“Discoteca Analitica” at Fri Art Kunsthalle, Fribourg
Discoteca Analitica reassesses the emergence of multimedia experiments in the Sixties based on the range of early varieties of discotheque. The exhibition offers an immersive experience bringing together Californian counter-culture, pop and psychedelic movements, and pioneers of radical Italian architecture. It is based on unpublished archives and original works. They reveal how music, ecstasy and collective experience, at the heart of these artists’ concerns, have preempted our contemporary digital culture.
Works & Documents by: Edmund Alleyn, Archizoom Associati, Udo Breger, John Brockman, Angela Bulloch, William S. Burroughs, Judy Chicago, Catherine Christer Hennix, Creamcheese, François Dallegret, Electric Circus, Evenstructure Research Group, Vidya Gastaldon, Anna and Lawrence Halprin, Derek Jarman / Michael Kostiff/ John Maybury / Cerith Wyn Evans, Jacqueline de Jong, Thomas Julier, Morag Keil, Timothy Leary, Léa Lublin, Tobias Madison, Tony Martin, Marie Matusz, Pauline Oliveros, Walter Pichler, Piper Club, PULSA, Paul Ryan, Paul Ryan, Carolee Schneemann, Nicolas Schöffer, Ramon Sender, Sensorium, Willoughby Sharp, Gerd Stern, USCO, Ye Xe.
Curated by Nicolas Brulhart
In the 1960s, as the development of electronics that would lead to our digital present got underway, artists imagined immersive architectures that incorporated the media of the time. They built all-encompassing spaces in which all the senses were intensely stimulated in order to capture one’s entire attention. In fact these spaces were the response to the fantasy of ‘total artwork’ (Gesamtkunstwerk) for a new electronic age, whose advent they could make out on the horizon.
From archival documents, historical objects and contemporary works, Discoteca Analitica recounts a whole range of interwoven stories: the Californian counter-culture which gave rise to psychedelic art, USCO, Anna and Lawrence Halprin’s The Halprin Workshops in which art and therapy merge, Steward Brand’s immersive environment inspired by so-called primitive cultures, kinetic artist Nicolas Schöffer’s machines and the leisure space projects from radical architects Archizoom and Cedric Price.
Architecture of the exhibition
The exhibition is conceived as the encounter between two opposing spaces, two ways of allocating attention, stimulating our senses. The white cube, in which the visitor experiences a succession of works of art, merges with the saturated space of the discotheque delivering us into a sort of ecstasy.Discoteca Analitica is a place where the intellectual and the sensual merge, but also where the interactive past meets the digital present. There is a common matrix, a common obsession to these dialogues. This obsession is contact, whether it be electric, or come from the senses.
Imagine lascivious bodies lost in a labyrinth in search of an object that can never be fully reconstructed, an unconscious located on the other side of knowledge: a certain strangeness, that of an ideal space that does not exist, except in the form of memory or desire.
The Archive Labyrinth (the corridor, the garden, the study room)
The obsession for the document is an obsession for the Real.
In this house of documents, Workshop 10 Myths from Anna Halprin, who creates works bringing amateur and professional dancers together, the USCO Solux community project and the Esalen Institute seminars constitute a foundation from which a new psychology of personal development, a culture of the self emerges.
The labyrinth and the study hall were brought together with the help of artist Thomas Julier. He conceived of these spaces as if he were an artist from whom we had ordered not a discotheque, but a discotheque archive. This intervention evokes the architecture of a Renaissance convent.
Fragments of attention-grabbing Gadgets (the public space)
In a large open room, you discover fragments of the premises of an interactive culture, a museum game room, where interaction is simultaneously permitted and withheld. As part of the series of interactive objects, a work by Tony Martin offers two people the opportunity to have their faces brought together in a constellation of light and reflections. Not far away, a pinball machine testifies to situationist artist Jacqueline de Jong’s both critical and fascinated love of the game. Surrounding these apparatus’, the drawings of artist Carolee Schneemann resexualise the excessive ambitions of multimedia artists and their machines of control, blowing holes in the logic of the way they work.
To continue to exist, one can no longer do without the digital infrastructure. It has become our environment, whereas these antique automatons provoke our sympathy, tenderness. They represent the infancy of the attention economy.
Symbolic Height (the exhibition’s double / topology)
The exhibition continues on the next floor. A series of works extends an analysis advocated by the first two worlds of the fragments and the archive, but in a more symbolic way. In a first room, you face theDiscoteca Analitica double, just as in the works by Catherine Christer Hennix. There’s a bug. A canvas by Willliam Burroughs represents a machine with which contact cannot be envisaged: engagement is not possible. A painting by Ye Xe evokes a task: representing the unrepresentable. The last room picks up on some of the key motifs lost between Discoteca and Analitica. The missing body in the work by Marie Ma- tusz, the body of the observing/observed child in Tobias Madison’s photographs, body of reproductions lost in a dream machine. A dialogue between a myth-making object and the sculpture by Angela Bulloch, incorporating its story, serves as a synthesis of the exhibition.
Synthetic Perversion (in a darkroom)
You have retraced your steps. While making your way through the exhibition, you experienced the intuition that contact and ecstasy create. In the basement, you visit a fourth room to which you now hold the key: our desirous relationship to automata is inhabited by perversion. This perversion is the equal of the emotion created by beauty. The construction of sensations is inhabited by something that lies beyond the history of technology and gender issues. Like the exhibition, contact served as the substitute for something else, something that cannot get in.
at Fri Art Kunsthalle, Fribourg
until 31 March 2019