Taking its name from a title-statement by Dan Walsh, Waywords of Seeing considers the viewer’s gaze – in and out of the field of perception – through a prism of drifting words: the random mapping of places, the visual transcription of a sonic and electric realm, the archaeology of images and circumstances which have been reconstituted and transformed.
Waywords of Seeing creates negative space to be discovered through the “vehicles” conceived by Dan Walsh: they offer an investigation of the field of perception through the exploration of the distance separating the work of art and the viewer – creating in the process a multitude of points of view of and about the exhibition.
A multiplication of vision through different experiences repositions the body in relation to its image on scientific, psychological and narrative levels. Waywords of Seeing both questions and conditions the gaze via a succession of filters, ultimately forming exhibitions within the exhibition.
Curators Mathieu Copeland and Philippe Decrauzat in conversation with Xavier Franceschi:
XF: I’d been thinking for a long time about inviting an artist as part of the programme we’ve introduced at frac île-de-france, which consists in offering so-called “associate” curators a chance to develop projects over a two-year period. We’re doing it with you, Philippe. And in this context, we’ve established certain principles—one exhibition a year at Le Plateau, a series of events throughout the year, publications… And you’ve invited Mathieu Copeland—which I’m very pleased about—to join us in this project… Can the both of you tell us about the project that’s only just started at Le Plateau?
PhD – MC: Whenever we work together, we try to establish a certain number of “rules of play.” The first rule has to do with the title and the visuals associated with the different events and exhibitions. We invite an artist to produce a handwritten statement, which is typographically translated by the printer and printed on an old Heidelberg, and then freely distributed during the show. The statement becomes the title and the image of it rendered in lead type acts as the visual. The statements exist within the exhibition and are part of the creation of a whole, a collection whose coherence will be readable at the end of the programme.**
So, in more detail, what do these statements announce?
They punctuate the programme, creating chapters which make it possible to lay out the whole cycle through superimpositions and shifts. First of all there are the temporal and spatial interstices that take place once the previous exhibition has finished and been disassembled. Intervening in a “found” space for the writing of spatial inter-titles. The first of these programmes which took place last March, The Beating (From the Microtones) Is Beating Me Down (a statement by Phill Niblock) took as its point of departure a certain material quality of sound; next up, Beginning Again (a statement by Marcia Hafif), tries to create an environment based on a retrospective of Ben Van Meter’s films. And in June there’ll be the exhibition Waywords of Seeing, which takes its title from a statement by Dan Walsh.
So there’s just one cycle linking all the propositions—the events over these in-between-exhibitions periods, the exhibitions themselves, and so on—with certain pieces which could be shown in an initial phase—I’m thinking of the intervention of FM Einheit—and then reappear later. How do you define the cycle in question?
Like a publication we produced in 2011, titled “Partons de zero” (Let’s start from scratch), which we regarded as the catalogue of a forthcoming show. Compositions, borrowed from paintings, gave rise to blueprints to cut out and fragment, allowing a whole network of images, references, works and documents to enter into dialogue. Following this logic, we want to show different facets of a work and its evolution over time—and having started at the end…the catalogue is already there.
Waywords of Seeing—a whole programme!—will in effect be part and parcel of this logic of organizing the show led in particular by the works themselves. Can you give us one or two examples of works, which will feature in it? I’m thinking in particular of Dan Walsh’s intervention…
The discussion with Dan Walsh focused on a show he had in Amsterdam in 2011, titled Time Trials, and on the book he subsequently produced. “Set-ups” were deployed in the gallery space as filters to question and condition the gaze of the visitor. An endless duplication of perception by a multiplication of experiences, the body in its relation to the image at a scientific, psychological and narrative level. Based on that book, Dan Walsh has imagined arrangements for each space, like a musical score: a succession of filters forming a show within the show; a show like a prism that can be activated at any moment, and is superimposed on the works.
Beyond Dan Walsh, can you tell us what will bring all the artists in the exhibition together, some of whom—I’m thinking of the Boyle Family, Marcia Hafif, Steven Partridge, and so on— without being young unknown artists, will be exhibiting for the first time in Paris?
This is the result of an ongoing discussion, associations of ideas, a constant digression in order to avoid thematic effects! A desire, as well, to see certain practices and certain narratives meet. Like Steven Partridge’s video, an image of which we discovered on the cover of David Cunningham’s album Grey Scale (1976). It’s a radical album whose repetitive compositions incorporate the mistakes made by the players: “The players play a repeating phrase. As soon as one player makes a mistake, that mistake is made the basis of his repetition unless it is modified by a further mistake… In short…sustain your errors.”