In the work of artist duo Revital Cohen and Tuur Van Balen, process and final result are so intertwined that exhibiting their works demands new approaches. The result is a collaborative exhibition in five acts that is constantly in flux.
Artist(s) Tuur van Balen (BE), Revital Cohen (UK)
Venue Brakke Grond, Amsterdam
Revital Cohen and Tuur Van Balen describe their work as ‘situated practice’: a practice in which the work is created within various networks and whereby the process is every bit as important as the final result. One example is the new trade route they came up with in order to import fireworks from Liuyang in China to Congo, where the fireworks were set off in an open-cast mine (Trapped in the Dream of the Other, 2017); another is their design for an object, the sole purpose of which is to stimulate particular movements in the workers on the production line in a Chinese factory (75 Watt, 2013). These ambitious projects – which often take years to complete in cooperation with specialists from a range of specialist fields – require a great deal of research in advance, and this too makes up an integral part of the work.
An exhibition in five acts
Inspired by De Brakke Grond’s operation as a multidisciplinary presentation venue, the duo have derived a number of techniques and formats from the theatre in order to experiment with forms that reveal their process and research. As a result, for White Horse/ Twin Horse (rehearsing an exhibition) they will present their process in a series of acts or repetitions. Not only will they bring all their works from storage and archives to the theatre space, they will also be inviting experts (including curator Samuel Saelemakers, theatre-maker Anne Breure and artist Tyler Coburn) to activate the works at five different moments. By this, the duo are abandoning the usual, static mode of exhibition for a more collaborative, open model that embraces experimentation.
Usually, what goes on behind the scenes is hidden from the eyes of the public. Not so in White Horse/ Twin Horse (rehearsing an exhibition) – an exhibition that seems to be constantly in the reconfiguration phase. New, performative work will be created on the spot from material derived from blogs, e-mails and other texts written by Cohen and Van Balen, and this will recur repeatedly throughout the exhibition in the form of a ‘live rehearsal’. White Horse/ Twin Horse (rehearsing an exhibition) is – to stay with the theatre analogy – more of a rehearsal than a final performance. This unusual way of working is also a way of showing a new connectedness between the various projects the artists have worked on in previous years.
Within the evolving nature of the exhibition, there is also space for quiet reflection, recorded as text by a writer-in-residence bearing witness to the transition between each act. This documentation will be made available to the visitors as an insight into the genesis of the current status reached by the exhibition. The project will be completed with a study day on Friday, 26 January 2018, at which artists and thinkers will together examine, by invitation, the intersection between process, research, repetition and presentation. During the last weekend of the exhibition these results will be shared with the public.