Simultaneity - in Stockholm and Beijing
Oana Camilleri, Yan Jun and Zhifei Yang
Curated by Anne Klontz
April 24–May 16, 2010
The Simultaneist poem teaches a sense of the merry-go-round of all things; while Herr Schulze reads his paper, the Balkan Express crosses the bridge at Nish, a pig squeals in Butcher Nuttke’s cellar.
~ From the Collective Dada Manifesto
As the Dadaist poem illustrates, our day-to-day existence is rife with overlapping occurrences. The mundane is embellished by simultaneous situations which include aspects of the physical and mental, spiritual and scientific. Simultaneity is the passageway through which these notions can interact in union and explains the occurrence of things which seemingly exist in parallel, though separated by time and space. It is always in motion, both within the literal sense of society’s multi-faceted interactions and to unknown realms beyond.
The exhibition Simultaneity is an open invitation extended to you. Choose to ride with it and the co-existence of the realities you are a part of can be experienced. There is a path provided; however, the direction you take is completely up to you. There are points both within and outside of the Romanian Culture Institute where three works of art await your participation and discovery. As you wander, tune-in to the psychological intuitions which endure…there, within the artists’ works, lingers simultaneity — released.
When Herr Schulze leaves work, he steps into an elevator sounding from another time. The butcher smokes a cigarette outside his cellar door and wonders about the mysterious landscapes behind the windows on Brunnsgränd. Before the bridge at Skeppsbrokajen, the Balkan Express makes a stop at King Gustav III’s statue to daydream.
In the space of a window frame, multiple narratives take place, from people walking by on the outside to a person drinking coffee or typing at their desk on the inside. Who hasn’t stopped in the midst of their actions to wonder what the other person is doing or thinking on the other side? Based on these desires, what if you could — metaphysically speaking — create another time and space for yourself?
Science can explain how an electron can be in two places at once, but the idea that one person can exist in two places at the same time remains open to debate. However, one can argue that evidence of this phenomenon exists through accounts of individual recollections. Oana Camilleri, in her video The Places Where I Live (2007), touches upon this possibility through a visual memoir. Framed inside two windows of the Romanian Culture Institute and viewable to those passing by outside on Brunnsgränd, are two distinct landscapes from Camilleri’s life; one filmed from the fourth floor balcony of the flat where she grew up in Cluj, Romania and the other filmed from the window of the house where she lived in Camberwell, England. Each landscape is a symbolic image of how her life has been affected by factors of choice and opportunity. At the age of 18 she fled Romania after the downfall of the Berlin Wall. As Camilleri describes, although she is a part of each place, she doesn’t really belong to either one. The Places Where I Live is a personal reflection about displacement and fluctuating in-between the places where one’s identity is established. Camilleri’s work expresses something inherent to all aspects of simultaneity, in essence, its quality as an intimate process of exploration.
The architectural frameworks of the institute also provide the platform for experiencing the sound installations of Beijing-based poet and musician, Yan Jun. As stated earlier, simultaneity has a life cycle which is in a continuous state of motion in relation to time, space and those involved in the experience. Two sound installations created for the exhibition by the artist exemplify these aspects. Through overlapping soundscapes, a subjective progression takes place, beginning when one enters the building. Both One and Two (2008-10) is a duet of kissing sounds and the wind in trees performing at the entrance. Relying only on hearing with no external visual stimulation to suggest a narrative, what visions or sensations are triggered within you mentally and emotionally?
Continue inside through the hallway and you will discover Neither Three nor Four (2010), a manipulation of the mechanical sounds taken from and played within the building’s antique elevator. Position yourself within its wood paneled interior and add another dimension to the atmosphere by riding the elevator to the top floor. Through a similar situation, a passage has been created connecting you to someone in Beijing hearing the same mechanically altered sounds within another location. Without knowing this other person, you share something in common, intrinsic to the space within the elevator.
At each sound point, the presence of life and interaction is expressed, but no physical evidence can be found. In place, a layered composition is created step-by-step, elevating consciousness to a point of reality that exists within the mind’s eye. This progressive narrative constructs a reality dependent on one’s associations through emotions, thoughts or past memories in connection to the living experience of the sounds. At the threshold of contemplation, you cross the entrance into discovery. As you close the door behind you, the path never ceases.
Beyond the institute’s exterior, the merry-go-round of life presents a scenic stage for a public performance of Day Dreams II (2010), by the artist Zhifei Yang. Located at King Gustav III’s statue and contrasting the hard surface of Skeppsbrokajen, is the soft calmness of Yang sleeping on an extremely large, white pillow. Her body is almost consumed by the pillow’s voluminous size; a metaphor of how the dreaming mind and human existence are innately connected. True testimonials exist of people dreaming about a specific event while at the same time, someone else, such as a close companion, is actually living the experiences revealed in the dreamer’s mind. Are you one of these individuals? The blank surface of a pillow case will be waiting for you to pen your dream during the artist’s performance.
The intricate ways in which the unconscious mind and waking world communicate is not only a passageway into our inner thoughts, but also a powerful and mystifying experience when separated by time and space in relation to another event. In her work, Yang seeks to develop this communication into a shared network of experiences to include her own daily reflections as well as the recollection of others through archiving individual dream narratives. These collections provide the basis for the second installment of Yang’s work, a video titled Day Dreams (2009), and viewable through the web site of the Romanian Culture Institute.
If one takes the time to reflect and to recognize the ways in which our world fluctuates in rhythm, one can open the way toward unique insights, whether it is in terms of how one experiences a work of art or a new realm of possibilities which exist as an alternative dimension to our conscious world.
Look out your window, what do you see? As you walk past, are you looking in?
OANA CAMILLERI (b. 1972)
The Places Where I Live, 2007
Dual video – Installed in the windows of the Romanian Culture Institute located on Brunnsgränd, adjacent to Skeppsbron. Viewable during the evening from 6:00 p.m. for the duration of the exhibition.
YAN JUN (b. 1973)
Both One and Two, 2008-10 – Installed at the entrance of the building. Neither Three nor Four, 2010 – Installed inside the elevator, to the left of the institute’s main entrance. Both works are open to the public during opening hours between 10 a.m. – 5 p.m. for the duration of the exhibition.
ZHIFEI YANG (b. 1982)
Day Dreams II, 2010 – Performance at King Gustav III’s statue, beginning of Skeppsbrokajen. Saturday, April 24 between 7 – 10 p.m. and Sunday, April 25 between 1 – 4 p.m.
Day Dreams, 2009
Video – Posted on the web site of the Romanian Culture Institute of Stockholm for the duration of the exhibition, www.rkis.se.