Many different models

with Tiong Ang

If one is given the certain space and context for exhibition the idea of being independent from the architecture and content can also exist.  So it becomes possible to create a presentational model that will be independent from the walls of the space… Ultrecht Graduate School of Visual Art and Design presented the work by the name Pavilion of the Distance – using the word distance instead of one particular name of the country or any kind of representational model. Since 2005 the one year program of this school is attended by the students from different countries including Iran, Afghanistan, Canada and etc… Each of them brings their own to the studding process and one of the main ideas  when preparing for participation on the First Tbilisi Triennial  was to give possibilities to the current and former students of continuing the collaboration beyond the art school. Tion Ang, the main tutor at Mahku talks about the project

Tiong Ang: Since I have this lecturer position at MaHKU, I’ve encountered many young artists from over the world. Because the program duration is just twelve months, people come and go. Of course we remember all of them… but I always wanted to set up a kind of program that could give the possibilities of continuing working beyond the art school. Thankfully, to the invitation from Tbilisi Triennial curators I decided to enter my experience with the practice of young people. When you exhibit on triennial or biennial the idea of the national representation always exists. (Especially at the Venice Biennial which is a sort of the World Cup.) And everyone is surrounded by this context: Dutch pavilion, German pavilion, British pavilion. Thus we set up this collaborative platform “The Pavilion of Distance” which contains this representational dilemma. And at the same time I wanted to make a statement that if you are given the certain space, and context there can be also an idea of being independent from that architecture and content. So I wanted to make a presentational model that would be portable and mobile that could be easily trap in by car and actually it wouldn’t have an architecture standing for itself, independent from the given walls of the space. And the Pavilion of the Distance and of course the word distance is used instead of one particular name of the country or any kind of representational model. Right the distance with which you feel the gaps between subjective perspectives is maybe the key of the education that one can be offered at MaHKU. Each year we have a lucky situation, as people arrive from many countries. It has different reasons one of may be the short term of the study. Besides, there are mainly specific kind of students or artists interested to do it for just one year, because then they can have funding and it’s eversible…Some are already art teachers in Ghana, Indonesia or other places and they manage to find funding for leaving the country for a year. It’s not so much about art practice in general but it’s also really about what kind of educational model can be suggested at Mahku and what can they learn combined with young Ba artists from other situations…

CaucasusArtMag: The members of team presented on triennial are also from different countries… Did they know each other?

T. A.: More or less. The people who were in the same year did know each other. But they didn’t have the long term collaboration before… We also tried to minimize the distance between the faculty and the students. But that’s very difficult because you have to give up certain kind of your practice and it needs proper model with finding right people as well. It’s not about the system anymore. It’s about people. Because we are very small it constructs those special things of built relations which are very individual, very subjective, and singular.

CAM: Today when watching the film, woman entered the hall and asked why did those installations have the sand clock shapes? We had a talk with Natalia (Natalia Calderon – co-author of the Pavilion of the Distance) before and she explained the figures were representing the co-authors of the work and…

T. A.: That’s interesting I’ve never designed or perceived it as a clock. Yes, actually there are certain elements in the shape coming from different directions. I was drawing models, just to avoid straight walls. But how to make the structure of connectivity without straight walls, still being really present in space… I was stroked by two examples – Barnet Newman Broken Obelisk and the Endless Column by Brancusi. I am not much of a sculptor, neither architect but I was looking for examples, how to make the model of these representations of the human figure. The human presence is there.

CAM: To move farther, how much challenging did you find translating the educational process into visual language?

T. A.: We tried to insert many different models of the collaboration. First set up was to choose the participants. That wasn’t so difficult for me. I was thinking how many participants were to be involved there. From the beginning maybe five, six… and we stopped at eight. Eight is usually perfect number for Master’s year. To get beyond the education in every artistic practice, to question the matter of authorship, absolute authorship and ask how the ego is connected with the idea of art authorship in making a work. Because I can find it almost only in discourse, but I don’t like it. I want to produce.

CAM: Back to starting point, why did you use Greek Tragedy?

T. A.: Two from the chosen participants are from Greece. And they brought very specific passion or specific perspective that year. Now one lives in Thessaloniki and another in Amsterdam. And of course during the practice they brought special stories from their home towns. The atmosphere in Greece has radically changed to social turmoil. And it’s Greek tragedy, because people kill themselves. Everything is just demolished there.  They also talk a lot about this historical weight of the traditions of the antique Greece which were never solved by the artists or intellectuals in Greece. In modern and contemporary Greece, there always appears this battle, this distance against the antique Greek culture. So they brought a lot of information and I think this was much more proper than what I read in newspaper. The tragedy was for sure reduced to the word play but it was also tragedy what was going on. To ask them for more information than for the Pavilion of Distance it’s a distinct subject matter for everyone who has never been in Greece. Greece is maybe like Georgia now. It’s tourists’ place, it’s an antique place but for other things it’s neglected and it’s a black sheep of economic crisis.

CAM: Is it a model also?

T. A.: It’s interesting polarization how to look at contemporary in the context of antique. And had some more sessions for talking about what to do, after we came across the story of Medea who was from Georgia and chose it. We also researched and learnt a lot of interesting information. The most important in this case was probably the film by Pasolini. We wanted to shoot a film from the very beginning which could be the main component of the group exhibition in the mobile platform. Than we tried to think on how the constructed dialogue between Pasolini and currently existing economic crisis, could be represented in one film. I asked everyone to make something what would be an independent art peace in the traditional terms of the word but also could really function within the film making. So everyone had to design personal specific thing within the own individual practice. That’s how the films in general are done. Every film needs a lot of contribution and I like the idea very much that you need a lot of people. That’s the way I love making film, because each time it represents much better how network of people functions together.