In the opening paragraph of his fantastically crazed modernist masterpiece At Swim-Two-Birds, Irish writer Flann O’Brien wrote: “One beginning and one ending for a book was a thing I did not agree with. A good book may have three openings entirely dissimilar and inter-related only in the prescience of the author, or for that matter one hundred times as many endings.” Following this logic, this program over four evenings will have four themes, and each evening will be independent from the others. They are all self-contained. Yet their dissimilarity will not hold for long, as they are compelled to inhabit the same space. They will start to interact and dissolve into each other. Animals enter architecture and politics begins to rhyme.
Politics and economy govern our lives, and art always reflects their systems and structures either directly, as in the portraits of patrons in religious paintings, or indirectly, as in historical conceptualism’s adoption of a white-collar labor aesthetic. Artists may use the system they are compelled to work within to their advantage, deploying it to construct their own logic of production that can perform an intelligent rebuke of political and economic circumstances. This can use both contemporary material, as in Martha Rosler’s dissection of an issue of Vogue, and historical issues, as in comedian Stewart Lee’s exploration of Thatcherite economic policy, in order to offer an insightful worldview, to devise a coping strategy, or simply to make something—art—out of the sorry mess society often finds itself in. The two works by Michael Stevenson presented this evening resemble tapestry weavings, where threads in wildly different colors are put together through a complex procedure to form a cohesive picture, where the intricate associations of people, places and events are woven together with astonishing precision.
Thirteen Black Cats, 1/56, 2015, 4 min
Stewart Lee, Jungle canyon rope bridges, routine, from: Carpet Remnant World, 2012, 15 min
Martha Rosler, Martha Rosler Reads “Vogue”, 1983, 26 min
Michael Stevenson, Introducción a la teoría de la probabilidad, 2008, 26 min
Michael Stevenson, On How Things Behave, 2010, 16 min
Curated and presented by Yuki Higashino, guest: Michael Stevenson
Yuki Higashino lives in Vienna. He has recently exhibited at Le BBB centre d’art, Toulouse, Schneiderei, Vienna (2016), Mount Analogue, Stockholm, and Skånes konstförening, Malmö (2014, both with Elisabeth Kihlström). In November 2016 he will present a joint exhibition with Elisabeth Kihlström at Gallery G99, House of Arts, Brno.
Michael Stevenson lives in Berlin. Exhibitions (selection): VIEWING ROOM, Sculpture Center, New York (2015); Signs & Wonders, Kunsthal Charlottenborg, Copenhagen (2015); Liverpool Biennial (2014); A Life of Crudity, Vulgarity, and Blindness, Portikus, Frankfurt/M (2012).