Jason Dodge deftly uses found objects, changing their context to reveal unexpected histories that reference past human actions and distant locations. was born in 1969, United States and lives in Berlin. His work is featured in important public and private collections such as the Astrup Fearnley Museum of Modern Art, Oslo, the Corcoran Gallery of Art, Washington, Moderna Museet, Stockholm, the Guggenheim Museum, New York and the David Roberts Collection, London. Rituals is his first solo exhibition in London.
Pilot, Window Washer, Acrobat, Ballet Dancer, Judge. in order of altitude five people with different professions were asked to cut a pocket from their trousers
Starting from the methodology close to August Sander’s photographs, where people were classified according to their professions, the objects re-order classical hierarchic classification. This new classification, by order of altitude, is as abstract and arbitrary than the admitted ones (usually capitalist). The owners of the pockets are anonymous, we are told only their functions: they lose their individuality. The selected professions have no immediate links, coming from different fields. Yet, they are carefully chosen for the associations they activate in the viewer’s mind. The object is as mundane, neutral and commonly shared as it can possibly be, highlighting the arbitraryness of the classification, at the same time stressing the chosen code: the altitude from which the professions are supposed to take place. From high to low, from the Pilot to the Judge, there is the sense of a fall in the work, which eventually reveals the impossibility of any deep knowledge of individuals, usually known only by their function rather than any deeper essential qualities.
a tube filled with seeds of poison hemlock between the floor and the ceiling
The title is a factual description of the work: what you read is what you see. Yet the object eludes any promise of explanation or evidence. The viewer is presented with a poisonous substance, or so we are told, that literally runs through the space contained by a thin silver plated tube. Instead of removing something potentially dangerous from a public place (as we would usually do in a public gallery) the artist has created a situation in which we are confronted with the possibility of being harmed, and with the fascinating proximity with poison and death. The artist once again becomes a dubious narrator. Our wish for meaning is left unfulfilled as the object is a catalyst, an instigator for narrative possibilities and implications. The work is being created through the possible connections and subjective associations the viewer brings to it. The whole exhibition is structured as a catalyst, each work capturing or transmitting different energies and stories, through their materials (rubies, silver, fabric), their processes (photographic paper, embalmment, music, electricity, codification): the viewer is caught in a net of stories, symbolism and images which she/he asked to complete.
Into Black. Katrin Pym (Sidney, Australia), Camille Laurent-Nahab (Manama, Royaume Du Bahrein), Alix Janta-Polczynski (Lumbumbashi, Congo), Liliane Feuillet (Le Pré-Saint-Gervais, France), Gabriel Spivak (Buenos-Aires, Argentina), Molly Klais (New York, USA).
photographic paper was exposed for the first time to light at sunrise on the vernal equinox 2007 in six different places and never developed
Six different people, one from each continent, were asked to expose a piece of photographic paper to the sunrise of the vernal equinox without using a camera. This paper, having never been developed, turns slightly pink from exposure to sunlight, and will continue to take up light until it is developed, which would turn it black. Dodge is playing with immaterial elements and measurements such as light, time and distance, suggesting a presence in far away locations without revealing any more detailed information other than providing names and places. Quite literally titled, the objects are remnants of events either fictional or real and presences that are absent. We are left to imagine geographies and journeys, trying to trace them with the folds and marks left on the paper that, literally, will not reveal any immediate figure. The work is also rooted in the early experiments of the 19th century with photographic paper, that could sometimes be combined with mysticism (as in August Strinberg’s experiments).
Ringing through chimneys. during the spring cleaning in a neighbourhood in Berlin a bell was attached to the cleaning brush of Jörg Häuseler (chimney sweep)
The bell creates an aural artwork inscribed with an intangible history of sound and human action. It evokes an incident, a memory or an artifice, which exists in our imagination through reflection on places and historical events. It is ultimately up to the viewer to determine what it means, to fill the gaps between our longing and a sense of lack and between intimacy and distance. The work is not about communication but engagement with and creation of a story in which the viewer finds himself as the active protagonist. The work intervenes in the subtlest way the resonances of personal experience and collective memory.
Current a (electric)
(A) tone, tuning (fork)
Produced especially for the exhibition, the source of the work is scientific and derives from a chain of metonymies: when subject to an electric chock, the human body shakes. From this basic information, Dodge linked the shock to music and electricity to light. He derives a basic fact towards a more connoted concept. The tuning fork is placed in the “diagram” as the conductor of the electricity: without it, the light is not operating. But at the same time, it represents the possibility of an electric shock, potentially dangerous. The light, then directly linked to danger or death, immediately covers an almost metaphysical or religious meaning, a meaning at the same time contradicted by the simplicity of the materials and the presentation of the work.
Rubies Inside of an Owl. During the embalming process, rubies were placed inside of an owl
Friederike Schönhuth writes in “In This Way Everything In The Distance Becomes Poetry”, an essay published in Dodge’s catalogue (Yvon Lambert, 2007): “[…] Dodge maintains a broken relationship with the rationalized world and expands its horizon through emotionalized fabrications. […] He strips his objects of their rationality and provides them with sensorial traces of human action, thereby arousing the viewer’s thirst for adventure and the exploratory spirit.”. Dodge has a clear knowledge of the symbolic, imaginary or literary symbols attached to the materials, objects and actions he links together. The dead owl, with all the cultural representations the bird holds, is associated with a specific red gem, the ruby, and the act of embalming. Ruby is said to be a magical gem, symbolising the eyes which see in the night, or in the German Romantic tradition, the intense desires hidden in the heart. The work links oral and literary traditions with carefully chosen materials and processes, and a drastic economy of means, to create an unsettling situation in which the viewer, to fully understand the work and its process, is asked to actively take part in.
they are waiting for you at the monument. they (the brass band) are waiting for you at the monument
Dislocated from their original context, placed on the floor and covered by a sheet of plastic the instruments are relics that request an active engagement and emphasis on affective rather than formal approach and experience. This piece resists any clear-cut narrative or the possibility of an answer, generating instead many meanings, evoking a distant place or notable event along with notions of anticipation and latent melancholia. Signifiers without the signified the instruments suggest the setting for a larger yet elusive story line: the monument in the title recalls past actions and collective dramas.
Tereza Buskova’s work is fantastical, provocative and occasionally sinister. For Rituals, she premieres her new film, Forgotten Marriage (2008), which she produced in Prague, a group of four related photographic screen prints and an object. Buskova’s works explore a personal mythology with symbolic references to liberation, sexuality and Eastern European Folklore. These themes are central to her work and were the focus of an earlier film, Wedding Rituals (2007), acquired in 2007 by the David Roberts Collection. Tereza Buskova was born in 1978 in Czech Republic. She lives in London. Buskova graduated in 2007 in Fine Art (printmaking) from the Royal College of Art and contributed a live performance as part of the recent show at the Barbican, Seduced. Rituals is her first solo exhibition.
Forgotten Marriage and related prints
To make her work Tereza Buskova often starts, before filming, by devising complex scenarios for her performances and creating costumes and sets. She usually collaborates with other artists on the music to complete the work. For this new film, located in the castle in which Casanova died in Prague, Buskova worked with her long-term collaborators: performer Zoe Simon (the main character in the film) and composer Bela Emerson.
Buskova researches Eastern European traditions, delving into a rich culture of folklore, theatre, film, animation, literature and craft. Formally her works recall diverse elements from the likes of Mikhael Vrubel, Gustav Klimt and on occasion the director Sergei Parajanov. She creates decadent theatrical performances, mixing live action references from carnival, Viennese Actionism or happenings and baroque opera.
The crown in the exhibition is the first object Buskova has extracted from her work to exhibit in a gallery. The object can be seen both in the film and the related photographs.
The artist explains her work as, “beginning with improvised tableaux vivant and ritualistic narrative-free performance. Costumes, props, models and makeup are my tools.” She adds, “I put raw human sexuality in the spotlight. It is an unavoidable keystone of our existence bound up in our folklore and traditions. Given my Czech origins this work is actively steeped in Bohemian symbols and myths.” Buskova’s work unravels chains of metaphors and metonymies. Yet her work still remains open to multiple readings: “Like fairy-tales, my work holds beauty alongside the dark and sinister. Beyond the simple celebration of the patterns of our ancestors, I want to unashamedly unveil their taboos.”
Download exhibition leaflet here.