ONE IN EIGHT
Installation view by Julie Rodrigues-Widholm
2003, One in Eight was a participatory art project of Helidon Gjergji in collaboration with Sylvia Chivaratanond, Derek Fansler, Michelle Grabner, Heather Hubbs, Edi Muka, Monique Meloche, Julie Rodrigues-Widholm, Lorelei Stewart, and Hamza Walker. Realized at TBA Exhibition Space in Chicago.
On the 15th of February 1979 at the Petite Salle of the Center Pompidou in Paris the artist Herve Fischer ceremoniously cut in half a white string connecting the opposite walls of the space and solemnly declared that the history of art had come to an end. In his book L’histoire de l’art est terminée, Fischer later explained that his symbolic act coincided with the end of the heretofore linear and progressive development of the history of art. Consequently, he concluded: “The ideal of the new must be abandoned if we want to keep alive artistic activity. Art is not dead. What has come to an end is its history as progress towards the new.”
After a twenty-year overdose of declared deaths and rebirths of categories such as art, history, reality, author etc., it would be rather fruitless to contribute to such a polarized, terminal discussion. What was interesting about Fischer’s act, however, is that immanent to his remarks about the death of the new was a new concept of the new -- a concept that works from both the out in and from the in out. In other words, Fischer’s act re-posited the new as a fusion of the outer context of the artwork and the inner will of the artist, overturning the Vasarian model of the artist-genius. While Fischer’s model of the relationship between the in and the out underscored the ever-shifting parameters of the context, recent exhibitions have tended to narrow the field of the context to the physical or conceptual interaction of the public with the artwork, unilaterally stressing the function of the viewer in the dialogical process of meaning making. Although sympathetic to these ideas, the One in Eight show was rather concerned with another facet of the context that comes to bear upon the meaning of the artwork in quite a substantial way--namely, that gray area between the artist and the public, or the innumerable contingencies of institutions.
As one of the most important rings in the institutional chain, curators from eight different spaces were invited to independently curate a single video from one artist within the same space. As curating a video involves a myriad of decisions, be they conceptual, aesthetical, financial and/or political, the curators unavoidably ended up with eight distinct pieces. Far from offering an analysis of how curatorial-cum-institutional mediation works, the show deliberately and loosely reversed the roles of the curator and the artist, as in this case it is rather the artist who binds together the creativity of the curators. Beyond creating what was surely an unconventional and humorous situation, the final and perhaps most important task was that of still not saying anything new.
Installation view by Michelle Grabner Installation view by Edi Muka