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Layering Spaces
Penumbra
Bermondsey Project Space
46 Willow Walk
London SE1 5SF
18 - 27 October 2012


Layering spaces
by Euyoung Hong



In the exhibition Penumbra, the exhibition space is allocated to each of eight artists to work their projects for one day each. Rather than gathering eight different complete works into one exhibition space by dividing that space into eight fragmented spaces, over the course of the eight days, each artist enters the space that is occupied by another work, produced in the previous day. The principle of the exhibition is to allow the works of art to intrude upon each other conceptually and physically. This intervention of work occurs sequentially. Accordingly, the exhibition works gradually accumulate in the same place until the end of the project. The method of collaboration with artists in this exhibition is, therefore, different from usual. For example, in other exhibitions, there is often a preliminary process of negotiation that necessarily condenses different ideas and elements into a certain single form of consent before the event. Apart from the agreement of each artwork interfering with, and being interfered by, the other seven, there are no detailed plans for the exhibition. This implies that the artists themselves will, of course, find it difficult to know what would happen on their own project day; and it is impossible to have a complete idea or plan before the show. The exhibition, therefore, is composed of the processes of creating works of art, rather than complete pieces of work. This blurs the boundary between the artist’s exhibition space and artist’s production space. The last day of the project is open publicly. Viewers will, at first, encounter the final layer of space that is completed by eight artists. At this level, it will be difficult for viewers to distinguish an artist’s work from another, as they are completely intermingled. Merging an exhibition space with an artist’s studio need not to be total chaos; rather it can be a means of visualizing a work of art, particularly one that experiments with and materializes the possibility of contingency. The practice of art acts as a new connection between objects, people and ideas and can transfer everyday space or objects into an aesthetic relationality. This final layer of space cannot be identified merely as a pictorial image; rather, different elements constantly interact with each other in and through the gap between different layers of time, ideas and relations.

The exhibition space is a complex kind of space, and intermingles the various functions of space, not only for exhibiting a work of art, but also for other purposes such as holding a workshop or seminar. Because of this multi-functional aspect of the space, an artist can find unexpected objects in the space already; such items as a ladder, office chairs, or tables, which cannot easily be found in other exhibition spaces. For the first of the eight artists participating in the exhibition, the unoccupied exhibition space itself becomes a given condition for creating a work of art. Considering the particular condition of the space, I decided to present a temporary foldable space - called Waiting Room (2012) - which is composed of two sets of foldable steel frames and vinyl sidewalls and ceilings. This temporary spatial construction is frequently used in South Korea for various purposes, such as street shops, temporary outdoor offices and waiting rooms outside restaurants. Such foldable spaces are much more economical than constructing actual buildings. The foldable space can also be easily moved and removed. In the project, I use this temporary spatial construction as a waiting room, in which different chairs are placed, facing each other along opposite walls. Some of the chairs are collected from the exhibition space. The others come from different places outside. In real life, when we enter a waiting room, one can see people who are waiting for the event that they expect to occur. The space is often divided by people, because people tend to make a group or groups for chatting or simply waiting together in the space. This spatial division, formed by people, definitely relates to the arrangement of objects, such as chairs, tables and partitions. A particular spatial arrangement generates a new rule, whereby people occupy the space in a certain pattern and behaviour. This temporary space territorializes itself through its complex spatial operations. On the one hand, it operates as a generative site that not only encounters different things and ideas, but also allows a new event to occur. On the other hand, it becomes a space that suspends people’s further actions.

In my work, space is crucial, not because a work of art necessarily occupies a particular place, but because a work of art is produced in an interrelationship with the space. Space becomes a fundamental factor that determines the territory of a work of art. From a spatial perspective, Waiting Room is political, because it presents a ‘suspended space’ that allows flows of people in the space and at the same time experiences a delay of an event or decision that the people expect to occur. Layering as a constant process of de-territorialization can be an essential method for activating this suspended space, in the sense that it does not accumulate different spaces and elements in a historical order, but is an act of blurring existing boundaries and borders, through which different forces and powers can encounter and produce something new. It deals with a place of complexity, which is in constant movement from one form to another, rather than the idealist account of a permanent settlement or protection. This construction occupies a position that layers differences, such as a presentness with a delayed future, the private with the public and the valid with the invalid. This is a shared yet closed space.

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