It feels a bit numbing and stupid, writing some kind of profound statement in these times. Especially, in a time of the thinkpiece, the clickbaity kind of article that both plays on our attention and perhaps lack thereof. I remember last year, the yearly exhibition, was quite a moment. It was the first time I got to see the secrecy that had been going on behind the doors of all us students’ individual studios. I was quite surprised by the amount of “solo shows” going on at each of these studios. It was a bit intimidating but also quite reassuring, that people work really hard to make artworks. Now, that kind of work ethic feels kind of tipped on its head, with the internet flooding with links to artist films’ and virtual exhibitions. Even Jean-Luc Godard had his own Instagram live stream. It is hard not ask the pressing question: what the fuck is happening?
His case seems particularly peculiar. While occupying the mobile screen so funnily, he appears like a cigar smoking messenger who came through a loophole into all of this, making philosophical remarks about the current time in casual form. By comparing the distribution of news to the virus, unmodified copies that travel from host to host, he critiques language stating “painters never made copies” but were inspired. This might mean that we connect ourselves through our interpretation to what goes on around us and passes through us. Maybe it’s not so much about making your own mark, but about reminding another to make contact with what we bring forth. Thinking about this in regards to the current situation, we can ask ourselves how we want to relate to this moment; do we stop, protest, conform, or explore the situation including the new problematics it confronts us with?
On the 14th of March, 2013, the user teflon97239 uploaded a film to Youtube with the title “Tennis Court Empty”. The film is one minute long and consists of shaky footage of an empty tennis field. In the description it says “Hope my friends will see this and play some tennis with me”. Today, 7 years after its upload, the film has 90 views. I don’t know if teflon97239 found someone to play tennis with. The video predates Snapchat’s function “Stories” with a couple of months but has the same kind of undirected logic: just putting something out there to see if someone will react, if someone will come and play some tennis… In the final scene of Michelangelo Antonionis film “Blow Up”, the main character – a photographer who thinks he has witnessed a murder in a park – walks past a tennis court, where a group of mimes are playing tennis silently. They have no rackets or tennis balls. The only sound you can hear are their shoes, energetically jumping across the field. While they perform their dramatic match, the camera follows the trajectory of the fictional ball. Back and forth. Back and forth. At one point the ball leaves the field and one of the players asks the photographer to pick it up. First he is a little hesitant, but then he decides to play along: he gets the ball in the grass and throws it back at the mimers. In the end the viewer is left with a close up of the photographer’s eyes moving back and forth. And suddenly you can hear the faint sound of a tennis ball. Thump. Thwack. Thump. Tchwack. Another mysterious tennis match seems to take place in Marguerite Duras’ novel “Destroy, she said”, where we follow five young people fooling around a hotel, falling in love with each other. Next to the hotel, there’s a tennis court, but no one ever plays tennis there, so the court is always empty. Nevertheless the guests seem to hear sounds from tennis balls flying back and forth on the tennis court. Do empty tennis courts make the greatest sound? Can sound stick to a space in the same way as smell? And what about the empty exhibition spaces? Or the schools? How do they sound? Can their digital counterparts find someone to play with? Can we make this online exhibition happen in the same way as the photographer plays along and throws the invisible tennis ball back at the group of mimes?
You decide. The ball is in your court.
Despite the ball being on your court you no longer know the lines of the square. You used to know them by heart. You were born into them, and even then they flickered from time to time.
It’s different now. One X-factor changes the tissue of the court, of the world. It became a lot more strange and messy, and you had to play it differently. The world made new lines and you got two steps behind. On your path trying to figure out what to do, you played with the ball. You tried to spin it. You tried to pause it for a while. You tried to throw it in a new direction. You walked into an unknown void, and the ground was muddy and you had to change your steps too. Along the path you collected traces you haven’t seen before. You played some more and the ball kept spinning around.
This is an attempt to think in another world, to play the ball on a strange court. It’s a collective bound together by a web of loops, wifi and long distances. It’s a lot more than just a game, because the invisible game became the reality itself.
This collectively assembled text was created as an exquisite corpse where each of the four writers only see the last sentence from the following section, can be seen as a collaborative statement for the Annual Exhibition 2020. We think that the different viewpoints of Amin, Dagmar, Filip and Therese reflects the students experiences of showing and making works for an exhibition in this unusual format. /Teachers: Maria, PO @ Margot.Back home