Thursday, 2 April 2009

TRANS - Invitation from Wiebke Gronemeyer

Exhibition Programme

by Wiebke Gronemeyer

TRANS is an exhibition project that embarks on the idea of exchange and its manifold layers on both artistic and curatorial levels. It manifests itself as collaboration between two exhibition spaces, the gallery inside the Fine Art Academy Hamburg (Galerie der HfbK) and Hold &Freight, a project space in East London. The curatorial team behind Hold & Freight in London created an exhibition in Hamburg in February, while in turn the team of the Galerie der HfbK in Hamburg curated the subsequent exhibition in London in March. The project was initiated and conceived by Wiebke Gronemeyer, a curator based in London and Hamburg, who acts as a translator between both parties.

'trans' is a prefix that derives from Latin (meaning across, over, beyond) and found its way into both Anglo-Saxon and Germanic languages in many ways. As a prefix to no matter what it indicates a motion, a process of formation and change, regardless if that is two-dimensional, recurrent or irreversible. It not only indicates but moreover articulates the structure of movement and development.

Taking this prefix as a starting point to initiate an exchange project, TRANS is not only characterized by a simple exchange of ideas and materials, but understands the motion that results in two consecutive exhibitions as a further progression of the idea of exchange. The project not only aims to facility exchange, but result exchange, which means: exchange itself is transformation and transferral embedded in a structure of both time and space that are not only the framework but also the conditions for such an endeavour. If exhibitions are sites of knowledge production, this project exchanges the conditions for this production and thereby shapes its outcome. Subsequent to this initial exposé of the exhibition project both spaces formulated their own perspectives that function as a concept for their individual exhibition at the other space, making the foreign their own. The medium that carries through this process is uncertainty, as the curators exchange their spaces and are confronted with a new context and the task to transform it once more. This exceeds the 'simple' notion of art exchange projects, whose result is that artists and their work find themselves in new contexts. For TRANS this is only the starting point. The way exchange is thought of here is not so much dialectical, but rather transgressive. It does not happen as a result of clashes between social, political and cultural antagonisms respectively through the process of negation, but through a transgression of existing assumptions and dispositions as limits that become subject to subversion.

When programming an exchange project, the role of the curator requires a more constructivist conception of translation, which is as a way of thinking about the relationship between concepts and its new sites of interpretation. Key to this is the translatability of multiple forms of curatorial and artistic expressions over space and time. The process of translation itself is understood as a methodological form of critical reflection and communication. Here, the translator directs the communication between both exhibition spaces and constantly negotiates the many ideas that become projected towards the conception of the two consecutive yet individual exhibitions at both sites. This leads to a production of some level of equivalence, some shared conceptual space, which forces the exhibition spaces to trade their particularities, as they become subject to transferral, translation and transgression. The spaces are referred to as places: two places in two cities, two countries, shaped by two curatorial teams that act out their own ideas, surrounded more or less strongly by the culture of two academies (HfbK, Hamburg and Goldsmiths, London). Those comparative definitions do not provide for much more than tracing their differences or similarities. For the nature of this project, those evaluations don't make much sense, as any conclusions that derive from such evaluations are always already too deeply embedded in the deadlock of identity politics.

In this context, the spaces' own particular identities are more precisely subject to a cultural translation. Insofar as translation is itself understood as a cultural activity it be able to actualize culture as its medium such that the cultural something that forms the point of departure and reference of translation can become subject to transferral and transgression, indicating a formational process and change. Only in this context the idea of translation acquires meaning, which transcends a purely linguistic horizon and becomes concerned with social, political and ideological issues.

No comments: