TERMS AND CONDITIONS: A SONATA FOR TWO WOMEN
with Studio for Propositional Cinema (DE), ROBOT - John Miller and Takuji Kogo (USA/JPN), Am Schmidt (USA), Luzie Meyer (DE)
Curated by Amanda Schmitt (USA)
APRIL 06. -28., 2019
Photo: Jan Inge Haga
TERMS AND CONDITIONS: A SONATA FOR TWO WOMEN
Early last year I visited the preserved remains of Kurt Schwitters’ Merzhytte, or “merz hut”. It had been constructed in the years following his exile from Germany at the onset of World War II, situated on an island on the rural West coast of Norway (eventually being transported and reconstructed at the Henie Onstad Kunstsenter, where it remains on permanent view). For Schwitters, “to merz” was to abolish boundaries between artistic disciplines; between the meaningful and the banal, between art and life. Thinking of Schwitters, I was reminded of one of his most enigmatic works, the nonsensical sound poem Ursonate. Although composed roughly 100 years ago, it resonates today as an endlessly generative artwork; one which originates in the form of written alphabet, yet isn’t necessarily complete until spoken aloud, or verbalized, and therefore interpreted.
Having been invited to curate an exhibition at ProsjektromNormanns in Stavanger, I wanted to take the opportunity to depart from Schwitter’s Ursonate in an effort to establish the framework for a generative exhibition; one that would be adaptable to ulterior scenarios, immaterial (and thus incapable of fixed reconstruction), and one whose potentiality would remain palpable. Afterall, Schwitters’ Ursonate remains resonant and fresh today, while the Merzhytte is sad in its dilapidation. In this regard, I choose to look at Schwitters’ output as a set of procedures, not objects.
Following this line of thinking, I invited the Studio for Propositional Cinema to participate in the project, an entity recognized for its efforts to reconsider the formal, material, and temporal conditions of exhibition formats in the 21st century. They responded not with a poem, but a script, and its license. Titled, Cut with Some Pieces of Cinematography: A Sonata for Two Women, I have negotiated terms to license the script and distribute it amongst two artists —Luzie Meyer and Am Schmidt — and one collective, ROBOT (a collaborative project between artists John Miller and Takuji Kojo). Invited to respond to, react, and/or extrapolate the script according to their practice, the terms of this license allows for abolished boundaries between artistic disciplines. While typically a script is understood to be a direct, verbal manifestation of language (such as for example, within a play or a film), I — as curator — have prompted each artist to appeal to other senses, experimenting with forms of perception, command and translation.
Convergently, whilst a cantata is meant to be sung (and thus verbalized), a sonata is meant to be played. With Ursonate, the artist performing the poem must employ sound since the words have no meaning. With this script however, its English language has definition; the artists thus appeal both to audition and other senses (such as olfaction) in order to translate, adapt or even abolish the literal meaning.
Furthermore, the terms and conditions upon which this exhibition has been constructed, generates a scenario which bypasses my curatorial license, limiting my role to that of an administrator. By distributing this script as a catalyst for the creation of newly commissioned works, its use both abdicates and re-doubles my curatorial responsibilities. It is difficult to predict how the show will come together in April, as its terms and conditions paradoxically liberate the artworks' interpretation to chance.
Ironically (and much to my chagrin), to explain this licensing business, I had to resort to an authorial first person.
-Amanda Schmitt, February 2019
Studio for Propositional Cinema
Studio for Propositional Cinema was founded in 2013 in Düsseldorf. Through language, actions, sounds and images, through production, publication, exhibition, and fictions, they seek to reconfigure culture from a network of ideological formations into a dialogue of hypothetical gestures.
The work of Studio for Propositional Cinema has been featured in solo and group exhibitions at Kestner Gesellschaft, Hannover; Swiss Institute New York; Kunstverein Düsseldorf, Düsseldorf; Taylor Macklin, Zurich; Kunsthaus Bregenz, Bregenz; Tanya Leighton, Berlin; and mumok, Vienna, among others. Performances by and or with Studio for Propositional Cinema have been presented in recent years at LISTE Performance Project, Basel; Kunstsammlung NRW, Düsseldorf; Kunsthal Bergen, Bergen; and Index, Stockholm.
ROBOT is a an collaboration and virtual band established between artists John Miller and Takuji Kogo in 1998. Since then, ROBOT’S work has been exhibited in venues such as Neuer Berliner Kunstverein, Berlin; New Museum, New York; Kitakyushu Biennial, Aichi; among many others.
John Miller (b.1954, Cleveland, Ohio) is an artist, writer and musician living and works in New York and Berlin. Miller’s work includes painting, sculpture, installation, photography, video, music and writing. Along with Mike Kelley and Jim Shaw, Miller was part of an influential group of artists who studied at CalArts in the 1970s. In 2016, the Institute of Contemporary Art, Miami, presented the first major American survey of his work.
Takuji Kogo (b. 1965, Japan) is an artist and musician who lives and works in Fukuoka, Japan. He is the director of the Kitakyushu Biennial and founder of *CANDY FACTORY PROJECTS. Working mainly in digital and web-based media, he has produced a large body of works both as a solo artist and in various collaborative configurations.
Am Schmidt (b. 1986, New Brunswick, NJ) is an artist based in Brooklyn, NY. Her conceptual and performative practice speaks to notions of identity—and its slippages—and to the creative drive at large, often playing with modes of authorship and authenticity. Her work has been featured is recent exhibitions at Recess, New York; 321 Gallery, Brooklyn; MoMA, New York; ZAX, Queens; and Kimberly Klark, Queens, among others. She earned her BFA from Pratt Institute and holds an MFA from the Milton Avery Graduate School of the Arts, Bard College. She lives and works in Brooklyn, New York.
Luzie Meyer (b. 1990, Tübingen, Germany) is an artist based in Berlin. She was educated in fine arts at the Städelschule Frankfurt, as well as in philosophy at the Goethe University Frankfurt. Recent performances, videos and readings include the Montreal Biennale of Contemporary Art, National Gallery of Prague, Simultanhalle Cologne, Kunstverein Wiesbaden. She is part of Marq von Schlegell’s Pure Fyction Collective and was awarded a residency at the Cité des Arts, Paris in 2018.
Amanda Schmitt (curator)
Amanda Schmitt is an independent curator focusing on video, sound, performance and time-based media, with a core interest in analog technologies, and has curated over 40 exhibitions, video screenings and performance series since 2006. Schmitt has held director positions at New York galleries including Marlborough Chelsea, SIGNAL, The Hole, and Horton Gallery.
In recent years, Schmitt has held the role of the Director of Programming and Development for the Untitled Art fair in Miami Beach and San Francisco, overseeing Special Projects and Programming, as well as launching the innovative program, Untitled Radio and the Untitled Art Podcast, platforms which takes the place of the customary program of fair panels and replacing it with live and pre-recorded audio and musical performances, talks and interviews, curated playlists, readings, and experimental recordings. In January 2018, Schmitt debuted the fair's newest platform, Untitled, Cinema, partnering with the Bay Area’s most respected film and video archives and organizations.
In recent years, Schmitt has been curating independently with exhibitions at The Club, Tokyo; GRIN, Providence, RI; Daata-Editions.com; SIGNAL, Brooklyn, NY; The Suburban, Chicago, IL; Guest Projects, London; The Convent of Saint Cecilia, Brooklyn, NY; Esopus Space, New York, NY; among others. Schmitt also founded the experimental exhibition and events space, A Thin Place, in Berlin, which ran for a brief time in 2013. Schmitt is a current MOBIUS Fellow with the Finnish Cultural Institute of New York.