Visual Arts Programme
The Concourse Installation 2002
Sans Façon Private View
The Private View aims to engage the viewer in a route around the concourse space that suggests a sense of place. Using found objects from the locality creating an alternative landscape within the gallery space, Sans Façon facilitate the viewer to generate his or her own path of desire through an engagement with the installation. Much of their work subtly intervenes in a location, in the desire to expose the structure or workings to reveal hidden qualities and thus create a sense of place.
Through the selection of objects from an area they attempt to suggest a sense of place. Intrinsic to this sense of place is the element of site specificity. The Private View has been made specifically with Dun Laoghaire in mind. The everyday objects they have employed could perhaps be seen as props that make up the character of a place. But by placing these objects in a fresh context, Sans Façon have attempted to expose the identity of a place like Dun Laoghaire. They are employing a scenario that takes place outside on the pier, but by imitating this event within the County Hall they are asking the viewer to see the objects anew, to imagine beyond what is presented in the gallery.
Questioning the Artist as Sole Author and the Belief System in Art
The French artist Marcel Duchamp was involved in artistic activity from the beginning of the early 20th century, yet still holds up most relevance in the art of today. He invented the term “readymade” as a description for the mass-produced objects he chose, bought and designated as artworks. His most infamous piece, Fountain (1917) was a urinal that was signed under the pseudo name R.Mutt. What he had done with the readymade was to eliminate the individual, handmade quality in art. The enquiries that Duchamp had made in art have reverberated throughout the 20th and into the 21st century.
Similarly Private View questions the artist as the sole author in an artwork. It is a development that frees the artist from notions of the original genius. Many contemporary artists employ strategies that raise questions and issues rather than inventing new images and have found that uniqueness is no longer essential in art making.
Andy Warhol has made use of objects and images that are part of the common culture and integral in our everyday lives. A work of art such as the Brillo Boxes Pieces (1964) is an expressive object made or chosen by a person and unlike a regular cardboard box is always about something and demands a certain amount of interpretation. The paradox of Warhol’s boxes looking exactly like the real thing questions the representation of the world in artworks. Without the validation of the gallery The Brillo Boxes would not exist and are part of the space of the exhibit.
The artists work as such, is in the construction of meaning through positioning, locating and presenting the viewer with a take on the environment they are representing. Similarly, Sans Façon are in a dialogue with the specific local environment, gallery space and the everyday.
The work of Sans Façon could also be seen as being intertwined with notions encircling space and place and perhaps the idea of the Flaneur and the Situationists movement can also shed some further light on their practice.
The 19th century notion of the Flaneur was usually a dandy spectator of the urban scene who had emerged in the early 19th century and was later celebrated in the writings of Charles Baudelaire. The flaneur observed the moving city, without proper destination, never partaking in the economic activities involved within the city, but absorbing what he saw surrounding him.
In the late 1950s the Situationists “drifter” was the new flaneur. The drifter was also an observer of, but perhaps in a more political sense, looking for evidence about the condition of cities like Paris. They advocated setting up situations that would be ephemeral, temporary and pathways to future projects. These projects were not quite art, but a new form of art or something replacing art. The derive (drift), the detournment (diversions), psycho-geography and unitary urbanism, were special names that the situationists gave to their activities. They wanted to reassert choices, chance and humanists power. One of their ideas for public space was to put switches on the street lamps, so that lighting would be under public control. Their anarchic ideas were borne out of surrealism, but through their rejection of it. They wanted to return to something like Marxism, but not Marxism in its 19th incarnation, they identified with the Marxist notion of alienation. They strove for a society which would value pleasure and subvert the conservative ideology of the Western World.
By introducing movements like the Situationists who combined activities such as taking extended walks in the city, altering recognisable meaning, making maps that didn’t lead anywhere and having revolutionary ideas on architecture and public space; we can locate the work of Sans Façon, who combine art and architecture, making responses to the context of the direct environment or geographical location. Perhaps Sans Façon don’t take on the political ideas of the Situationists, but possibly the relationship lies in their desire to expose the everyday as something special and strange.
To conclude, the approach that Sans Façon have taken to the Concourse space offers the audience an opportunity to see the environment in a different way, from a different perspective and through the eyes of another. Through the use of banal objects Sans Façon have the potential to act in a political way, providing the viewer with a new perception of the environment. Perhaps this can trigger thoughts on other elements that we take for granted or only ever see from one viewpoint.
The Private View demands that the viewer engages in a process of active thinking about a sense of place. Sans Façon are inviting the audience to participate in the process of inventing culture, rather than simply presenting it.