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Exercise 20: Exercises on Style – Sculpture on the Run

4 March 2010

Director: Jon Mikel Euba

Venue: Galleries 3.1 and 3.2

After listening to Bach’s The Art of Fugue at a concert, Raymond Queneau became obsessed with the idea of variations tending to near infinity and decided to produce a set of exercises in writing. He first wrote 12 versions of the same anecdote told in different ways, then a further 12. Unable to get them published, he spent a few years adding variations, finally arriving at the figure of 99 versions of the same story. He considered that 99 were not too many, nor too few; not too serious nor too frivolous. His Exercises in Style were finally published in 1947.

The Art of Fugue (Die Kunst der Fuge), a piece of music composed by Johann Sebastian Bach, was left unfinished at his death. Composed around the idea that it should provide a set of examples of the counterpoint technique, it included 14 fugues and four cannons, all built on the same theme. It was published with no indication regarding instruments or order, thus giving rise to a great many versions.

Gallery 3.1 at MUSAC shall hold a range of materials, all related to the project Condensed Velasquez. Some of these materials will be finished works, others educational media, materials for generating future works, etc. In total, around 20 independent elements shall share a single space. Taking them as elements for a possible syntax, the exercise director shall provide each participant (including directors) with different representations -images, lists, etc.- referred to each of these 20 elements. Each participant shall suggest, in project form, a new arrangement for the elements, applying simple patterns or guidelines in order to configure at least 18 different versions. Each of the versions suggested shall be analysed by the group and, over a day’s work, a given number of proposals shall be executed and documented as photographs, in a minimum of two and a maximum of six pictures.

The exercise attempts to tackle the issues of sculpture by applying estrangement techniques. It intends to generate the largest possible number of variations operating on a limited number of elements. When manipulating the elements, we shall apply a set of patterns derived from the piece Condensed Velasquez, as well as concepts borrowed from proxemics, such as: flight distance, critical distance, intimate distance, personal distance, social distance, public distance, etc. These patterns shall be applied in order to pre-empt what is often referred to as ‘imaginative thought’, introducing strategies where chance plays a significant role.