01-12-2017 | The Unlimited Edition VI: The Particular and the Ephemeral - Reporting from Aarhus
In June 1969, Danish composer and Fluxus artist Eric Andersen presented an interactive artwork called By som værk (City as work) that connected different places in Aarhus in a complex composition through posters mounted on billboard triangles on the city’s squares and in bus stops, communication over walkie talkies and analogue cameras to document which places had been visited. The posters on billboard triangles simultaneously gave the audience instructions for their tour through the city and served as a log of which instructions had been carried out.
This conceptual framework for a mapping of Aarhus resulted in an on-going and choreographed, but not planned or scheduled, performance as well as a series of photographs and inscriptions on the posters made by people following the instructions of the work as it guided them through the city. The composition was a way to connect people in different places, sharing information over the walkie-talkie with others on the same channel, but also a way to connect places with places, transferring a mark from one location to another.
Eric Andersen writes about the piece, ‘A city is an instrument that doesn’t always have to play the same phrases. City as Work involved the entire city as an interactive artwork, through which visitors and local population could enjoy quite different urban routes and activities than the common and worn out ones.’
In 2014, a new edition of Andersen’s work was presented as part of the exhibition Aarhus Rapport – Avantgarde as Network (or, the Politics of the Ultralocal), initiated by curator Lars Bang Larsen and then-director of the Kunsthal Aarhus, Joasia Krysa. The exhibition was developed from the catalogue Århus Rapport, published in 1969 by Aarhus Art Society in an attempt to document a number of happenings, exhibitions and concerts taking place in and around Aarhus during the years 1961-1969.
Printed on the inside covers of the original Århus Rapport are a number of photographs from Andersen’s project, contrasted by a black/white topographic map of the city of Aarhus on its outside. In other words, the map and images of specific sites of Aarhus are what holds together the different artistic practices documented inside the Rapport. It is an example of this ‘politics of the ultra-local,’ which curator Lars Bang Larsen pursued through his interrogation into the legacy, impact, and direction of the Aarhus (avant)-garde.
The 2014 exhibition presented a number of re-enactments, original 1960s-works and documentations, as well as new commissions taking the cue from the works and practices listed in the Rapport. All of this was displayed side by side, superimposing actual places and localities mentioned in the Rapport within the exhibition space of the Kunsthal. In this way the exhibition became in the same gesture a spatialisation of the book and a virtual representation of the Aarhus scene of experimentalart of the 1960s. Moreover, the series of contemporary responses to the history and figures of the rapport extended its map with new, possible sites to connect with.
In this year of Aarhus as European Capital of Culture, the city is being traversed, mapped, logged and networked again. 2017 also marks the centennial of Aarhus Art Building, now Kunsthal Aarhus, and for this occasion curator Trine Friis Sørensen has developed The Timeshare Project, which reflects contemporary ways to use the building and connect the institution to other institutions and concrete sites across the world. Friis Sørensen invited five international art institutions to visit Aarhus Kunsthal, using a part of the building as their workspace for a week each. Like a timeshare holiday home, Kunsthal Aarhus will host five international art institutions in the spring of 2017. Each taking turn, they will present week-long curatorial and editorial projects in the Kunsthal’s octagonal exhibition space. Following these five visits, the institutions will produce individual publications, which constitute the project’s second timesharing format. By transporting the reader back to recent, distant or virtual pasts – or into the future, a publication effectively serves as a time machine that grants us access to other moments in time.
In 2017 Kunsthal Aarhus celebrates its 100th anniversary. Where the Rapport may be seen as an attempt to consolidate a legacy – and an archive – of the Kunsthal as institution, the Kunsthal of today seems to consider the implications of not being fixed to one particular space and place. By putting together the Århus Rapport, the Art Society of 1847 created an argument for making an institution proper, fusing the building with initiatives and activities. And one may argue, that by taking up this legacy of the Aarhus Rapport anno 2014, the activities of various associations and groups get linked to this particular place, announcing the Kunsthal as the true heir to the so-called Aarhus-garde.
The Timeshare Project may be a look towards the future – at least it transcends the narrow frame of the locale and invites to bridge geographical distances through new formats of sharing time and information. This of course is easier in our world of instant messaging, emailing and file sharing (as opposed to walkie-talkies and analogue photography). Then again, is it possible to get a sense of Aarhus – as particular places, distances, people, particular tastes – without going there? By actually traveling, we can put ourselves in the midst of experiencing something – and the documentation of events and stories told can then be inspiration for some time travelling.