Detourism: Exhibition at Orchard47
Posted by gninja on July 8, 2007
This isn’t a photo from the exhibition. This was etched in the sidewalk concrete in front of the gallery space. It was far more interesting than the exhibition:
Husband and I went to the oh-so-cleverly-titled Detourism exhibition at Orchard47 today. I was very eager to see the exhibition, lured by the description, promising works that would subvert the constraints and restraints of traditional tourism and the guided (by whom?) ways in which we engage with space:
Spectators and agents, tourists routinely vacate their habitual surroundings to occupy alternative subject positions, if not a geographical location. Yet, with pressure to ensure each vacation is well spent, the voluntary activity of tourism supports a guide industry. Barthes considered the guidebook an “objectified form of ‘immaterial labor’ […] essentially serving as a ‘labor saving device,’” —objective fact relegating efficient, guided, disorientation.
If tourism seeks a reliably mapped alterity, the exhibit detourism can only offer an itinerary of shifting curatorial endpoints. detourism takes topology as an impetus to highlight the interstices in the urban field constitutive of subject relations. The spatial practices exhibited underscore the line of demarcation between the subject and its dematerialization within the built environment.
Unfortunately I was provided with none of the “propose[d] psychogeographical engagements and deviant tourisms to offer alternate routes of circulation.”
Frankly I don’t know what I got. The 12 works on the walls and in cases were an assortment of photographs and typed pages having possible something to do with space, but very little to do with the overworked pretensions of the exhibition description.
The only work worth discussing after we left was the audio piece looping in the background, A New York Minute by Alan Licht, recorded in 2001. The piece was a 15 minute, 17 second long loop of a NY weather report recorded probably in February– I’m assuming since there was a Groundhog Day “Eve” announcement, if I recall correctly. When we first entered the gallery, I assumed the broadcast was just a radio left on by the gallery’s attendant, and, surprised by the report of a “high temperature of 26”, I remarked that the announcer was reporting the temperature in Celsius. It took a minute for me to realize that the recording was actually a part of the exhibition.
I thought it was the only piece included that got at the proposed intent of the show. It sounded, at first, like a piece of my daily life I’m accustomed to hearing in indoor spaces. I experienced a sense of abrupt dislocation when I realized that I was hearing a weather forecast for my city, but for the wrong time of year. The presentation was a mimetic one (can sound be considered mimetic?), and yet I had to remind myself that when I left the gallery I’d be stepping out into hot, sticky July weather and not a snow shower. Not exactly relevant to tourism, but definitely relevant to the decontextualization of our everyday experiences in space.