The Registry of Promise

9 May – 18 July 2014
FONDAZIONE GIULIANI (ROME)
14 June – 14 September 2014
PARC SAINT LÉGER (POUGUES-LES-EAUX)
12 September – 21 December 2014
CENTRE D’ART CONTEMPORAIN D’IVRY – LE CRÉDAC (IVRY-SUR-SEINE)
25 January – 29 March 2015
DE VLEESHAL (MIDDELBURG)

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The Registry of Promise

9 May – 18 July 2014
FONDAZIONE GIULIANI (ROME)
14 June – 14 September 2014
PARC SAINT LÉGER (POUGUES-LES-EAUX)
12 September – 21 December 2014
CENTRE D’ART CONTEMPORAIN D’IVRY – LE CRÉDAC (IVRY-SUR-SEINE)
25 January – 29 March 2015
DE VLEESHAL (MIDDELBURG)

from 9 May to 18 July 2014 at Fondazione Giuliani (Rome)
from 14 June to 14 September 2014 at Parc Saint Léger (Pougues-les-Eaux)
from 12 September to 21 December 2014 at Centre d’art contemporain d’Ivry – le Crédac (Ivry-sur-Seine)
from 25 January to 29 March 2015 at De Vleeshal (Middelburg, Netherlands)

Guest curator: Chris Sharp

Artists: Peter Buggenhout, Jochen Lempert, Marlie Mul, Jean-Marie Perdrix / Patrick Bernatchez, Juliette Blightman, Rosalind Nashashibi, Francisco Tropa, Andy Warhol, Anicka Yi / Nina Canell, Alexander Gutke, Mandla Reuter, Hans Schabus, Michael E. Smith, Antoine Nessi / Becky BeasleyMichael DeanJean-Luc MoulèneMatt MullicanReto PulferLucy SkaerCarlo Gabriele Tribbioli

The Registry of Promise is a series of exhibitions that reflect on our increasingly fraught relationship with what the future may or may not hold in store for us. These exhibitions engage and play upon the various readings of promise as something that simultaneously anticipates a future, its fulfillment or lack thereof, as well as a kind of inevitability, both positive or negative. Such polyvalence assumes a particular poignancy in the current historical moment. Given that the technological and scientific notions of progress inaugurated by the enlightenment no longer have the same purchase they once did, we have long since abandoned the linear vision of the future the enlightenment once betokened. Meanwhile, what is coming to substitute our former conception would hardly seem to be a substitute at all: the looming specter of global ecological catastrophe. From the anthropocentric promise of modernity, it would seem we have turned to a negative faith in the post-human. And yet the future is not necessarily a closed book. Far from fatalistic, The Registry of Promise takes into consideration these varying modes of the future while trying to conceive of others. In doing so, it seeks to valorize the potential polyvalence and mutability at the heart of the word promise.
Taking place over the course of approximately one year, The Registry of Promise consists of four autonomous, inter-related exhibitions, which can be read as individual chapters in a book. It will be inaugurated by The Promise of Melancholy and Ecology at the Fondazione Giuliani, Rome, which will be followed by The Promise of Multiple Temporalities at Parc Saint Léger, Pougues-Les-Eaux, then The Promise of Moving Things at Centre d’art contemporain d’Ivry – le Crédac, and will conclude with The Promise of Literature, Soothsaying and Speaking in Tongues at De Vleeshal, Middelburg.

The Promise of Melancholy and Ecology
Artists: Peter Buggenhout, Jochen Lempert, Marlie Mul, Jean-Marie Perdrix.
This exhibition explores the relationship between melancholy and ecology.

Peter Buggenhout, Gorgo #29, 2013

2. Peter Buggenhout, Gorgo #29, 2013

Peter Buggenhout, Gorgo #33, 2013

3. Peter Buggenhout, Gorgo #33, 2013

Jochen Lempert, The Skins of Alca Impennis, 1995-2013

4. Jochen Lempert, The Skins of Alca Impennis, 1995-2013

Marlie Mul, Puddle (Black Disposable), 2013

5. Marlie Mul, Puddle (Black Disposable), 2013

Jean-Marie Perdrix, Cheval, bronze à la chair perdue 3, 2013

6. Jean-Marie Perdrix, Cheval, bronze à la chair perdue 3, 2013

Part one, The Promise of Melancholy and Ecology addresses our increasingly forlorn and conflicted relationship to nature. Like so many Freudian melancholics, we are, it seems, unable to properly mourn the loss of something we can only imperfectly grasp – that is nature, or our conception of it – because we can no longer separate it from our own egos. Thus this exhibition explores our perception of nature as something remote, largely of the domain of the unrecoverable past, and which can only be represented through extinction, as in the photos of German artist Jochen Lempert of the Alca Impennis, or the Great Auk, which went extinct in the middle of the 19th century. Over the course of the past twenty years, Lempert has photographed 35 of the 78 extinct examples, which can be found in natural history museums all over the world. The harrowing bronze and carbon sculptures of truncated animals by the French artist Jean-Marie Perdrix, which are made with the lost wax technique, speak to a similarly bygone intimacy with nature, but one whose infernal indexicality cannot but directly evoke Pompeii. The Belgian artist Peter Buggenhout’s tenebrous detrital assemblages tend toward a revised conception of the so-called natural by investing industrial materials with a quasi-organic quality. Finally, Dutch artist Marie Mul’s dark resin puddles, occasionally inflected with cigarette butts and plastic bags, assume a disturbing cogency in this context, as if they were the only plausible fluids available to our increasingly desolate conception of nature. And yet for all its apparent gloom, the work in this exhibition nevertheless collectively gestures toward the possibility that our perception of what it seeks to preserve, as opposed to mourn, might be less flexible than nature itself.

The Promise of Multiple Temporalities
Artists: Patrick Bernatchez, Juliette Blightman, Rosalind Nashashibi, Francisco Tropa, Andy Warhol, Anicka Yi.

Fransisco Tropa, Lantern (drop), 2012

7. Fransisco Tropa, Lantern (drop), 2012

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8. Juliette Blightman, This World Is not My Home, 2010

Rosalind Nashashibi, The Prisoner, 2008

9. Rosalind Nashashibi, The Prisoner, 2008

Part two, The Promise of Multiple Temporalities, responds to the collapse of faith in progress, and the singularly conception of linear time that underpinned it with another conception of time, which is multifarious, contradictory, and nevertheless co-existent. Here time spiders out into a variety of directions, alternatively expanding, coming to a grinding halt, circling back upon itself, or transforming into water. A single revolution of Canadian artist Patrick Bernatchez’s Black Watch (2011), specially commissioned to a Swiss watch maker, requires not the usual twenty four hours to go full circle, but a thousand years, and in doing so, dwarfs human cycles of time to virtually nothing. Where this work uses the watch to extend time virtually beyond human comprehension, Portuguese, Lisbon-based artist Francisco Tropa’s Lantern (2012) goes back, so to speak, to the beginning of time. Part of his ongoing investigation of antique time-telling devices, Lantern, is a recreation of a clepsydra– an ancient device for measuring time by the regulated flow of water through a small aperture– which is then projected on the wall, like a magic lantern. English, Berlin-based artist Juliette Blightman’s This World is not My Home (2010) telescopes time onto two periods of the afternoon, 3 pm, which could be considered the dead time of the day, as well as 6 pm, which is traditionally quitting time. The work is comprised of a chair on a rug with a fire grate placed in front of an open window. Everyday at 3 pm, a single log is placed on the grate and lit, and then every day at 6 o’clock the song This World is not My Home by Jim Reeves plays.
Rosalind Nashashibi’s The Prisoner (2008) could be said to compress the loop embedded in Blightman’s work. This 16mm two-projector film installation, which feeds the same film through both projectors at naturally non-synchronized screenings, depicts a woman climbing a set of stairs over and over again, as if trapped in the same infernal instant. Andy Warhol’s Sleep (1963), which consists of an image of John Giorno sleeping for five hours and twenty minutes is a classic literalization of cinematic time as time. American, New York based Anicka Yi’s work Tenzingbaharakginaeditscottronnienikolalosangsandrafabiansamuelaninahannahelaine (2013) embodies, among other things, the sense of memento mori that inevitably courses through the entire exhibition. For this sculptural installation, Yi deep fried flowers in tempura batter and then placed them in a Donald Judd-like series of card board boxes full of resin. What is more, given the organic nature of this work, it is necessarily dialectical, in so far as, it is unstable and it will evolve over time.

The Promise of Moving Things
Artists: Nina Canell, Alexander Gutke, Mandla Reuter, Hans Schabus, Michael E. Smith, Antoine Nessi

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10. Alexander Gutke, Auto-scope, 2012

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11. Michael E. Smith, Untitled, 2014

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12. Nina Canell, Treetops, Hillsides and Ditches, 2011

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13. Antoine Nessi, Unknown Organs, 2014

2. Mandla Reuter, The Agreement, Vienna, 2011

14. Mandla Reuter, The Agreement, Vienna, 2011

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15. Nina Canell, Present Tense, 2014

Positing the possibility of a post-human, object-oriented world, this exhibition embraces the impossibility of imaging a world outside of a human perspective.

The Promise of Literature, Soothsaying and Speaking in Tongues
Artists: Becky BeasleyMichael DeanJean-Luc MoulèneMatt MullicanReto PulferLucy SkaerCarlo Gabriele Tribbioli

 

 

Michael Dean

16. Michael Dean, hnnnhhnnn-hnnnhnnnnh (Analogue Series), 2014

Addressing the future as essentially unknowable, this exhibition deals with language’s attempts and failures, which are both beautiful and ridiculous, to access the inaccessible.

 

Articolato in una serie di mostre, The Registry of Promise è un progetto che riflette sulla nostra relazione sempre più tesa con ciò che il futuro potrebbe o non potrebbe avere in serbo per noi. Ogni mostra fa leva sulle diverse letture del significato di una promessa, da intendere come qualcosa che contemporaneamente anticipa un futuro, il suo realizzarsi o venir meno, come anche una sorta di inevitabilità, sia positiva che negativa. Tale polivalenza acquista particolare intensità nell’attuale momento storico. Appurato che le nozioni tecnologiche e scientifiche del progresso, inaugurate dall’Illuminismo, non hanno più la stessa presa, ormai abbiamo abbandonato la visione lineare che il futuro una volta indicava. Nello stesso tempo ciò che viene a sostituire le nostre precedenti certezze non sembrerebbe affatto un’alternativa: lo spettro incombente di una catastrofe ecologica. Partendo dalla promessa antropocentrica della modernità, sembrerebbe che abbiamo ripiegato su una fede negativa nel post-umano. Eppure il futuro non è necessariamente un libro chiuso. Lontano da un’ottica fatalista, The Registry of Promise prende in considerazione queste diverse modalità del futuro mentre, nello stesso tempo, prova a concepirne di nuove. Così facendo si cerca di valorizzare la potenziale polivalenza e mutevolezza del termine ‘promessa’.

 

The Registry of Promise est une série d’expositions-réflexions sur ce que l’avenir pourrait nous réserver, ou pas. Ces expositions abordent et jouent sur des lectures multiples et simultanées du concept de promesse : anticipation du futur, maintien ou rupture de la promesse, ainsi qu’un sentiment d’inéluctabilité, positif et négatif. Une telle polyvalence revêt, en ce moment historique, un caractère particulièrement poignant.
Les notions de progrès technologique et scientifique inaugurées par le Siècle des Lumières n’ont plus la côte d’autrefois, et nous avons abandonné depuis longtemps la vision linéaire de l’avenir qui leur était associée. Cette ancienne vision a entre-temps été remplacée – si l’on peut parler de remplacement – par le spectre menaçant d’une catastrophe écologique globale. De la promesse anthropocentrique de la modernité, nous sommes apparemment passés à une foi négative dans le post-humain. Et pourtant, l’avenir n’est pas nécessairement un livre clos. Loin d’être fataliste, The Registry of Promise prend en considération les différents modes du futur tout en essayant d’en concevoir de nouveaux. Tout cela dans une tentative de valoriser le potentiel de polyvalence et de muabilité au cœur du mot « promesse ».

Images:
1. Marlie Mul, Puddle (Daub), 2013, sand, stones, resin, plastic bag, 90 x 77 cm. Courtesy Fluxia, Milan. Photo: Andrea Rossetti
2. Peter Buggenhout, Gorgo #29, 2013, mixed media: plastic, leather, blood, horse hair, Plexiglas, paper, cloth; work: h 86 x 105 x 130 cm + glassbox & pedestal: h 185 x 105 x 152 cm
3. Peter Buggenhout, Gorgo #33, 2013, mixed media: wax, plastic, blood, horse hair, cardboard, PU6foam, polyester; work: h 48 x 72 x 49 cm + glassbox & pedestal: h 147 x 80 x 60 cm
4. Jochen Lempert, The Skins of Alca Impennis, 1995-2013, 34 b/w photographs, silver gelatin prints, 18 x 24 cm each. Ed. 5. Courtesy ProjecteSD, Barcelona
5. Marlie Mul, Puddle (Black Disposable), 2013, sand, stones, resin, object, 78 x 76 cm. Courtesy Fluxia, Milan. Photo: Andrea Rossetti
6. Jean-Marie Perdrix, Cheval, bronze à la chair perdue 3, 2013, cast of copper alloy, carbon and ash, 25 x 77 x 33 cm
7. Juliette Blightman, This World Is not My Home, 2010, window, paint, rug, chair, song, brazier, fire, environmental dimensions. Courtesy Jacopo Menzani
8. Francisco Tropa, Lantern (drop), 2012, lantern (brass, wood, stone, projector), limestone cylinder, glass, liquid, screen, mixed media, variable dimensions. Photo: Pedro
Tropa/Teresa Santos. Courtesy Galerie Jocelyn Wolff
9. Rosalind Nashashibi, The Prisoner, 2008, 16 mm film, 5 minutes. Installation view, Manifesta 7, Trentino Italy 2008
10. Alexander Gutke, Auto-scope, 2012. 16 mm film; 1mn loop.View of the exhibition The Promise of Moving Things (curator: Chris Sharp), Centre d’art contemporain d’Ivry – le Crédac, 2014. Photo: André Morin / le Crédac. Courtesy of Galerija Gregor Podnar, Berlin / Ljubljana
11. Michael E. Smith, Untitled, 2014. Wire harness; variable dimensions. View of the exhibition The Promise of Moving Things (curator: Chris Sharp), Centre d’art contemporain d’Ivry – le Crédac, 2014. Photo: André Morin / le Crédac. Courtesy of the artist, Clifton Benevento, New York & Michael Benevento, Los Angeles
12. Nina Canell, Treetops, Hillsides and Ditches, 2011. Mastic gum, logs; variable dimensions.  View of the exhibition The Promise of Moving Things (curator: Chris Sharp), Centre d’art contemporain d’Ivry – le Crédac, 2014. Photo: André Morin / le Crédac. Courtesy Konrad Fischer Galerie, Berlin and Private collection, Belgium. © Nina Canell / Adagp, 2014
13. Antoine Nessi, Unknown Organs, 2014. Stainless steel, aluminium, brass, galvanized steel; variable dimensions. View of the exhibition The Promise of Moving Things (curator: Chris Sharp), Centre d’art contemporain d’Ivry – le Crédac, 2014. Photo: André Morin / le Crédac
14. Mandla Reuter, The Agreement, Vienna, 2011. 198 x 129 x 85 cm. View of the exhibition The Promise of Moving Things (curator: Chris Sharp), Centre d’art contemporain d’Ivry – le Crédac, 2014. Photo: André Morin / le Crédac. Courtesy Galerie Mezzanin, Vienna. © Mandla Reuter/ Adagp 2014
15. Nina Canell, Present Tense, 2014. Frequency generator, Spring reverb, copper thread, tape; variable dimensions. View of the exhibition The Promise of Moving Things (curator: Chris Sharp), Centre d’art contemporain d’Ivry – le Crédac, 2014. Photo: André Morin / le Crédac. Courtesy Galerie Wien Lukatsch, Mother’s Tankstation et Daniel Marzona. © Nina Canell / Adagp 2014
16. Michael Dean, hnnnhhnnn-hnnnhnnnnh (Analogue Series), 2014, book, ink, 16 cm x 23 cm x 9 cm. Courtesy the artist, Herald St. London, Supportico Lopez Berlin

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ILARIA MAROTTA IN CONVERSATION WITH CHRIS SHARP

ILARIA MAROTTA IN CONVERSATION WITH CHRIS SHARP

Ilaria Marotta “In January 1982, thirty-one years ago, Primo Levi was asked to say something about the future, giving voice to the writer of science fiction – or biology fiction, as Calvino said – that was in him,” writes Marco Belpoliti talking about the future in a recent article appeared on doppiozero. “He did it” – he continues – “ in Tuttolibri, together with and next to James G. Ballard, a far more apocalyptic author. Levi simply reiterated the predictions made twenty years earlier by Arthur Clarke, commenting on what had actually come true and what had not. Among the various things that happened, there was the landing on the moon, one year before Clarke’s prediction; Clarke had also envisioned a “personal radio” by 1980: Levi thought this was easy but not convenient to produce: better let it go. Now that we have the Internet and social networks, something similar has happened…”. Here, the author stresses that talking about the future always entails the idea of a bet or a prediction. We can only speak of the future in the present. And similarly, your project The Registry of Promise, whose first event has been presented at the Fondazione Giuliani in Rome, investigates not so much your vision of the future as an aspiration for the future, or rather a promise for the future. What is the future that artists seem to promise?

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2. Peter Buggenhout, Gorgo #33, 2013

Chris Sharp It is indeed true that the future can only speculated about from the position of the present. As for what you say about The Registry of Promise and the proprietorship of visions (mine or the artists’), I hadn’t thought about that before, but now that I do, I think it is actually shared – that it, this vision, is something that we produce, or maybe better yet, experience together, curator and artist, as if we coincide and enter in a kind of complicity. In fact, it is this kind of ideal complicity that prevents, I believe, a show from being about ideas as opposed to art (i.e., using art to illustrate ideas) and which is why I never feel comfortable with term “research,” and why I feel like I don’t really do any, properly speaking, nor do any of the artists with whom I have the great privilege to work. If I am not mistaken, the term presupposes a quantifiable scientific method (hypothesis, proof) which, contrary to recent popular opinion, has very little, if anything, to do with the fundamental, insuperable and incommensurable (unquantifiable) sense of uncertainty and mystery intrinsic to art.

Jochen Lempert, Untitled (from: Symmetry and the Architecture of the Body), 1997

3. Jochen Lempert, Untitled, 1997

As for the question of the future and promise, the relationship of the artists in this overall exhibition with time, is, I hope, much more complex. It has as much to do with the past and the present as with future. It’s more a question of the ambiguity at the heart of the notion of promise – its ultimate lack of allegiance to a given or specific temporality.
I am not sure what kind of future artists can offer us. Part of me wants to believe in this utopian relic of the avant-garde, and another part believes that it is, to a certain extent, responsible for some of the least interesting art being made today, whether it be through the predominantly affirmative, non-critical embrace of the internet and technology among the majority of what is commonly referred to as “post-internet art” or through the positivistic instrumentalization of art in “social practice.” This much I can unoriginally say, great art usually allows me to perceive things in a way I would have never perceived them before, that which in turn inevitably opens up new perspectives. I can also say that I believe that there is a lot of compassion in the work I am showing – something I am coming to value more and more in art (as well as in literature), which is rare and which probably has more to do with the future than we might initially think, even if it is essentially timeless.

Marlie Mul, Puddle (Faint Blue), 2014

4. Marlie Mul, Puddle (Faint Blue), 2014

I.M. In that same article, the writer supports the idea of a return to primitivism, the need to recover deep roots, the reassertion of basic needs to address the advancement of new technologies, social networking, a virtual context. If we look at historical determinism, we know that every action is the result of a previous one. So the future is actually in progress. In this perspective, the prediction of a future action is no longer something abstract, but rather something that we build day by day in the present. In an exhibition that I recently curated, called The Time Machine (The Survivors), there was a clear reference to the in-progress perception of the future. What is the aspect that most attracts you about the future? The new languages, new aesthetics, or specific issues (ecology, the legacy of history, nature…)? Which of these areas have you explored or will explore in your four exhibition projects, and in what order was the general design of the exhibition envisioned? 

Jean-Marie Perdrix, Cheval, bronze à la chair perdue 3, 2013

5. Jean-Marie Perdrix, Cheval, bronze à la chair perdue 3, 2013

C.S. I suppose that the aspect that most attracts me about the future is its ability to generate if not narrative, then form (which is always a kind of narrative, or way to prevent the story from yielding up its contents, once and for all, and ending) – which is one of the primary points of this show. To what extent can the future generate narrative and form? Or rather, to what extent is our western perspective of the future capable of generating it? If that perspective has been exhausted (the dominant western narrative/mythology seems to be not just the end of the world, but how it will end) then how can we imagine other perspectives, other forms? By shedding the old one (melancholy); abandoning a linear conception of time and embracing a multiplicity of times (multiple times); accepting the impossibility of a non-human narrative (moving things); and lastly, by stretching literature and language itself to new limits. But all of that makes the exhibitions that compose The Registry of Promise sound more prescriptive and idea-based than they actually are. Their relationship to ideas is probably closer to poetry’s relationship to ideas, which is one of form, at least where Wallace Stevens is concerned, when he writes: “The poem must resist the intelligence almost successfully.”

Jochen Lempert, Fire, 2008

6. Jochen Lempert, Fire, 2008

I.M. I found the first event of the project at the Giuliani really well arranged, sophisticated, almost metaphysical in the choice of the large voids between each work. Such an arrangement of space is a curatorial choice, but can it also be interpreted as your own personal reading of an imaginary future? Rarefaction, order, or entropy?

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7. Jochen Lempert, Martha, 2005

C.S. Thank you very much. Metaphysical is not a term I would have ever selected to describe it, but now that you mention it, de Chirico does come to mind, as well as a corresponding sense of deliberateness, meaning (or lack thereof), crisis, and even desolation. The latter probably has more to do with my spatial decisions in the Giuliani show than anything. I wanted to create a potent, yet understated sense of drama. All the work in the show is very powerful and I wanted to emphasize that power, even if I did so toward non-specific narrative ends – for instance, it seems like something has happened in The Promise of Melancholy and Ecology, which is very much of the order of aftermath, but whatever has happened has less to do with an event than, say, a psychological condition: melancholy (a condition, which, predicated on loss, inwardly leans more toward emptying out the world than filling it up).
I also think that some, if not all the works really deserved the space. Jean-Marie Perdrix’s amalgamated, bronze horse head, for instance – an object as beautiful as it is harrowing – needed a room all to itself, I believe, in order to fully realize itself. But then again, to speak generally, I think all great art deserves a lot of space in order to be properly seen, and that, reversing the same logic, all the space in Giuliani can be gleaned as a measure of not only how powerful the art in it is, but also, by extension, how fortunate I am to be able to work with it.

Images:
1. Jochen Lempert, Untitled, 2005, silver gelatin print; 37 x 28 cm. Courtesy ProjecteSD, Barcelona.
2. Peter Buggenhout, Gorgo #33, 2013, mixed media: wax, plastic, blood, horse hair, cardboard, PU-foam, polyester; 48 x 72 x 49 cm; vitrine and pedestal 147 x 80 x 60 cm. Courtesy Galerie Laurent Godin, Paris
3. Jochen Lempert, Untitled (from: Symmetry and the Architecture of the Body), 1997, 2 silver gelatin prints; 18 x 24 cm each. Courtesy ProjecteSD, Barcelona
4. Marlie Mul, Puddle (Faint Blue), 2014, sand, stones, resin, objects; 95 x 88 cm. Courtesy Fluxia, Milan
5. Jean-Marie Perdrix, Cheval, bronze à la chair perdue 3, 2013, cast of copper alloy, carbon and ash; 25 x 77 x 33 cm. Courtesy Desiré Saint Phalle, Mexico City
6. Jochen Lempert, Fire, 2008, 6 silver gelatin prints; 18 x 24 cm each. Courtesy ProjecteSD, Barcelona
7. Jochen Lempert, Martha, 2005, silver gelatin print; 30 x 28 cm. Courtesy ProjecteSD, Barcelona

Photos: Giorgio Benni

Project: The Registry of Promise
Spaces: Fondazione Giuliani, Parc Saint Léger, Centre d’art contemporain d’Ivry – le Crédac, De Vleeshal
Protagonists: Chris SharpPeter Buggenhout, Jochen Lempert, Marlie Mul, Jean-Marie Perdrix, Patrick Bernatchez, Juliette BlightmanRosalind Nashashibi, Francisco Tropa, Andy Warhol, Anicka Yi, Nina Canell, Alexander Gutke, Mandla Reuter, Hans Schabus, Michael E. Smith, Antoine Nessi

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