Saturday, May 1 saw the US launch of Ricardo Basbaum’s Would you like to participate in an artistic experience? at Main Squeeze Accordions at 19 Essex Street, around the corner from Ludlow 38 in the Lower East Side.
Would you like to participate in an artistic experience? begins with the offering of a painted steel object (125 x 80 x 18 cm) to a participant – in this case Walter Kühr, the owner of Main Squeeze – who will have a period of time to realize an artistic experience with it. Although the physical object is the actual element which triggers the processes and starts up the experiences, it in fact brings to the foreground certain sets of invisible lines and diagrams concerning all kinds of relations and sensorial data, making visible networking and mediation structures.
Mr. Kühr is the first participant since the object’s arrival in the US a few weeks ago. He is a musician, teacher, shop owner, and conductor of a 14-piece all-female accordion orchestra, who began wrestling with the accordion as a six-year old in Germany, and has been living in New York since 1989. Mr. Kühr will be living and working with the painted steel object at 19 Essex Street before passing it on to the next participant, an individual, group or collective, yet to be determined.
It is up to participants like Mr. Kühr to take decisions of what kind of experience will be enacted, where the object will be taken and how it will be useful, during the time they are in the possession of it. The participants in Would you like to participate in an artistic experience? perform experiences from their own proposition and choice that can reflect on life and art issues, refer to the relationship between the subject and the other, and possibly lead to some transformation process.
The participants send feedback in the form of texts, images, videos or objects, and the documents will be displayed on a website especially developed for the project: www.nbp.pro.br. Here, each participant will have access to editing tools, which will permit them to upload the documentation themselves.
Would you like to participate in an artistic experience? was initiated in 1994 and has already circulated through several cities in ten different countries, from London, Rotterdam, Vienna, Berlin, Hamburg, Ljubljana, Dakar, to Rio de Janeiro, Vitória, Brasília, São Paulo, Pelotas, Porto Alegre, and Florianópolis in Ricardo Basbaum’s native Brazil. It was featured most prominently at documenta 12 in Kassel, 2007. More than 100 participants have since produced several experiences and an extensive and interesting documentation – which can be accessed via the project website.
Would you like to participate in an artistic experience? is clearly a piece of work-in-progress, as it finds its way in the very process of being developed. Virtually, this project has no near end at all, since its continuity does not depend on its author/proposer lifetime – the object is conceived as a multiple, and so new objects can be produced any time it is required.
The object used for Would you like to participate in an artistic experience? has its shape designed according to the NBP – New Bases for Personality project, an onogoing project comprising drawings, diagrams, objects, installations, texts, and manifestos initiated by Basbaum in the 1990s. The NBP project connects contemporary art’s practices and concepts to communication strategies, getting in touch with some of the recent developments on the politics of subjectivity. NBP’s specific shape was designed to be as easily memorizable as its sign: after experiencing any NBP work the viewer leaves with NBP and its specific shape in his or her body – a kind of implanted or artificial memory, as the result of a subliminal sensorial contamination strategy. The NBP project addresses transformation, as it is meant to transform itself as a result of its history and process.
Update: After a short stint at the UN on July 9, 2010, and in a private household in Harlem, Would you like to participate in an artistic experience? was hosted by Esther Gabara, Associate Professor of Romance Studies, and Art, Art History & Visual Studies, Duke University, NC.
New York City launch at Main Squeeze Accordions, 19 Essex Street