Sven Augustijnen

(born 1970, Belgium)

Sven Augustijnen Johan – François 2001–3 Video stills showing head of man talking with English subtitles.

Sven Augustijnen
Johan – François 2001–3 Video stills
Courtesy of Jan Mot, Brussels

Johan (2001) and François (2003) are documentary-style films, each showing a different patient in conversation with his therapist, who remains off-screen. The patients, Johan and François, are both affected by aphasia, a loss of the ability to produce and comprehend language. As the conversation unfolds, the speech and the memory of the two men are shown to be in different states of fragmentation and decay. At the same time, Augustijnen’s editing introduces subtle discrepancies between sound and image, which echoes the attrition of memory and language of the films’ main characters. The two films function as a diptych to be seen after each other, staging a tension as much as a dialogue. Although both men suffer from aphasia, their ability to speak or remember is not affected in the same way. This difference in the patients’ behaviour influences the viewer’s own thoughts and emotions, rendering their initial understanding and perception of this language impairment even more unsteady.

Anna Barham

(born 1974, UK)

Anna Barham A Splintered Game 2008

Anna Barham
A Splintered Game 2008
Electronics: Andrew Welburn. Courtesy of the artist

Anna Barham’s work investigates states of possibility, incompletion, and disintegration through language and mathematical structures. Her works are often the physical manifestation of thought processes that develop through the manipulation of a variety of parameters and materials. Each work celebrates potential and mutability by running through different permutations. A Splintered Game (2009) uses randomising computer code to orchestrate pulses and rhythms in the flickering fluorescent tubes that are arranged in an accumulation of tetrahedrons – forming a shape which can never be completed, that is infinitely yet non-uniformly extendible. The sequence generated by the computer gradually begins to seem eerily methodical and precise, making the work straddle a void between precision and confusion.

Alongside this installation are a series of seven anagram drawings. The phrase Replanted Images gradually multiplies into a tree-like, branching pattern, revealing the ability of language to create elaborate forms on paper as well as trigger narratives in the imagination. These works use logic to stretch language to the very limits of its capabilities, eliminating the boundary between eloquence and inarticulateness. The continual rearrangements of letters in the drawings reflect the changing patterns of lights in A Splintered Game (itself an anagram of Replanted Images) like rotating a multi-faceted object to view all its different sides.

Dominique Petitgand

(born 1965, France)

Dominique Petitgand Sketch for Quelqu’un par terre (Someone on the ground) at Tate Modern, 2009

Dominique Petitgand
Sketch for Quelqu’un par terre (Someone on the ground) at Tate Modern 2009
Courtesy of the artist and gb agency, Paris

Quelqu’un par terre (Someone on the ground) (2005/07) is an installation consisting of three groups of sounds designated by the artist as ‘voice’, ‘sounds’ and ‘wind’. The voice, confined to a contained space within the exhibition, represents an isolated point which is only perceived clearly when the viewer comes close. The sounds hide the voice by mimicking its rhythm, while the wind creates a constant presence in the space. Petitgand develops his work from an ongoing collection of recordings of voices, sounds and situations imprinted by musicality. He edits, re-assembles and deconstructs the recordings, using them again and again. He plays on the articulation of these fragments in order to trigger mental images and stories in the mind of the visitor. Petitgand’s editing process removes from his source material any information that could give a sense of time, place or identity. This helps him to position the works as fictions or, as he explains, on the edge between the real and the possible, between figuration and abstraction.

Michael Riedel

(born 1972, Germany)

Michael Riedel Filmed Film Trailer 2008 installation view of a projection showing a crowd watching a screen.

Michael Riedel
Filmed Film Trailer 2008
Courtesy of the artist and David Zwirner, New York

Michael Riedel’s Filmed Film Trailer (2008) derives from a 16-hour edit of footage from screenings of experimental films. From 1999 to 2002 over 40 hours of video recordings were made and the results were shown as Filmed Film events at Oskar-von-Miller Strasse 16 in Frankfurt/Main. The auto focus mechanism of the camera often wasn’t able to focus on the film and some of the shots are blurred and appear to be vibrating. Badly filmed, the image moves within the image or the film within the film disappears. Seldom are the original film and the filmed version identical in length, the life of the camera’s battery often determined the duration of the film. Using the programme Final Cut, Riedel distilled the assembly into a frenetic ‘trailer’ for Filmed Film lasting 7 minutes. In the process, an overload of information produces an array of gaps, elisions and errors that create an entirely new work.

Four proposals for the change of modern (2009) belongs to a series of works that Riedel began in 2008 for a group show at The Modern Institute in Glasgow. Cutting the word ‘modern’ from the gallery’s logo out of a piece of black fabric and turning the resulting banner on each of its sides, four new shapes were created by chance. Four proposals for the change of modern foregrounds process by drawing distinctions and opening up an infinite number of abstract forms, which allows the word ‘modern’ to be read as an ever changing moment. Through these methods, Riedel effects a gradual degradation of form and disintegration of language.

Will Stuart and Michelangelo Pistoletto

Will Stuart Positioning of ‘Struttura per parlare in piedi (Structure for Talking While Standing)’ (Michelangelo Pistoletto, 1965–6)

Will Stuart
Positioning of ‘Struttura per parlare in piedi (Structure for Talking While Standing)’ (Michelangelo Pistoletto, 1965–6) 2009
Courtesy of Will Holder and Stuart Bailey

Michelangelo Pistoletto Struttura per parlare in piedi (Oggetti in meno) (Structure for Talking While Standing [Minus Objects]) simple metal structure.

Michelangelo Pistoletto
Struttura per parlare in piedi (Oggetti in meno) (Structure for Talking While Standing [Minus Objects]) 1965–6
Collection: Fondazione Pistoletto

Will Holder (born 1969, UK) and Stuart Bailey (born 1973, UK) have worked collaboratively since 2002 under the compound name of Will Stuart. As part of Stutter, Will Stuart are working on TV, TOURETTE’S V, the fifth incarnation of their ongoing project TOURETTE’S. The project has had various manifestations, including two issues of as a self-published magazine in 2002 and 2003, and a week-long festival held at a gallery in Amsterdam. With TOURETTE’S Holder and Bailey acknowledge the repetitive nature of knowledge and language, and stress the importance of privileging other people’s voices rather than their own, allowing a hospitable conversation between divergent opinions and works from different times and places to occur.

In the exhibition space, they present Struttura per parlare in piedi (Structure for Talking While Standing) (1965–6), a work by Michelangelo Pistoletto (born 1933, Italy) that belongs to his series of Minus Objects (Oggetti in meno). In the words of critic Pascal Gielen, ’As artistic artefacts, the Minus Objects are much more ‘social’, much more construed and much more communal than natural objects. Yet, one can by no means reduce them to simple machines for the projection of meaning. They are much more real, a-human and objective than mere symbolical representations.’

Pistoletto Pistoletto’s work is accompanied by a public notice which investigates the original intentions behind borrowing the work, and how subsequent negotiations with the various parties involved reflect its ambiguous doubling as furniture (for the public to lean on) and metaphor (for the politics of conversation).

On Saturday 2nd May, Will Stuart films a conversation in the Level 2 Gallery, anchored at Struttura per parlare in piedi (Structure for Talking While Standing), which incorporates and paraphrases influential writings and artworks by cultural practitioners such as Herbert Read, Robin Kinross, Michael Bracewell, Julie Burchill, Alasdair Gray, Gertrude Stein and Wyndham Lewis. The subject matter wanders from art and industry through reproduction, quotation, education, and small-scale or private models that reflect a period of social re-structuring in Britain since the inception of Pistoletto’s Minus Objects. The recording is edited and produced as a series of short TV documentaries, to be broadcast by Tate after the close of the show.