15 de Junio, 19:00 horas. Conferencia de Andrew Gangoiti: “f-hole”.

El artista Andrew Gangoiti presenta la muestra “f-hole” a partir del día 3 de junio de 2011 en la sala de exposiciones de la Fundación Bilbao Arte Fundazioa.

Andrew Gangoiti desarrolló su proyecto durante el año 2010 como artista residente de la Fundación Bilbao Arte Fundazioa,  dentro del programa anual de becas de producción patrocinado por la Fundación BBK.

La instalación, que podrá ser visitada hasta el próximo 24 de junio, ha sido producida teniendo en cuenta las características arquitectónicas del espacio expositivo, tal y como viene siendo habitual en los trabajos del artista, definidos por Agustín Gómez como “construcciones donde escultura, arquitectura, sonido, público, técnica y tecnología forman parte de un conjunto indisoluble y armónico”.

Andrew’s violin, Agustín Gómez. Universidad de Málaga.

An image is not a substitute for anything
Louise Lawler

This is possible in a large total installation: the absorbed, distracted spectator walks around it slowly, observes, moves away, reflects and moves closer again. The peculiar atmosphere helps him concentrate, delve deep into his memory and move from one level of his thoughts to another. Because a well-designed installation must work on every level: from the most banal and profane to the most intellectual and spiritually elevated.
Ilya Kabakov

Miguelangelo Buonarroti removed the stone that was unnecessary so that the image inside could touch the space and Eduardo Chillida filled the interior of the stone with air. Between both proposals, there have been many works and philosophies of art that take space as a point of reference. Even painting, the two-dimensional art par excellence, has insistently sought to fill the canvas with space and also construct a theory of it. Referring back to the Dutch masters or to Velázquez is the easiest way of seeing these, let’s be frank, artistic obsessions.

In other directions, some creators have sought what has been considered as a total work, that which brings together every art form under one umbrella. When the filmmaker arrived, there were those who thought that the road had been opened to achieve image in movement, sound and a close bond with reality. However, as on so many other occasions, it was merely a new proposal, with a new form, with a completely new tool. However, what was important was the purpose, the same as when photography arrived, or performance or Cubism or futurism… Without considering other lucubrations, all these initiatives include an attempt at pursuing a pipe dream, perhaps precisely because it is known to be a utopia.

Let us return to the concept of the work that includes fragments of other works. After Picasso’s collages in painting, Man Ray inserted and painted on photography or transformed the negatives in keeping with what the photographer William Fox Talbot (1800-1877) had done previously with his photogenic drawings. If photography was at the service of reality, Ray, together with others, turned it into a surrealist object, which is simply another way of bringing together forms and ideas.

One of the most emblematic works of Man Ray is Ingres’s Violin (Le violon d’Ingres, 1924), a photograph of a naked woman (Kiki de Montparnasse) with her back to the camera, on which he painted two openings (f-holes) similar to the resonance holes of a violin. The association of a woman’s body with this musical instrument is revealed by the rounded shapes and, above all, by the peculiar design inserted in her back. Man Ray worked with photography, outlining the profiles of his models as if it were painting. He also reinterpreted the female body, which he turned into a surrealist game, and filled it with a large number of associations. Indeed, Ray conditioned his work to a relationship with Ingres by using his name in the title. It is not the only element that leads us to the painter’s work. The turban on the head leads us to two of his works: The Valpinçon Bather (1808) and The Turkish Bath (1862), where the woman in the foreground, with her back to the spectator, plays a stringed instrument. The photographer evokes the sensuality of the voyeuristic painter, but uses a visual metaphor to transform the body into an artistic object.
In the 1960s, the umpteenth art revolution came with the configuration of what was agreed to be referred to as installation. It included three-dimensional proposals in which an object or objects were located in a space through which spectators walked. It was a way of including them in the work, of interacting with it. Carl Andre pointed out that it responded to a notion of totality. Indeed, the work referred to architecture, sculpture, painting, theatre and music and often also to literature and art in movement. These are the seven modern arts, which refer to sight and hearing and move away from the classical arts, which were based more on science and on mental skills (Trivium: grammar, rhetoric and dialectics; Quadrivium: arithmetic, geometry, astronomy and music).
The evolution of Installations is sufficiently complex for it to be discussed in these few lines, but it must be remembered that its greatest contribution to art was the construction of a new way of seeing, no longer based on contemplation, but rather on a questioning of art forms, on situating the spectator in the centre of the work so that he would become the builder of the work’s identity.

f-hole belongs to a project called Acoustic elements in sculptural work, on which Andrew Gangoiti (Lakes Entrance, Australia, 1962) has been working in recent years. Although sculpture and music are the common denominator, the central axis is the analytical study of space. Torqueo, which was exhibited in Torre de Ariz de Basauri in 2010, is a good forerunner. But it is not the only one. It was preceded by Replication (1995), in which the cables constructed empty spaces, like the lines an architect draws to imagine a space, but here, the space is built inside another space, in other words, it exists because it can be crossed physically and followed visually.
This way of combining and relating to the elements in the room, the first step for spectators to form part of the strategy, is the one we also saw in post theory (1996), where a leaning steel column interacted with another concrete column in the room. Possibility and imagination came about and rivalled each other in architectural pressures and textures.

Torqueo was a step forward in the use of space as a projected sculptural form. A spiral that referred to natural, cultural forms. It was possible to see Robert Smithson and Land Art, the clean lines of classicism and baroque trickery, arithmetic and its theoreticians. One of the differences with its forerunners was the inclusion of music by Stephen Kearney. It slowly disappeared as spectators reached the heart of the spiral, when it turned into silence. Then came Untitled (Stairwell, 2010), in which a number of steel cables hung down a stairwell. The spectator could touch the cables as if they were an instrument and hear the sound they made. Unlike the previous work, in this piece it was the work itself that ran through the space vertically and, as it was the spectator who had to touch it for it to come alive, it guaranteed the relationship between the subject and the object.

f-hole is the latest sculptural-architectural-musical-conceptual proposal put forward by Andrew Gangoiti. Again he works with steel cables and with the idea of turning the space into a metaphor. In a rectangular room with three columns in the centre, the cables fall from the ceiling to make an f-shape. In this way, as in post theory, he integrates the architectural forms with the structure of his work until it forms a necessary part of his peculiar dialogue. More than being in the exhibition space, it integrates in it. Spectators walk around it, they walk into the f and experience the work from various viewpoints.
It is a clean form with a number of echoes. The most direct points to music, to an image that is typical only of certain stringed instruments, such as the violin, viola or double bass. This leads to ways of seeing universalities, in which recognition is a starting point. This is one of the main virtues of his work since it combines a dematerialisation of form with its total identification. Furthermore, as it can be walked around, we install ourselves in the space which, as part of the evocation, is unknown and impossible, not to walk around, but rather to visualise. The exact opposite of those clean lines of steel that can be looked through. In the violin, the figure is created by what is missing, it is a negative, whereas in f-hole, it is a positive. In this way, sculpture establishes a relationship with the spectator, whose phenomenological experience of the object is essential for its meaning. It is all a reflection of the nature of forms and the physicality of space, which is also space-time because it refers to music.
In this direction, we have to refer to Snake (Snake, 1994-97) by Richard Serra, which is in the Guggenheim Bilbao Museoa as part of La materia del tiempo. Although the differences with Serra’s work are significant, there is a connection. The consistency of the steel is light and its roughness can only be felt and noticed when it is touched. In f-hole, the process is reversed. The work is light, but when it is touched, it becomes more solid, as if the spaces between each cable were filled optically and we become mentally immersed in a dark interior. In both cases, the work stands in a real space for the spectator, redefined by his integration in the space and in the echoes it transmits.
f-hole combines entertainment, understood as perception and participation, and knowledge, understood as cognitive realisation, looking at what has been looked at or, if you prefer, the (re)cognition of all the cultural layers in the work. This is the most important aspect of his work, the combination of stimuli and meaning. There is a representation that cannot be seen, but which is there or which can be easily found. An invitation to contextualise, which, with the music, becomes narrative. There is no trick and for all the pieces to fit, the title suggests a sincere relationship with the work. It is the time when music, on the one hand, and Man Ray and his cultural heritage, on the other, start to appear.

In contrast to the art of detritus and scandal, Andrew presents a work that is clean and pure, through which spectators can walk (physically and metaphorically), following an endless number of routes.

He inherits the tradition of minimalism and speculative spaces built by artists such as Donald Judd, Robert Morris, Carl Andre and Richard Serra, but also the ancient arts. In his work, and we do not refer exclusively to f-hole, there is a classical construction that evokes science or mathematical precision, that leads to the quadrivium, to arithmetic and geometry, but also to mentality, to the trivium, which takes us down the road of grammar, rhetoric and dialectics. This is the peculiar pipedream of his work, that which fills and builds spaces as figures that go beyond what can be visualised, that joins together forms and ideas. Without the cumulative desire of adding here and there, f-hole brings together what is necessary (precision again) to build a work that vibrates with art in every dimension.

The diversified field, Oihana Cabrera.

Standing before the first pieces of steel cables by Andrew Gangoiti is, to a certain extent, like going back to the Earthworks of the 1960s. The spirit of the artists of Land Art, which includes fully inserting their works in the natural environment, is also involved in these sculptures, which change the landscape scenario and raw nature for another that is more humanised and compressed: architecture. More specifically, the architecture of the exhibition spaces in which he intervenes. Through fine lines of stainless steel that outline geometric shapes (like Fred Sandback once did), he invades the empty space that is presented before him, but he does not subjugate it. In other words, he does interventions with and for the architectural space in a profound atmosphere of respect and gives it new meaning that brings forth a rereading of it, its restructuring. Consequently, the void and other spatial elements, which in another context might go by unnoticed, are given greater presence and monumentality.

Besides this, his relationship with architecture is also formalistic. Andrew builds his sculptures as if he were building the safest of buildings. His sketches are technical drawings, genuine building plans full of measurements, sizes and scales; and his work methodology (methodical and highly accurate) is reminiscent of the way an architect works. His works gives off a solidity like the four walls of a building.

Symbiosis and mimesis with the environment. That is the relationship between sculpture and architecture in this artist’s works. Both protagonise the formation of a complicated dissolution. The limits of where one begins and the other ends are blurred. That is why the term “sculpture” is inaccurate for these artistic hybrids. Perhaps we could resort to the terminology used by Rosalind Krauss for her expanded field and build our “axiomatic structure” in the place between “architecture” and “non-architecture”.

However, Andrew Gangoiti’s field expands further and challenges limitation. It continues to evolve. And it does so with Acoustic elements in sculptural work, his latest project, based on the addition of sound as a third element in his sculptures. Now, his cables, fitted with sensors and electronic devices that emit sound, are repositioned in the space to outline new shapes that invite spectators to follow them (a spiral, a corridor, an f-hole). The sensors act as melodic alarms that warn of the presence of the foreign elements that accompany them on their itinerary. We refer to the spectator, the fundamental axis that constitutes Gangoiti’s sculptural work, the piece without which it could not work as a whole. The spectator as an independent figure, with its particular characteristics, visits the works, activating sounds that are unique and unrepeatable for any other – when there are no sensors, the sound comes from musical strings that are plucked manually; a strategy that multiplies the attitudes of the work and prevents it from having one single denotation. Jacques Derrida would undoubtedly compare these pieces with his theory of deconstructionism. And he would be right. The work is open, with many possible interpretations, one for every spectator. The possible readings offered by these works will always be infinite because it could never be said that one of the readings or interpretations is correct.

Let us return to the expanded field, to that of Andrew Gangoiti. In constructions where sculpture, architecture, sound, public, technique and technology form part of an indissoluble and harmonious whole, even the cartography by José Luis Brea in Ornamento y utopía for the sculpture of the 1980s and 1990s is not enough. The outline he made of a “more expanded” field, even “more expanded than that of Krauss, which […] would enable awareness of the displacements not only in relation to formal transformations, but also and above all to those that refer to the use and public meaning of said formal displacements”, now requires more space for installations that have completely saturated the inherited categories. Andrew’s field is an experimental field in search of new languages that have not yet been explored, an alternative model that allows for polysemy and that extends further and further. His field is indeed a diversified field.