“Bridges and Tunnels”

Hard Hat

“Bridges and Tunnels” was a model of what curating can and should accomplish. Its curators, New Jerseyy (Daniel Baumann, Tobias Madison, Emanuel Rossetti, and Dan Solbach), were not content to use works of art to illustrate a theoretical argument, or to begin with a list of artists and then try to glue them together by means of a text or an idea. Instead the show offered a genuine proposition, or rather invented a game—an ideal game, in the Lewis Carroll–Gilles Deleuze sense, one in which changing the rules is part of the contest. The proposition was, simply, multiplicity. Picking up on Hard Hat’s aim of producing multiples within the framework of a nonprofit exhibition program, and more generally on the market-driven production of limited editions, New Jerseyy decided to orchestrate an exhibit of unlimited editions. The exhibition at Hard Hat was just one interpretation of the show, which only exists “authentically” as a DVD sold at the gallery. Anyone who acquires this disc—and it is only 40 Swiss francs—has the rights to all seven works on it, which may be printed out or produced however each owner sees fit.

One might wonder why New Jerseyy bothered to install the exhibition at all. It might seem that by shifting attention to the gallery space and the objects, the group ran the risk that an audience mistake the DVD, and thus the idea, for an afterthought or prank rather than an aesthetic proposition. But this is to miss New Jerseyy’s playful, even mildly hedonistic strategy. They did not merely select participants but also highlighted the various ways in which one might then actualize the images. They have, for example, displayed the four Photoshop abstractions by Balthazar Lovay (Highway’s Sadness, Learn the Frequency of Shoe Telepathy, Hyper Magma/Cyber Trauma/Higher Access, and The Goofy Conspiracies, all 2009) with Plexiglas, offering a “professional” presentation, in contrast with Kim Seob Boninsegni’s I’m Watching It, 2009, also printed on Plexiglas, or Guyton\Walker’s Zebra Table Guide, 2009 (which has, however, been installed twice). DAS INSTITUT’s Import /Export Since 2007, 2008, could have been printed in the office; instead, New Jerseyy uploaded the text to printon-demand site to create a book. And rather than simply displaying the 150 black-and-white pdf images of Michael Riedel’s Four Proposals for the Change of the Modern (13), 2008, they instead hung the circular black sheet that served as his source, reversing the movement from original to multiple.

Mention must also be made of the two excellent, albeit contrasting, videos: Spectrum, 2009, the ultracasual and slightly eldritch modulation of screen-saver hues by Gina Folly and Hannah Weinberger, and Ei Arakawa’s Tbilisi Grand Openings, 2006, which is based on a scenario by Grand Openings (the collaboration of Arakawa, Jutta Koether, and Emily Sundblad) enacted in Tbilisi and then discussed, or rather narrated, by Daniel Baumann at Performa 09 in New York. With its many multiplications and transformations, Arakawa’s video served as a model metonym, of the exhibition on all its multiple levels. Like “Bridges and Tunnels” as a whole, it demonstrates that repetition does not mark the corruption of an original ideal but is rather the form of creativity itself; it is only through repetition that difference, which generates meaning in the first place, may arise, and without end.

David Lewis