In the book Species of Spaces (Espèces d’espaces, 1974) French novelist and philosopher Georges Perec elaborates on the predicament of understanding space. “The space of our lives is neither continuous, nor infinite, neither homogeneous, nor isotropic.” To get a better sense of space, Perec argues, the challenge is not so much “to reinvent space, … but to question it, or even simpler, to read it.” His subject is not the void exactly, but rather what might be round about or inside it:
“When nothing arrests our gaze, it carries a very long way. But if it meets with nothing, it sees nothing, it sees only what it meets. Space is what arrests our gaze, what our sight stumbles over: the obstacle, the bricks, an angle, a vanishing point. Space is when it makes an angle, when it stops, when we have to turn for it to start off again.”
Round About or Inside aims to explore how artists from different geographic and cultural contexts might contribute to Perec’s attempt to map and describe the manifold spaces and sites that mark our lives. To what extent do art and artists partake in defining, shaping and ultimately understanding the spatialities of worldmaking?
The artists included in this exhibition have not been invited to illustrate the many observations and guidelines provided by Perec, but to bring to the gallery works that reflect their own modes and means of apprehending space. Their positions are as rich as they are diverse, addressing space as a pictorial substance, a field defining the relationship between land and being, a bodily feature, an architectural material, the sphere of social gathering and exclusion, an arena of ritual exchange, a new way to negotiate gallery spaces, a feat of technological exploration, and a realm of administrative organisation.
Artists: Paul Bai (AUS), Elizabeth Djakurrurr (AUS), Valérie Mannaerts (BEL), Philip Metten (BEL), Archie Moore (AUS), Yukultji Napangati (AUS), Brian O’Doherty (USA), Sarah Oppenheimer (USA), Steve Van den Bosch (BEL)
Scenography: Ashley Paine (AUS)
Curators: Wouter Davidts (BEL) and Angela Goddard (AUS)
Image: ‘Species of Spaces and Other Pieces’ by Georges Perec, John Sturrock (Editor/Translator). Published: 1974, reprinted: 2008. Photo: Carol Ha