Matthew Burbidge & Jaro Straub's exhibition at Komplot
With video screening program:
On August 15th: La Commune by Peter Watkins
On August 30th: Kosten Koper
With Graffitis by Cabriolet, Recto and Pica Pica
With Complete Communion Celebration, Jaro Straub (*D 1973) and Matthew Burbidge (* GB 1970) present a video installation based on an eight-hour performance during which the artists juxtaposed improvised guitar sounds and voices with passages from Guy Debord’s autobiographical book Panegyric- for an absent public, under a bridge, by a river, in Berlin.
On the night of the exhibition, the performance is presented as two distinctly filmed parts, which are projected simultaneously on either side of a monumental screen: in one part the artists are performing in a seemingly interior space; in the other the sun is setting over a landscape, which rapidly becomes obscured in darkness. The double-sided screen is incorporated into a 1.50m high wall, which bisects the space along its entire width. The installation functions as a barricade, which the public must scale in order to view the performative part of the video.
Matthew Burbidge and Jaro Straub invited Brussels-based artists Recto, Cabriolet and Pica Pica to transform the white walls of the stage-like-screen with their signature graffiti tags. The exhibition aims at a communal experience. Complete Communion Celebration asks for active participation in creating a conscious social alternative to the spectacle.
If the artists take Guy Debord’s later work Panegyric as a base, it is to reveal more about his position as an ‘author’, understood as an individual within the Society of the Spectacle. In a poster-collage presented at the exhibition, this question of the individual’s relation to the spectacle is reactivated, demonstrating the auto-disciplinary dimension that the spectator generates, from the moment where they wish to be conquered by the imaginary to the detriment of the real. Images of the police, positioned within the collage as spectators themselves- act as an allegory to this question of power.
By a formal operation, the artists distinguish between the collective and the ideological dimensions of the spectacle. In other words, using Debord against Debord allows art the possibility to reclaim its immediate force in the space of public representation through the use of music, posters, alcohol, graffiti, The Garage, sculpture and video.
The Ministry of Culture of French Community of Belgium
As I said in answer one, I think that tags on the concert side of the screen could be good- this patheticism could reflect the patheticism of Debord and the IS: romantic failure couched in tough guy language, cold theory. The tags are like Debord's painful shout of impotence, his ejaculated sperm sliding down the sides of bourgeois mansions. The architecture.
It always looks good (it has become so familiar- I particularly think of Stockholm in this way) when grand old bourgeois buildings are covered with tags up to a certain point. It's a high tidemark of frustration, and the black lines resemble seaweed stranded on white chalk.
Let's talk up the failure of the Commune, that's a great thought, Sonia. The screen is Haussman, the film is Debord's feeling Haussmann's arrogance a century later.
Haussmannisation, that is "the creative destruction of something for the betterment of society"---yeah! Like the Baron's greater good. The centre of Paris is beautiful, but it is a dead thing, paralysed by its arteries. They are not clogged with traffic, but with piles of assasinated hopes, original ideas stifled by mass commodification- the well-dressed burghers participate in their own pacification, in the destruction of their creative potential.
As far as Brussels goes, compared to Paris, we should look again at WG Sebald, Jaro. His thoughts on the dark history of Brussels' municipal buildings is relevant here. Particularly to our postering project.
Thank you Sonia, for your willingness to get people together to put up the posters. CCC will be a great act of detourning detournement. We won't set fire to cars in the rue Jourdan. Too cliched, too boring, but also because we are more petit-bourgeois than revolutionaires. We re-create and re-present. Like natural science museum curators with their bones and skin and creepy crawlies.
We don't make theatre either. We re-imagine a moment of theatre, and it turns out to be not even a moment. All that is left is the monument, the screen, le grand moule.
The ruins of society.
Perhaps we should transport the screen after use to a forest, and let the grass grow over it. The way that cities are reclaimed by the jungle. That could be the best outcome of all, and would also fit Jaro and my recent forays into entropy in art.
YES, THAT'S IT! Let's dump it in the forest the day after. A video documentation of the transport, and photos over the winter to see how it is doing. Then I can make regular trips to see you and eat the moules.
Sonia, yes, please, what a wonderful coincidence that you interview MB's widow. Please ask her about IS, Debord, Paris, Belgium, the Congo, MB's drinking habits, MB's sexual habits. Are you going to video the interview? Or record it in anyway? When is it again?
It's really the best coincidence
Let's make, breakers!
Mangez les moules
ABSTRACTS FROM 'PANEGYRIQUE' BY GUY DEBORD SAID LOUD BY THE ARTISTS IN THE VIDEO THAT WILL BE PLAYED IN KOMPLOT ON AUGUST 30TH, BRUSSELS. /
EXTRAITS DE 'PANEGYRIQUE' DE GUY DEBORD : BANDE-SON DE LA VIDEO QUI SERA JOUEE PENDANT 8 HEURES LE 30 AOUT A KOMPLOT, BRUXELLES.
First, like everyone, i appreciated the effect of slight drunkenness; then very soon i grew to like what lies beyond violent drunkenness, when one has passed that stage: a magnificent and terrible peace, the true taste of the passage of time. Although in the first decades i may have allowed only slight indications to appear only once or twice a week, it is a fact that i have been continuously drunk for periods of several months; and the rest of the timme, i still drank a lot. M>B
An air of disorder in the grear variety of emptied bottles nevertheless remains susceptible to an a posteriori classification. First, i can distinguish between the drinks i consumed in their countries of origin and those i consumed in Paris; but almost everything there was to drink was to be had in Paris in the middle of the century. Everywhere , the premises can be subdivided simply between what i drank at home, or at friends, or in cafes, cellars, bars, restaurants, or in the streets, notably on cafe terraces. The hours and their shifting conditions almost always retain a determining role in the necessary renewal of the moments of a spree, THATS THE RIVER and each brings its sensible preference to bear on the available possibilities. There is what is drunk in the mornings , and for a long while that was beer. In Cannery Row a character who one could tell was a connoisseur professes that there's nothing like that first taste of beer. But i have often needed, at the moment of waking, Russian Vodka. J>S
I even stayed in an inaccessible house surrounded by woods, far from any village, in an extremely sterile, exhausted mountainous region, deep in a deserted Auvergne. I spent several winters there. Snow fell for days on end. The wind piled it up in drifts. Barriers kept it off the road. Despite the exterior walls, snow accumulated in the courtyard. Logs burned in the fireplace. The house seemed to open directly on to the Milky Way. At night the nearby stars would shine brilliantly one moment, and the next be extinguished by the passing mist. And so too our conversations and our celebrations , our meetings and our tenacious passions. It was a land of storms. They would approach noiselessly at first, announced by the brief passage of a wind that slithered through the grass or by a series of sudden flashes on the horizon; then thunder and lightning were unleashed , and we were bombarded for a long while and from every direction, as if in a fortress under siege. Just once, at night, i saw lightning strike near me outside: you could not even see what it had struck; the whole landscape was equally illuminated for one startling instant. Nothing in art has seemed to give me this impression of an irrevocable brilliance, except for the prose of Lautreamont employed in the programmatic exposition that he called Poesies. But nothing else: neither Mallarme's blank page , nor Malevichs white square on a white background, nor even Goya's last pictures, where black takes over everything, like Saturn devouring his children. Violent winds, which at any moment could rise from one of the three directions, shook the trees. Those on the moors to the north, more dispersed, bent and shook like ships surprised at anchor in an unprotected harbour. The compactly grouped trees that guarded the hill in the front of the house supported one another in their resistance, the first rank breaking the west wind's relentless assault. Farther off, the line of the woods disposed in squares, over the whole half-circle of the hills, evoked the troops arranged in a chessboard pattern in certain eighteenth century battle scenes. J>S
I have wandered extensively in several great European cities, and i appreciated everything that deserved it. The catalogue on this subject could be vast. There were the beers of England, where mild and bitter were mixed in pints; the big schooners of Munich; and the Irish; and the most classical, the Czech beer of Pilsen; and the admirable baroquism of the Gueuze around Brussles, when it had its distinct flavour in each artisanal brasserie and did not travel well. There were the fruit liqueurs of Alsace; the rum of Jamaica; the punches, the aquavit of Aalborg, and the grappa of Turin, cognac, cocktails; the incomparable mezcal of Mexico. There were all the wines of France, the loveliest coming from Burgundy; there were the wines of Italy, and especially the Barolos of Langhe, the Chiantis of Tuscany; there were the wines of Spain, the Riojas of Old Castille or the Jumilla of Murcia. I would have had very few illnesses if acohol had not in the end brought me some: from insomnia to vertigo, by way of gout."Beautiful as the trembling of the hands in alcoholism", said Lautreamont. There are mornings that are stirring but difficult. "It is better to hide one's folly, but that is difficult in debauchery or drunkenness" thought Heraclitus. And yet Machiavelli wrote to Francesco Vettori:"Anybody reading out letters.... would think that sometimes we are serious people entirely devoted to great things, that our hearts cannot conceive any thought that is not honourable and grand. But then, as they turned the page, we would seem light, inconstant, lustful, entirely devoted to vanities. And even if someone judges this way of life shameful, i find it praiseworthy, for we imitate nature, which is changeable." Vauvenargues fromulated a rule too often forgotten: "In order to decide that an author contradicts himself, it must be impossible to conciliate him." M>B
My sort of mind leads me at first to be amazed at this, but it must be recognized that many of life's experiences only verify and illustrate the most conventional ideas, which one may have already encountered in numerous books, but without believing them. Recalling what one has experienced oneself, it is not necessary to inquire into every detail of the observation never made, or the astonishing paradox. Thus i owe it to the truth to note, following others, that the English police seemed the most suspicious and the most polite, the French police the most dangerously trained in historical interpretation, the Italian police the most cynical, the Belgian police the most rustic, the German police the most arrogant, while it was the Spanish police who proved themselves the least rational and the most incapable. J>S
A combination of circumstances has marked almost everything i have done with a certain conspiratorial allure. In this very era, many new professions have been created at great cost with the sole end of showing what beauty society had recently been able to achieve, and how it reasoned soundly in all its discourse and all its plans. Whereas i, without any salary, provided the example of completely opposite schemes; this has inevitably been badly received. It has also led me to meet, in several countries, people who were rightly considered lost. The police watch them. The specialized thought which can be viewed as the police form of knowledge, express itself with reference to me in 1984 in the Journal du Dimanche of 18 March: "For many police officers, whether they belong to the crime squad, the DST, or the Renseignements Generaux, the most serious trail leads to the Entourage of G.D.... The least that can be said is that, faithful to his legend, G.D. has hardly proved talkative." Even earlier, in the Nouvel Observateur of 22 May 1972: "The author of The Society of the Spectacle has always appeared as the discreet but indisputable head.... at the center of the changing constellations of brilliant conspirators of the S.I., a kind of cold chess player, rigorously leading.....the game whose every move he has foreseen. Surrounding himself with people of talent and goodwill, while keeping the authority veiled. Then breaking with them with the same nonchalant virtuosity, manoeuvring his acolytes like naive pawns, clearing the chessboard move after move, finally emerging as the sole master, and always dominating the game."
Complete Communion Celebration
Matthew Burbidge & Jaro Straub
Avec des graffitis de Recto, Cabriolet et Pica Pica
Exposition et vernissage, le 30 août, à 18 heures
Komplot, 30, rue Jourdan, 1060 Bruxelles
Avec Complete Communion Celebration, Jaro Straub (D, °1973) et Matthew Burbidge (GB, °1970) présentent une installation vidéo basée sur une performance de huit heures, durant laquelle ils jouent de la guitare et chantent des textes de Guy Debord issus de Panégyrique devant un public absent, sous un pont, au bord d’une rivière, à Berlin.
Dans l’exposition, cette performance est scindée puis projetée en deux éléments distincts, d’un côté les artistes jouant dans un espace donnant l’impression de se trouver dans un intérieur, de l’autre un coucher de soleil sur un paysage s’obscurcissant très rapidement.
L’installation reproduit ce rapport intérieur/extérieur du lieu de tournage par l’édification d’un mur que le public aura à enjamber pour pouvoir regarder la partie plus performative de la vidéo. Le projet consiste à révéler l'architecture du lieu comme un espace de représentation scénique, l'usage de la vidéo venant différer l'instant de la mise en spectacle tout autant qu’à créer un espace social.
Même si les artistes se sont appuyés sur les écrits tardifs de Guy Debord qui révèlent davantage sa position d’auteur, entendu au sens d’individu, de « la société du spectacle », notamment dans une des œuvres papier présentées dans l’exposition, ils tentent malgré tout de réactiver la question posée relativement au spectacle à savoir celle de démontrer la dimension auto disciplinaire que le spectateur génère à partir du moment où celui-ci souhaite être conquis par l'imaginaire au détriment du réel. Ce questionnement est rendu visible par l’usage de l'image de la police qui n'agit ici que comme rapport allégorique à cette question du pouvoir.
Pour autant, Matthew Burbidge et Jaro Straub proposent un dispositif dans lequel la fantaisie et l'absurde viennent contrebalancer l’élan vers lequel l'art se trouve fréquemment précipité, celui de faire langage, soit se trouver aussitôt identifié, afin d’être tantôt avalisé tantôt réifié comme objet de politique.
Par une opération formelle, ils tentent de distinguer à partir du spectacle sa dimension collective, soit implicitement sociale, de sa dimension idéologique. Autrement dit : utiliser Debord contre Debord, afin de laisser à l’art la possibilité de réinvestir l'espace de la représentation publique comme vecteur en première instance de relation au monde.
Le postulat des artistes est de dire que si l'art est politique, il n’agit en pratique qu'au niveau de l'imaginaire, et donc certainement pas dans une pratique militante ou par une utilisation explicite d’un fait politique en particulier.
De là l’évocation des formes culturelles collectives comme la musique, les posters, la boisson, le garage, les voitures, les graffitis, la sculpture ou la vidéo comme un ensemble pour lequel il n'y aurait encore pas de territoires de connaissances suffisamment déterminés pour en constituer un savoir.