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BELIEF  - Audiovisual installation  

25 June 2020 (Smash Palace, Christchurch)

We have been living in our gallery for over 5 months now (without considering Covid-19) and never believed in the possibilities outside the realm of the truck. That’s probably why we admire artists so much and eventually why we invite them to display their ingenuity into our tiny gallery space. Artists have a strange gift for noticing the unusual and transforming those hidden anomalies into moments of reflection and aesthetic stimulation. Therefore it is a great honor to (retrospectively) write about a cold/rainy winter night where two artists, Tjalling De Vries and Luke Shaw, transformed our gallery into an audiovisual installation aka self-referencing soundbox interrogating itself with the murmur of the environment. Amazingly it was the first time in our exhibition history that people were not allowed to enter the space. A magician doesn’t share his tricks either. 

Extraordinary about the artistic endeavor was that both artists were in a sense spectators of their own exhibition initiating a performance by non-performers. The artists programmed an installation compiled of micros capturing the vibrations of the different places related to the cult bar Smash Palace which were subsequently transformed into abstract, minimal sounds coming out of a closed of truck. This noise was accompanied by a digital “diptych”  projection on the outside of the window mingling representative video work (Tjalling recording a “ flat" train ride in the Netherlands) with the tapping into (and abstracting) that same projection with a security camera. Marvelous to see how those Christchurch based artists combined elements of audio with visuals and the in-situ architecture, creating a multi sensory experience for the viewer and blurrying boundaries between artistic disciplines. The installation created a special, almost intrusive,  interaction with the public. Therefore the installation can be accused of voyeurism because it unknowingly registered what was happening around and unveiled artists interest in spoiling and documenting moments where old-school technology (let’s say start of surveillance) intercedes in the everyday, even stronger fosters an aesthetic relationship with today. 

This ephemeral audiovisual feast not only combines banal digital imaging with old-school fetched erratic sounds but it manifests in all sincerity that each constructed machine contains a concept of accident.  In my eyes, it shows the harmless nature of older technology versus the invisible machines that await us and the dialogue between those two it is as if artists are trying to destroy any boundary between art and life.  Tjalling and Luke managed to subtly interweave the mental and physical space. This overlap or accidental encounter marked the vibrancy of the space, time, bodies, machines and architectures that make up our art gallery and perhaps contributes a critical added-value to an aesthetic/ art movement flourished from the late 60’s onwards. 

The most beautiful aspect of the art shown on a cold Thursday night is that artists believed that we can still embark on making art without having a conception of the eventual end. The process of creation and not the finished product is important. In this profit-driven art market were an “artist” is guided what could be sold, this is very rare and admirable given the circumstances (cocococvid). So if we added it all up, Tjalling and Luke’s Happening reincarnated dadaist and Fluxus feelings. They went against all norms of traditional art production and introduced accident as a way to challenge artistic norms and question the role of the artist in the artistic process. In essence, the evening was not perfect but we do know it fitted perfect with our conception of exhibitions and art and therefore we salute them. 

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