Artist: Tobias Madison
Venue: The 2013 Carnegie International at Carnegie Museum of Art, Pittsburgh
Curated by: Daniel Baumann, Dan Byers, Tina Kukielski
Note: An audio component is available here
Date: October 5, 2013 – March 16, 2014
Video courtesy of Tobias Madison. Photos by Contemporary Art Daily.
The museum education department is only rarely touched by an observing gaze or even by critique. It might be considered harmless or even cute that a group of children are being taught what we consider the pillars of our culture. It was by continuous examination of educational structures that these structures revealed themselves as one of the most oppressive kind.
With the vague idea of appropriating various spaces within the Carnegie museum I started teaching a workshop along with a group of educators hired at the museum to an after school class from Wilkinsburg. While one of the objectivesof the workshop was to neglect any kind of authority a few materials (self-portraits of the children and photographs of museum spaces on transparent vinyl), and technological crutches were introduced as a way to at least get started ona video workshop. Access to any location within the museum was granted and the content of the 10- day workshop was going to be argued out on a daily basis.
Of course the practices, visual and performative strategies, choreographies and games invented by this young group of children are defined by apparati that lie for deeper in the fabric of our society and can’t be (or don’t want to be?) dissolved in such a temporary situation, if they ever can be. Nevertheless i think it is crucial for a group of young minds to experience disconnection and alienation from the authorities of content, logic and language that are so oppressively at work in something as 1-directional as education.
While children are continuously faced with the illusion that they are able and supposed to design everything themselves in the future, this understanding is one that only feeds a neo-liberal work ethic where everyone’s creative productivity will be put to work and harvested. Therefore it is only the continuous exposure to structures that challenge ones own subjectivization that allow a rethinking of our body and the amount of its presence in this reality.
One aim of this workshop was also to give a voice to the intelligent people operating the education department, who as much as children, want to understand the institutional space as a space that has to be continuously appropriated, re-defined, and understood in permanent transition in order to have any meaning at all.
The footage shown (footage, not video art) is the result of a very fast, and to a certain extent randomized, editing process.
It does not aim for completeness or narrative continuity but rather at dispersion, a waste product of something that shouldn’t be fully unfolded here, a playground for your mind.
But everything needs a body, and faced with the eternal dense existence of maybe-marble, we want to disappear into the vague state of a maybe-body, animated as a communal voice as it will be no longer our own.
The life of the waste that our bodies produce is often prolonged and bound to material. paper tissues hold dirt, snot, sperm, excrements, sweat a bit longer in its material state. And it is this paper that temporarily gives a hollow body to these voices.