A conversation between Andrea Scrima and Myriam Naumann on “The Ethnic Chinese Millionaire,” an exhibition by Scrima in Manière Noire, Berlin

Andrea Scrima’s “The Ethnic Chinese Millionaire” at Manière Noire consists of a two-part, large-scale text installation, a small sculpture, and a news photo printed on the invitation card. These three elements interlock in an intricate manner, while the exhibition stands in relation to the novel A Lesser Day, which has recently come out in German translation [Wie viele Tage, Literaturverlag Droschl, 2018]. I spoke to the artist and author about the connections between literature and art, image and reproduction, description of image and text turned into space—in other words, about the multimodal signification processes of this complex work. The following conversation took place via email over a period of several weeks for the most part in August and September, 2018. –Myriam Naumann

Myriam Naumann: “Kent Avenue; how I hadn’t done anything I’d set out to do in New York, how I’d called off the exhibition and worked on the book instead…” In A Lesser Day, processes of emergence and coalescing, for instance of perception or materiality, are always present. At one point, the actual writing of a book becomes the subject matter of the text. How did A Lesser Day and its German translation come about?

Andrea Scrima: As a visual artist, I worked in the area of text installation for many years, in other words, I filled entire rooms with lines of text that carried across walls and corners and wrapped around windows and doors. In the beginning, for the exhibitions Through the Bullethole (Bemis Center for Contemporary Arts, Omaha), I walk along a narrow path (American Academy in Rome) and it’s as though, you see, it’s as though I no longer knew… (Künstlerhaus Bethanien Berlin in cooperation with the Galerie Mittelstrasse, Potsdam), I painted the letters by hand, not in the form of handwriting, but in Times Italic. Over time, as the texts grew longer and the setup periods shorter, I began using adhesive letters, for instance at the Neuer Berliner Kunstverein, Kunsthaus Dresden, the museumsakademie berlin, and the Museum für Neue Kunst Freiburg. Many of the texts were site-specific, that is, written for existing spaces, and often in conjunction with objects or photographs. Sometimes it was important that a certain sentence end at a light switch on a wall, that the knob itself concluded the sentence, like a kind of period. I was interested in the architecture of a space and in choreographing the viewer’s movements within it: what happens when a wall of text is too long and the letters too pale to read the entire text block from the distance it would require to encompass it as a whole—what if the viewer had to stride up and down the wall? And if this back and forth, this pacing found its thematic equivalent in the text? Read more »

Ryan Gander: Locked Room Scenario. Artangel

by Sue Hubbard

ScreenHunter_09 Sep. 19 08.36 I’m tempted, by way of a review, to leave this page blank. After all I don’t want to be too directive. I’d like to feel that you, the reader, are free to make whatever contribution you consider appropriate. All you need do is apply your imagination. Come on; I’m sure you can do it if you try. The possibilities are endless and as valid as anything I might come up with surely? What’s the point of bothering to spend all day putting a review together when you can write anything you want? Who needs critics? Who needs artists anyway? After all skill is so passé.

Ryan Gander’s Artangel project is called Locked Room Scenario. The Chester born Ryan first grabbed art-world attention with his Loose Associations originally performed at the Rijksakdaemie in Amsterdam, when he was a student there in 2002. His talk took circuitous routes through “desire lines” (imaginary paths across public spaces) to imagining fake furniture and, even more esoteric, Christine Keeler’s Connection to Homer Simpson. His Alchemy Boxes contained models of work by other artists, as well as personal items including Truffaut DVD covers and books. His output has been, to say the least, eclectic and idiosyncratic: drawings, sculpture, films and customised sportswear, a chess set, jewellery and a children’s book have all been spawned by his copious imagination. He describes himself as a storyteller. His work is spun from the personal and the cultural in a complex web of narratives and subplots. It’s as if he is aiming to become the Jorge Luis Borges of the visual art world, leaving us clues where ever he goes. It’s not surprising to learn that he has a passion for Inspector Morse and Sherlock Holmes.

When I arrive at an unprepossessing modern industrial warehouse in the mean streets of Islington, London, just between fashionable Wharf Road – where the exclusive galleries Victoria Miro and Parasol Unit reside – and the canal, I’m met at the gate by an invigilator with a list of names and am checked in. I ask where the exhibition is and he waves his arm vaguely. I enter the building and find a young couple sitting on the stairs listening to their i-pod and wonder if they’re part of the exhibition. I ask, but they don’t reply.

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