Sixth day in Johannesburg

“The exhibition changes in 5 min.” I could hear Thierry shouting while the artists were waiting in front of the exhibition space with their new artworks.

The ritual routines of the team
At 2 pm sharp, the doors were open. The artworks from the day before went down, and the new artworks were mounted. This change is called passage.
After the passage the artworks are looked at I silence for some minutes and then the debate starts. After the debate, the labels, with titles, sizes, and artists’ names are put under each artwork, and the exhibition stays frozen until the next day at 2 pm.
After the activates in the museum, which normally last 1-2 hours, some artists take a small break in the last hours of the sunshine before it gets dark, others start immediately to work on the new artwork for the next day. For dinner, we usually all meet up, and exchange impressions of the day. Both personal and professional experiences are important in this project. In the mornings, the artists work on their artworks, I do some writing and preparation with the museum, while Thierry does artworks, organizes the documentation, makes strategies and creates new visions. This is pretty much the daily routine of our team that little by little is turning into a ritual.

Speed and rhythm
There is some speed involved when it comes to art production because most of the artists are used to send more time on creating their artworks. But it does not seem like, working fast is hectic. Actually, this type of regular speed is not producing stress. The regularity creates a certain tempo. And just like with the music, where the drums might sound noisy, violent and disturbing at the start, but only until you go into the music and catch the rhythm. As more artists are taking part in the show, as more I can hear the rhythm of this format. It is not a homogenous musical rhythm I hear. It is a rhythm rich with diverse individual pulses.

Synchronizing
We each have our own rhythms, our individual heartbeats. Around us, there are other rhythms: the streets and the city are following certain tempi while the world, the planet, and the universe are following other tempi and understandings of time. When we create a shared space, we also try to define a shared time frame. This encounter demands synchronization. But what does it actually mean to synchronize? It has to do with precision. (We need to adjust our times to each other thus we need to agree on a specific time and be precise. In our format the change of exhibition happens precisely at 2 pm); It has to do with being simultaneous (Our actions need to occur at the same time. In our format, we make sure the artists are present during the passage. They cannot send their artworks, but have to bring them personally and debate about them); It has to do with agreeing and coordinating (There has to be a willingness to work together. In our format the artists, the organizers, and the host institution works as one team); It has to do with being in tune (We need to follow a given melody. In our art format we have a conductor, that would be the format owner Thierry shouting “The exhibition changes in 5 min.”)

Structure to create more freedom
As any other rituals and rhythms, there is a layer of spirituality that appears on top of the rules for routines and time calculations. This distinction between mechanic structure and the magic freedom is a very interesting fine line that characterizes this project. The art format is a predefined setting who’s purpose is not to create limitations but to stimulate artistic expression. There are rules, but they are only drawing the lines in order to bring forward the artistic essence and create focus. There is speed, but it is there only in order to create energy and fuel for a successful takeoff.
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