Laura Gonzalez

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Tino Sehgal — 16 Jul 2013

At the Do-it 2013 exhibition in Manchester, artists propose a score, a set of rules or instructions that other artists, or the audience, follow. My current favourite artist, Tino Sehgal, took on my other favourite artist, Felix González-Torres. Tino’s pieces are moving 9quite literally), simple, immaterial, anti-fragile. He studied dance and economics and has effectively used this background in all the pieces of his I have experienced. Seamlessly. Experienced is the right word too, as you will see …

Tino’s take on González-Torres score might seem simple but of all the pieces in the show – and there were many memorable ones – this is the one that stayed with me. Tino did not interpret González-Torres’ score; he executed it and, given this, he came up with something that, of course, looks very much like a González-Torres piece. Or does it?

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Do-it has been going on for a while and this piece has been represented a few times. Watch carefully. It is never the same, I know, but it was only when Neil pointed it out that I realised what had moved me so much about Tino’s execution. His piece is at the entrance of the show, in an out-facing corner, open, vulnerable, but THERE. There is something about the intimacy of the piece hat begs a far away inward corner, a silent reflection on love. Tino, however, has brought out something different.

It is an odd piece to do for Tino, mainly because of its materiality, but the execution is perfect because it is so like Felix’s. I mean, how would you change this piece? It is a piece that is and that is why the instructions are so lovely.

Tino’s work is experiential, immaterial, focusing on a phenomenological encounter with site (not always sight) and performer. Someone told me once he does not even sign contracts, he is so immaterial. It is all done on verbal agreements. Might be an artistic myth but I quite like the idea of it. there are two other myths that also tie in with this integrity: until recently he did not let himself be photographed and papers had to send in a drawing artist, and he has the web looked at for guerrilla footage or images of his work, which are shortly after taken down. His work is not documented in the conventional way, don’t look for it. There will be no postcards in he museum shop, even though he has showed at the Guggenheim New York and Tate Modern. Your best bet are clumsy (some less clumsy too) reviews that try to articulate and make sense of what one experienced.

Tino has another piece at the Manchester International Festival, at the Mayfield Depot. It is called This Variation and it is a reprise of his (d)OCUMENTA(13) piece.

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First, you have to find the place, not easy when you are catching a train in 50 minutes. I was there for the opening weekend, a sunny one, so there were inevitable queues of fans and curious. But we got in. I freaked out. It was dark, very dark, and we were all going into a dark, unknown space. There were many of us, 40, 50, none looking particularly coordinated in these circumstances. I am small and, even with vision, I tend to get hurt in these situations. Well, lets not be dramatic … I get walked on and pushed. So I hung on to Neil’s hand for dear life and shuffled slowly, feeling I was in a ramp, and far too close to other blind bodies. Someone takes a mobile phone out. Wimp (but at least I know there is that resort if I panic. No one has given us a health and safety briefing and there are no rules here, like there were in the other show). I was so concerned with my own space that I forgot to listen. And I should have, for there was an amazing group of dancers and singers going all out, putting a show for me. I felt them moving. Hair on my arm. Not once did they bump into me in to 30 minutes I stayed there. The songs were lovely (Good Vibrations!) and varied in tempo, showing the full range of those very hard working performers. I cried. of course I did. This is art at its best and it is something you do not see every day. My eyes got used to it and I did not feel a crippling sense of inadequacy, although I still could not see. Every so often, bright light would come on and we were blind again. I even liked it by the end of it, as we got to see more. Or perhaps, to pay more attention.

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La Fiesta del Chivo by Mario Vargas Llosa ***** — 8 Jul 2013

Reading dates: 13 June 2013 – 07 July 2013

I loved this book: the premise, the execution, the rhythm, the structure … Everything about it. It tells the story of the assassination of Dominican dictator Trujillo from the point of view of the daughter of one of his ministers, Trujillo himself, and the conspirators. Playing with time and tense, presence and memory, in an intricate weave towards the event itself, the book is a masterpiece of reveals. I have never been keen on historical novels but these characters go beyond reality and had to become fiction. I mean, you just need to read the wikipedia page for Ramfis Trujillo, the dictator’s playboy son, to see what I mean. The book is impeccably written—at least in Spanish— with effortless prose which I don’t always find characteristic of Vargas Llosa. He is usually too wordy for me but in La Fiesta del Chivo, every word is necessary. Beautiful book, harrowing (there is, of course, torture and rape) but very moving. I am grateful to my friend María for recommending it. I would not have picked it up. This shows that one should never have genre dislikes. A good book is a good book whatever, or in spite of, the topic.

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About Me

I am an artist and writer. My recent practice performance, film, dance, photography and text, and my work has been performed, exhibited and published in many venues in Europe and the US. I have spoken at numerous conferences and events, including the Museum for the Fashion Institute of Technology in New York, the Medical Museum in Copenhagen, College Arts Association and the Association for the Psychoanalysis of Culture and Society. When I am not following Freud, Lacan and Marx’s footsteps with my camera or creating performance works as part of my Athenaeum Research Fellowship at the Royal Conservatoire of Scotland, I teach postgraduate students at Transart Institute.

I am currently immersed in an interdisciplinary project exploring knowledge and the body of the hysteric. In 2013, together with Child and Adolescent Mental Health practitioner Frances Davies, I co-edited the book ‘Madness, Women and the Power of Art’, to which I contributed a work authored with Eleanor Bowen. My book ‘Make Me Yours: How Art Seduces’ was published by Cambridge Scholars in 2016. In this text, investigates psychoanalytic approaches to making and understanding objects of seduction, including an examination of parallels between artistic and analytic practices, a study of Manolo Blahnik’s shoes as objects of desire, a disturbing encounter with Marcel Duchamp’s last work, and the creation of a psychoanalytically inspired Discourse of the Artefact, a framework enabling the circulation of questions and answers through a relational approach to artworks.