IFP Sessions: Johan Zetterquist

 

For the past 10 years, Johan Zetterquist has been working on a project called 'Proposals for Public Art', in which he through various media reflects on the possibles and impossibles related to artistic representation for and of the public domain. As a reaction to the usual issues attached to commissioning and executing 'public art', resulting in bland and apolitical or politically correct works, Johan takes his absurd and politically incorrect ideas very seriously, realizing them in the form of proposals presented in the way such would be submitted to an open call or competition.

By re-appropriating common, functional environments such as those found along highways, or even the highway itself, and simply proposing to highlight their physical and aesthetic qualities, Johan Zetterquist asks fundamental questions about their status and meaning in a broader humanistic sense. His 'proposals for public art' are often based around objects so generic and lacking of site specificity that the absurdity of the proposal becomes a driver, a machine that never stops jerking as long as we still consume, drive, construct and build fences. In a further perspective, we as viewers are confronted with dystopic images, glimpses of scenarios where these mundane sites appear as poetic fragments of a bygone era of human dillusion and hubris.

As well as they can be physical, 'proposals for public art' can be highly theoretical, or at least hypothetical. In a simple statement, presented as solid block-shaped letters against a white background, framed, a new thought presents itself. Highly banal yet thought-provoking, the black letters serve the only purpose of playing a tune in repeat in our ears that is incompatible with the way society is currently modulated.

Or as put by Judith Manzoni: "In an art world overflowed with the use of violent, shocking or scatological imaginary, the use of intelligent humour and meaningful absurdity arises as surprisingly subversive, as an intellectual art that playfully criticizes the comfortable approval of the status quo while making no concessions to political correctness."

'Proposals For Public Art', Saturday December 14, 6 pm, IFP Studio

More about Johans work can be found here.

IFP Sessions #4: Hans van Houwelingen

 

On November 24, the Institute For Provocation here in Beijing will host a talk by the Dutch conceptual artist and sculptor Hans van Houwelingen.

Hans van Houwelingen mostly works within the realm of public space and his artworks often take on ideological contradictions and ambiguities, representing them in a physical form.

Feel free to join us at the IFP Studio, heizhima hutong 13 at 6pm. More information about the artist here.

UPDATE:

The talk was very interesting and lead to the eventual interruption of the presentation as a discussion over one of the works (proposal for a memorial for guest workers in Rotterdam) became extensive. Indeed the conceptual nature of Hans' works are open to interpretations and criticism of various kind, and I definitely enjoy the way he discusses the meaning of things, rather than their formal attributes.

Below some photos of the talk.

IFP Sessions No 1

In the past few weeks I have been planning a lecture series hosted by Institute For Provocation, the art organization with which I share my studio space here in Beijing. The lecture series we call IFP Sessions is a public event and a contribution to the wider discourse on art, architecture and design in China. For each session we invite someone to present their recent work, followed by a talk with other invited guests. Our ambition is to create a forum for artists, researchers and designers based in or visiting China, to share and discuss their work. Last Wednesday we hosted a lecture by Brendan McGetrick who is a writer, editor and curator, to present his work as curator of the exhibition Un-Named Design at the Design Biennale in Gwangju, Korea. The exhibition was initially a collaboration with Ai Weiwei but following his arrest in April, was carried out by Brendan as chief curator together with Michelle Liu, Naihan Li and a group of students from the Oslo School of Architecture. The lecture was followed by a discussion with artist Tudor Bratu (currently in residence with IFP), art critic Mia Yu (PhD researcher on Chinese art at McGill) and architect Anu Leinonen.

Brendan's essay about the project for Gwangju biennale can be read here.

Below a few photos from the session. The next IFP Session will be on Nov 30 when architect Jordan Kanter will present his research on Tiananmen square and Mao symbolism.