a project with Noxious Sector Arts Collective
More Often Than Always / Less Often Than Never @ Richmond Art Gallery, Richmond, Canada. Nov. 25, 2010 - Jan. 23, 2011
Commencing from Alfred Jarry's invention of "'pataphysics" (the science of imaginary solutions), Victoria-based Curatorial Collective, Noxious Sector invites artists from around the world to propose imaginary solutions to real questions, according to their own notions of imagination and reality. A century after Jarry, both science and the artistic imaginary have evolved. Science is no longer subject to simple true/false answers. Instead uncertainty, probability, multi-dimensional theories of resonance patterns, strings and branes and virtual anti-partner particles have been imagined into existence so the explanations themselves would make sense. The curators held a series of séances with Alfred Jarry to make the final selection of projects. Featuring the work of: hannah_g, Julie Gendron & Emma Hendrix, Tetsushi Higashino, Gordon Lebredt, Chikako Maria Mori & Boris Nieslony, François Mathieu, Arjuna Neuman, and Anne-Marie Proulx
There are moments when the world cannot be understood in ways that make sense. For such moments it is sometimes necessary to think of alternate solutions -- impossible and impractical and irrational versions of the world in which we live. This is not an attempt to explain the nonsense away, but instead to embrace it as part of what makes us human -- what makes the world around us so charged with creative and imaginary possibilities, and indeed what makes the world in many ways so familiar. More Often Than Always, Less Often Than Never is an attempt to think irrationally about the possibilities of the artistic world. The exhibition is based on selections from an international call to artists to respond to issues of absurdity and impossibility. The question was phrased in two ways -- first as a reference to the French playwright Alfred Jarry, the founder of 'pataphysics -- the "science of imaginary solutions" -- and second, as a response to the challenges of quantum physics in which uncertainty is increasingly the only thing we know for certain about the physical world.
Mathematically, there are ways to understand this state of affairs, despite the fact that it may seem like nonsense. It all has to do with the parameters of probability. Normally everything happens within a general parameter of always and never -- rendered mathematically as 1 (always) and 0 (never) -- representing the statistical version of that which we know as possible. When we attempt to represent the impossible however, we enter into the world of numbers with probabilities greater than 1 or less than 0 -- that which happens MORE OFTEN THAN ALWAYS or LESS OFTEN THAN NEVER. These statistical impossibilities are invoked here to represent versions of this story of our world as it can be imaginatively rendered -- in whatever ways the artists themselves have created.
The artist hannah_g, for instance, proposed to be a story-teller in residence -- arriving in Richmond only for the very end of the exhibition, to tell the story of an exhibition she hasn't seen, that includes artists she's never met. Julie Gendron and Emma Hendrix proposed a simple absurdist gesture with unpredictable experiential impact -- the act of placing a rocking chair next to a clothes dryer -- here rendered as a sound installation and a musical score that combines the rocking body with the spinning sounds of the dryer. Fusing the impossible with the futile but ostensibly fertile, Tetushi Higashino grows his own nose hair in a hydroponic dish, feeding and measuring the hair each day while the environment around the transplant itself grows and decays in response. Gordon Lebredt, in a conceptual twist, asks for a pink stripe to be painted around the gallery walls -- Sherman Williams 6583 (In the Pink) -- disrupting the works of others while strangely unifying the exhibition in philosophical and cosmetic ways. FranÃ§ois Mathieu builds containers for the capture and sustenance of clouds, and boots that extend and transform the human foot -- poetic gestures of impossible rendering given imagined and plausible form in his sculptural works. Bringing an ongoing collaborative project to the mix, Chickako Maria Mori and Boris Nieslony present a survey of their pataphysical research, framed as an exchange between the sectretaries of two professors who may or may not actually exist. More directly, Arjuna Neuman builds an escape pod for plants, an attempt to facilitate the upward direction to which all plants seem to aspire by affixing them to a hot air balloon that will lift them to the heavens. And, in similar poetic spirit, Anne-Marie Proulx writes letters to women with the same name as her grandmother, now deceased -- seeking possible moments of resonance with people who share at least this bit of named history with her own family sentiments.
Our method of selection is also implicated in one such solution. Rather that curate this exhibition from an external or objective position, we wanted to implicate ourselves in the same act we were asking of artists -- the process that we also think has something to say about the general state of the world we live in. To this end, we asked Alfred Jarry for input -- conducting a series of seances that contributed to the selection of the works, and to the display you witness here. We think of this seance as itself a time machine of sorts -- an attempt to invoke Jarry on his own terms of engagement -- brought back to the contemporary world in a curatorial gesture of plausible impossibility.
Ted Hiebert and Doug Jarvis, Curators