exhibitions – It’s closing time for gardens of the west, 56th Venice Biennale 2015

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It’s closing time for gardens of the west, Palazzo Mora, Venice Biennale, Italy 2015

Developed in collaboration with British artist Wayne Warren

Never yield to remorse, but at once tell yourself: remorse would simply mean adding to the first act of stupidity a second.[i]

The Strange Life of Ivan Osokin[ii] follows the protagonist’s attempts to correct his mistakes when given a chance to relive his past. He discovers that human choices tend to be mechanical, and to change the outcome of one’s actions is extremely difficult. Are we doomed to repeat the same mistakes over and over? In the final chapter the shocking realization of the nature of existence, and its consequences, alludes to Nietzsche’s theory of eternal recurrence, and is the platform for It’s closing time for gardens of the west.

It’s closing time for gardens of the west presents a blueprint to a possible future world… We are taken out of the everyday and enter into a disruptive phenomenological space, that offers a reflection on the long term effects of human behavior in relation to a global environment with dwindling natural resources.

Our installation is ironic and evasive, reflecting on the underlying dualities and ambivalences that influence decisions and actions. It has both associative utopian and dystopian references, and presents conflicting notions of continuity and rupture, stability, collapse, suspension, preservation, transience, time and materiality.

We have a working relationship that shares a curiosity in archetypes that have an aspirational historical context and precedent; we are particularly interested in the currency of the tower, the wing and the knot.

To Matthew Wells tall towers are built with an idealism and a symbolic value – an aspect of the sublime.[iii] Historically the tower, minaret and spire have stretched buildings skyward. The contemporary version, a seemingly weightless skyscraper, can simultaneously invoke contrary senses of timelessness, awe and progress. But skyscrapers are greedy. Supported on massive foundations; they are resource heavy monoliths that use vast amounts of steel, concrete and glass, with a high end utilities’ upkeep that suck resources dry.

The wing is an irresistible motif, it propels us into the future, whatever that future might be. Rapture? Apocalypse? the wing plunges us headlong somewhere, and time, progress, history are forces that we cannot halt or perhaps even adequately represent.

Think of an intractable problem. Imagine ways to disentangle this impossible knot. To ‘cut the Gordian knot’ means discovering a bold solution to a complicated problem. But what if the knot remains steadfastly intact….?

This century has a particular resonance, akin to a discordant music score. Notions of pure form that embody the fundamental characteristics of a thing, or a collectively-inherited unconscious idea or pattern of thought, just don’t hold water as structures are built to fall apart, borders are increasingly ambiguous, and nature is pushed to the point of dissolution, and, at its extreme, destruction.

So we ask: is human endeavour engineered to fail? Consider a skewed tower, odd, almost mutant wing forms, an inexplicable sliver of pure white light, an unwieldy knot, strange tubes that spew unidentified but darkly uncomfortable things – and reflect on our implicated relationship with an increasingly frail environment.

Jayne Dyer 2015

[i] Friedrich Nietzche, The Wanderer and his Shadow, 1880, p323

[ii] [ii]P. D. Ouspensky, The Strange Life of Ivan Osokin, 1915

[iii] Matthew Wells, Skyscrapers: structure and design, 2005