This is a proposition (to speculate without knowing):
The rug pulled out from underneath; you lie on the floor is fraught with contradiction. As artist curators we decided on considerations outside of the conventions of success and failure, to not allude to other important artistic works in order to substantiate the project, to free fall around terms of undoing as a means of doing again and to have the exhibition housed in an institutional structure and receive institutional support.
There are three important facets to the project: the exhibition, the formal discussions and this publication of La Norda. The void it carves out does not lie in the discrete parts, its objects, but rather in an unfolding duration held together through language, objects and people. Each is related but not necessarily made for each other and we hope there are moments when they can create a force field for people. In this way, it is like Adorno's notion of the essay, the facets of this project drive it beyond itself,
The essay becomes true in its progress, which drives it beyond itself, and not in a hoarding obsession with fundamentals. [
] In the essay discreetly separated elements enter into a readable context
. It is a force field, just as under the essays glance every intellectual artifact must transform itself into a force field. (161) 1
The task of the project, to speculate without knowing, is to carve out space for work we think is worthwhile, to outplay the paradigm. 2 The project comes out of an ongoing conversation about presence, empathy, emotional risk, about slower, interior modes of seeing and perceivingthat perhaps invert the corporeal and the linguistic or intellectual. In a culture that values success, confidence, polish, how do we reconcile failure, doubt and excess? Can understanding be found in presence rather than clarity?
To point is to leave an indexical trace and to occupy a social space. It is important for artists to point to what they consider worthwhile, to risk being misunderstood, and to keep a wound open. Eileen Myles talks about leaning into, I mean leaning into the peach of it. 4 With the exhibition Elles: Women Artists from the Centre Pompidou at the Seattle Art Museum our questions about unconventional attributes were put into relief. On face value, Elles is simply a collection of works made by women. But its actuality confronts a very real category that still haunts us. It has given us an opportunity to sit with the tension around what these values could be and if and how they are valuable in art.
Why Have There Been No Great Women Artists? the Linda Nochlin essay, points us to the social and political power of institutional structures,
The question of women's equality--in art as in any other realm--devolves not upon the relative benevolence or ill-will of individual men, nor the self-confidence or abjectness of individual women, but rather on the very nature of our institutional structures themselves and the view of reality which they impose on the human beings who are part of them. (153) 3
We want to thank the Hedreen Gallery for providing us with the necessary institutional support to lean into the view of reality and La Norda Especialo for being a force field for Seattle artists.
1 The Essay as Form, T. W. Adorno; Bob Hullot-Kentor; Frederic Will. New German Critique, No. 32. (Spring - Summer, 1984), pp. 151-171.
2 The Neutral, Roland Barthes. Trans. Rosalind E. Krauss and Dens Hollier. Columbia University Press. (2005), pp. 7
3 Why Have There Been No Great Women Artists? Linda Nochlin. Women, Art and Power and Other Essays, Westview Press. (1988), pp.147-158.
4 Smile, Eileen Myles. Snowflake/ Different Streets. Wave Books. (2012).