Constellations of One and Many
in collaboration with Archive Books
at ar/ge kunst, Bolzano, 2014
The shared investigation
ARCHIVE BOOKS is a publishing house and editorial collective based in Berlin (current team: Alexandra Bordes, Lilia di Bella, Paolo Caffoni, Chiara Figone, Nicola Guy, Annika Turkovski). ARCHIVE BOOKS has been developing editorial research on the notions of the ‘visible’ and the cinematic image, with all their socio-political implications, since 2009. This research corresponds to a reflection on both the meanings and the practices of ‘exhibiting’ – of exposing oneself publicly (part of the practice of ‘publishing’ itself); an activity that has to be understood as a moment that enacts and transforms productive processes. Selected publishing titles from 2013/2014 include: Clemens von Wedemeyer, The Cast (edited by Paolo Caffoni); Fight Specific Isola (edited by Isola Art Center); The Psychopathologies of Cognitive Capitalism (edited by Arne de Bover, Warren Neidich). Recent projects and exhibitions have included: Inventory as part of The Books Society, Peephole and Villa Croce, Genoa (2013); How to Tell a Story, Depo, Istanbul (2013); 3rd Thessaloniki Biennale, Thessaloniki (2011). Journals: No Order. Art in a Post-Fordist Society (edited by Marco Scotini); Archive Journal (edited by Archive Books). at ar/ge kunst, Bolzano, 2014. entitled Constellations of One and Many focuses on the relationships of power and affect that exist between subject and collectivity. It takes its cues from a series of sources and case studies in the fields of literature, philosophy and political science.
This research is directly reflected in the sculptural display that Pisano and Archive Books have conceived for the exhibition: a specific format of presentation with its own spatial and temporal coordinates. The actual function of the display is to bring together otherwise diffuse, disparate elements into an arrangement or constellation. It could also be read as a diagram where the individual–collective, object–architecture relationship finds form that remains open to possibility.
This ‘openness’ is mirrored in the temporal organisation of the display, which is articulated in three distinct parts covering the duration of the exhibition. Both contents and publics are arranged (or choreographed) into three different, and, by definition, incomplete configurations.
Constellation 1: The man of the crowd
The first configuration, titled The Man of the Crowd, is a direct reference to the novel of the same name written in 1840 by American writer Edgar Allan Poe. In this story, the visual engagement between the two main characters is used as a paradigm to describe the urban crowd pictured in the historical moment of its emergence; during the development of extensive metropolitan areas and all the new social, productive and perceptive relationships these entail.
Constellation 2: Here to there, there to here
In the second configuration Here to There, There to Here the point of view is shifted to observe the image of the crowd from its exterior.
Beginning with the Arab Spring and Occupy Movements, recent years have seen a proliferation of visual imagery representing crowds – a process that follows on from earlier waves for instance in the 1960s and 1970s. Pisano and Archive Books take this observation and derive a set of questions from it: What are the implications of the mediatisation of subjectivities for the relationship of proximity and distance? What modes of attention pertain to the image of a crowd? And what kind of role does this image play in a recognized rhetoric of the representation of social change?
Constellation 3: Flesh made numbers made flesh again
The third configuration, entitled Flesh made numbers made flesh again, focuses on the crowd as public. It investigates the production of the crowd’s subjectivity and its economic relevance to post-Fordist modes of production. In these terms, the exhibition as such – from the great world fairs onwards – was never just a ‘dispositive’ for observing and exposing; it is primarily a means for organising production and, by implication, the social itself.