A SHIPPING CRATE (AS BROODTHAERS EXPLAINS IT)
bouwmeesterstraat 3, 2000 Antwerp, Belgium
From 20/05/2017 to 21/05/2017
In collaboration with Peter Lemmens.
"Allow me to approach this space and point out some of its intended dificulties in three small steps.
The storage space is not a zone of tourism. It’s a place reserved for the worker only.The most contemporary storage spaces even have human-free zones. Completely operated by machines and robots, software and sensors. No human is allowed to enter. This is a precautionary measure for human safety as well as the security of the automated distribution process.
So setting up the storage space as a public moment is problematic. Here the open door isn't a marker for a behind-the-scenes tour of the factory. It’s not intended as a voyeuristic moment to see how things work. Instead it wants to approach the storage space as problematic and address some of it’s specific intangible aspects of organising work and objects.
Let’s entertain for a moment the idea of the logistics, not intended as solely servicing the work, but as intervening in the work, inconveniencing some obvious conventions. The storage space no longer as an art-free zone accommodating the art going on outside, it’s no longer the cryogenic box where art temporarily suspends it's potential in some crated hypersleep before being revived again in the next exhibition.
Nor is it the stock and the crates aesthetically pushed out into the exhibition space as the artwork itself. Storage space aesthetics might not be enough.
Instead, here, it's the stock space destabilising the artwork. No longer is the storage a safe, neutral zone, where nothing is supposed to happen to the work. Now it complicates or even endangers the artwork and some of its fragile constructs. It shows work as it is not intended to be seen: in a naked, uncontextualized surroundings. The stock can render the artwork invisible, difficult to read, it can contaminate it, hijack it by diversionary circumstances. It might even work as a kind of kryptonite to the artworks superpowers, disabling it’s normal capacity.
The storage space probably raises more questions than it's equipped to answer when it refuses to become a place of presentation or at least clings to its own specifics with claws. It’s near to impossible to “install” a work here, to define a presentation is at its best always a messy attempt. Where artworks are often closely connected to its context, here the context seems to push back and force a reboot of the system.
As artworks move in and out of spaces, there is always a certain kind of compatibility that should be maintained. Crates are made to make life easier. Stacking goes better, protection is better, handling is better.
By each time taking 2 panels of three existing crates, three new, hybrid crates are made. It's composite nature is further pointed out by a manual that seems to indicate fairly easy assembling and taking apart. These three crossbreeds, because of their diverse and incompatible origins, are riddled with holes. They are crooked, flawed, dirty, unstable, disconnected, unsound. They are unfit to the task of packing yet at the same time can't seem to make the expected or maybe necessary jump to an artwork. They raise questions. But these questions are not clear demarcations of the issues at hand. They do not seem to directly address what is going on.
Three bastard crates among regular crates in a storage space is a difficult proposition. It’s a theory that allows itself to trip over its own logic into a new theory. While at the same time it’s an out of focus image in high resolution, only to better see the blurriness. It’s not the telling pixelation associated with zooming in, but an endemic flou artistique, the photographic bokeh.
For the duration of opening the storage space, the three crates are put on a second hand website. So again here the questions aren't clear demarcations of the issues at hand. They do not seem to directly address what is going on. The work also dares to ask difficult questions of its collector. What to do with such a work, obtained from a platform that proudly boasts about the devaluation inherent to the second hand item it distributes? And once obtained do we build a new crate for these secondhand crates?
This second hand market an economy that develops alongside a regular economy. It's arguably the simplest form of a market. It's here that the exchange is most driven by a supply and demand chain. Cars are popular."