Well-attended opening of the exhibition “Stories of Gras“ by the Indian artist Dharmendra Prasad at ILEA Gallery. In the summer of 2022 the artist spent three months in the ILEA artist residence in Tenna, intensively researching and producing on the subject of grass (including the Grass Museum, which was part of the Biennale Art Safiental and whose facade can still be visited. During this time in Tenna, the artist began to deal intensively with grass and to work with it as a material and medium. The exhibition shows both a retrospective of this phase, as well as the continuation of his work in India on the same theme.
The exhibition runs until 29.10.2023 and can be visited during the opening hours of the Berghotel Alpenblick (Wed-Sat 10-22, Sun 10-18, Mo+Tues rest days), there are information sheets available on each floor for a self-guided tour. The exhibition extends over 4 floors. The exhibition is curated by Johannes M. Hedinger and Shazeb Shaikh. Produced by ILEA and EAE (Environmental Art Exchange). ILEA and ILEA Gallery is supported by Naturpark Beverin and the municipality of Safiental.
While in Tenna, Grisons, in the Swiss Alps, shortly before midnight of the year 2022, Com&Com made a video call via WhatsApp. The artists spoke with the artist Dharmendra Prasad and the curator Shazeb Sheikh, with whom they had just opened a joint exhibition.* Because at the time of their conversation, both Shazeb and Dharmendra were in India, they were already several hours into the year 2023. India was in the future. This inconspicuous event (of a WhatsApp conversation) lent itself to another iteration, and they thus decided to reenact it exactly the same way shortly after midnight—having arrived in the meantime in the year 2023—by sending a text message in the other direction to the curator Nora Hauswirth in Manaus, Brazil. The message was sent to the past.
What Com&Com engaged with was a Fluxus event score In One Year and Out the Other written by Ken Friedman in 1975. The score reads “On New Year’s Eve, make a telephone call from one time zone to another to conduct a conversation between people located in different years.”
Today known as an artist, author, educator and design researcher, Ken Friedman (*1949) was the youngest member of Fluxus, when he joined the group on Maciunas’ invitation in 1966. During the heyday of Fluxus, Friedman worked closely with other Fluxus artists and composers such as George Maciunas, Dick Higgins, and Nam June Paik, as well as collaborated with John Cage and Joseph Beuys. He was also the general manager of Dick Higgins’s Something Else Press in the early 1970s.
Friedman’s In One Year and Out the Other was first performed on New Year’s Eve in 1975, when Friedmann—based at that time in Springfield, Ohio—first phoned ahead to Dick Higgins, Nam June Paik, Peter Frank, Christo and Jeanne-Claude in New York, who were already in the year 1976. Then, after midnight, he called back from 1976 to Tom Garver, Natasha Nicholson, and Abraham Friedman in California.
The spirit of Ken Friedman’s score is alive and well today, although it has mutated since to take alternative forms. Television broadcasts, social media posts, texting and email are just some of the adaptations that fit within the most straight forward parameters of Friedman’s idea: to connect individuals and communicate between times and temporal zones.
The work, like many Fluxus works, at the first glimpse straight forward and easy-to-enage-with, asks significant questions about how we understand time and space, and what it means to measure time with mechanical means. Dennis Oppenheim pointed to the absurdity of marking time as territory and political boundaries in his Time Line (1968). What do such artificial, political and temporal zones and distances mean in a world connected via digital media, where everything seems to be just a mouse click away? How does the “new year” feel like as an anticipation or as an accomplished fact? Can we manipulate, rewind, and recover time?
*«Gras Geschichten / Stories of Grass» by Dharmendra Prasad. An exhibition curated by Shazeb Sheikh und Johannes M. Hedinger at the Institute for Land and Environment Art ILEA in Tenna, Safiental (December 31, 2022–October 29, 2023).
Over the next four years, within the framework of the research project SNSF Activating Fluxus, you may expect to encounter “Artivations,” that is, artistic activations – adaptations, (re)enactments, (re)interpretations, and new productions. They will be done in the spirit of Fluxus, the avant-garde movement that changed, in the 1960s and 70s, how art is done and what it means to create an artwork. They will be initiated, curated, and, at times, created and executed by the Swiss art collective Com&Com, founded in 1997 by Marcus Gossolt and Johannes M. Hedinger.
Using the iconography of the internet and computer, the work features an endlessly rotating “loading wheel” on a white background. Typically, the “loading wheel” would be a temporary, in-between state before seeing the fully loaded image. Zen for Internet, however, indefinitely freezes the in-between-ness; the viewers never see the desired image.
The work refers directly to Nam June Paik’s iconic work Zen for Film (1962-64). Fifty years after Paik’s intervention, the Swiss artists decided to continue, in the digital world, the themes inherent to Paik’s work such as Zen, silence, nothingness, boredom, trace, chance and materiality.
The artists conceived of Zen for Internet existing in multiple iterations in a variety of media: as a website (www.zen-net.org), a thirty-minute video (accessible on YouTube and below), a painting, and as various types of merchandise including t-shirts, pillows and tote bags, as seen on the image down below. In addition to appropriating the themes of duration and nothingness from Paik’s Zen for Film, Zen for Internet speaks to the inherent mutability of a Fluxus work and to the changeability of its concept. Rather than existing in a single instantiation, Zen for Internet work can exist in a variety of formats, just as Zen for Film existed in an assortment of contexts, all of which were still “authentically” the work.
But in the context of the project, the relevant questions raised by this work are: What does it mean to activate a historical, canonical, and seemingly well-known work (on this topic, see Hölling, Revisions: Zen for Film, 2015) in the digital age and for the post-digital audience? How can a work be revived, or revitalized, in a world which is different from how it was back in the 1960s? Can intermediality be thought of on a larger timescale to involve intergenerational shifts, adaptations and borrowings? What can creativity, artistic interpretation, and appropriation bring into the picture of conservation? And, last but not least, how to preserve boredom without being bored, and boring?
The new exhibition at the ILEA Gallery in the Berghotel Alpenblick in Tenna features “Stories of Grass”, a solo presentation by Indian artist Dharmendra Prasad. He spent about three months in the ILEA artist residency in Tenna last summer. During this time, he began to work intensively with grass as a material and medium. In the process, grass developed into a non-human personality for him. The exhibition is both a retrospective of the works created in Tenna (objects, drawings, texts, photographs, videos, performances and installations), and also the continuation of his work in India on the same topic. The Grass Museum above Tenna, which was part of the last Art Safiental Biennale can still be visited until the end of winter, is probably still well remembered by the local public.
Exhibition dates: 31. Dec 2022 – 29. Oct 2023
Spot landing! Many thanks to all our 43 backers of the publication “Learning from the Earth”, you are great! We are happy to accept the order.
What happens next: In the new year we will start with the book production (editing, design, printing). We plan to have the book launch in spring at the Berghotel Alpenblick in Tenna/Safiental still in snowy mountains. All of you will then be invited for the launch.
After that the book will be delivered. The other rewards (postcards, Landscape 1) will also be sent then, those who ordered the 3 book package will get two shipments (since Landscape 2 will not be released until 2024). Those who have booked the Gift Basket or Sponsorship Bronze can get them early in the year if they wish, we will get back to you.
Thank you, have a nice holiday season and see you next year in the Safiental.
Web: https://ilea.art + https://artsafiental.ch
Crowdfunding campaign for the publication on the annual theme LEARNING FROM THE EARTH.
We would be very happy about your support – Fine rewards are waiting (books, knowledge, art, culinary and adventure in the Safiental) + and / or please also share – thank you in advance!
(The promotion runs only until December 4, 2022)
Vexer Verlag St.Gallen/Berlin
Annemarie Bucher (CH), Damian Christinger (CH), T.J. Demos (US), Friday for Future, Donna Haraway (US), Johannes M. Hedinger (CH), Naomi Klein (CA), Klimastreik (CH), Bruno Latour (FR), James Lovelock (UK), Timothy Morton (US), Dharmendra Prasad (IN), Michel Serres (FR), Vandana Shiva (IN), Greta Thumberg (SE) u.a.
Lara Almarcegui (ES, NL), Badel/Sarbach (CH), Ursula Biemann (CH), Julius von Bismarck (DE), Buchli/Isenschmid (CH), Com&Com (CH), Saskia Edens (CH), Lithic Alliance (CH/BE), Marcus Maeder (CH), !Mediengruppe Bitnik (CH/DE), Dharmendra Prasad (IN), Simon/Odermatt (CH), Sound Kite Ensemble (CH), Gerda Steiner & Jörg Lenzlinger (CH), Ben Vautier (FR/CH).
Closing Program 21/22. Okt 2022 > PDF
Program of the final presentations of the projects of the Alps Art Academy 2022 – 3.9.22: o8.30 – 17.30, Tenna >PDF
Friday, August 26 2022, 8:30-9:15 PM CEST;
T.J. DEMOS: Unlearning Ecocide
ILEA Talks, August 26.-28, 2002, Tenna, Switzerland
To learn from the earth, we must unlearn ecocide. That is no easy thing, as “we” are all inhabitants of the planet subjected–differentially–to the ongoing terms of racial, colonial, and extractive capitalism. Nonetheless, this unlearning emerges as a political imperative at the present time of climate breakdown, where global society, including diverse artistic cultures, face the collective challenge of transforming everything in order to ensure survival. What are the terms of this un/learning, and how can artistic practice aid the struggle?
T. J. Demos teaches art history and visual culture at UC Santa Cruz, and directs its Center for Creative Ecologies. He writes about contemporary art, global politics, and ecology and is the author of numerous books, including Decolonizing Nature: Contemporary Art and Political Ecology (Sternberg Press, 2016), Against the Anthropocene: Visual Culture and Environment Today, (Sternberg Press, 2017), and most recently, Beyond the World’s End: Arts of Living at the Crossing (Duke University Press, 2020).
Under the Title of the Biennal and as part of the Alps Art Academy and there will be a multi-day symposium from Friday evening, August 26 to Sunday noon, August 28, 2022.
Friday August 26.: 20.15 – 21.30
Saturday August 27.: 14 – 19.30
Sunday August 28.: 08.15 – 14.00
Detailed Program PDF
Ursula Biemann / T.J. Demos / Fernando Garcia-Dory
Ravi Agarwal / Annemarie Bucher / Damian Christinger / Anne-Laure Franchette / Johannes M. Hedinger / Hanna Hölling / Cathérine Hug / Marcus Maeder / Martin Ott / Dharmendra Prasad / Shazeb Shaik
The symposium will take place in a hybrid form – partly with locally present speakers, partly online. The event is open to the public and aimed at a broad audience. A link to the live stream will be provided in August and will be accessible to all interested parties. Live Stream on YouTube.