Marc Jancou OFFSITE is pleased to present Steven Claydon: Hölderlin in Knapsack on view June 30 – September 14, 2014 in Rossinière, Switzerland.
Steven Claydon’s work employs humor, irony, and historical references to investigate the human relationship to material objects. Incorporating an awareness of systems of display, his installations are responsive to their context and often draw attention to the significance we project onto supposedly inert objects. Set in an antique Swiss barn, this project comprises three installations by Steven Claydon. One of the works, Unlimiteds & Limiters, was part of the recent High Line Art project "Busted," and continues its journey to Rossinière in a new, site-specific, incarnation. Steven Claydon has contributed a text to the exhibition explaining the origin of the title:
Hölderlin in knapsack takes its title from a reference in Martin Heidegger's 1950 anthology of collected writings, Holzwege (published in English as Off the Beaten Track). In the opening essay, 'The Origin of the Work of Art' (Art denoting "the hidden given form"), Heidegger asks us to consider the "thingly" status of the artwork as revealed when it is in transit or in storage.
"Works are shipped like coal from the Ruhr or logs from the Black Forest [.] Holderlin's hymns were packed in a soldier's knapsack along with cleaning equipment. Beethoven's quartets lie in the publisher's storeroom like potatoes in a cellar [.] Every work has this thingly character."
For Heidegger, artworks differ from other "things" in that they reveal something of the implicit, interior fabric of the cosmos by "holding open the open and keeping it there". The modified agency of these objects in transit or in storage – their acquiring of potency – is what is at question here. The work Unlimiteds and limiters was originally conceived as a temporary installation on New York's High Line. It was then dismantled, shipped and reconfigured into a new work of the same name, which will be housed in a disused barn in the mountains below the tree line.
The transmogrification and re-presentation of these components happened by design, but pose a number of questions. Do the changes in context, ecology, cultural climate and time alter our relationship with the thing? Can the thing be said to begin to enact its own authorship as it interacts with these multiple-choice variables? Does the nature of this 'special-case object' ever revert to something more basic – a state of 'thing-in-its-selfness', or undisclosed nature – when it is recombined and removed from the human gaze or from the bio-chemical revelations of light?
The pre-Socratics of classical Greece talked of a theoretical universe composed of 'atoma' and 'void', 'limiters' and 'unlimiteds'. The physicist David Bohme (1917-1992), expounding his 'holographic universe' theory, discusses the implicit and explicit orders that are inherent in a total conscious molecular order. Heidegger's understanding of 'revealing and concealing' (in relation to the 'thingly' and in particular to the artwork) shares these inter-dimensional qualities.
Heidegger speaks of thingliness being so "salient" in artworks that they belong to their medium, however much the reverse may appear to hold true: "The architectural work is in the stone, the woodcarving in the wood, the painting in the colour, the linguistic work in the sound, the work of music in the note." These sets of parallel concepts represent for me an insight into a kind of secular animism, one that allows us to reconsider our relationship with physical matter as something mutual, reciprocal and complicit - as well as being subject to the inevitable taxonomic and socio-economic contrivances that aid and abet the military and industrial complex, and the myriad muttering machines of the spectacle.
Steven Claydon, 2014.
ABOUT THE ARTIST
Steven Claydon was born in 1969 in London, England, and studied at Chelsea School of Art & Design and Central Saint Martins, London. He currently lives and works in London. Claydon has exhibited internationally, with major solo exhibitions including Culpable Earth at firstsite, Colchester (2012); Mon Plaisir...Votre Travail..., La Salle de Bains, Lyon, France (2011); Goldene Zeiten / Golden Times, Haus der Hunst, Munich, Germany (2010); The Ancient Set and The Fictional Pixel, Serpentine Pavilion, London, and The Ancient Set, International Project Space, Bournville, Birmingham (2008); and Courtesy Of The Neighbourhood Watch, White Columns, New York (2006). Performances include An Equivalence Propelled, Royal William Dockyard, Plymouth, 17 September 2011, and Forward-facing lemon yellow eyes, Hayward Gallery, London, 31 March 2011 (both in conjunction with British Art Show 7); Bestiary, Cavallerizza Reale, Turin, July 2009; and Serpentine Pavilion, London, 08 August 2008. His work has been included in numerous group exhibitions including Busted, High Line Art, New York (2013); SOUNDWORKS, Institute of Contemporary Art, London (2012); Various Stages–Bedingte Bühnen, Kunsthaus Dresden, Germany (2012); We Will Live, We Will See, The Zabludowicz Collection, London (2011); British Art Show 7: In the Days of the Comet, Nottingham, London, Glasgow and Plymouth (2010-11); Sympathy for the Devil: Art and Rock and Roll Since 1967, Museum of Contemporary Art, Chicago (2007); Rings of Saturn, Tate Modern, London (2006).
Claydon’s work will be the subject of an upcoming solo exhibition at the Centre d’Art Contemporain Genève in 2015.
OFFSITE Rossinière is a collaboration between New York- and Geneva-based gallerist Marc Jancou and Partnership At Work, an association of local businesses and the Pays-d'Enhaut Tourism Office. OFFSITE aims to establish a context and dialogue for contemporary art in the Pays-d'Enhaut region, making Rossiniere a world class art destination. Through the presentation of art projects, all free and open to the public, OFFSITE and its affiliates seek to make contemporary art accessible and part of daily life, beyond the conventional urban, "white cube" setting. As home to the late Balthus, one of the most respected figurative painters of the 20th century, Rossinière provides a particularly inspiring setting for contemporary art projects. The Balthus Chapel sits within walking distance from OFFSITE’s ad hoc spaces, functioning as a third, complimentary exhibition site.
OFFSITE’s exhibition venues have been generously donated by Restaurant Les Jardins de la Tour. Special thanks are given to Barbara Schoepfer, Patrick Gazeau, Jean-Pierre Neff, Frédéric Delachaux, Stephanie Sutton, Eric Henchoz, Helene Tille, Amy Gadola, and Amara Craighill.