Monday Night -- Women Don't Lie -- Marija Mojca Pungercar and Mariana Castillo Deball -- 11.03.03 -- 11.03.03
Monday Night -- Women Don't Lie -- Marija Mojca Pungercar and Mariana Castillo Deball -- 11.03.03
1. About this Monday
2. About Marija Mojca Pungercar
3. About Mojca's presentation at 16 Beaver
4. About Mariana Castillo Deball
5. About Interlude: The reader’s traces
6. About this Series (Women Don't Lie)
1. About this Monday
What: Artist Discussion/Presentations
When: 7:15 pm
Where: 16 Beaver Street, 5th Floor
Who: All are invited (as always free)
This Monday, we are excited to kick off the New York version of what will be a set of evenings/events relating the work of interesting artists and cultural practitioners who happen to be women and/or dealing with questions of gender.
Our two artists will be Mariana Castillo Deball (Mexico) and Marija Mojca Pungercar (Slovenia). Both will be on hand to present some some recent projects. As usual, the presentations will be followed up by a discussion with the artists.
We hope to see you for what should be a fun evening.
2. About Marija Mojca Pungercar
Marija Mojca Pungercar is a Slovenian artist based in Ljubljana. She works in a variety of media including installation, video, performance, theatre costume design, and journalism. In 1989 she graduated in painting from the Academy of Fine Arts in Ljubljana, where in the period 1989-1991 she continued her specialist course in painting. In 2001, she received her MFA from the Department of New Genres at the San Francisco Art Institute in California, USA. She has been the recipient of a New York residency grant from the Artslink Foundation (1996), a Fulbright Scholarship (1999) and of a New York residency grant from the Ministry of Culture of the Republic of Slovenia (2003).
3. About Mojca's presentation at 16 Beaver
I will be talking about and showing documentation from my three most recent projects in conjunction with two projects from 1996 and 1997. There are two lines that often appear in my work: an interaction with audiences (mostly in the form of exchange and trading) and clothing. My work is socially oriented. It includes strong evocations of history, particularly in its relationship with actual social/political/economical situations.
1. “Singer,” installation, 2003. In collaboration with sound designer Borut Savski. Oct. 2003, Slovene Ethnographic Museum (SEM), City of Women International Festival of Contemporary Arts, Ljubljana, Slovenia.
“Singer” examined the traditions of textile production, from the time when clothes-making was a household handicraft to todayís technological society and in particular, the recent crisis of the Slovenian textile industry, which is suffering from declining wages and factory closings brought on by globalisation. Three Singer sewing machines were connected with a sound system that generated a variety of sounds. The visitor could evoke sounds by touching and caressing the machines. The sound landscape wove Slovene folksongs related to sewing, spinning, and weaving (sang by me) with amorphous sounds. Images of numerous closed Slovenian textile factories appeared on video and the installation was supplemented by a printed newsletter. The opening for the project featured singing by a chorus of Slovenian textile workers.
2. “Dress Code,” performance and installation. In collaboration with Veronika KlanËnik. Oct. 2002, Cyberpipe, Ljubljana, Slovenia.
The project was based on the exchange of used clothes. In the phase 1 (“Out of the Closet”), the artists collected clothing and the stories that donors told about the history of each item. In the phase 2 (“Back into the Closet”), visitors could choose and take home selected pieces of cloth. At the “cash register,” the scanned barcode attached to each item would produce its history in the form of the previous ownerís story printed as a “receipt.” Project Dress Code involved a critical rethinking of consumerist culture. By exchanging old clothes we underscored the concepts of locality and community, things that consumerism tries to erase.
3. “A Story in Shoes,” site-specific performance and installation. In collaboration with Veronika KlanËnik. July 2001, Office Shoes, Belef - Belgrade Summer Festival 2001, Belgrade, Yugoslavija.
The project began at the Alpina shoe factory in Slovenia where we intervieweed workers manufacturing footwear. The second phase took place in Belgrade, in the footwear shop “Office Shoes,” where we communicated with Belgrade costomers. The project's goal was to briefly turn the Belgrade footwear shop into a communication space between people from Slovenia and Serbia, two countries that in the former Yugoslavia had been connected culturally and economically.
4. “Models,” installation-intervention in public space, Oct. 1997, U3 Second Biennial of Contemporary Slovenian Art, Ljubljana, Slovenia.
I dressed 16 outdoor historical monuments (public statues) on Ljubljana streets in the new seasonís fashion. I took the measurements of the statues, chose colors and fabrics, created styling, sewed clothes and dressed the monuments. With this project I juxtaposed history with its eternal value and fashion with its temporal value. The action was illegal and the project came to a conclusion at court.
5. “Thanksgiving Exchange Action,” performance in public space, Oct., 26th, 1996, the stairs of Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York.
The day before the American holiday, Thanksgiving Day, I exchanged products from Slovenia with products from Americans on the steps of the Metropolitan Museum of Art. I exchanged objects that I had brought with me from Slovenia for personal use: cigarettes, toilet tissues, a pen, etc. for small objects that visitors to the museum had in their pockets and bags (matches, postcards, food, etc). The action lasted about three hours until the police interrupted it. My performance was intended to connect to American history and traditions as well as point out my personal situation of being newcomer.
4. About Mariana Castillo Deball
Mariana Castillo Deball is a Mexican artist who currently lives in the Netherlands. She will be talking about her work "Interlude: The reader’s traces (An intervention in the national libray in Berlin, The national library in Paris and the Public library in New York)"
5. About Interlude: The reader’s traces
Interlude: The reader’s traces
project by Mariana Castillo Deball
Intervention in the national libray in Berlin, The national library in
Paris and the Public library in New York
Contributors: Paul Elliman, Dario Gamboni, Raimundas Malasauskas, Harry Mathews, Ian Monk, Peter Piller, Manuel Raeder, Steve Rushton, Enrique Vila-Matas.
Books in libraries are public items; many different people have read the same copy. Each reader leaves its own traces and marks: a piece of paper used to separate the pages in the book, a note, a train ticket; they become unresolved texts, hints to be disclosed. The discovery of these traces works as an opening up, occupying an intermediate space or an
iterative time. Excess or residues, are remains of an event that implies a deficit or a gap. Traces of an original experience, they displace this experience, as a point of origin for subsequent narratives around it. These interruptions suspend the continuous accumulation of knowledge, interrupt its slow development, and force to enter a new time, cut it from its original motivations. For one moment the database structure of the library and the narrative experience of reading come together.
Project for an intervention at the Staatsbibliotek in Berlin,
The National library in Paris and the Public library in New York
The archive works in a space in which different types of materials coexist, structured according to certain rules; it also requires temporality since the premises that organize information as well as the material itself change and grow continuously. My work finds common ground in the relation with different strategies of organizing, communicating, distributing and handling of information. This idea has been developed in many different projects from interventions in newspapers and magazines, projects in public spaces related with the production and distribution of information, to a large research around the concept of collecting in literature. As part of this investigation, In October 2002 I did a project called "The wall and the books: 982 words stolen from a library" consisted in an intervention in the library of the Jan van Eyck Academie. The piece is a comment to Jorge Luis Borges text The wall and the books, about the first Emperor of China Shing Huang-Ti responsible of the construction of the Great Wall of China, the destruction of all the books that were written before him and the invention of what it’s known now as Chinese writing. Borges tries to
understand how these three different acts are related to each other, which were the reasons that lead Shing Huang Ti to take these decisions. Defenses, monuments and books are different mechanisms to record the present, marking territories, establishing origins. In this sense, the construction of history depends on the destruction of the past that needs to be erased in order to validate the next one as absolute. Each monument contains the shadow, the negative of a previous edification.
a) Each of the 987 words that conform this text where erased from hundreds of books in the library.
b) The plan of the library space was transferred in form of a rubber carpet to the gallery space.
c) The references to the books from which the words where erased were written in a long stripe of paper.
d) In a photocopy pile are the pages from were the words were extracted, conforming a negative of the original text.
At the end, the only traces that remained from this project were the erased words in all the books. The reader will suddenly find an empty space, a word that needs to be guessed by the context. By finding one empty space, the imagination of the reader can be expanded to the other hundreds of blanks in other books in the library, like bricks missing in the middle of a big wall.
Starting from this project I am working in an intervention in three different libraries considered as national monuments. The project is planned for the Staatsbibliotek in Berlin, The National library in Paris and the Public library in New York. The reason why I chose this three
different spaces is because they where build in very specific conditions and periods of time, being considered as monuments, public spaces, documentation centers, archives and symbols of the ideology and architecture of the moment. I am interested in the way the reader is already a character that is disturbing the structure of the library when its used, changing the order in a way, mixing the information between one section and another. The project is based and directed to the reader, so the main purpose is to do a research about the behavior of the reader and to create a strategy to disturb or interfere into his practice.
The project would be divided in three parts:
a) A research, documentation and intervention in each of this spaces. For the intervention I will work with different writers and artists, so they will do a piece that will be inserted in hundreds of books in the library. The idea is to insert a sort of interrupted text, a loose piece of paper that the reader will find just by accident. Many times it happens especially in public libraries, that there are some traces of the readers, a piece of paper used to separate the pages in the book, a note, a train ticket. I like this idea of a nomad text. At the end it will work at the inverse of the common strategies of publishing. First able, it’s made to disturb other texts, to parasite them, and also in the moment that it’s being inserted in other volume it becomes unique. It’s not a text that can be searched, its only accessible by accident. I am always curious by the paths that lead the reader from one lecture to another and how much chance is responsible of these relations.
b) A documentation of the piece in microfilms, that are cards of hypersensitive film where it’s possible to store great volumes of information in reduced spaces. The save of space in a microfilm is approximately of 95% in comparison with the space that books and documents occupy in a library. A card can contain 500 pages and resists to fire, and lasts over 500 years. Microfilms conform a compressed archive, the extreme version of the movement in which all the libraries are based between preserving, ordering and at the same time saving space. With the microfilms, books are converted into a carpet where you can travel trough. It is possible to see the whole carpet of pages as a single image and also focus on a very small detail; it is a very specific way of reading in which one can zoom in and zoom out, related with the different levels of order in a library.
c) A book that will be the path of the reader through these libraries in two directions:
reading the library and the reader traces.
Reading the library
Libraries can be arranged in different ways, the process include decisions in various levels, starting with the design of the building, the bookshelves, the corridors, the furniture, etc. There are also different options to classify them in order to create a catalogue that makes them accessible to the reader: subject, title, author, date, collection, publisher, etc. As Georges Perec pointed out, "None of these classifications is satisfactory with him all alone. In practice, any library is ordered starting from a combination of these modes of classifications: their weighting, their resistance to change, their disuse, their remanence, give to any library a single personality." There is a relation between the reader and the book, but there is also a way of reading imposed by the libraries. First able are spaces dedicated exclusively for this activity, where everything apart from reading is immediately visible. In that sense it becomes easier to get distracted by all the books that are not related to the original search, the people passing by, or the smallest sound. In general people go to the libraries and end up reading many different things from what they expected; the simple accumulation of material and the possibility of walking through the corridors just reading titles gives the feeling that the original choice is just a small piece in between all this information. Frequently, the story ends up with a table covered by books and a piece of paper full with strange and random notes. The way of reading a library and the way of reading a book are opposite activities based on the difference between literary narrative and database. Database represents the world as a list of items. In contrast, narrative creates a cause-and-effect trajectory.
The reader traces
Books in libraries are public items; many different people have read the same copy. Each reader leaves its own traces and marks: a piece of paper used to separate the pages in the book, a note, a train ticket; they become unresolved texts, hints to be disclosed. The discovery of these traces works as an opening up, occupying an intermediate space or an iterative time. Excess or residues, are remains of an event that implies a deficit or a gap. Traces of an original experience, they displace this experience, as a point of origin for subsequent narratives around it. These interruptions suspend the continuous accumulation of knowledge, interrupt its slow development, and force to enter a new time, cut it from its original motivations. For one moment the database structure of the library and the narrative experience of reading come together.
Archaeology of a library Throughout the relation between reading a library and the reader traces we arrive to a sort of archaeological practice. Archaeology understood as the systematic recording of material traces, the study of objects in relation to contexts, as a discipline devoted to silent monuments and things left by the past.
From the ambition or the will to develop a structure that will organize all the material in a library into certain structure to the use of the space by the readers with his or her own search, thoughts and personal ways of relating and organizing knowledge, there are different layers and ways of reading. How do all these layers are present at the same time? How this structure is put into practice, and how there are always accidents, openings, and activities that run out from the expected?
Libraries as metaphors of knowledge The national library in Berlin looks like the perfect model of the modern architecture discourse. It is arranged in different levels depending to the subject like floating Platt forms. It’s very easy to get lost in the space, in between all the staircases that connect one level with the other. The reading spaces are mixed with the bookshelves. It’s quite different to other libraries in the sense that the books feel spread all over the space. It’s silent as all the libraries and always full. I can’t say something about the contents because I don’t speak the language, but I think the space and the behavior of people give a clear idea. In a way I am not here reading books, I am looking at how the people read and use the space. First able, at the entrance, people need to empty their bags and put all the necessary instruments in transparent plastic bags. Suddenly the belongings are visible. I think it’s a security measure to avoid people to steal books or carry dangerous instruments inside. In general this personal kit it’s composed by notebooks, a computer, writing instruments such as pencils, pens with different colors, a mobile phone, photocopies. Each person builds its personal temporary island, a kind of territory where it’s possible to detect the reading and learning strategies. Some of them are very ordered, just one pile of papers, a pencil and a box with cards, others build a complete mess around them: they take off their shoes and its possible to see many objects not related with the reading activity like tissues, mobile phones, etc. After spending many hours here, just watching people, its amazing how many of them fall sleep. I like this image of a person sleeping in a library, surrounded by all these books. I can’t read the books but I can imagine something about the readers. I can create my own fiction about them. I can build a character as well, a kind of information nomad with portable messages. Everyone goes out of the building with some memories or constant thoughts about their lectures. Portable messages written in computers or notebooks taken from numerous different sources, such information may be passed between individuals in various media, such as talking in formal or informal contexts. I wonder how all this information is processed, how all the different bits are compared and evaluated.
6. About this Series
Working Title: Women Don't Lie
Since the summertime, we have been in a discussion about a series of presentations and discussions that will link the work of women and/or works which specifically address gender. Part of the problem in naming such a series with a title like "Women's Series" is that it may appear to be too limiting, or received as too straight, traditional. Another possible problem is that it would be seen as reductive to the participants' work (e.g., forcing or reducing the work of women solely in a frame of identity and womens' issues).
On the other hand, inviting a group of women without naming it a women's series runs the risk of never being explicit enough about issues that need to be discussed in relation to the question of gender. As of now, there is no Program with the capital p, but we have the beginnings. And we hope that through the series, specific questions will emerge so that a discursive space is built between our invited artists, visitors, and events.
Artists who have participated in the series thus far have included: Vilma Sileikiene (Lithuania), Beatriz Santiago (Puetro Rico), and Kristina Inciuraite (Lithuania).