October 13, 2006

"Different States of Being"

The Frieze Art Fair is this weekend in London, but because of preschool and other obligations, we're not there. As art fair circuses go, it's probably the most intelligent and well-thought-through and enjoyable, and not just because they make a point of balancing/contextualizing the mall-scale shopping experience with non-commercial projects.

One surefire source of interesting, unbuyable work, is The Wrong Gallery. One year, they showed a performance/installation by the artist Tino Sehgal, which consisted of two children reciting art-dealer-speak, who'd collapse on the ground and start screaming if you tried to take their picture [price, "$6,000 or 8,500 euros"]. This year's project also caught my attention:

As part of its reconstruction of Gino de Dominicis's 1972 work, an actor, Susan Billington, sits in a corner contemplating a white plastic ball, an invisible cube and a rock. Billington has Down's syndrome. When this tableau vivant was originally shown at the Venice Biennale [in '72] it caused an outcry. De Dominicis, who died in 1998, said in one of his rare statements that Down's syndrome "was to be interpreted as a different state of being", and that his protagonist would regard the ball, the cube and the stone in their own particular way. Inside the cubicle where De Dominicis's work is shown, people are doing deals and ignoring the tableau. Someone throws them out. I look at Billington, then to the ball, the stone, and the cube that isn't there. Compared with this, Gréaud & DGZ Research's nanosculptures really are nothing. The silence is, for a moment, companionable. We are looking and thinking together, only a very short distance apart. [emphasis added]
And, I would add, seeing very different things. The reference to different states of being resonated with something I'd read earlier in the week, a CBC radio show about a Canadian neuroscientist, Dr. Laurent Mottron and his autistic patient/collaborator, Michelle Dawson, who argue that it makes more sense to look at autism as "a different way of being human" rather than a "disease" to be cured.

How much for the invisible sculpture? Highlights from the Frieze fair [guardian uk]

Rethinking Autism on Quirks & Quarks
[cbc.ca via boingboing]

1 Comment

I think Frieze Art Fair were in B'ham a while ago. I remember hearing some info on the radio but didn't get to attend with the little ones. Sounds entertaining.

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