The Last Post: We’ll Always Have Paris, by Lindsay August-Salazar
Alpaca: Figure, Form, and Abstraction
Paris, was the last city for Alpaca: Figure, Form, and Abstraction. Once again, duration was the over-arching theme of the show. Generally, a viewer and an artist confront time in a performance piece more often than they do with an autonomous 2-D object based exhibition, but as the show traveled from city to city, each place explored different definitions of duration over different periods of time.
In Berlin, the show was installed and activated over the course of a little less than 12 hours, transitioning from day to night, and then back to day. In Amsterdam, the show followed the span of one weekend, opening on Friday and closing on Sunday. In Paris, I had met and made friends with a few people in the first three weeks of my visit, and shared that I had an art show in my suitcase instead of clothes. I explained the project, and that I was to follow the actions of the Romanian artist Victor Brauner, who, upon his first visit to Paris met André Breton and in 1930 discovered Surrealism. Soon after, Brauner traveled to many places, including Amsterdam and Berlin and became a major figure in the Surrealist movement.
A new friend from École Nationale Supérieure d’art de Bourges (Art Academy in Bourges), Léa Lanoë said that she liked the approach to the show and that she was so excited to be involved and follow the show as it traveled. I explained my curiosity of trying to understand all that encompasses painting, while trying to ask where we stand today within painting.
Two months and some change after my arrival, the show finally opened in Paris. There were people who were eager to at last see the show in person, and actually discuss the exhibition. A photographer, Simon Legendre, who had been following the show, said, “It felt like this project was an attempt to refocus and reconsider our current relationship to art and the Internet. I was intrigued with the physical connection between Lindsay and the paintings she came with. I found myself asking, who/what is the art.”
I responded to him by saying , “…the process of personal and collective experience changes [one’s] investment in art-viewing and I have tried actively within this project to make that very accessible to the viewer. In a similar way to how a really good painting captivates and engages with the viewer, or even how someone pays attention to facilitate the shipment of art to a new location. Where do the lines get drawn when engaging with art?”
He said he was “…compelled by the thought that he was tracking something other than a package online, which was then brought to him by someone he had met before.” He later continued by expressing, “ This experience left me with a very different appreciation than seeing a show in a museum of the Old Masters, which obviously have traveled all over the world, but I don’t know where those places were.
As discussed in the first post, paintings have been contingent upon travel, and travel contingent upon time. Perhaps Simon is suggesting we need to take a second look at our relationship to time and maybe the connotation of time must be reconsidered to understand where we stand today.
This was the final time the work in the exhibition would travel, be unpacked, installed and then re-packed. These simple gestures have become symbols (public displays of rehearsal) for the complex, repetitive and ever-present nature of performance. This project was a way to somehow fuse shuffling between the poles of painterly abstraction, time-based work, and trying to expand the field of painting into a demonstrably performative act. I was curious to understand what it was like to be a painting.
Playful in tone and simultaneously a meticulous art-historical tracing of the dimension of painting, I thought by taking a “real time” performative approach to investigate this legacy and intervening in it, a critique of the practice, institutions and world that surround painting could be presented. I wanted to use all physical elements of my body and mental capacities of my mind, memorize a script, travel through cities tightly packed with only two wardrobe changes, to come as closely as possible to feeling as if I was performing all the roles that seem to bring an inanimate object to life.
After nearly three months of trying to understand what it feels like to perform as all the facets that revolve around a painting, i.e curator, art handler, the physical shipping(travel) as a painting, the role of a painter attending/representing the USA in a foreign country, et cetera, I guess now that it is all done, a small group of fellow artists from LA and New York including myself, have shown internationally in cities steeped rich in history with only the support of the our paintings, by themselves …
This project is far more vast than I have been able to truly convey. If you are interested and want to know more about the project, I would love to share with you.