Tuesday 9 August 2022

Creating Spaces

My art practice revolves around drawing and exhibiting in different ways.  I continuously seek to adopt new techniques and learn new skills to enhance my art-making process. The foundation of my drawings, audio-video, collages, and paintings is on the psychogeographical concept. Psychogeography is deeply rooted in illustrations and other subordinate mediums in mixed-media installations. During my Erasmus period at ABK, Stuttgart (September 2019 - March 2020).  I wished to have an exhibition, to make this opportunity worthwhile. Prof. Holger Bunk, a reputed German artist, suggested space in corridor walls, near the classroom, for the show. Using this space, I was permitted to curate an entire exhibition titled ‘Pop-Up Ausstellung’ which translates as ‘Pop-up Exhibition’. Transforming the empty corridor space was an enlightening process where I had a hands-on experience learning the nuances of curation and exhibition design. 

The Erasmus period at ABK, Stuttgart was an excellent chance to be a part of an exhibition which made my Erasmus period more substantial. ‘Pop-Up Ausstellung’ gave me the opportunity to execute the new challenges which provided imperative learnings and experiences. I tried something new and made it successful with the help of my colleagues, technicians and Prof. Bunk. In the ‘Pop-Up Ausstellung’ exhibition, I decided to draw on the wall, which was approximately 18ft high and 13ft wide. I pushed myself to draw something on a vast scale. The size of the wall gave me the freedom to execute as much detail as possible within that particular time. 

The ideology of psychogeography was deeply rooted in the drawings done on the wall of the corridor. The flatness and physicality of the maps are emphasised in the illustrative drawing done in black acrylic paint on the white wall. There existed a sense of uniformity in the application of monochrome and the usage of man-made structures for mark-making on a monumental scale. The city has a relation to my physical and mental behaviour. The act of walking, wandering and observing the city’s details, are automatically implemented in those acts in drawings. It’s representing a visual diary to the viewer. This work gave contingency to be more detailed precisely. 

Lefebvre’s texts from the ‘The Production of Space’ explain space from multi-dimensional perspectives. The space's physicality serves a purpose in diverse aspects. It depends on the human’s psychology and other external factors. In the lecture, Darling explains, “…we need to get rid of a bad habit thinking about the space is a per-exiting an unchanging container which people fill up and move in. For Lefebvre, space is produced by people, consequently, it is fundamentally social. How people built these spaces is highly contingent upon when they are producing it. Lefebvre was Marxist, and as you might guess, the term ‘production’ is not accidental!” (Lecture 2: The Production of Space, 2017). The space serves purposeful relationships in a multidisciplinary way with every aspect of the society’s collective element.

(The ‘transformation’ of the space)

The space has flexibility which can be achieved by having a sole purpose or the intention which leads to the production of the space. And as per our desire related to the space, that can be adaptative. According to Lefebvre in, The Production of Space, “(Social) space is a (social) product...Many people will find it hard to endorse the notion that space has taken on, within the present mode of production, within society as it is, a sort of reality of its own, a reality distinct from, yet much like...Many people, finding this claim paradoxical, will want proof. The more so because of the further claim that the space thus produced also serves as a tool of thought and action; that in addition to being a means of production it is also a means of control, and hence of dominance, of power.” (1991, p.26). The ‘Social’ constituent of the space is the essential aspect. Thus, the ‘Social’ constituent leads to producing space as a ‘production’ of space. The text concludes with the words ‘dominance of power’, which has assisted in defining the purpose and leading to the implementation of dominance over space.

As per the ideology of Lefebvre, there are conflicts in multifarious perspectives for understanding space and its sole objectives for an individual’s adoption. For me, the Lefebvre text explains that every desolate expanse and every mode of production produces a space which is its own space; it is probably not too difficult to imagine how societies do this in a materialistic format.
It is onerous to study space in one particular dimension for me. The creation of drawing in the common corridor of ABK, Stuttgart was a new interpretation of that particular space. There is a change in the psychology for understanding that particular space in the exhibition for a week, as can be noticed in the images. It was a production of space in my perspective and interpretations shared by the other artists and audience, who were also participating in that space, transformed into an exhibition corridor.
(For ‘Pop-Up Ausstellung, the common corridor space turns out to be an exhibition space for the period of time-based on the ideology of Lefebvre.)
The vision of producing space in a visual format from my experience of the urban environment, where I travelled. I read urban spaces as knowledge, and action as a theory and analysis. Based on that I applied a methodological process of immersion and detachment for the creation of a bird’s eye view drawing of Stuttgart on the wall. There is an intersection of the different spaces for producing unitary space in the visual format for the audience. It was a representation in form my experience and observation. The viewer also similarly experiences travelling and commuting via space which I have created in the wall drawings.

The Lefebvre text also explains their vivid modes for production of space spatialization, from natural space to absolute space which plays a more complex role. It also has significance in community aspects and expanse produced as a social space. Every communal space has a historical note known by its dialectical use in everyday practices and perceptions of consumerism or urbanism.  In my case, there is a process of metamorphosis regarding the common corridor space into an exhibition space.  This change of space is temporary and also creates a moment in the history of transformation in terms of capacity.  The wall drawing and corridor space have a playful engagement in particular, which can be accidental because of the abstract quality of the drawing. Similarly, there is an engagement between the corridor space’s elements, the wall drawing and the viewer. This playfulness is creating a critical aspect to establishing a relationship between the viewer and the wall drawing. This metamorphosis gives an ability to think creatively about the transformed things in the minds of the audiences. 

The transformation of the corridor into an exhibition area was fundamentally an exercise in how people perceived the space. It shows that the space is highly contingent upon how they are producing the space by their physical participation. Therefore, Lefebvre says that every space, hence every mode of production delivers space as per the people's perception as they participated in that space. 

 (Title: Untiled / Medium: Acrylic on Wall / Physical Dimension: 18ft x 13ft) [Right side of the work.]

The space is not the passive locus of social relationships. It is embedded in three vital fundamentals: physical, mental and social relations. All three fundamentals are inseparable. Understanding the space by physically analysing and implementing our ideology. The mental construct of the space drives us to be present in the physicality of the space.  The social relation is excited in the space. It was my sincere efforts to change that space’s physicality into an exhibition space for a short period and established the mental and social relations of the audience associated with it.

In the transformation of the corridor into an exhibition area; I perceived the whole process as the ‘Creating Space’.  Establish the relationship between the space and participating audience in the space.  Excerpt from the ‘PARTICIPATION SPACES’ by Taylor-Smith E., “Invented spaces are bottom-up in origin, while invited spaces are top-down: citizens are invited to participate in a space opened by an authority or institution. This often-cited conceptualisation encompasses issues around the initiation and control of participation. Further, participants’ perceptions of the space may form or inhibit their behaviour: [...]” (online, 2012) The text from the ‘PARTICIPATION SPACES’ justifies my situation. The corridor space was invented. As the citizens are invited to participate in a space; Similarly, I invited the art liking audience in the space, participated audience-initiated perception of the space as per my perseverance of the space; inhibit the behaviour and control the space. 

Artist: Rohit S Kale

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The Production od Space: Henri Lefebvre| Ani Meryl Paul | Department of Sociology, 2020, Paul M. A., [YouTube]. Available at: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BH-p9H43AiA, [Accessed on: 24 July 2022]

Rohit S. Kale


Art blogazine_Team _Delhi

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Thanks for comment JK