Dear visitor,

The conversation below is an exchange between two people who until recently were not aware of each other’s practices. Both Jeroen Boomgaard and Yane Calovski were invited to contribute to the symposium. Knowing their work and domains of interest we thought that an animating discussion could occur. So we asked them if they would be willing to try to start a dialogue. During our Skype talk, Jeroen said: “Let’s try and see how far we can get for now.” The phrasing of Jeroen and Yane's email exchange is preserved in order to maintain the immediate texture of an improvised email exchange.



30.4.2020: 17.14

Hi Yane

in reaction to your very interesting projects i have a few kick-off questions:

your starting point is a loss of collective history as you call it and the tactics (in the sense of De Certeau) of fragmentation, discontinuity, and contingency (f/d/c after this) you use to awaken this history, to give it a new physical and political reality in and through public space.

My question regards the nature of collective history, archives, and public space. In my view collective history only functions as a vague ideal or a slogan, because experience is never collective at all: it usually is a history of inequality, difference, pain, and struggle. And it is in that sense of course that it has to be saved or remembered. I suppose that is also your starting point. But as such this collective history already ‘suffers’ or ‘relies on’ the f/d/c you put into play. And the same goes in a certain way for the archive and public space. I am of course oversimplifying, but archives and public spaces are, in spite of all the efforts to control them, make them accessible and surveyable, filled with f/d/c.

In that sense your tactics connect to the nature of your material and your scene. But in your text I miss the step from the studio/exhibition space/museum to the public space where this material and these tactics would take their full effect. And that is problematic to me because exhibition spaces and museums are par excellence the places that create continuity, coherence and causality (c/c/c). Things become real and political there, but in an opposite sense, even though people like Charles [Esche --Ed.] try to change that. From the very first moment the museums have been the places where a unifying past was constructed to suggest a united future, and what is the role of the curator if it is not a hopeless fight against the powers of f/d/c?

Maybe i completely misunderstood your project, so please excuse me in advance. But I hope this starts our conversation.

And there is also a lot of Passagen/Benjamin in it that i would like to discuss, but that can wait (maybe forever)

my very best wishes

Jeroen


4.5.2020: 12.15

Dear Jeroen,

Thanks for the questions and observation, I really appreciate it. Sorry, I have had a couple of emergencies this weekend and did not manage to reply.

You are right, “the step from the studio/exhibition space/museum to the public space where this material and these tactics would take their full effect” is not described in the text (which has been shortened for the book) but that does not mean it is not planned. I have activated this project exactly for that reason – to make sure that the public is aware and is invited to participate. But you are right in the sense that a clear path is not traced in the text. Let me explain and maybe that will help.

The way I wanted to situate the project is within public institutions such as the State Archive of the Republic of N. Macedonia and the Museum of the City of Skopje that actually service the public and have some starting material that corresponds to the material I have collected. For me it is very important that I initiate this dialogue with the institutional channels as one of my main criticisms is directed towards institution neglect.

The fact that we do not have a public institution that takes care of the architectural heritage of Skopje further complicates the matter. I am also now starting a dialogue with the Architecture Faculty to see if they will be interested.

The first public act was the actual physical cleanup of the space. I did this via Press to Exit Project Space and calling on the institutions (State Archive and Museum of the City of Skopje as well as the Association of Architects) and the current owners of the property of the Institute to contribute in the process. For me it is the most critical issue: that we all faced the situation and acted upon it. Following the clean-up came the depositing of the material at the State Archive where now it is in the process of becoming a “study collection” accessible to the public and scholars. We hope to finish the administrative part of the project by the end of 2020. I am currently in the process of making a site for the project which will make the entire material and the narrative of it accessible to the public. I am currently also editing the material also for a book.

Accessibility to the data and to the action was also at the forefront of the symposium we curated for the program in the Cultural Domain project in May 2019. The entire thing is public all the time and the input of the institutions I have engaged with is traced all the time. The way I see this project unfolding is manifold and the way I activate the public is both strategic and purposeful. I feel sometimes that I am using exhibition in all known devices and opportunities to register the project and communicate the project with the public.

Exhibiting installations inspired by it and using some of the material that is not going to be archived by either the State or the Museum is composed of material which due to chemical contamination or other damage or simply by being a copy it is not possible to archive otherwise. Keeping the project active and in circulation also helps the discussion.

So, I negotiated with the State Archive and signed a memorandum so we can develop a study collection that will be available to the general audience upon appointment as they function in that way. They will be able to take some of the rare documents that are being found (there are handwritten reports, photographs, publications, maps, drawings, etc.). I have also an agreement that they will support my research with other non-financial means and give me access to other collections of theirs that could relate to this work and will lead to also editing artistic-research publications.

The Museum of the City of Skopje collects 3-dimensional objects and I’m working on securing that sort of material for the collection. The museum is a city-run institution, as was the Institute of Architecture, and it makes sense to link the two. However, the Museum is undergoing renovations and has been challenged both financially and in a spatial capacity, so the communication and organization of the collaboration goes a bit slower than desired but it is active nonetheless. The material that will form a collection for them will be ‘exhibition’ items.

Furthermore, I want to make a digital archive of the material that will be curated with help of experts. The site is in development now based on the Metabolic principle of design and I can tell you more about it in the next email.

Again, thanks for the question. I will get right to it in terms of the project being actually situated in the public realm. One thing that I wanted to activate is the public institutions, I did not mean the Museum of Contemporary Art but rather the State Archive and the Museum of the City of Skopje. You are right, in this portfolio especially this link is missing.

Hope this answers some of the questions, for me it is all about the pragmatics now.

Best regards and thanks for your patience,

Yane


4.5.2020: 15.16

Hi Yane

Thank you so much for your mail; it provides a lot of background I was not aware of. And I certainly look forward to hearing more about your Metabolic principle.

But of course I have some new questions. You make very clear how your main effort goes into saving and opening this rare archive, and making a point about the way it has not been taken care of. And I understand that a lot of what you do is very pragmatic. But I think there is an art(istic) side to it, and that is what I would also like to discuss. Because I can see and understand the activist and the archivist at work in the project, but where is the artist? it is comparable to the feeling that I often get in reaction to artistic research results: yes, i can see the research, but where and when is the art?

In your project however I can see the art in the way you present the archival material but also in the place/context you present it. I find the way you turn the archival leftover into ‘art objects’ and shift the archive to the art institution very fascinating. In line with but also in contrast with my previous mail I find that a very promising tactic because it disturbs/crosses existing categories. As you know objects in exhibitions/museums have an existence either as monuments or as documents (Benjamin again) and almost never both at the same time. What you do seems to open up a field of uncertainty in this regard that can be very effective in publicly opening up the archive. Although my argument that the museum/exhibition cannot really be called public space still stands, I can see that your operation at least tries to open up another public (as space and as audience). And by doing this opens up another way of seeing and appropriating the archive on Skopje’s modernist history. But how exactly this works for you, what your tactics are, i would like to hear more about. of course: most of our decisions are pragmatic, but at the same time they are not.

i think this brings us back to your Metabolic principle, and i look forward to your reply.

good luck with all the daily troubles
best wishes

Jeroen


4.5.2020: 20.54

Dear Jeroen,

It may sound foolish but I have to live/coexist with something for a while, understand it as a material or an object in order to properly address it. In other words, my work takes time as I need time in order to achieve a specific result in texture or color or feel. It is a process quite opposite of public actions and negotiations etc that I am undergoing at the moment. It is very personal, private matter and sometimes even uncomfortable because it is intimate. Anyhow, I have many feelings as to why and how I undergo some processes... There is a sense of sculptural/formal failure even, but also a sense of result so, when I am done with a “work” and I can show it, I feel there is a specific kind of honesty going on, and I can only hope that it translates...

You will see that I used rubber. It is rubber I make. I have been experimenting with the organically made synthetic rubber since 2015 now... Metaphorically, rubber is characterized by its “inherent amnesia”. When it comes in contact with other materials it works as an eraser. The rubber I have devised includes a number of chemical compounds (synthetic polymer/artificial elastomer, zinc oxide, chalk, silicon, titan dioxide, polyethylene glycol (PEG), stearin, silicone compound, and organic pigment). The resulting work is thus a result of merging history and science while articulating the concept of unfolding and converging empirical and traditional knowledge. In the recent work I have added in the mix of chemicals data that relates to the devastated archive (lose particles mostly). My purpose was to create new visualities as a way of translating, abstracting and preserving the knowledge embodied in the archive into something abstract, foreign... This process underlines my proposed research project. The pressing question for me has been: What does it mean to devise and design visual work based on investigations of the archive (this particular archive and the archive in general, as a notion) in its aesthetic and social breadth?

Furthermore, how can I, as an artist, inscribe my work into contemporary turns on theoretical and curatorial research such as historicity, collaboration, activism or exhibition-making (in the contemporary art context) based on artifacts other than artworks? Elasticity is important to me as an artist. My work in synthetic rubber may serve as an illustration of that, but the notion of elasticity also applies metaphorically to the methodologies of research and production that I propose to develop for this project. I will continuously apply empirical analysis in my work with the concrete data embodied by the salvaged archive and I allow residues of my previous research—traces of information, memories and documentation of actions that constitute my own archive, in both concrete and metaphorical terms—to overlap with the new data and closely resemble a drawing. The archive has induced me to use lines, shapes, and other values that were once executed on paper, to reformat them for other artistic media such as installation or performance, and to explore hybrid ways of organizing and distributing the information that my artistic actions produce.

I already tried a similar method in a recent work titled I said I was I never said I was (2019), which is part of an ongoing project investigating non-linear editing in print, concretely based on historical information pertaining to an unrealized artist book by American artist Paul Thek for his seminal exhibition “Pyramid” curated by Pontus Hultén at Moderna Museet in Stockholm (1971). The work (commissioned for the exhibition “The Whole Life: Archives and Reality”, Dresden, 2019) is based on personal notes, letters, photographs and Polaroids found in a folder of Paul Thek’s work archived by a Paris gallery between 1970 and 1974, presently in Egidio Marzona’s private collection in Berlin. I can also show you more on this...

here are couple of links: https://www.art-agenda.com/features/256792/yane-calovski-and-hristina-ivanoska-s-epilogue-a-form-of-an-argument https://contemporarylynx.co.uk/between-the-incredible-and-the-credible-a-talk-with-yane-calovski


5.5.2020: 13.27

Hi Yane

thank you so much for your extensive reply. And no, not foolish at all. As far as I understand it and can compare it, that is what art making is about: living with it, nursing it, elaborating and letting it grow at the same time. The creative process is active and passive in the same movement.
I have also found out that sharing these reflections, attempts, considerations, situations and changes that have happened by accident is part of what turns making art into research. Formulating and sharing creates more awareness and becomes part of the process, it leads to questions and reactions, sometimes stimulating, sometimes unwelcome, which feed the creative process and open it up to the artist. But that does not mean it can be or has to be shared with everyone. it is an intimate exchange, and in that sense not part of this conversation, meant for publication.
But I am very happy that you have shared your notion of elasticity with me, in public. Because it shows clearly how your work tries to establish connections between things that are not connected, binds over distance, but also obscures by revealing and reveals by obscuring (sorry, this starts to sound like a very arty text, but it is a first attempt from my side, an initial reaction. i too, foolishly, have to live with it for some time)).
But it is a great concept not only for the maker, but also for the viewer, who is captured in this elastic that seems to allow a lot of space but at the same time binds and leads. The work moves with the viewer but only so far.
To me it connects so well with the quote from Bruno Latour that i have used in my text on the public and that i would like to repeat here in full:

“A work of art engages us, and if it is quite true that it has to be interpreted, at no point do we have the feeling that we are free to do ‘whatever we want’ with it. If the work needs a subjective interpretation, it is in a very special sense of the adjective: we are subject to it, or rather we win our subjectivity through it. … Emitted by the work, such downloads allow the recipient to be moved while gradually becoming a ‘friend of interpretable objects’. If listeners are gripped by a piece, it is not at all because they are projecting their own pathetic subjectivity on it; it is because the work demands that they, insignificant amateurs, brilliant interpreters, or passionate critics, become part of its journey of instauration – but without dictating what they must do to show themselves worthy of it”. [Bruno Latour, An inquiry into modes of existence: An Anthropology of the Moderns (Cambridge: Harvard University Press, 2013), 241. --Ed.]

As we are getting near the end of this first conversation, that has been very inspiring and productive to me, but that needs to be continued and elaborated sometime in the future because so many questions and points to discuss still remain (for instance: what about this specific modernism that your archive is related to?), so getting near the temporary end, i still would like to hear more about the Metabolic principle, if only to let it simmer in my mind, to be ready when we mail again.

all the best jeroen


5.5.2020: 15.58

[Yane Calovski: --Ed.] My identification with the concept of elasticity is long standing. I can trace it back to my education, especially during my studies at Bennington College where it was all about crossing over disciplines and staying interested and engaged while expanding your research field. For me the relationship, or the synthesis, between sculpture and architecture through drawing as both practice and a method of thinking, was really organic, honest and playful way to analyze both function and form, aesthetic value of ideas and its purposefulness, something that just made sense. To relate drawing and making things in response to how we speak of the past, present, future, how we analyze modernist literature and social studies, looking at the issue of how the collective social normative is formed and what happens when we are unhappy, when we become small and silent. It still resonates today. This thing about finding a way to address issues that affect us as society but also staying close to ones fragile self and the need to remain human and honest and do simple and honest things and not hide behind bullshit of the unsolvable is also how I think of translating the Metabolic principle in my work. Following Bennington, I spent a year in Japan as part of the Independent Studio program at the CCA Kitakyushu. That was quite extraordinary in terms of reflecting on my interest in the work and the Metabolic philosophy of Kenzo Tange, starting to learn and understand his relationship to Skopje, meeting both Toyo Ito and Itsuko Hasegawa, developing ideas for public architecture and participatory ideas. As I began to think that this elasticity is present in Metabolic principles, that the strong spinal cord can be anything, even an archive and that we collectively can provide and add as healthy tissue our knowledge, time and essence as caretakers. It is a concept I have been developing over the last 20 years in relationship to my practice and now in particular to the Metabolic Archive project I told you about in one of my previous emails. In this case and also in reflection of our time and social predicament I think that the idea of a metabolic digital platform for the project is even more applicable. The word itself refers to the process of maintaining life. To us humans having good metabolism means staying alive. That is what I would like to offer as a final thought, the necessity to design ideas for the community and to build possibilities that will reflect our collective and individual values.
These essays offered a starting point for the conversation:
(◦) Public as Practice
(◦) Undisciplined: A Construction
of an Archive






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