PERSONAL PROTOCOLS AND OTHER PREFERENCES: AN EXHIBITION WITH WORKS BY MICHAEL BEUTLER, ESRA ERSEN, AND KIRSTINE ROEPSTORFF

June 14, 2008 - September 7, 2008
CCS Bard Galleries

Opening reception:
Saturday, June 14, 1:00 – 4:00 p.m.
Exhibition walkthrough with the artists:
Satuday, June 14, 2:30 p.m.
Museum hours:
Wednesday – Sunday, 1:00 – 5:00 p.m.
Free Admission
Free transportation to the opening reception is available to the opening reception on a chartered bus from New York City.  The bus returns to New York after the opening. For details and reservations, please call CCS Bard at 845.758.7598 or writeccs@bard.edu.

PERSONAL PROTOCOLS AND OTHER PREFERENCES

This collective exhibition brings together work by three artists whose practice engages intensively with situations marked by the reality of particular times and places, filtering them through distinct choices of methods and materials. There is a crafty aspect to the work which takes do-it-yourself techniques seriously as a way of questioning what is standard, whether it is man-made machines, videos filmed with a handheld camera or textile-like collages. Although the physical outcomes are radically different, all three of these artists strictly follow their own personal protocols of production.
In preparation for Personal Protocols and Other Preferences, Michael Beutler, Esra Ersen, and Kirstine Roepstorff all made a site visit to CCS Bard at the same time. Out of this encounter a collaboration developed. Wanting to challenge the clinical side of the CCS Galleries, the artists decided to think about the exhibition as a ”collective exhibition” rather than a normal group exhibition. In other words, in a common endeavor a number of decisions would be made collectively, particularly those pertaining to the installation. Thus, existing video works by Esra Ersen and collages by Kirstine Roepstorff are mixed with two new pieces made directly on the walls by Roepstorff and a new production by Michael Beutler.
Realizing that the CCS galleries, designed by architect James Goettsch and Nada Andric and built in 1992, are primarily made for showing painting and sculpture, for his new work Michael Beutler opted for excess, exaggerating the character of the space by adding even more walls. Made out of paper in different bright colors and reed, the walls are ”woven” together in a temporary ”workshop” that is located in the gallery space and will remain there throughout the exhibition. Beutler is also constructing a platform for one of Esra Ersen’s video installations and a tower from which viewers can take a closer look at Kirstine Roepstorff’s new wall work. Both allow visitors to experience the exhibition space from new perspectives.
Personal Protocols and Other Preferences is not a thematic exhibition. Nevertheless, works in the exhibition share some key concerns: conditions of production—in art and otherwise, the nature of labor, the function of the handmade, the importance of highly personal protocols, and, not least, the pleasures and pains of collaboration.
Curated by Maria Lind

THE ARTISTS

Michael Beutler
Michael Beutler (Oldenburg/Berlin, born 1976) explores and responds to architectural space, to its ”needs” and ”demands” as he understands them. His approach ranges from adding occasional elements to total takeovers and even complete makeovers. Sometimes his response is funny, bordering on the absurd, like the bright yellow Pecafil staircase in a dark derilict outhouse for the 2006 Berlin biennial. Sometimes it is more functional, like the 400m2 ceiling made out of wood and straw, inspired by windsurfing techniques, which gave the Kunstverein München a whole new floor for the 2003 exhibition Totally Motivated: A Socio-Cultural Maneouver. By adding constructions or elements made of modest materials like these to the already existing premises he is radically altering your perception of the space in question. At the same time, the process of production is as important as the eventual experience of what has been produced. The constructions and elements tend to be the product of a laborious handmade process involving machines and tools Beutler makes himself, as well labor by the artist and others. Ideally, the machines and tools, often built from recycled materials, contribute to the manufacturing process and create playful possibilities for action. Thus, Michael Beutler’s machines are about devices, gimmicks, and ways of killing time, as well as an attempt to solve practical problems, including economic problems. The installations are usually produced on site just before the exhibition opening.

ESRA ERSEN
In order to carry out her work, Esra Ersen (Istanbul/Berlin, born 1970) invests a lot of time and energy in winning people’s confidence, for only then can she collaborate with them and develop a piece of work. This was the case with a video she made in Istanbul, when her focus shifted from immigrant issues in Western Europe to a little-known situation in a country many of the immigrants come from. Together with a group of illegal immigrants from various African countries—who got stuck in Istanbul involuntarily on their way to Eastern Europe—Ersen looks in the video Brothers and Sisters at how they deal with life outside the system and the rampant racism whose continually changing forms of expression are reflected in the constantly moving camera. Several of Ersen’s works involve various languages and social boundaries, underscoring complications of cultural exchange. Her work is rich in staged situations in which negotiations involving her own subjective experience as a woman from Turkey is crucial and is placed in relief to Western culture and its expectations of ”the other”. Language, migration, and integration are key notions in most of Ersen’s work, which investigates constructions of various kinds of identities—national, ethnic, gender, and class—through the perception of others and protagonists alike. Her method can be described as “soft directing”—she sets up a framework in which those involved can maneuver freely.The work may then take form in many ways, from photography and videos to installations and dramatized situations. The common denominator is that Ersen allows herself to be influenced by the site or location of her work. The videos often share a formal language with home videos and they are eventually presented in precisely staged installations.

KIRSTINE ROEPSTORFF
Kirstine Roepstorff (Copenhagen/Berlin, born 1972) excels in creating large-scale collages reminiscent of textiles and full of intricate details from varying contexts. At one and the same time the viewer encounters parts of newspaper articles, pieces of cloth, strands of tinfoil, cutouts from brightly colored silk paper, photocopied photographs, ribbons, postcards, and lace. Roepstorff calls her method “appropriarranging,” by which she dissolves one context in order to create a new one. She frequently makes use of information found in the Penguin State of the World Atlas and daily newspapers. In the works Amnat and Satsit and Zarema, she refers to the first names of three Chechen “Black widows,” female suicide killers who have all experienced personal absence and loss with strong psychosocial aspects. Like many of Kirstine Roepstorff’s works, these question the validity of cultural values and norms. The viewer is also reminded that what is left out of an image is as important as what remains. Yet, while Roepstorff’s pictures tell disrupted stories that can be read as isolated chapters of a narrative, they also offer space for contemplation. The capacity to imagine is constantly at play in her work, suggesting subjective readings and interpretations of our reality, directed by Roepstorff’s own choices of inclusion and exclusion.

THE WORKS

Michael Beutler, Esra Ersen, and Kirstine Roepstorff worked together with curator Maria Lind to select the works to be included in this exhibition, and to design the installation format.  

CCS Bard exhibitions are made possible with support from the Audrey and Sydney Irmas Charitable Foundation, and the Patrons, Supporters, and Friends of the Center for Curatorial Studies.