Kanslibyrån – a long-term artistic collaboration between Swedish artists Per-Arne Sträng and John Huntington – seeks to challenge the assumption that society is constructed according a set understanding of the good, productive citizen. Implicit in the definition of such a citizen is the assumption, also, of what constitutes the best kind of consumer – one who is rational, obedient, and efficient in their actions. In response to this view, Kanslibyrån performs actions in the public space that are irrational, disobedient, and ambiguous in their intention. The project identifies and defies conventions subtle enough to go uncontested in everyday life in order to locate productive points of resistance in a social system that increasingly appears to co-opt all attempts to resist it.
The Bulletin Board, as a way of disseminating information, is an official instrument of bureaucratic control, especially the locked, glass-fronted and therefore democratically inaccessible bulletin board at the Center for Curatorial Studies. It announces – as opposed to a town hall meeting or a public debate – it does not discuss, and thus it mirrors the relationship of stable and orderly bureaucracy to representative and participatory democracy. By exhibiting a series of actions from Kanslibyrån Swedish archive as well as several new actions taken by Sträng and Huntington in New York, the artists seek to playful undermine the authority of this box. Is what is announced a series of cautionary tales – like wanted posters in a similar glass bulletin board at the post office? Are these instructions for engagement, or the inevitable disillusion of rational direction from government? Or are they snap shots of bureaucracy lost in its own reflection?
A selection of 18 actions will be presented as labeled photographic documentation, arranged in a grid. Huntington and Sträng have also extended the project into two other channels of Bard’s public communication system – a postering campaign and the campus newspaper. The artists will present the project themselves on Monday the 18th of October in an artists’ talk cum performance, followed by an informal discussion.
John Huntington is a Stockholm based artist recently graduated with an MA from Konstfack. Huntington investigates the surrounding society and draws inspiration from everyday life, the media, political debate, and socio-cultural phenomena relating to hierarchies and power relations. His art intervenes. It actively takes part in society by making a place for itself – often an unexpected place. The border between fiction and reality is central in Johns work, as the concepts are always shifting and interacting with each other: what we perceive as truth can often be enactments and vice versa.
Per-Arne Sträng is an artist living in Stockholm. Previously, Per-Arne lived in Umeå, Sweden, where he studied at the Academy of Fine Arts. Per-Arne primarily works conceptually with photography, video, sound and objects. To find value in the simple things is something that is present in most of his works. Per-Arne also work with various artistic cooperatives. He works with an artist-run gallery in Umeå (gallery Maskinen) and is a co-curator in a Danish art project (The Travellers Box).
Curated by CCS Bard graduate student Natasha Llorens
THE BULLETIN BOARD
The Center for Curatorial Studies at Bard College is the third venue to host Matthew Higgs’s (Curator and Director of White Columns) bulletin board project. CCS and Higgs collaborated to begin a bulletin board program at Bard in the fall of 2007 with the understanding that the graduate students at CCS would curate it. The bulletin board is an enclosed glass case divided into three panes by aluminum bars.