On the 26th of February, Rupert presented a showcase of works by February residents, Laurie Kang and Santiago Taccetti, at the Pakrantė gallery space and in Kang’s studio (Vaidilutes st. 79, Vilnius). The showcase brought together the works they had been developing over their period in residency at Rupert.
There is a long tradition of walking and thinking: they are acts that can be politically subversive (see the Situationists International), dandyish and voyeuristic (see the flâneur and flâneuse), meditative, boring, pointless and unproductive (see Frédéric Gross, Robert Macfarlane). Laurie Kang and Santiago Taccetti have taken many walks around Rupert. In the work developed and shown here, they have gathered their observations on these explorative walks. Together, their work shows a shared interest in details and close looking. For both, the act of observing is situated, embodied, inextricable from thought, an ‘active event’, to borrow Laurie Kang’s words; a ‘combinational’ process of looking, collecting, recording and remembering, to draw on Santiago Taccetti’s thoughts. Their works emphasise how an intimate relationship with our surroundings can compel us to take note and to take care. This is a profoundly important approach to the world, one which is based on the cultivation of wonder; an approach which seems especially important today when there is a pervasive mood of despondency and complacency, especially in the realm of politics.
Laurie Kang’s works on paper are investigations into material processes and their relationship to her body and environment. Her work explores the reciprocity of touch and feeling: to touch is to be touched, surfaces are as much sites of distinction as they are of complicity. As such, the works displayed here are in a constantly volatile relationship with their surroundings. The photographic paper on which there are trails of darkroom chemicals will always be reacting to the light and air around it. Xeroxed images of a detail of an ornamental sculpture found on the façade of a building near Rupert focus on aspects of the sculpture where the seams and cuts are visible. As a close-up shot on a phone camera, the content becomes distorted and unsettlingly bodily – one of the fragments has the appearance of a femur bone, not the ornamental tendrils they are in the sculpture. Collected fragments and objects (berries, silicone offcuts, the dusty remnants of a flower, reflective pewter scraps from former sculptures) and little flies, butterflies, and worms Kang has rendered in black clay, are attached to the pieces she has developed at Rupert. The compositions Kang has developed may make us think of the sprawling bouquets of Dutch 17th-century still life paintings, recalling plays with illusion and investigations into matter and nature: could the shrivelled white berries stuck on the Xerox images be pearls, warts or pixels extruded from the paper? These objects’ contact with the paper and environment draws us into Kang’s continuing exploration of touch and skin, the space between the meeting of two objects.
Santiago Taccetti has also turned to his body in the environment. He has been looking down at his feet as they make their way through the snow, sometimes he is barefoot at other times in trainers; both, to those who have long lived through winters in Vilnius, evidence a newcomer to its snow and cold, someone who is fascinated by the way it changes, from slushy smatterings on concrete, to something more romantically powdery and thick. Taccetti notes how the Situationists International, who took seriously walking as a political act in their notion of the dérive (a sort of aimless wandering meant to contradict productive travelling) ‘let themselves be drawn by the attractions of the terrain’: such ‘attractions’ can be found in the weird colouring of the fake roofing tiles, theatrical effects which appear to contradict the illusion they are supposed to support. Like Kang, Taccetti has used plants which he had collected at the beginning of his residency and which were displayed on his desk. In the showcase, they appear on chimney sweeps and roof tiles, suggesting those sites of dreams and fairy tales – the chimney breast, the attic – glimpsed by an inquiring hand and eye or caught by accident in an aimless walk. The installation evokes the uncanny atmosphere of a children’s story or folktale, tales which have become powerful prisms through which the forests surrounding Vilnius have long been viewed.
Yates Norton, Assistant Curator, Rupert
Santiago Taccetti (Argentina) lives and works in Berlin. He has exhibited work in venues such as Cabaret Voltaire, Manifesta 11 in Zürich, Centre d’art Santa Monica, CCCB Barcelona, Istituto Italo Latinomericano in Rome, La Panaderia in Mexico City, CC San Martin and CC Recoleta in Buenos Aires, 1857 in Oslo as well as at Retrospective Gallery and the Baryshnicov Art Center in New York. He is the co-founder of the ongoing project Stoneroses.
Laurie Kang (Canada) works in photography, sculpture, installation and video. Kang has exhibited internationally at Topless, New York; The Power Plant Gallery, Cooper Cole, 8-11, The Loon, Franz Kaka, Toronto; L’inconnue, Montreal; Carl Louie, London; Wroclaw Contemporary Museum, Wroclaw; Raster Gallery, Warsaw; Camera Austria, Graz; Tag Team; Bergen. She was recently artist in residence at Tag Team, Bergen; The Banff Center, Alberta; and Interstate Projects, Brooklyn. Upcoming exhibition sites include Gallery TPW, Toronto, and Interstate Projects; Brooklyn. Kang lives and works in Toronto and holds an MFA from the Milton Avery School of the Arts at Bard College.
Rupert Residency program is kindly supported by Lithuanian Council for Culture.
The event was supported by Office of the Embassy of Canada to Lithuania.
Photography: all images copyright and courtesy of photographer Tomas Lukšys, Rupert and the artist