No Fixed Abode


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Logistica was our response to an invitation from Karen Watson and Jon Wakeman of East Street Arts, Leeds to produce the structure for the Leeds Pavilion at the Amsterdam Biennale at Mediamatic, Amsterdam.

We looked at revealing some of the processes seen in the exchange and commissioning of art by providing a somewhat oblique representation of what is involved in the delivering of a Biennial. This has been approached through concept driven design of the structural aspects of the pavilion and as such took the shape of four wooden freight containers, which were constructed and emblazoned with individual designs and symbols. Although empty, the combined external surface area of the cubic crates was exactly equal to the maximum size of every pavilion at the Biennale, as designated by Mediamatic. The crates were then forwarded to Amsterdam via DHL (by whom the Amsterdam Biennale was sponsored), entering into the perceptual void of the global logistics industry where, for short periods of time, they would be accounted for by temporary guarantors. We hoped that our playful reworking of the universal instructive symbols – the code - that choreographs an objects transmission though this spatial algorithm, that we could enter into the subjectivity of the guarantors; communicating with people that we are never meant to know.

Exiting this ‘pre-sentient’ void and arriving at the ‘hyper-sentient’ gallery space, the crates, displaying signs of ware and documents of their transfer, remained perceptually invisible. Although by this time they were essentially different objects, the crates, although visible within the gallery space were still encoded within the field of pragmatics.

It was only when placed within the delineated space for the Leeds Pavilion that the crates were activated as the pavilion. First - as we hoped - they provided a modular concept for artists Megan Smith and Gundun Kattke & Sylvia Leibig to temporarily display or act out their work. Secondly, as the Amsterdam Biennale opened, the pavilion became not just a structure with which to display work, but with the walls of the pavilion collapsed and contained within the crates, the pavilion could look outwards from the centre. On the opening evening of the show the pavilion was also employed as a temporary (slightly biased) surface for table-tennis, and as a mini bar from which to sample Jon Wakeman’s and Robert Quirk’s signature (incendiary) Bloody Mary’s.

The artists who used the pavilion were:

Megan Smith installed her new work Pst, using an Apple Mac computer, a small LED screen and an Ethernet cable to collect and display tweets from artists and others who she asked to ‘message’ from Leeds.

And the film Enter the Amazing Virginia Shopel by Gundun Kattke & Sylvia Leibig, made after their three-week residency in a disused shop in Leeds, explored issues on consumerism as religious fervor and indoctrination.

Logistica was produced on the invite of Karen Watson and Jon Wakeman of East Street Arts, Leeds as a pavilion project for The Amsterdam Biennale at Mediamatic, Amsterdam. 16th September 2009 – 03rd January 2010.