Ten Questions: Cerith Wyn Evans

- I am pleased to have the opportunity to develop new relational addresses to an ever merging and hopefully curious audience, Cerith Wyn Evans says, with reference to his current exhibition in Bergen Kunsthall.

Cerith Wyn Evans inside the installation S=U=P=E=R=S=T=R=U=C=T=U=R=E («Trace me back to some loud, shallow, chill, underlying motive’s overspill…»), 2010. From the exhibition at Bergen Kunsthall. Photo: Thor Brødreskift.

As of today, Friday the 4th of February, Bergen Kunsthall will be showing an installation by London-based artist, Cerith Wyn Evans. The show includes two new works as well as S=U=P=E=R=S=T=R=U=C=T=U=R=E («Trace me back to some loud, shallow, chilli, underlying motive’s overspill…»), an installation of floor-to-ceiling columns, built out of fluorescent tubes. The columns repeatedly brighten and dim, giving off a warm glow that can be felt, in varying intensities, throughout the four rooms of the Bergen Kunsthall.

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This installation, like in many of Cerith Wyn Evans’s previous exhibitions, plays with heat, light and sound to not only bring attention to the particular exhibition space, but also to potentially generate another space, possibly another time, where Wyn Evans can keep the ideas of his predecessors in play. For this show, the works of both Stéphane Mallarmé and Marcel Broodthaers have been summoned in a series of framed works on paper.

Installation shot of Cerith Wyn Evans’ Un coup de dés jamais n’abolira le hazard, 2009. Courtesy of the Speck Collection, Cologne. From the exhibition at Bergen Kunsthall. Photo: Thor Brødreskift.

The first show that Cerith Wyn Evans saw as a film student at the Royal College in the late 1970s was «Décor: A Conquest by Marcel Broodthaers» at the ICA in London. Wyn Evans began to play with Broodthaers’s ideas in his early films shortly thereafter, and they are still tangible in his more recent installations. But so are the ideas of William S. Burroughs, John Cage, and Guy Debord, among many others. Cerith Wyn Evans freely engages with the histories and ideas of his forerunners, who worked—or still work—in the diverse fields of cinema, philosophy, literature and art. In an essay on Cerith Wyn Evans, Jan Verwoert writes: «In contrast to artists who today treat Conceptual art simply as a historically established genre and a source of exploitable quotations, his peripatetic motion (between art, cinema and literature) actualizes the original idea of conceptual practice: to create a free space, namely a stoa, which lies between all media, genres and disciplines, remaining open to all of them without submitting to the dominion of their rules and regulations.» In one of Cerith Wyn Evans’s exhibitions, this might take the form of chandeliers that brighten and dim, as writings from John Cage, Theodor Adorno, Eve Kosofsky, Brion Gysin and Terry Wilson, and the salon of Madame Lafayette are converted into Morse code and transmitted through them. Or in another, it might be a film, that shows a large, billboard-sized text, taken from Pier Paolo Pasolini’s film Oedipus Rex (1967), slowly going up in flames, as a means to commemorate the filmmaker’s death. Similarly, Wyn Evans’s current show at Bergen Kunsthall should prove to be equally arresting, both in terms of his conceptual approach and his attention to creating an all-around sensory experience.

In preparation for his show, Kunstkritikk had the opportunity to interview Cerith Wyn Evans via email. Known for his keen sense of language as well as having a humor that is both decadent and deep, Kunstkritikk decided to put a slight spin on the usual ten questions. Here is how Cerith responded:

– For your upcoming show at Bergen Kunsthall, how has the Kunsthall’s exhibition space influenced your installation?

– The exhibition space has been an essential ingredient and the exhibition has been at every level alert, aware and responsive to the generous architecture and its occasions of maintenance through the kind and considered devotion of all concerned.

– What do you consider the most important aspect of this exhibition or this particular installation?

– I am pleased to have the opportunity to create new works for the Bergen Kunsthall, the pleasure and privilege is all mine. The opportunity to develop new relational addresses to an ever-merging and hopefully curious audience.

– What event(s) in your life influenced you to do the work that you currently do?

– Luckily not dead yet.

– How would you describe your working method?

– Breathing.

– Your work is in dialogue with the work of many fascinating artistsDebord, Cage and Broodthaers; is there anyone who is particularly inspiring you at the moment?

– Potentially everyone.

– You draw from divergent sources in your works: philosophy, literature and cinema what thinkers would you say have stayed with you throughout your practice?

– Warhol, Beckett, Proust, Elaine Sturtevant, Hanne Darboven, Ian Hamilton Finlay, John Cage and an almost numberless list of activists in the chain.

– Which histories of the avant-garde do you think matter today?

– The avant-garde is a French military term and must remain so.

– How do you think art should deal with the money?

– Confusion can exist around confluences of poetry and economics.

– If you had the golden binoculars, what would you want to see art do today?

– Make tomorrow possible.