas's character Bill Foster in the film "Falling Down" (1993) has had enough of his community - enough of the fly buzzing around inside his car, the hamburger he just bought that is nothing like the picture in the ad. He takes revenge on all the injustices he feels he has been subjected to. In the Afro-Brazilian martial art Capoeira falling is an experience, a knowledge: if you don't know how to fall well, you don't know much at all.
In art walking occurs frequently as a method, and walking and falling have been explored as action and concept. Laurie Anderson reflects on how we fall with every step. The quote is the starting point for this exhibition, both as an observation of the most commonplace phenomenon, and as a metaphor for existence. The works in "Walking & Falling" have a poetic, contemplative and surrealistic affinity to her quote.
All participating artists are represented in the Collection Magasin 3 Stockholm Konsthall, but most of the works featured in the exhibition have been borrowed.
b. 1969, Des Moines, Iowa (USA)
The drawings in "At Sixes and Sevens" (2003) together form a pattern that flows across the wall: balancing on one another's bodies in high heels, the nude, lanky female bodies clamber, slither and stretch from one sheet of paper to the next. This tangle of bodies represents a menacing version of the children's game "King of the Castle", where you climb on each other to get on top. Anna Gaskell is famed for her monumental photographs of young girls in various psychologically charged situations. She is inspired by stories she picks up or personal experiences. In this work, she has eschewed the camera, explaining that she couldn't expect her models to assume the postures and motions that her imagination required.
b. 1956, Lima, Ohio (USA)
In 1984-1993, Ann Hamilton worked on the photographs "untitled (body object series)" consisting of 16 portraits where the artist interacts with various everyday objects and materials. The objects that were added appear to emerge from her body like extra limbs, or as if the objects have acquired a body. The hybrid has traits of madness and child play. With one part of her body in camouflage, such as a bush on her head, several senses are blocked from the outside world and with those limitations the body makes its way.
Hamilton is known particularly for her large-scale installations, often incorporating tactile materials such as horse hair, honey and fabrics. Her installations frequently include a person performing a repetitive task.
b. 1944, Michelstadt (Germany)
In her earliest performances, Rebecca Horn worked with costumes that elongated body parts. Her documentation of four of these works were selected for Walking & Falling. In "Kopf-Extension"/"Head Extension" (1972) a person wears a gigantic head cone and is dependent on four assistants in order to move around. It becomes obvious how the long cone changes the parameters - the body's centre of balance is shifted and the person has to take one step at a time and learn to walk again. In "Handschuhfinger"/"Finger Gloves" (1972) the fingers are extended and explore the space with their new proportions, while the extended shoulders in "Schulterstäbe"/"Shoulder Extensions" (1971) and the white fan in "Weisser Körperfächer"/"White Body Fan" (1972) respectively enhance and challenge the body's balance and mobility.
For another work Rebecca Horn created a unicorn costume for a woman who was chosen for her way of walking. Horn asked her to walk through a field of wheat and along a forest alley in a costume that was tied around her body to hold up a horn on her head. "Einhorn 1" and "Einhorn 2" are photographic documentations of this performance.
The body extensions and the kinetic sculptures were recycled by Horn in films such as "Der Eintänzer" (1978). This is a feature film without apparent logic. Rebecca Horn has conjured up a scenario involving people she has known and met. The characters and their destinies are intertwined when they meet in her New York studio while she herself is abroad. Rebecca Horn's monotonous narrative voice and countless obscure scenes - a ballet dancer balancing an ostrich egg on her head, a table that starts dancing and a woman swinging out through a window - blend into a surrealistic story against the backdrop of Central Park.
b. 1969, Jerusalem (Israel)
A trained dancer, Sigalit Landau frequently uses her own body as a means of expression. In "Standing on a Watermelon in the Dead Sea" (2005) she balances nude on a watermelon in the said location. She struggles to maintain an upright position, since matter is supposed to float in a horizontal position. She is supported by the extremely salty water that keeps both her and the watermelon afloat. All living organisms need water. But the salt that keeps them buoyant makes the water undrinkable. As a paradox, Israeli scientists have succeeded in growing watermelons with salt water. They are redder and sweeter - in response to the salt water the fruit produces more sugar.
b. 1945, Bristol (Great Britain)
Richard Long has walked to put ideas into action and later preserved and described them in sculptures and drawings. He has wandered the world, from the polar circle, to the deserts of Africa, from the very south to the northernmost point of mainland Britain, he has counted pebbles and dragged his hand along the surface of Lake Titicaca. Richard Long's ramblings are close to nature and its cycle, he sees them as sculptures in themselves. When he presents them in exhibitions he uses nature's own materials and shapes. The path is a key element - whether as a physical reality or as a symbol of life. The text "A Stream of Fragments" is the artist's notes from projects between 1971 and 1990, published in the folder "Richard Long Tate Gallery 1990-91".
b. 1941, Fort Wayne, Indiana (USA)
In the 1960s and early 1970s, many dancers and artists were experimenting with everyday actions and body movements. In several of Bruce Nauman's works he explores a simple movement and isolates it, falling backwards into a corner as many times as he can manage, stomping out the beat in his studio, walking in an exaggerated way or in patterns. All these explorations were documented in film and video. In "Walk with Contrapposto" from 1968 the artists propels himself along a narrow corridor by means of huge hip movements. Unlike early sculptures of the human body, the classical Greek and renaissance artists portrayed the human body in asymmetrical, more relaxed and realistic poses, to give the illusion of movement in a static figure. In the pose, hips and legs are turned in a different direction from the head and shoulders. Nauman has used the counterpoised position and translated it into a motion and walk.
b. 1971, New York (USA)
Danica Phelps uses and incorporates parts of her private life in her detailed documentation of everyday activities and finances. With drawings and a self-invented statistical system she notes down all her earnings in green and expenses in red. The uncircled number on the pieces is the money spent, and the circled number is the price of drawing. In the work "Walking 9-5 Amsterdam" (2001) she has replaced the word "working" with "walking" and walked for several consecutive days between 9 am and 5 pm, an average working day. Starting in the centre of Amsterdam, Phelps walked straight out of town. After two hours she was in the countryside on her way up a mountain. After eight hours she had reached the sea and the city limits. Along the way she bought Fanta or needed a shoe brush. Phelps has undertaken similar projects that involved walking in other cities, including New York and Vienna.
b. 1967, London (Great Britain)
A man in a suit with a white dove on his head is casually tap-dancing on an equally unconcerned man's chest. The rhythm and duration of the dance appear to be determined by the dove. With a detached gaze the man taps rhythmically and more and more frantically, until the bird flies off. The film "Ascension" (2003) is a four-and-a-half-minute long dramatic image of an absurd scenario. The major photographic work "The Leap" (2001) portrays a bare-chested man hovering above the ground against a background of leafy trees. The word "leap" in the title relates to the physical activity and to an obstacle.
Sam Taylor-Wood is a photographer and film-maker and both works featured in this exhibition deal with the boundaries between the sacral and the profane - mixing the religious imagery of renaissance and baroque art with today's secular and urbane world view. Many of her works approach the contemporary spirit and the role of the individual in a social constellation.
b. 1971, Athens (Greece)
In the video work "Untitled Knight 1" (1997) a knight in shining armour races around on roller skates in a gym. But he does not quite live up to our expectations of glory and grandeur as he rolls around clumsily, falling over more often than he manages to remain upright. His armour gradually falls to pieces - it is an original costume from the making of the film "Excalibur" (1981), based on the legend of King Arthur and the Knights of the Round Table. Vlahos's knight exerts himself to control his own body, to keep it moving and in balance. The work was created when Vangelis Vlahos had a study year in Manchester, his first longer period away from his home town Athens. The knight's efforts has parallels in his experience of finding his bearings in a new place.
If you have any questions, please feel free to approach the exhibition staff at Magasin 3 Stockholm Konsthall.