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'Garden of Death' a Collaborative Exhibition Project Between 8 Artist-Run Spaces, Initiated by Plague

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Red flower
closes in the evening.
Red flower
opens by the sun.
red.
or a flower?
dropped seeds.
rose again in the spring.
same.
red
or a flower?
same.
or new?
Red flower

— Arthur Golyakov

The stars are blotted out,
The clouds are covering clouds, It is darkness vibrant, sonant.
In the roaring, whirling wind
Are the souls of a million lunatics Just loose from the prison-house, Wrenching trees by the roots, Sweeping all from the path.
The sea has joined the fray, And swirls up mountain-waves, To reach the pitchy sky.
The flash of lurid light
Reveals on every side
A thousand, thousand shades Scattering plagues and sorrows
Dancing mad with joy,
Come, Mother, come!
For Terror is Thy name, Death is in Thy breath,
And every shaking step Destroys a world for e'er. Come, O Mother, come!
Who dares misery, loves,
And hugs the form of Death, Dance in Destruction's dance,
To him the Mother comes.

— S. Vivekanda

Here we are all brothers
In joy, in misery
You will not find heaven or hell with us
Neither heaven nor hell
Blood and wine are the same color
Beggars and brigands dance the same dance Since we are all gallows game
You will not find with us religion nor nation Since we are all escaped from prison
Thieves and lovers drink from the same chalice You will not find heaven or hell with us
We are all accused of justice At the court of miracles

— Torre, Helene

I found a small cat on the walk home from the subway. She is a dark grey with a slightly lighter grey around her eyes and mouth. Her tail is striped and capped with a dab of white (as if she had dipped her tail in paint). If the sun hits her fur at the right angle a constellation of spots is revealed. She walked up to me like we knew each other, and I easily picked her up and took her home with me.
I have been putting off writing this post because I feel this is meant to be. I no longer wish to find her original owner, as we have developed a sturdy codependency; trading canned-food for affection. We need each other.
…Don’t attempt to bribe me with any sort of monetary reward. Our bond has no ransom. I’m keeping your cat.


 

A land where no eye had ever looked, 
even completely pixelated on maps, unveiled. 
The new law passed and applauded. 
A colony of dab hands, conquered the silent land. 
Infinite valleys of mythical creatures replaced by hex codes. 
Perianths, pistils and stamens, all turned into stone to avoid the massacre. 
All life forms conformed... 
The hands were wandering...but being hands, they carved. 
Now the land is known as 4685/the phantom land.
In the networks built by Mallarme and Duchamp, the blank spaces of white page and 
transparent glass are themselves integral parts of a total system just as important as the words or paint inscribed on them. ''A Tale of the Future Damned'' by Hyperlink Athens is the merging point of a plethora of contradicting areas and points. The space of the white page is covered by words and printed images of solid marble monuments. The back side of the page is blank, it reveals the absence and at the same time is facing the presence of content. Each page of this construct is placed on the surface of a body of water and filmed until the force of buoyancy subsides. The page sinks and eventually dissolves in the water, it becomes matter and part of the whole system once again. The process is documented with video. Nothing remains of the action after the end.

Cats on the roof of a house are showing gestures to the craftsmen of the Small Guild and perhaps also to the masters of the Town Hall. Cats have turned their backs with tails raised for anyone to see. It’s been said that the owner of the house got offended for being denied acceptance to the Guild. The turned backs of the cats reveal blasphemous attitude towards craftsmen and folk artists. Yet these cats don’t ask craftsmen for any special worshipping as it was in Ancient Egypt, for example. For once no rituals or sacrifices will make the cats lower their tails. It’s a considered vengeance for the centuries-long injustices and prejudices by craftsmen. 

After all, cats have always embodied many meanings: often those are sexual; occasionally cats were perceived as a symbol of a bourgeois household; besides, there are further stories of witches that attended Sabbaths as cats; you will still hear a belief—if a black cat crosses your way it’s bad luck, etc. It’s not surprising that cats were often used in cruel rituals. Additionally, for many centuries cats were burned at the stake. There were even special musical instruments, namely, cats that were tortured to create Katzenmusic. Historics tell of occasions when craftsmen turning against cats was viewed as a symbolic resistance against their masters. On these occasions, trials against cats and subsequent death sentences could be seen as a judgment on the masters. However, cats were high on the roofs and craftsmen couldn’t get to them to judge.

Yet the symbolic actions of craftsmen established a special creative space. For example, printers often forged copies, namely, replicating the needs of their clients into gestures. A historian writes: 

“Whenever they got tired of working, they transformed the shop into a theater and produced copies—their kind of copy, not the authors'. Shop theater and ritual punning suited the traditions of their craft. Although printers made books, they did not use written words to convey their meaning. They used gestures, drawing on the culture of their craft to inscribe statements in the air.”[1] 

The turned backs of cats ironically fit into the century-old global traditions of craftsmen. Cat sculptures embody Crudely sharp-tongued gestures are embodied in cat sculptures that have created their own immutable space of copies. If the principle of l’art pour l’art quietly excluded the craftsmanship, the copies forged by craftsmen actively addressed and provoked their recipients thus conceived a theatrical space. Cat backsides on the roof of a house are also conceiving a certain theatrical space in which we ourselves are passive spectators. 

We can question the distinction between art and craftsmanship, emphasized in the 19th century: it shouldn’t be so self-evident. Is it still necessary to talk about institutionalism accenting that works of art should be included in a certain art world? Does craftsmanship still have to be linked with certain materials - clay, wool, etc.? Is there a need for the juxtaposition of craftsman’s skill and artist’s creativity? Do we have to talk about artwork’s necessity to stand out in space and attract attention yet the creations of craftsmen have to be functional? 

In light of these questions it’s worth remembering Henri Matisse’s claim: “What I dream of is an art [...] something like a good armchair which provides relaxation from physical fatigue.” This statement shows that the task and execution of art aren’t much different from craftsman’s practice. It fits in with the environment and doesn’t scream for undemanded attention. It has become furniture-like. It is organically positioned among other objects. Cats’ backsides were also eventually turned the other way to avoid further upsetting and offending the craftsmen of the Guild. The balance of the environment was at once restored. Meanwhile, domestic cats sleep in a chair actively attracting attention and not allowing us to rest our tired mind and body.

1. Darnton Robert (1999) The Great Cat Massacre, Basic Books. p. 101.

— Ainārs Kamoliņš

Part I: 'Cour des miracles' by Underground flower with Torre Alain, Pinar Marul, Rasheed Mirza, Urbain Checcaroni

Part II: 'In Bloom' by Altan with Camilla Løw, Kenneth Alme, Stian Eide Kluge

Part III: 'Kotz, if you exist' by K.O.T.Z. with Florian Birk, Kea Bolenz, Ana Castillo, Don Elektro, Marian Luft, Salvador Marino, Larissa Mühlrath, Lion Sauterleute, Stefan Schleupner, Hannes Uhlenhaut

Part IV: 'Found cat near me' by Catbox Contemporary with Sasha Spirit

Part V: 'Ukkazzal Habrak Rexula' by MRZB with Andrea Parenti, Désirée Nakouzi De Monte, Filippo Tocchi, Pietro Cortona

Part VI: 'A tale of the future damned' by Hyperlink with Alexandra Koumantaki, Yannis Voulgaris

Part VII: 'Ailuros' by 427 Gallery with Kaspars Groševs, Marta Trektere

Part VIII: 'Wandering lights' by Plague with Pasha Bezor, Arthur Golyakov, Ben Papyan, Stas Lobachevskiy, Nastya Vasileva, Vanya Venmer

'Sloan' by Joseph Kusendila at Kantine, Brussels

'Grommets' by Rasmus Røhling at C.C.C., Copenhagen

'Goggelmoggel' by Lukas Schneider at Regatta 2, Dusseldorf

'Catacombs of Love' by Sylbee Kim at MÉLANGE, Cologne

'Kündigung' by Jannis Marwitz at Lucas Hirsch, Dusseldorf

'Fantasy Finery', a Group Show at Berlínskej model, Prague

'A curse in disguise' by Adam Cruces at Disneyland Paris, Melbourne

'Autonomia
' by Kaspars Groševs at Noass, Riga

'Bracket Sentiment And The Technicolor Yawn' by Sophie Serber at Shore, Vienna

‘Exception of (not) being’, Online Show Curated by Essenza Club and Rhizome Parki

'Energy Systems / 3: Safe in the Front End' by Joachim Coucke & Lasse Hieronymus

'Giantess' by Rose Dickson at Melanie Flood Projects, Portland

'Lieber Nackt Als Gefühlsleben' by David Ostrowski at JIR SANDEL, Copenhagen

'This Land is Your Land' by Andre Yvon at darkZone, New Jersey

'Eurodaemons' by Jess Mai Walker at ALMANAC INN, Turin

'MOUTHLESS Part I' by Dorota Gawęda and Eglė Kulbokaitė

'The Cave & The Garden', a Group Show at FUTURA, Prague

'I am sorry to inform you that things are other things now' by Ian Clewe at Malad

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