grand finale

I get up at 7:30 to prepare the Haiku-installation. At 8:40 I am already at CQT. Yesterday, Esther brought me her paper, that failed after nearly one year of work (April 2011 –  February 2012). I got the idea to ‘bury’ it though some layers of tape – to keep, but ‘fix’ the content that one can not read or us it any more. Also, I was asked, to take the names off. Around 9:15 Eng Swee and Chorng Wang came to install the presentation panels on entrance of 3rd level.

I have to leave them at 11 am, since I give a telephone-interview for Stacy – but she only asks me about the involvement of students – which was ONE part but not THE part of the whole project! Nothing about the objects, nothing about CQT … strange.

The hours pass with chasing to get things installed. Jenny is bravely organising and standing my stress. Until 11:30 no-one is there – among the others. Eng Swee brought me food, that I can have lunch! So nice. Madhura and Momo arrived. Later on – Julian. He has to finish his presentation, that is not a video, but small boxes containing pieces of paper. Debashis has always have a place for his box. Even more, is was planned for him. He is around, too. We store the paper-stack together.

Maybe I assumed too much as known convention, that everyone shows up at the exhibition at the morning of last day, at least. To be there, install the artwork together with the others, discussing and helping and trying out – installing pieces in autonomy, with awareness of dynamic changes. Since I am trained in self-organised shows, I wasn’t aware, that people could have some troubles to arrange with this open structure. Afterwards, I had the feeling, some were maybe lost and waiting for me and a plan? But I was still busy to set-up the basic conditions – I could not coordinate every single artwork and I thought, that this is obvious, that everyone has to find his/her own way – at best together. I never planned to have the master-plan, because I saw myself as just one part. When I realised this, I asked all to install things on their own. I was in a rush the whole day – exactly what I didn’t wanted to happen. I said to leave at 3 pm, that I can make sure, to be gone by 4 pm. Isabelle arrives at 4:15 pm – I leave, I really need a break as rip-coard in this case. The catalogue is struggling, too – except for Isabelle we don’t have any data of the artworks. So Jenny improvised a draft-catalogue. Luckily!

I announced to come back by 6 pm – for the talk. The strongest sign for starting signal of self-organisation. Maybe it would have been better, to communicate this before. Of course, it was really too short time for the set-up. I knew it before – since two weeks, but couldn’t see the point to change it. Even not in advance. One problem was to find my working-space. This caused a delay. But still – as I said – it would have been to much anyway. I remember my friend Oliver, who recently described, that one can imagine for a project of: energy, time and money on a diagram. The outcome or quality has mainly to do with these factors. It is very unlikely, that with effort of few time a good quality will arose – if you are an expert is maybe a bit more likely, because you invested ‘time’ before. With money you can sometimes pay more people to invest time. The amount you’ll pay them, will influence their amount of time and energy. But still – my time was too short, even if people involved in the project donated all their time and energy – and some of the a lot! Only to form a group it would need more, than four meetings in three weeks. Not speaking about that most of them had to orientate themselves in a completely new field – the artistic practise. For my amount of work, it would have been enough to just build the cabinet – without all talks, meetings, discussions! But then the whole residency would be senseless. Skipping the ‘physical’ cabinet wouldn’t be a good idea either. Since the last days, working at the 2nd floor were really communicative. We got as many drawings as never before! I made the experience several times, that if there is something to see – people are more willing to participate. The cabinet was THE occasion and maybe part of the reason to become involved. Third – the space we had to deal with, was hard for an artistic installation. It is an arm-space – more like a tube, with glass walls. My aim was to create a big sculpture, that provides space for smaller objects. Since it wasn’t clear how many it will be in the end – neither how they will look like, I had to invent a they flexible structure, that is strong enough to create presence in the space. So, I guess regarding all three parts – we should look rather at the full part of the glass!

After I showered and changed my dress (made it for this event back in Dresden) – had a small walk –  felt much better! I needed to leave all the stress behind. Otherwise it would influence the whole presentation. Which would not be right – since it wasn’t like this all the time, but only the last few days.

I can’t remember much of my talk. The images which Jenny just finished selecting for me – were of course not connected to my thread (how could they?) – which I realised on the spot. So, I ended up doing a complete improvisation for the talk after the images. But still, I guess it was okay. In the end I asked all the present board-members to make themselves visible on the ‘stage’. Applause – and the invitation for food and drinks upstairs!

Many people came to see the objects (some waited upstairs and missed the talk). Now, what do we show? We have the Quantum Rorschach test by Julian, which results are presented in small plastic boxes. The atom trap made of colourful cloth, threats and LEDs: a collaboration of Momo and Madhura. A collection of nine small books portraying surprising materials in labs such as duck tape, blue tack and tin foil by Isabelle. Momo and Luo Yan created a small Q-ciTy of spoiled pieces donated from the work-shop. They even produced a video, projected on the wall next to the qubit-drawings: about twenty DinA5 sheets stored on a wooden shelf. We had six models of clay, that people are working with: entanglement – two ringlet pieces sinuous. Two 1-0 qubits (Christian) – showing a ‘1’ looking from one perspective and a ‘0’ looking from an other. A polytope – a ball cut in four, showing his three-coloured melting interior (Valerio). The two-coloured entropy on a plate (Esther). Two balls of different sizes – one sitting on the other (John). And a very nice Moebius-strip covered with ones and zeros (?)! The schroedinger-cat-box from Debashis – pretending a simple DIY quantum-measure between red and blue, by looking through a pin-hole. Artur’s tie – folded to a crown. All papers published by CQT on a horizontal stack – hold-up through the buried paper of failed work in pink and white (Grit). And finally – the laser-installation by Isabelle and Johannes – showing laser-applications in three parts – one red laser projecting the broken filament of a light bulb, a green one – bending light through a marble and a blue one illumination a glass-object with a strange gloom around it. Have a look at the category exhibits to learn more about the details – coming soon!

I chat with Christian, Dzimitry, Alexander, Sallie, Linda – some people from the workshops, most of the board-members are present. Later one I met Jill Scott – she runs a famous art/science program in Zurich, called artists in labs. I have book with me, edited by her! Didn’ t expect to meet her at my project – what an honour and nice coincidence!

Johannes and Debashis got negative feedback from their colleagues. I really hope, they can handle the disappointment. That’s part of artistic work, too. Of course, not everyone is pleased – one can even get strong opposition. Over the time you learn to deal with it.

With Isabelle and Madhura we discuss together with Jenny (?) and Johannes, that if you call something ‘interesting’ that’s a negative statement. It means there is nothing to say about it. Our scientists do not have this convention. That’s good, because it is silly to say the opposite of what you actually mean. Madhura and Isabelle are very positive about the whole project!

Later in the evening Kuldip came along – he says he likes the cabinet. Shortly before we leave for beer, I grab some pizza, that is left over. Haven’t eaten yet. It is always wise to eat before drinking.

After the opening at around 8 pm, together with Evon, Björn, Jenny, Christian, Paul and Markus we go the a strange beer bar, were they brew their own beer. The beer is good, but the music of the cover-band is beyond all taste. Markus asked me – as opener: ‘So what do you take home?’ I couldn’t stand to say: ‘My suitcase’. I wouldn’t give such an answer to all people. Only those who argue with me on philosophy a night long. It is a bit hard to speak, since the music is really loud. Also I can not answer conceptual and reflective questions right now – I am really exhausted, absent-minded and just happy to be alive. I don’t mind to have a small rest, just being there is enough.

At around 10:30 pm the others slowly leave – only Markus and Christian are not yet tired. Me neither – I am still in higher spirits. Also it is early for my conditions. We go to another bar. Really nice there. With tables outside looking in the jungle. Only candles at the table.

Markus starts cross-fire in German. At least I am in full language skills to defend myself. His position is, that he likes the installation, but is saying, that he quotes other people, that he likes, that think the whole thing is senseless for CQT. (Now, that I write it – I remember in geh8 Tina initiated a rule: Only say what you have to say –  what others say, they should say themselves). The claim is that the whole installation and project isn’t representative for CQT. I never wanted it to be – and never promised that. But he doesn’t like my point. ‘Then, you can just meet with friends and don’t need to work with an institution.’, he says. How can you work with an institution – you always work with people! Besides there were around twenty drawings – which is an active participation! If CQT has 200 employees – that isn’t bad at all – that’s 10% engagement! Christian agrees. Most time he is silent – sometimes defending me.

Many physicists are not interested in non-physicist-stuff, Markus says. They don’t go to theatre or anything like that, but I should find a way to talk to them as well. I deny, I think it is better, to care about those, who are somehow interested and on the edge. In opposite trying to convince those that are not interested for their whole lives! It is tiring and without prospects to convince them about art in one month – also it not my approach. (Claudia invented the term ‘Bummi-Niveau’ recently. ‘Bummi’ was a yellow teddy-bear in the GDR. It was a magazine for the little people in nursery school very simple, that they will be able to understand. I just found out, that it is still existing! Could be funny to produce something like this – only art isn’t so much the field of explanation.)

Another critique is, that it doesn’t look proper and serious enough. The objects are collected stories – more like anecdotes. I can see nothing bad in that point. After some more points I have enough – starts to be too much and excessive demands to me. With every art-work – now, I can only say this in German: Mit einer künstlerischen Arbeit gibt man auch immer ein Stück von sich selbst preis. The consequence is, that you are open for attack. Actually it was a bit too much for me today.

The pub closes and we go home by taxi.

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2 Responses to grand finale

  1. momo says:

    I guess lots of CQTians didn’t really grab the concept that the “art work” is not only about the physical installation, but also includes your activity in CQT, interactions with physicists, and getting-people-involved itself is part of art. Even I myself only learnt this point after going through the whole process. I think it’s bold to say most scientists are ignorant about contemporary art, but it is probably true. Sadly, at the same time, scientists always have enough confidence to judge things outside their scope of expertise.

    I like your attitude on “it is better, to care about those, who are somehow interested and on the edge” :)

  2. I only came across the blog post today – my bad for not following the project to the end! And I have a few things to add as someone who works on both sides of the border, with scientists and with artists. It is impossible to ignore the context. When I give my lecture “Failures to predict the Future”, I always adapt it depending on where the lecture will happen. It is one thing for an artist to say “I cannot take every person of the public into consideration”, but it is another to ignore the setting where the art will take place. It is always a challenge to step out of the White Cube, because there, the rules are different, and small can be big. Outside a gallery, a leaf is just a leaf. And I think this is what you faced. People didn’t get to step into the magic space that the gallery is, and took everything at face value instead.
    I would also like to add that as we interacted with scientists, it became clear that most of them DO have interests outside physics.
    It was a bold move and you moved walls. It’s a challenge to get the art world to notice maybe, but you certainly changed the culture of the lab. A bit. Well done!

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