About

Photography and performance embrace during
The Second Act, a four day festival initiated by Time to Meet, an international platform for contemporary artists, and curated by Chris Clarke. The festival brings together over forty artists in a lively program of performance, screenings and discussions, alongside an extensive exhibition throughout the entirety of de Brakke Grond.

The title of the festival refers to the theatrical concept of the three-act play. The middle section stays unresolved, allowing the narrative to go in any direction. Things can take a drastic turn, without warning or notice, and it is this moment that
The Second Act seeks to capture, to extend and to explore.

The Second Act investigates the intersections between photography and performance. It questions how performance can be captured through the intervention of the camera, and how the live action can say something fundamental about the potentials and pitfalls of photographic documentation. The Second Act treats photography as a live practice and as a medium that is never permanently captured in a still image.

For documentation of the festival see The Second Act blog.

Artists

Paulien Barbas (NL)
Ruth van Beek (NL)
Semâ Bekirovic (NL)
Hicham Benohoud (MA/FR)
Ohad Ben Shimon (IL/FR/NL)
Tomas Boiy (BE)
Melanie Bonajo (NL)
Axel Braun (DE)
Vaast Colson (BE)
Dead Darlings (NL)
Martine Derks (NL) & Xavier Fernandez Fuentes (ES/NL)
Fleur van Dodewaard (NL)
Uta Eisenreich (DE/NL)
Gian-Reto Gredig (CH) & Goran Galic (CH)
Glenn Geerinck (BE)
Geert Goiris (BE)
Oscar Hugal (BE)
Anouk Kruithof (NL/DE)
Alwin Lay (RO/DE)
G. Leddington (UK/BE)
Peter Lemmens (BE)
Jonas Lund (SE/NL)
Sean Lynch (IE)
Christoph Meier (AT)
Peter Miller (US/DE) & Vesko Gösel (DE)
Not Abel (IE)
Paulien Oltheten (NL)
Taiyo Onorato (CH) & Nico Krebs (CH).
Ria Pacquée (BE)
Colin Penno (DE) & Philip Ullrich (DE)
Eyal Pinkas (IL/BE/NL)
David Price (UK)
Ryan Rivadeneyra (US/ES)
Jimmy Robert (FR/BE)
David Sherry (IE/UK)
Anu Vahtra (EE/NL)
Ben Van den Berghe (BE)
Anne-Mie Van Kerckhoven (BE)
Benjamin Verdonck (BE)
Moritz Wegwerth (DE)
Matthias Wollgast (DE)

 

Program

Download Program(.pdf)

8–11 September

Exhibition
Thursday: 19:00–23:00
Friday: 10:00–22:00
Saturday: 13:00–02:00
Sunday: 13:00–20:00
The large scale exhibition alongside the live program includes works by more than 30 artists.

Thursday, September 8

Festival opening
19:00

Ria Pacquée
Performance
20:00
In the work of Ria Pacquée, relative and existential elements converge, positing that life starts with breathing and a longing for otherness. (Throughout DBG)

Ryan Rivadeneyra
E-mails Concerning Happenings Considering Photography

Performance
21:00
Barcelona-based artist Ryan Rivadeneyra collates photographic material to imagine an e-mail correspondence between himself and a fictional documenter of Allan Kaprow’s seminal performance artworks. (Rode Zaal)

Club Hope
22:30
Club Hope consists of Justin Gosker and Lot Meijers, visual artists working in text, installation, performance and photography. They are experienced performers in the musical field operating in the art context with the band Vicky and Ron. For this performance they will work together with Arie Kroepoek for musical support. (Rode Zaal)

Friday, September 9

Curated by G. Leddington
Director’s Cut
14:00–16:00
Screening program
Director’s Cut is a program of short film and video works that both highlight and reconstruct the processes of filmmaking. It looks at the role of the director as the choreographer of a production while also remaining subject to unexpected occurrences, accidents and conflicts of ego. Director’s Cut addresses these backstage happenings, opening them up to critique and ridicule as well as awe and inspiration. With works by Christian Bale, Maya Deren, John Smith, Andreas Westerberg and more to be confirmed. (Rode Zaal)

By Chris Clarke
Curatorial Tour
16:00–17:00
The Second Act curator Chris Clarke will deliver a tour through the exhibition, discussing some of the themes and ideas that informed the festival. (Throughout DBG)

Paulien Oltheten
19:00
Performance
Based on observation of the public sphere and the documentation of fleeting human situations, Paulien Oltheten's work explores the interaction of people with both their environment and with each other. This performance uses Oltheten's projected photographic materials to probe into the deeper layers of human behaviour and to explore the relationship between the public and the private. (Expo Zaal)

Peter Miller and Vesko Gösel
The Thirty-six Anecdotes
20:00
Performance
This collaborative performance introduces a series of anecdotes about photography by the artists. Each performer speaks in turn, unsure of the other’s next story, with anecdotes ranging from personal experiences to historical moments. (Rode Zaal)

Uta Eisenreich with Michael Blass, Tatjana Sarah Greiner and Csilla Klenyánszki
Syntax Problems – Study No 3
21:00
Performance
Uta Eisenreich animates mysterious still lives in a considerate yet playful manner. Frequently referring to conventions of basic education, her work mischievously addresses the standardization of thought. This performance, relating to her recent project A Not B, explores the complex relationship between still life objects and language. (Rode Zaal)

Saturday, September 10

Curators in Conversation
14:00–15:00
Drawing on the simultaneous exhibitions at de Brakke Grond and FOAM, this curatorial conversation addresses the respective themes of the exhibitions; performance and still life, and the contextualization of the works within them. (Rode Zaal)

G. Leddington
Collider (after Earl and Horace)
15:00
Performance
This performance takes as its departure point a very particular exercise in timing developed by banjoist Earl Scruggs and his brother Horace. After starting a tune at the front of their house, they would walk in opposite directions around the house until they met half way to see if they were still in time. Appropriated and performed in a gallery setting this process becomes a meditation on the idea of revision, repetition, temporality and coherence. (Throughout DBG)

Axel Braun
The Documenter
15:00
Performance
This ‘parasitical’ performance by Axel Braun looks at the relationship between the live performance and the desire to photographically document such actions. Insinuating itself within the existing live programme of The Second Act, Braun plays the role of the documenter, producing and printing images in real time that don’t necessarily capture an authentic recording of the event. (Expo Zaal)

Dead Darlings
18:00–22:00
Anonymous Art Auction
Dead Darlings is an anonymous and subversive auction series that started in Amsterdam in 2005. By tradition, all the lots will be introduced by title only and contributing artists will not be revealed in connection to the work until the sale is final. By keeping the auctioned work anonymous Dead Darlings want to take pressure off the names, and give the works the opportunity to stand on their own. Dead Darlings are Tania Theodorou, Lina Ozerkina and Adam Etmanski. (Rode Zaal)

For a preview see Dead Darlings VI: Inner Circle online catalog.


Party
The Penultimate Party
22:00–02:00
Celebrating the night before the last night of The Second Act with Ryan Rivadeneyra (Barcelona/Miami), DJ Toby Paul (Amsterdam), Our Polite Society (Amsterdam) and DJ Boris Becker / The Take Away Tape (Nijmegen) + a dazzling act by Les Filles De Minuit (Antwerpen).  (Rode Zaal)

Sunday, September 11

Ohad Ben Shimon
The Mirror Stage
14:00
Performance
Ohad Ben Shimon’s performance for The Second Act explores the correlation of the theatrical stage and the Lacanian moment of individual self-recognition and will be followed by a conversation between the artist and curator Chris Clarke. (Rode Zaal)

Ruth van Beek, Peter Miller and David Price
Artists in Conversation
15:00–16:00
This panel discussion invites participating artists to discuss how they approach photography and performance in their respective practices. (Rode Zaal)

Finissage
18:00–20:00 (Foyer)

 

 

Background

Interview with Chris Clarke, by Raymond Frenken

My first question would be – just an obvious one – how an Irishman got asked to curate this exhibition in de Brakke Grond?

“I'm actually not Irish but from Newfoundland in Canada. I have been working in Cork for the past few years as a curator at the Lewis Glucksman Gallery there. My initial involvement with Time to Meet – the organisation which initiated ‘The Second Act’ – came from working on their festival in Antwerp in 2010, where I interviewed several artists for the accompanying catalogue, moderated their symposium and generally got to know many of the participating artists. The invitation to curate the festival at de Brakke Grond came out of the success of that earlier project and the willingness to explore ideas of performance and photography that were briefly touched on in Antwerp.”

What can you tell us about Time to Meet. Who are they, what is their mission?

“Time to Meet is a network of contemporary artists who have an interest in exploring the conditions of photography. They are not a group of photographers (although Time to Meet does include artists working with photography) but use a wide range of mediums to look at ideas of stillness, repetition, voyeurism, technicality and all those concerns which have arisen around the expansion of photographic-based practices.”

In what way does ‘The Second Act’ relate to previous activities by Time to Meet, for instance the symposium you chaired last year?

“This festival does proceed from previous activities by Time to Meet and a commitment to pursue some of the ideas around photography and performance that came up during the 2010 Antwerp exhibition ‘Sugary Photographs with Tricks, Poses & Effects’. The symposium that I chaired at Fotomuseum Antwerp as part of that festival (and that included Jörg Sasse, Philipp Fürnkäs, OHIO Photomagazin, Ohad Ben Shimon and Goran Galic / Gian-Reto Gredig) wasnt explicitly about performance – it was much more concerned with ideas of objectivity and its disappearance – but the commitment to pursue and discuss photographic ideas in this way is a big part of ‘The Second Act’ as well.”

Why is ‘The Second Act’ called a festival, rather than an exhibition? What makes it a festival?

“It’s a festival primarily because it’s a meeting point, a moment where visual art, performance and the discourses surrounding these ideas come together. I don’t want to distinguish between the static exhibition and the live programme but rather to see these as equal partners, as co-existent within a set period of events.”

In what way are performance and photography tied together in ‘The Second Act’?

“It happens in several ways, and from both directions, as it were. There are performances that use and refer to the camera, and works in photography, installation and film that address the conditions of the live act and the theatrical stage. I’m thinking here of Peter Miller and Vesko Gösel, whose performance incorporates anecdotes about photography as a sort of competitive challenge between the two artists or Ryan Rivadeneyra’s lecture which draws on seminal images of performance art as a means of driving the narrative. Similarly, there is a video work by Christoph Meier that literally pans across the backstage crew of a set, albeit incorporating his own interventions and actions within the faux-realism of this approach.

The exhibition also tends to work through three overlapping sub-themes that refer both to the performative gesture and the setting of De Brakke Grond as an interdisciplinary space; the prop or ‘activated’ object, the body or actor, and the stage/backstage setting.”

A figure that seems missing in this list is the director/playwright. Connected to traditional theatre rather than performance, what’s his relevance nowadays – being the person that seems to know what the play is about and how it will end?

“I would say that it is the artists. Of course, the festival is specifically about the uncertainty and openness of the second act, and this informs the works throughout, but the artists still have a different perspective towards their work than the viewer. Uncertainty is something that can be manipulated or suggested (as in Meier’s work above) so in this sense that role of the overseer is shared out amongst the various contributors. I don’t claim to be the director myself!”

Where does the idea of combining performance and photography originate from?

“I see them as inextricably tied together, in the ways that camera-based practices (unlike painting, for example) are somewhat dependent on the surrounding environment, on the real, as subject matter. I would also argue that our ideas of live action, of the gesture or pose, have been strongly conditioned by the advent of the camera and the prevalence of photographic imagery in contemporary society.”

Would you care to think about ‘meeting’ as fundamental to performance and photography? The essence of ‘live arts’ – theatre, performance and dance - is that it’s a real meeting between people, things, ideas. I think that is also the essence of photography (the act) – even though ‘objectified’ photography tries its best to deny this actual meeting.

“You’re completely right. ‘The Second Act’ is not simply about inert objects or documentation but about this point of intersection, where the photo becomes inadequate to conveying a time-based act and the possibilities that open by acknowledging this ‘incompleteness’. Similarly, how does one represent performance? How do you capture that moment – not simply as a succession of still instants – but the subjectivity of the audience’s responses, the spontaneity (at times) of the interaction between performer and viewer, and, of particular interest to a curator, between different works and media.”

The festival aims at locating the state of 'indeterminacy', what does it mean?

“It is the moment where the action could go either way. In theatre, the 'second act' is the middle section, between the establishment of the scene and its resolution, where one is unsure of the narrative direction. This had strong parallels to photography, where the chosen image depends on the act of selection, of snatching a singular instant from a much larger field of space and time. The image then does not communicate or concentrate a narrative but is inherently partial and open-ended, and therefore open to interpretation.”

Is it about the (performative) act of taking pictures, rather than the pictures themselves?

“I see the two as working together. While there is work here that is mainly concerned with the way we take pictures, or the way we select them, this performative aspect can also be communicated through the subject matter of the artwork. So, for example, Alwin Lay’s video and photography here exemplify a certain activation of the still-life object (itself a grand tradition of photographic practices) by displaying a thoroughly singed pineapple or a lamp that spits out sparks or fire. The work therefore carries the suggestion of a performative manipulation, albeit one that need not portrays the artist himself.”

How would you define ‘expanded photography’, and can you give some examples?

“For me, it refers to works that are specifically concerned with the conditions of photography. So, for example, a video work that utilises ideas of stoppage, repetition or stillness, could have more to say about photography than photography itself. Similarly, there are performances that use photography as the basis for a loosely narrated lecture or that incorporate the documentation of the action into the action itself. The Peter Miller and Vesko Gösel work would be an example here, but also David Sherry’s two films, that present a recurring gesture of that artists running for the tram or bus and repeatedly just missing it. This notion of repetition, culminating in a sequence of moments of anguished realisation (despite it being a deliberate gesture), has a very strong relationship to notions of photographic staging, rehearsal and timing.”

What issues of contemporary photography would you like to stress as being essential to our times?

“The critique of the photograph as an objective document, the ways in which its meaning and context are manipulated (and how this is accepted as a particularly postmodern condition of a ‘truthless’ society), the ways in which concrete or deconstructed art (whether that’s photography, theatre, performance or film) seems to imply its own truthfulness even as it opens a whole, wider range of manipulations and staging’s.”

What does this exhibition tell us about ourselves and our times? In theatre, ‘The Second Act’ is about a state of crisis, about encountering obstacles, uncertainty, a plot thickening with no sight of any dénouement. Is it also an adequate metaphor for the state we are in? Right here, right now? With shifting certainties about who are our friends and enemies. Iceland, Greece, Japan, even cucumber and sprouts have manifested themselves as surprisingly dangerous.

“Don’t forget Ireland! Of course, art is particularly attuned to time of crisis, as a means of articulating events that often seem out of control or inexplicable (as in the economic crisis) but one should remember that artists also exist in this same environment as its audiences. For me, what’s important about ‘The Second Act’ is that the work is either specifically selected as conveying the state of indeterminacy or is being made in relation to this theme. The works are not divorced from such moments but have a sense of feeling out the terrain, questioning it (and their own practices), posing new hypotheses. I would have no interest in a show entitled The Third Act, for example, where all the work would see these issues as resolved.”


Curatorial Statement

In theatre, the second act is the period of a performance where the action remains unresolved, where the narrative can still go in either direction. It is the state in-between the set-up of events and their tidy conclusion, and, as such, carries connotations of uncertainty, indecision and apprehension. At this stage, the actors are caught in flux, against seemingly insurmountable obstacles, and, likewise, their dilemmas are projected onto the audience, unaware exactly where the performance will lead, and how these situations will be overcome.

It is a moment known only too well by visual artists. Somewhere between the conception of the work and its realisation, the potential for sudden changes, unfamiliar digressions, deviations from one’s expectations, come to the fore, often producing an artwork distinctly altered from the initial idea. It is also a productive stage. Like those theatrical groups who utilise workshops and improvisation to shape the structure of the play, the artistic gesture is open at this stage to accidents, interruptions, and experimentation. Things can take a drastic turn, without warning or notice, and it is this moment that The Second Act seeks to capture, to extend and to explore. The festival therefore locates the point of indeterminacy and holds on to it, seeing such periods of deliberation and openness as essential to creative arts practices.

Initiated by Time to meet, an international platform for contemporary artists dedicated to photographic practice and its themes, The Second Act encompasses screenings, performances, lectures and an extensive exhibition of work across the entirety of Arts Centre de Brakke Grond. As befits its model of interdisciplinary practice and collaboration, Time to meet has invited projects from partner organisations and institutions, collectives, performers, filmmakers and visual artists. The Second Act therefore posits the notion of ‘expanded photography’; the incorporation of film, video, performance and installation alongside photography as mediums concerned with the representation of ‘reality’ (and the inevitable failures of this ambition). As such, these ‘non-photographic’ components of the programme can be seen as ways of approaching the photographic image laterally, either through reference to the specific conditions of the medium or through themes that have been generally accepted as intrinsic to photographic practice. Here, photography is not (only) a medium, but a distinct way of experiencing one’s surroundings.

Props and Propositions

Anton Chekhov’s famous quote that “one must not put a loaded rifle on the stage if no one is thinking of firing it" finds expression in several works in the exhibition that explore the state of apprehension and indeterminacy through the familiar genre of still-life photography, imbuing seemingly inert objects with a sense of narrative or activation. In Alwin Lay’s image The Black Pine (2010), the still photograph alludes to another, absent series of events, occurring beyond or before the camera’s intervention. A singed and scorched pineapple sits upright in a glass vitrine, the product of an unseen, unexplained incident. As in Lay’s video works here, the everyday object becomes a prop for artistic intervention, arranged and choreographed in order to effect a radical transformation. And, similarly, that moment is never revealed; in Water Glass and Lamp (both 2010), the culminating moment is endlessly deferred by the circuitous loop of the film’s structure. The denouement happens off-screen, out-of-frame.

In a different way, G. Leddington’s Patterson Micro Focus-Finder (2011) uses the static object to ambiguous effect, juxtaposing a film sequence of grainy images of the eponymous device (used for photographic enlargement and detail) with a spoken soundtrack discussing the collision of sub-atomic particles. The apparent arbitrariness of image and commentary is revealed as a type of meta-narrative, a work that explores randomness itself and its creative potential through its combination of disparate elements.

The potential of the still image to open out onto different stories and histories is seen in Sean Lynch’s Beuys (still a discussion) (2007), a photograph of a pile of chalk dust with an accompanying text. The work makes explicit reference to the seminal performance artist Joseph Beuys and the residue of one of his ‘blackboard lectures’ staged in Ireland in 1974. The dust, collected by an audience member after the performance, is conferred a pseudo-religious significance (Beuys was well-versed in notions of mysticism and ritual) that, while seemingly at odds with the artist’s live actions, also carries on his artistic legacy.

Performing Photography (and Photographing the Performance)

If Lynch’s work presents the object as a proxy or stand-in for the performance itself, then another significant theme of the festival arises in the performative gesture and its representation. This tension between the live action and its documentation via the photograph or film often leads to an uneasy truce, a compromised recording of a prior moment. As a means of circumventing this dilemma, Vaast Colson collates photographs of his performances, taken by audience members without his knowledge or permission at the time. His Chouchou series (all works 2009) therefore can only be a partial representation of his practice, a secondary version that, while evocative of the original act, never indicates its precise nature.

David Sherry’s two films in the exhibition Running for the Bus (1999) and Running for the Tram, de Appel, Amsterdam (2010) also carry a particularly photographic quality in the repetition of the artist’s failed attempts to catch his respective means of transportation (captured in the artist’s look of perpetual anguish upon realising he’s an instant too late). This integration of the photographic into the performative recurs in Ryan Rivadeneyra’s practice, as the artist’s deft use of appropriated imagery from art historical documentation, popular culture and online sources accompanies his digressive lecture-based performances. His work essentially utilises photography as a narrative device, drawing on performance art histories (such as the work of Allan Kaprow) to push his monologue into unpredictable, yet highly predetermined, directions.

Stage/Craft

While the notions of the still life and the performative photograph (or vice versa) represent two, albeit overlapping, themes to the festival, then the third key aspect to The Second Act finds a theatrical analogy to the stage production itself. The term is quite elastic, however, as works here encompass the mediated spectacle around current events (and their representation), as in Ben van den Berghe’s lightbox image El Refugio (2011) of the Chilean mining site that transfixed televisual viewers worldwide, to work that explores the conventions of theatrical performance itself, such as Anne-mie van Kerckhoven’s Shanghai Demoire (2007-08) and its collaged composites of female nudes and ritualistic Chinese masks.

The theatre as space of hesitation, reticence and uncertainty, is perhaps exemplified in Christoph Meier’s Ohne Titel (Filmsetperformancebuhnefilm) (2009), wherein the camera pans across the backstage crew of the film set. The anxious poses and bemused expressions of the ‘cast’ portray their unease with this reversal of perspectives, and Meier’s intermittent actions (such as an explosion of confetti) and the presence of a mirror capturing the camera trolley’s trajectory disrupt any perceived reading of a Brechtian, anti-illusionistic ‘realism’. While Meier makes the mechanisms of theatrical illusion the focus of the camera, then Anu Vahtra implicates the Arts Centre de Brakke Grond itself. Her site-specific installation interjects geometric lines across the interior architecture of the building, creating a perspectival illusion of formal coherence. Notwithstanding the strong relationship here between this work and theatrical notions of the stage-as-window, the installation’s dependence on the fixed position of the viewer (indicated on the gallery floor) recalls the actor’s ‘mark’, the deliberate arrangement of the performer to ensure the audience’s visibility of the scene and the seamless movement of the action. From any other vantage point (and this is as essential to the work as the fixed, ‘correct’ viewing), the illusion falls apart.

No Third Act Required

While the festival can be seen as divided into these distinct themes, perhaps most important are the ways in which the disparate works overlap and intermingle. The Second Act presents a space (of exhibition, live art, film, talks) where one freely crosses from one narrative into another, where individual artworks affect and influence one’s reading of the next. It aims to project the moment of uncertainty onto the experience of the festival itself, through unexplored (even unintended) digressions and passageways, from the photographic image to the impromptu performance, the immersive installation to the interpretative lecture. It transforms physical space into temporal experience, opening up one’s individual experience to the possibilities of indecision, irresolution and exploration.

– Chris Clarke, 2011

 

Contact

Time to Meet

office@timetomeet.org

Location

Vlaams Cultuurhuis de Brakke Grond
Nes 45, Amsterdam

Opening hours

Thursday (opening) 19:00
Friday 10:00–22:00
Saturday 13:00–02:00
Sunday 13:00–20:00

Admission free

Press

Oona Maes
oona@timetomeet.org

Download

Press Release Dutch (.pdf)
Press Release English (.pdf)
Press images (.zip)
Program(.pdf)

 

 

Colophon

Curator: Chris Clarke
Curatorial think thank and overall coordination: Paulien Barbas, Glenn Geerinck, Anu Vahtra, Ben Van den Berghe
Project coordination: Teatske Burgerjon
Press: Oona Maes
Graphic design: Our Polite Society
The Second Act is realized in collaboration with de Brakke Grond.
Images used in collages (from top to bottom): Eyal Pinkas, Vaast Colson, Alwin Lay, Taiyo Onorato and Nico Krebs, Fleur van Dodewaard, Anouk Kruithof

Time to Meet is an ever-changing nomadic platform by and for international artists, dedicated to the exploration of the photographic medium. Time to Meet aims at bringing together artists from various backgrounds, through exhibitions, publications, lectures and other events and thereby wishes to stimulate a lively debate between artists and audiences on photography and its related themes. The Second Act follows on from Sugary Photographs with Tricks, Poses & Effects, a festival that took place at eight locations in Antwerp in 2010. Time to Meet has organized a range of projects in the Netherlands, Belgium and Germany since 2006.

Supported by:

        

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