Is it possible to limit the essence of the artistic act to the control of a specific material? First of all, the painter is not necessarily an artist whereas lot of artists do not define their practice in relationship to a particular material. However, there is no artist who does not work a material, might it be, paradoxically, immaterial.
The center of this relation is not thus the material but truly the mastery. This word raises an evident problem, because it seems to be applicable only within the academic hierarchies. Nowadays the contemporary artist is the one who invents his/her own knowledge, his domain of qualification. He chooses where his control goes and, as an everlasting amateur, tackles domains that escape him.
Along a tightrope, projects presented in Study After Nature are all studies of specific domains, oscillating between scientific rigour, and the approximation or eccentricity of the fanatic.
So, if Rainer Ganahl is learning different kind of languages since about twenty years now, to the point he’s fluent in a dozen of them, he masters none completely. By prefering converstation with native speakers to classrooms, Rainer Ganahl acquired a specific knowledge, which belongs exclusively to him, based on his own rules. The artist remains the one that the public admires for his mastery, but paradoxically this mastery would be recognized by no proper authorities.
Agency’s archive collects since the early nineties all the jurisprudence cases linked to copyright may be an inexhaustible source for a jurist. Its work exceeds however the simple archive when the cases are presented to the public. Indeed, Agency always operates a selection in its database, according to the presentation context, sometimes putting in relation several cases. Then, it presents every jurisprudence through a synthetic text arranged next to the source of contention. But this public disclosure is not the full stop of a work still in progress. It is even a pretext to pursue the discussion with other specialists, in public, as during the "Assembly" taking place at the gallery on November 20th or in more confidential ways.
Study has no end and is thus an everlasting work in progress. Alain Declercq and A Constructed World’s projects take place on shorter durations, but it doesn’t mean that they are « one shot » proposals. They inflect in variations, thus deepening the relationship to a particular object on a long term.
A Constructed World’s Explaining Contemporary Art To Live Eels project comes from the absurd statement announced by its title. But unlike the hare, the eels are alive. They swim and grow in ponds regularly surrounded by books, objects, speeches, some artifacts of which are presented in the actual installation. In a collective way, eels were exposed to miscellaneous popular universities where guests communicated to them part of their knowledge. Obviously, the speaker who addresses eels, by the effect of indirect discourse, like in a theater, addresses the public. The study is passing here by the teaching or the transmission and so, establishes in a heterogeneous way. However, A Constructed World had to learn on the job of how to raise these eels and discovered extremely intelligent animals on which we finally know few things. Eels maybe finally kept something of these strange experiments. Nothing is less sure, but we can however play the game. Because there is in each of the works of the artists of this exhibition, as in the practice of the amateur specialist, a will to play in, to reinvent himself/herself differently.
Thus, Alain Declercq becomes a spy or a terrorist during his investigations. His reports are a part of a bigger set, where the artist reconstituted imaginary, but plausible proofs connected more specifically to international terrorism. It could be the subject of a work on geopolitics and especially the mediatic construction, but Alain Declercq goes further by incorporating techniques of infiltrations and what he collects. These are useful to him, when worms his way in highly secured grounds to take forbidden photos. Survival guide and Manual notebooks, are literal copies of existing, although forbidden, publications. This laborious task is doubtless the most ancient method of apprenticeship: to copy again and again until knowing by heart.
The study is not the research. It is not the creation of a new corpus, but the confrontation with an already existing one. To study after nature is to establish this particular relationship whre the focus is put upon a model or a object that is not produced for the occasion. It is the approach of an ornithologist who makes sketches of exotic birds. But it is also the attempt of documentation of the techniques of the C.R.S. in context of démonstration, proposed by Alain Declercq in Embedded. The direct approach makes it a raw document, without the shaping of the documentary genre (that implies an aesthetic point of view and a reconstructed reality). Here are recordings with no interview, with no psychologizing, trying to put flat a situation, by taking into account both points of view. It is a field study, an application of a precise methodology.
The common thread throughout this exhibition is highlighted through the re-shaping of these raw documents, invented by the artists, or collected in the case of Agency. They are simple gestures in the frame of a long-term job. They exist as a hybrid or alternate to the original, and live in an illegitimate category between a documentation of a performance and the ready-made.
As for Warren Neidich’s Highlights we could almost consider them increased readymade. These reproductions of highlighted and annotated books carry the track of a split up temporality or a meticulous analysis, in any case the trace of a reading at work. Books studies are the base of every artist work, even indirectly, but they are also in the work of Warren Neidich an echo in its in-depth study of the cognitive sciences.
All these objects are not the study, but its tracks or its consequences, its rubbishes in the uncertain status; and so they acquire a status so particular, where poetics of the document expresses itself.