Tris Vonna-Michell

The Story Behind | A Watermark: Capitol Complex

NoguerasBlanchard, Barcelona
Nov 26 - Dec 24, 2013
Curated by Direlia Lazo

NoguerasBlanchard is continuing its exhibition programme The Story Behind with the work “A Watermark: Capitol Complex” by Tris Vonna-Michell (1982, Southend-on- Sea).

Much of contemporary art is recreated in the story about itself, narratives that mediate between the work and the viewer either to convey the artist’s intention, explain the working process that underlies the images, or reveal deliberate and purposeful interpretations. Many artists use art to experiment with the modalities and mechanisms of storytelling; to narrate, to recount and to explain the interpretive universe surrounding our direct experience, which becomes another feature of these works. The Story Behind presents a group of works where stories, whether fictional or real, manifest and embody the oral and parallel world that accompanies the images.

Tris Vonna-Michell has established his practice in the narrative gesture, which includes performances where the artist builds up stories of personal experiences, historical coincidences and fiction. Usually Vonna-Michell realizes his presentations with outdated technology (cassette recorders, slide projectors, record players, photocopies) and dissimilar personal artifacts that he has collected over the years. A recent part of his work focuses on the composition of images that are re-photographed, telling new stories in this act of recreation and re-encounter. Another aspect is the place and purpose of the ambiguity in his stories. In Vonna-Michell’s words: “Paradoxical misinterpretation of these pieces of information and confusion are the origin of everything.”

A Watermark: Capitol Complex is built around a manuscript consisting of four acts based on four characters. The slideshow is a visual abstraction of the four acts, while the sound piece is a combination of improvised speech and musical composition. The work is located in Chandigarh, India, considered the city of the future in the fifties and the most important urban work of Le Corbusier, currently the capital of Punjab and Haryana. Le Corbusier designed the domicile of government -The Capitol Complex (Capitol) – as a sacred place equivalent to the Acropolis, where the most emblematic buildings are found. It’s distanced from the rest of the city, the highways and the parks. It’s a place that invites one to meditate and think about the connected spiritual meanings between its architecture and the surrounding landscape. However, The Capitol has never been fully realized and has thus been converted into a closed bureaucratic element.

The story leads the protagonist, the Traveller, who understands himself as a modern day walker, through the city until night in order to induce greater anxiety and intensity into the urban architecture. After his nocturnal explorations of Chandigarh he begins to tire and redirects his way searching for a place that allows him to rest, reflect and observe. Urban elements blocking his way, supervision and derailment govern him until an incident happens and the Traveller loses all his belongings. After this episode he finds himself forced to trade in order to enter the restricted area of the Capitol Complex. Once inside the government’s seat he returns to his casual wanderings and loses himself in the wide spaces of Le Corbusier´s master plan, whose surroundings have become home to a precarious colony of garbage dumps.

Tris Vonna-Michell lives and works in Stockholm.

Recent solo Exhibitions: Postscript II (Berlin), Jan Mot, Brussels (2013); Pebble Dash, T293, Rome (2013); Capitol Complex, Jan Mot, Mexico City (2013); Ulterior Vistas, BALTIC Centre for Contemporary Art, Gateshead (2012); Metro Pictures, New York (2011); Finding Chopin: Endnotes, Jeu de Paume, Paris (2009); Tris Vonna-Michell, Tensta Konsthall, Stockholm (2009); Auto-Tracking: Ongoing Configurations, Jan Mot, Brussels (2009); Auto-Tracking-Auto-Tracking, Kunsthalle Zurich, Zurich (2009); Studio A: Monumental Detours / Insignificant Fixtures, GAMeC, Bergamo (2009); Tris Vonna-Michell, Cabinet Gallery, London (2008); Tall Tales and Short Stories, Cubitt, London (2007); Tris Vonna-Michell, Witte de With, Rotterdam (2007); Faire un effort, Palais des Beaux-Arts, Brussels (2006). He has performed or exhibited in MUSAC – Museo de Arte Contemporáneo de Castilla y León, León; Secession, Vienna; IMMA – Irish Museum of Modern Art, Dublin; Mudam, Luxembourg; 9th Shanghai Biennial, Shanghai; MAMbo, Bologna; Fondation Cartier, Paris; Moderna Museet, Stockholm; ICA, London; Tate Modern, London; San Francisco MOMA, San Francisco; Wiels, Brussels; Centre Pompidou, Paris; Castello di Rivoli Museo d’Arte Contemporanea, Rivoli.

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