Alex Cecchetti “Tamam Shud” at Ujazdowski Castle Centre for Contemporary Art, Warsaw
In Tamam Shud, a murder mystery artist’s novel by Alex Cecchetti, the artist and narrator realises he is dead and decides to investigate the causes of his own death. The exhibition will provide the scenery for the next chapters of the future novel, and viewers-turned-detectives will try to uncover the story told by the narrator. Among many other events, they will have dinner and listen to whale songs in the exhibition space.
My body was found in 2014, somewhere between Los Angeles and Warsaw, dismembered. My identity is still unknown. Nothing can be used for identification. The labels of the clothes, fingerprints and the number on the shoes have been carefully unstitched, deleted, washed, bleached and delivered to oblivion. The only clue, in a secret pocket sewn inside my trousers, detectives have recovered a fragile piece of paper torn from the pages of a book. Written there, the words Tamam Shud, ‘this is the end’.
The entire project is based on the power of imagination and the story narrated by the artist. Alex Cecchetti has decided to write a murder mystery using artistic tools. Thus, he is not writing it sitting in front of his computer, in the isolation of his studio. The novel is being created through performative events, organised at the Ujazdowski Castle Centre for Contemporary Art. The viewers become detectives, tracking down the evidence of the crime committed. During previous editions of the project, the chapters of the novel were written by means of Tarot cards. Also, the viewers were taken on a guided tour through a garden in Paris, where the artist told them about the poisonous properties of some of the plants that could potentially kill the protagonist.
In order to create the Tamam Shud narrative, Cecchetti devised a two-year-long art project in which the exhibition constitutes the key device in the production of the artist’s upcoming novel. The performative nature of the exhibition is threefold. Firstly, a series of thematic rooms contain pieces that, similar to musical scores, are activated by the spectators’ participation. For instance, the Dance Room features a number of staircase handrails modified in such a way that when visitors place their hands on them and follow their curves and twists from one end to the other, they perform a choreographed ballet dance sequence. Additionally, there will also be some performative events at various times during the exhibition, such as a synaesthesia concert, and meals served in the Dinner Room at various times throughout the duration of the exhibition.
I don’t remember if in life I was an artist, a musician or a gardener, but death forced me to be one. About music, I remember only colours. If I paint them, would an orchestra play what I used to hear? If I play my bones as a flute, will they sing the secret of my youth? If I pollinate flowers with my mouth, will the fruits have the scent of words or kisses?
The third performative aspect focuses on a pair of detectives who will carry out their investigations, observing the events unfolding during the show, and communicating these to the artist, who will use them as fodder for the writing of his novel. Disappearing paintings, whale songs, dreamed artworks, a mysterious erotic cabinet, and score paintings for orchestra are just some of the clues that will influence the writing process.
Curated by The Book Lovers (Joanna Zielińska, David Maroto).
at Ujazdowski Castle Centre for Contemporary Art, Warsaw
until 1 October 2017