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Projects

Silent

Pauline Boudry / Renate Lorenz

08.11.2017 - 27.01.2018, vernissage 08.11.2017


CB: Active silence never fades. It is no less formidable than speech and warns us off as well. Thanks to this "great" silence, writer Maurice Maeterlinck tells us in The Treasure of the Humble (1896), "nothing obeys anymore", "nothing is forgotten", "everything becomes serious", "everything is defenseless". After the unfailing silence of Marie Cool Fabio Balducci's show, we present Pauline Boudry / Renate Lorenz' installation Silent. I can not help but compare their respective experiences with silence and see it as a violent phenomenon, an act of resistance that builds on our relationship to images and to representations that have already been integrated by history. Spiaggiamento, Marie Cool Fabio Balducci's exhibition, was as effective as the two fingers that seal the lips of the wonderfully veiled and ambiguous face in Odilon Redon's painting The Silence, circa 1910-1911. In the proposals of Cool Balducci, those of Boudry / Lorenz as that by Redon, a rereading of history is channeled by bodies that give themselves the right to their own definition. When musician Aerea Negrot performs for the duo, we cannot help but feel close to a body that so clearly tips over into real life and its social hierarchies. Her silence is ours also. It critically questions our certainties: can silence give a visual account of the process at hand when minority stories are being erased? This is the reason why the duo films the space beyond the performance framework, a space that contains all possible voices, including those of the refugees who chose Oranienplatz in Berlin as a base for their resistance, between 2012 and 2014.

IA: You're right to comment on this silence that appears most radical indeed against the background noise the contemporary sound environment consists of. Boudry / Lorenz?s film refers to John Cage's silent works, which Jonathan D. Katz has interpreted as a queer strategy of resistance against the culture of the closet that characterized US post-war society. In a 1999 article, Katz shows how the appearance of silence in Cage's work coincides with the beginnings of his relationship with Merce Cunningham and with his desire to break with the virile and sometimes homophobic expressiveness of Abstract Expressionism painters. Katz comments: ?Silence made a statement through the absence of statement. It constituted an appeal to the listener for a new relationship to authority and authoritative forms in music and (?) surely in other arenas, too.?*
It is therefore to a work of art historiography that Boudry / Lorenz devote themselves through their installations. The tribute to John Cage, as well as those made to Pauline Oliveros in other films**, unties the link between minimal music and the art of the same name. The politically-radical aspect of musical minimalism is put forward, rather than its formal characteristics. Finally, what is at stake here is not to let minimalism give free rein to its white, masculine and heterosexual interpretation, but to create other lineages.
Silent is a form of 'freak' protest against the established order - to use the term Renate conceptualizes in her book Queer Art*** - carried out by a performer who refuses to comply with any expectation in terms of gender, nationality or musical style. The depth of the voice in Silent stems, as you say, from the fact it carries many other voices that are not expressed. Those who come from the contemporary age, as well as those coming from history.

CB: Silent as well as Telepathic Improvisation, I Want, Opaque, Toxic, Contagious and other older works have impressive clarity and epistemological foundations. Boudry and Lorenz are indeed non-conformist art historians since they refuse the linearity and fixity of forms. What certainly distances them even more from usual historical methods is that to them, silence is far from being suspicious. It constitutes in itself the least illusory method to avoid being trapped in the past or, so to speak, being stuck in history, a place where normality is of an unheard-of violence. I appreciate how everything these artists produce is always clearly named, from their very environmental installations or their website, to their astonishingly regular publications that serve as real tools to understand their approach of repetition, time and change. A silence against the systematic obliteration of minority points of view, a silence to build a framework conducive to understanding, a silence still, so as to negotiate with non-knowledge. Non-knowledge would be the opposite of whatever reassuring elements speech contained, here it appears as a sentimental structure, the share of the artists' affects, incessantly replayed in order to put the traditional couple formed by the 'visible' and the 'readable' in crisis.

IA: In one of the artists? first books, Temporal Drag, art historian Mathias Danbolt uses an expression that has stuck with me since: "touching history"****. To insist on the touch rather than the visual is to consider history as the place where "friends of the past" evolve and to maintain an emotional?as well as intellectual and physical?commitment to it. It is to recognize that, as researchers, artists and intellectuals, our interest for a historical subject is never neutral, it always 'stirs' us. For our duo, John Cage, Jack Smith, Jose Muñoz, Annie Jones, the so-called hysterical women of Salpêtrière, Pauline Oliveros, Derek Jarman, Hannah Cullwick, Magnus Hirschfeld, Jean Genet, are all allies in a history ranging from the late 19th century to the present. The genealogy constructed by their work does not intend to be authoritative, but to address those who do not recognize themselves in a dominant writing of art history. The paintings / hair curtains shown on the gallery's ground floor in a theatrical space, reverse the values of art. This inversion is enhanced by the inversion of spaces, in which the gallery's white space becomes a black set while the basement is transformed into an immaculate cocoon. By introducing hair in a painting's visual space, the artists humorously comment on the tactile, bodily, even uncanny aspect of painting. The meeting between the painting and the hairpiece creates a freak composition, an assemblage that is reminiscent of characters in their films (like Salome in Salomania which gathers in one figure the stories of Alla Nazimova, Wu Tsang, Yvonne Rainer, Oscar Wide or Aida Walker), while the hair materiality makes us aware of our sexual bodies as spectators in the exhibition. Not far away, an illuminated podium revolves in silence: an encounter between John Cage and Felix Gonzalez-Torres waiting infinitely to be occupied by a ghost go-go dancer.

* http://www.queerculturalcenter.org/Pages/KatzPages /KatzWorse.html
** To Valerie Solanas and Marilyn Monroe in recognition of their desperation, 2013 and Telepathic Improvisation, 2017
*** Ed. Transcript, Bielefeld, 2012. Translation into French to be published in 2018 by Editions B42.
**** (after Carolyn Dinshaw) "The Trouble with Straight Time: Disruptive Anachronisms in Pauline Boudry and Renate Lorenz?s N.O. Body," in Pauline Boudry / Renate Lorenz, Temporal Drag, ed. Hatje Cantz, 2011 and here: https://www.boudry-lorenz.de/static/files/Mathias%20Danbolt-neu.3c065b61d453.pdf


Pauline Boudry / Renate Lorenz live in Berlin.
Their show at Participant, New York (cur. Lia Gangitano), was their first solo exhibition in the United States in 2017. The film Silent has been shown at Nuit Blanche in Paris in October (cur. Charlotte Laubard) and at the Geneva Art Center, as part of the Biennale of Moving Image, last winter. Their personal exhibition Everybody talks about the weather... We don't, is currently shown at the Houston Museum of Contemporary Art, until January 7 (cur. Dean Daderko). Also currently running, one of their installations is included in the collective exhibition Trigger: Gender as a Tool and a Weapon at the New Museum in New York (until January 21).
In January 2018, the Swiss Cultural Center in Paris will produce a solo exhibition of their works.
They are also represented by the wonderful Ellen de Bruijne Projects gallery in Amsterdam.

Special thanks to: Emma Genty, Juliette Hage, Barbara Quintin, Atelier Panis.

Abuse of power comes as no surprise #notsurprised