Failed Exhibition [may 2014]

A failed exhibition

            Yesterday we wanted to attend a little art show on the outskirts of Lucerne. Just up the hill from Sääli. My partner was going to write a little piece on it for the local magazine on culture. The theme of the exhibition is urban-farming something-something. We didn‘t, beforehand, invest the maximum amount of effort in finding out about this exhibtion. The idea being to go there with a minimum of preconceptions so as to ask maximally naive [or unconstrained] question that would give the questions&answers a refreshing aspect. Cognitively refreshing. We hadn‘t bothered, either, to consult the omniscient internet on the whereabouts of this exhibtion. So instead we asked the smartphone‘s gps, which helped us a little. Abstract space, space reduced to its relational [and two-dimensional] components has been demystified so we always know [or can know] within a few taps and strokes where we are on the planet‘s grid. But living space is always an irreducible surprise or fullness [you might know the place from memory].

            After a little while, we did find the exhibition‘s venue. It couldv‘e hardly been more disappointing. There was an almost empty bungalow. On the other side was a grassy backyard/glade where a few middle-aged women were firing up a grill and setting up chairs and banks. It was eventually communicated that we were two hours early. There was not banter so much as a goodwilled yet slightly annoyed exchange of information. One of the women eventually cheerily said that we could look at the works anyway, compensation for having lugged our bodies all the way up the hill. I looked around in search of art, more precisely, ecological or land art. The light forest adjoining the backyard showed no signs of human interference. The rooms of the bungalow had seemed abandoned. What the…? Where the…? My partner was underwhelmed and a bit pissed by her misreading of the website‘s info. There is information, endless info and so sometimes, little wonder, our filters go on the fritz. I kept looking left and right: Where…? One of the women read my comical gestures and said: „Right over there. The fertilizer cart!“ The cart?!, I thought. I had feared that this lumbering 2–wheeler was going to be part of the exhibition and my mood immediately sank another notch.

            We walked over there. Across the grass, splashed in Saturday sunshine. It was a beautiful day you know, lots of things to potentially do. The cart‘s back hatch was open to allow a view of the cylindrical interior. The lower 1/4th of the tank was covered in hardwood flooring the intention of which seemed to be to mimic the floor of a regular white-cube exhibtion. The decadent [?] art world in…get on the bus to the station, take the train from there to Zurich, get off and take the streetcar XY, get off at a stop near an expensive gallery, walk on into it… that! All the way near the front of the tank [where it attaches to the tractor] where there is a circular opening on top, a hole filled by a pot was let into the floor. From the pot rose a plant to meet the sunlit opening above. Along the length of tank-internal hardwood floor were placed, incongruously, a walking stick and a neatly folded military-issue blanket. One thought came to me: conceptually confused. One example [though even that is too much brain capacity expended]: a huge fertilizer cart used for industrial farming has preciously little to do with urban farming. One more: where does the military blanket fit within this symbolic matrix?

            We walked back out of the sunshine into the… not bungalow then… barracks. In search of compensation, something to off-set the weight of disappointment. Instead, we were greeted by more minimalism. The first room contained a network of skinny iron tubing resembling, vaguely, a skeleton of giant bird‘s wing, suspended in the middle of the room. It looked like something it took a maximum of three hours to solder together. Work hours seeming the only reasonable means of accounting for this tosh. I should really use the word sh%t.

            The second room contained a huge, cut up shell hewn from marble [or certainly stone]. Could‘ve been based on a Lobatus gigas but I‘ll admit my conchological expertise is whatever a few clicks of wiki will yield. In that same room were three wooden, sterile, bee-less hives standing atop their wooden cargo crates. The hives looked like they were perhaps stylized versions of actual hives, no way of telling. It signified absolutely nothing. A random juxtaposition of apiary and conch sculpture? Urban gardening? Landscape art?

            Even in mediocre exhibition there is usually a minimal up-tick in one‘s inner state of being due to the sublime or the experience of solid craftsmanship. Here I felt nothing of the like. Maybe if we could‘ve talked to [confronted] the responsible artist who was scheduled to show up 90 minutes hence. My partner, as if making an unsubtle comment, left for the lavatory. I tried to figure out how to spend the remainder of the day‘s hours without being yet again horrendously inefficient. She came back, fatigued as hell and we lit out. We lit the hell out.


Don Q & origins

            About the origins of the novel Woods writes: „If all of modern fiction comes out of the knight‘s cape, then one reason might be that Cervante‘s novel contains all major comic tropes, from the farcical to the delicately ironic, the trivial to the splendid“. Yes, agreed. But it also contains exquisite, often equally comical, intertextual references to works of its time, betraying an acute awareness of not only what fictional shoulders it stands on but also, more importantly I would say, an ironic distance from the idealization of that very chivalric age. It seemed to me in reading that, again and again, Cervantes was saying „Come on lads, let‘s not fool ourselves about this alleged Golden Age of Knighthood. It was a comedy of chauvinisms. To take it serious you‘d have to go well-nigh mad…as certain Hidalgos most certainly do.

            And, also, he entertainingly showed the thousand faces of human hypocrisy. The impression is that this was a daring feat for his time and, the even more overwhelming impression is/was that the narrative on Don Q. & SanPan contained virtually every element of the modern, as well as postmodern novel. Indeed, San Pan himself, according to Woods, can be read as a stand in for the reader: „Yet Sancho Panza remains, lives on. And who is Sancho? Earlier in the book, DQ says of Sancho, admiringly, that ,he doubts everything and he believes everything.‘ Isn‘t this a fine descriptiion of the reader of this novel?

            But this fails to capture the playful back and forth that unfolds across four centuries in time between Cervantes and ourselves, the readers: „Unfortunately, at this very point, the author of this history leaves the battle pending, excusing himself by saying that he could find nothing more written concerning the exploits of Don Quixote, that than that which has already been recounted“. Of course, in a work of fiction there can be nothing more important than the imaginary historical record!


Piece of cake economics           

            The thing about buying a piece of cake [carrot or whatever type you delect] is that you have to take them with because otherwise, at a later point along the temporal axis, the eating of it becomes extremely difficult if not outright impossible. You and the piece of cake are, though still existing at the same moment and once bound to become the same entity [molecules of the cake could become molecules of that day‘s highest yield cognitive process], at disparate points in time. Your attention somehow was misdirected at a crucial moment when you should have been focused on maintaining the appropriate proximity between your own body [especially the mouth] and the cake but having paid the thing‘s exchange value you walked away from the transaction without consuming it. A consumer who doesn‘t consume – what a bad consumer you are! [Do you even care about the multiplier effect?!] Though, technically, you have already paid for its production– and material cost and so the seller could just sell the piece of cake again [to a more attentive customer] and double the profit or…if that is too time-consuming [unwrapping the piece again and placing it back among the other pieces] he or she could throw it out without loss. Or give it away as a free piece of cake [advertising!]. Even with you as a bad consumer the economy would chug on as though nothing happened. Unless of course the foul mood which the flubbed exchange has caused you would affect your morning‘s productivity negatively. So negatively that the loss would be in excess of the cost of the cake. The incomplete micro-economics of a forgotten piece of cake.

            What I will do is to go back there, tonight or next week, tell them about my earlier lapse of consumerly attention and kindly ask them for a piece of cake free of charge. Just so as to gauge, subjectively and randomized, the amount of goodwill present in the world. It will be a totally uneconomic request so I expect nothing good to come of it.





About tmabona

writer, reader [bolano, DW, bellow, deLillo], runner, badmintoneer
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