Not Standing in Place
A public site project in collaboration with Tim Etchells for Theater Spektakel Festival, 2021
For the project, Tim and I invited 13 international artists and one collective – folks working across visual art, performance and socially engaged practice – to propose imaginary monuments in text form. Manifested as different text-bearing structures – billboards, 3-dimensional constructions, small signs and banners – the pieces are installed across Landiwiese in Zurich, the site of Zürcher Theater Spektakel festival. In response to our invitation, the artists have sent us their ideas, instructions and sketches, and on the basis of these materials and in a dialogue with the festival team, we produced the works in Zurich.
Each artist has written an introductory note to their work for the published guide.
Download the PDF of the guide here.
Dan Perjovschi: Words Are Monuments – Part of Not Standing in Place (1/14)
In 1989 my fellow Romanian people died on the streets for Freedom. I honour their memory treating Public Space very seriously. Words are Monuments.
Dread Scott: Monument to Stranger in the Village – Part of Not Standing in Place (2/14)
Today we honor the stranger in the village.
Monuments are not permanent. They last when ideas grow inside minds and are encouraged to spread. Monument to Stranger in the Village is a living monument. It is a monument to the essay “Stranger in the Village.” It is a monument to James Baldwin. It is a monument to the stranger in the village.
Banner 1: The stranger in the village is welcome here
Banner 2: “This world is white no longer, and it will never be white again.” – James Baldwin, “Stranger in the Village”
Caroline Bergvall: ShelTer – Part of Not Standing in Place (3/14)\
ShelTer was conceived using the capitalised letter ‘T’ as a sheltering shape, a shape for our time of social and climactic emergencies.
The T-shape formed the basis for the construction and choice of materials, and dictated the poem. The roof-word is wide open to the elements. At specific times of day, it exists mainly as a long shadow. Where is refuge? Where is shelter?
Hock E Aye Vi Edgar Heap of Birds: Set Indiens Free – Part of Not Standing in Place (4/14)
Swiss artist Karl Bodmer travelled with Prince Maximilian, so called German “Explorer”, in 1832 and ‘34 up the Missouri River in the Western tribal lands. Bodmer in a sense “captured” many Native people via his paintings, never to be released. There is a display of his prints and paintings right now at the Met museum in NYC. Those images often replace any articulation of true and now Native Nation citizens. Real Natives, even today, are not needed by the U.S. republic to represent themselves since the Euro versions have been stolen and trotted out once again.
Katrina Palmer: Black Text: A Covert Physical Manifestation in the Discursive Field – Part of Not Standing in Place (5/14)
Black Text is manifestly the title page of a written work. The words and layout explicitly propose the work that is attributed to the author/publisher named Palmer. This name appears in place of the author/publisher’s African name, that was erased as part of the transatlantic slave trade.
Tania El Khoury: They Knew – Part of Not Standing in Place (6/14)
Lebanon is currently undergoing multiple humanitarian and economic crises, all of which have been caused by a corrupt and greedy political elite class. This work responds to the lack of accountability in regards to the devastating explosion at the port of Beirut last August and the current economic depression. They Knew refers to the political and business elites smuggling money outside the country just before the currency devaluation. A significant part of their (our) money ended up in Swiss banks. They Knew also points to the government’s knowledge of the existence of the highly explosive material stored illegally in the city’s port. In the aftermath of the explosion, a graffiti appeared, was erased, then resurfaced again. It states: my government did this.
Sharon Hayes: Come Out, Come Out – Part of Not Standing in Place (7/14)
Come Out Come Out is a speculation on time and on being behind – both physically and temporally. These two slogans: Come out, Come out Wherever You Are and An Army of Lovers Cannot Lose are drawn from images of protests during the short-lived Gay Liberation Movement (1969-73). I think of protest as a grammar as much as an action. In that way, I see protest as composed of linguistic, choreographic, compositional, political and emotional elements. The tense of a protest sign or banner is one entirely its own: past, present and future at the same time. In this work, I want to offer a moment to linger “behind” the protest banner – a possible and impossible place. I’m interested in this holding up this space and in disrupting, ever-so-slightly the fixedness, frontality and assumptions/presumptions of transparent facticity of the genre of monumentality.
Season Butler: Quid Pro Quo – Part of Not Standing in Place (8/14)
Quid Pro Quo considers the beauty and contradictions of Black social life, and the condition and consequences of social death. The trade-off is simple: You kill us, we haunt you.
Ahmet Öğüt: No Emotional Abuse Monument – Part of Not Standing in Place (9/14)
No Orbiting Zone
*the practice of someone stopping communicating with you in real life but continuing to engage with your social media posts.
No Catfishing Zone
*the practice of someone misrepresenting themselves in a significant way.
No Gaslighting Zone
*the practice of someone trying to get you to question your own reality and judgement.
No Ghosting Zone
*the practice of someone cutting you off and cutting you out.
No Benching Zone
*the practice of someone keeping both you and your relationship hidden.
No Breadcrumbing Zone
*the practice of someone sending out flirtatious, but non-committal social signals.
Harun Morrison: How to Do Things with Non-Words – Part of Not Standing in Place (10/14)
I became aware of ‘non-words’ via an issue of the Journal of British Language and Communication Disorders that belonged to my sister, a speech therapist. It featured a table of 40 pairs of non-words of increasing complexity. Here it has been replicated and enlarged. The poster is accompanied by the voice of Zurich-based artist and musician Lea Rüegg singing the words. Speech therapists use non-words as a diagnostic tool to gauge language skills (especially phonetic decoding ability). Non-words follow the typical structure of a word in a given language, but do not exist. The person being tested cannot rely on pre-familiarity and other social factors. The title of this work riffs on language philosopher J.L. Austin’s text How to Do Thing with Words (1955/1962).
Peter Liversidge: I Propose That We Should Walk Together – Part of Not Standing in Place (11/14)
I had wanted to make a work that considered potential interaction with an audience. Originally this text was made into a takeaway poster, stacked on a gallery floor, inviting visitors to the show to take them away, remove the work from the exhibition, thinking of this as not just a gesture but an invitation to be part of a performance.
What if, as it is now, the work was on a billboard? What if the taking away was in the memory, in the imagination? As a statement it can be read in many ways, as a collective action, a romantic gesture, as a physical act; in what direction, to what ends?
Perhaps as an invitation to consider others, show empathy, support, engagement, with those known and those not yet met.
Schwar zenbach Kompl ex write:
We live in turbulent times. Blickwechsel invites to shift our perspective on discourses and materialities that have been shaping the Swiss society for generations, particularly on words that frame and affect our feeling of belonging. Dismantling and reshuffling these composite bureaucratic terms and euphemisms, might lift the burden of a traumatic past and open up new perspectives for the future.
Embedded in the interdisciplinary, community based project Schwar zenbach Kompl ex, which tries to put forward a new multi-voiced politics of memory on migration, racism and resistance, Blickwechsel is a research on migrant workers in Switzerland (Saisonniers), the exclusive legal regulations, housing conditions in barrack settlements, illegalized families and hidden children.
Anne Beam: RORRIM – Part of Not Standing in Place (13/14)
In 1970, for a performance, I set up a mirror and whoever came in the door could immediately see me in reflection and likewise I could see them. We communicated only through our reflections. The philosopher Michel Foucault spoke about the concept of heterotopia to describe spaces that are ‘other’: disturbing, intense, contradictory, incompatible or transforming. He commented on the heterotopia of the mirror as being a ‘placeless place’, simultaneously real, relating with the real space surrounding it, and unreal, creating a virtual image.
David Horvitz: watching you become the sunset – Part of Not Standing in Place (14/14)
Not Standing in Place is a collaborative project by Vlatka Horvat and Tim Etchells, for which the two invited a group of international artists to create imaginary monuments in text form to be installed on the Landiwiese in Zurich, home for the city’s Theater Spektakel festival. These temporary monuments summoned in language are manifested as various text-bearing structures, from billboards and 3-dimensional constructions to small signs and banners.
From monuments focusing on personal stories or interests; forgotten or marginalized histories; surprising events or images; shared dreams or even abstract ideas, Not Standing in Place presents a highly playful and deeply serious reimagining of what we might choose to memorialize or draw attention to in shared public space; which aspects of experience, history and daily life are marked or celebrated, how and by whom.
In different ways, the 14 diverse text-based works created within the frame of the project open up a playful and vivid space of public imagination, reflection and thinking, bringing to the fore questions around permanence/ephemeralness, around material presence, and more broadly around societal change.
With newly commissioned works by:
Anne Bean, Caroline Bergvall, Season Butler, Tania El Khoury, Sharon Hayes, Hock E Aye Vi Edgar Heap of Birds, David Horvitz, Peter Liversidge, Harun Morrison, Ahmet Öğüt, Katrina Palmer, Dan Perjovschi, Dread Scott, and Schwar zenbach Kompl ex.
A commissioned project for the Zürcher Theater Spektakel.
The presentation at the Zürcher Theater Spektakel is supported by Kanton Zürich Fachstelle Kultur, Ernst Göhner Stiftung and Max Kohler Stiftung.