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October 31, 2014
Wednesday, May 21, 2014

Would you like to join the carousel of life?

An artist working on a treadmill in Fyodor’s Performance Carousel.
By Silvia Rottenberg
For The Herald

A performance-exhibit at Faena Arts Centre allows audience to ponder and participate

A double exhibition by Fyodor Pavlov-Andreevich and Agustina Woodgate opened at Faena Arts Centre yesterday. A circle shaped invitation announced the exhibition: a direct formal reference to the erased globes of Woodgate in her ballroom and to Fyodor’s Performance Carousel. Besides the shape, the two independent presentations share a questioning of the relationship between an artwork and its audience. Is the spectator a mere passerby, or does he participate in making the work what it is?

The choice is up to the audience itself.

Woodgate’s erased globes — a statement in itself — are spread around the downstairs gallery. Nowhere does it say: “do not touch.” The artist explains that this is at her specific request. “No, they are not spread in a certain way, these 175 globes, and I am sure the composition will change continuously during the exhibition.” She looks at a group of visitors, who, when moving the balls accidentally, or on purpose, glance at her sheepishly. Woodgate laughs: “That’s what I look for: they think they are not supposed to touch them, and I am clearly not inviting them to do so, but I know it will happen and that all this will change.” It is an ambiguous relationship between the artist, art work and public, in which the viewer is not certain of his or her position.

The other part of her show GPS, Geometrica Poetica Social, takes place outside the gallery and is a long hopscotch path, starting at Plaza Serrano or Julio Cortázar square — known for his famous novel Hopscotch. The path has 1692 numbered squares and leads from plaza to plaza up to Puerto Madero. The passer-by is invited to partake, and does so, but will most likely not hopscotch all 1692 squares. Is it a complete invitation?

Upstairs at Fyodor’s Performance Carousel, only 50 people are allowed per hour, to make participation possible for all present. One is welcomed with an audio introduction, explaining the background of the piece. Its inspiration stems from the 1920s in the Soviet Union — in this period, society was in search of its communist utopia and a movement arose called Down with Shame, embracing liberty, freeing themselves from conventions such as the typical household or clothing. This forms the inspiration for Pavlov-Andreevich’s piece, which, after the audio explanation, is followed by video portraits of the artists partaking in his carousel. And yes, some performances are rather graphic.

Together with architect Marko Brajovic, the artist designed an enormous turning wheel, divided into nine parts — like a pie. The construction itself is specifically made for the space. “It is the first time we can actually build it. We have been thinking about it for many years already,” says Brajovic, “but we were never able to actually construct it.” The carousel is activated by three hometrainers, one being ridden by Alan Faena for the occasion, and stops every now and then to lower the threshold for people to enter the separate spaces.

The nine spaces are given to each of the nine artists, selected by Fyodor Pavlov-Andreevich and co-curator Marcello Piso. The artists were given complete freedom to do with their space as they liked. The idea of the individual vis-à-vis the collective, in they way that it was thought off in 1920s Soviet Union, lies at the heart of the individual projects, in which the artists themselves partake and connect themselves to the public and the public to them. It is the intention that the audience becomes part of the performance.

The inherent aspect of performance art is that the artist is demanding a lot of himself, as he or she is performing for the whole duration of the show — in this case, five days. One artist is lifting weights, another is running on a treadmill and one is rolling in and out of the Jewish leather praying bands called tefillin. As is common of merry-go-rounds in amusement parks, you are invited to step in: lift weights or roll in and out of the tefillin with the artist. After a minute or two you already realize the intensity of these rituals.

It is not an amusement park. It is an art show. An art show of one individual who invited more artists, who invite the visitors. The individual artist reaches out to the collective, but remains in his part of the turning pie, structurally following his own ritual. The individual spectator creates his own show, by deciding where to step in or not. Like a carousel of life.

Where and when

Faena Arts Centre (Aime Paine 1169)

Fyodor’s Performance Carousel: May 21 to 25, from 5pm to 9pm in Sala Molinos. GPS/Geometrica Poetica Social: May 21 to 25, from 21-25 May, from from 5pm to 9pm, May 31 and June 1, 2, 7 and 8, from 12pm to 7pm in Sala Catedral.

Admission fees: 50 pesos from May 21 to 25, 30 pesos thereafter. Free admission on June 2.

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