Saloon will soon be taking a summer break, but not before they go out with a bang. “B-Sides” presents work by more than 30 artists, but they are all pieces located in the margins of their artistic oeuvres. Beside the point, or is it?
I Am the Walrus” must be one of the most infamous B-sides in music history. On the nonsensical flip side of The Beatles’ 7-inch hit single “Hello Goodbye” from 1967, John Lennon takes an acid trip to Alice’s Wonderland, all the while teasingly grasping for anything and everything that would drive his listeners crazy in their search for an interpretative key. “I am the walrus / Goo goo g’joob.”
51 years later, the artist-run exhibition platform Saloon is devoting a small but powerful summer exhibition to artistic B-sides: works that have rarely if ever been shown. All attempts and tentative first steps in the creation process or explorations of a technique, or works that are slightly unconventional within the artists’ oeuvres as a whole. These are all reasons to question everything you see in “B-Sides”.
What makes an artwork an artwork? Is it enough that the artist calls it that? Or an exhibition curator? And how do you show something not yet fully grown, an idea that has just started germinating? How far does the process go and when does it result in something? How does the work wrest itself from that permanent dialogue with its maker and claim its own identity? How do you ever determine whether a work is “finished”? All these questions make “B-Sides” worth a visit.
The exhibition offers insight into what goes on behind the work, the things in the periphery of the oeuvre, or the things that are at its origins. For example, Hana Miletic is showing Sampler, a tiny piece of embroidery that she made during a workshop in the traditional Afghan embroidery method called Khamak. “A failed attempt” is how she herself describes it, but at the same time it looks so fragile that it actually shows all the things that her “regular” work always shows: a total lack of fear of being open and engaged in the world and the conviction that the simple and intimate act of trying begins to shape a perspective on art and life.
Richard Venlet is showing a very special B-side: a work (streaks of red paint in the folds of the space) that he commissioned in New York in 1997, but which he did not see at the time himself.
But there is also the work of photographer Lola Pertsowsky, who is showing a photo that captured an intimate and personal moment completely outside the context of her artistic practice: a day at the beach resulted in the spontaneous examination of little hairs on nipples. An unintentional but very beautiful work. George Rippon is showing a similar sort of image: a playful still life made at his mother’s dining table.
The bronze sculpture by Dorota Jurczak apparently contains a production mistake, because it was cast solid instead of hollow. This “hidden defect” is characteristic of the whole exhibition, which extracts surprise, playfulness, and experiment from the tattered edges of artistic practice, and in return receives our boundless enthusiasm.
> 22/7, Saloon @ Komplot, www.s-a-l-o-o-n.com