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Spanish contemporary art worldwide


BRUSSELS. Elena Bajo “The Absence of Work” D+T Project Gallery

04 april – 17 may, 2014

Doing nothing takes time, and is a work in itself. For eponymous exhibitions in Basel and Munich in 2012, Elena Bajo printed with a hand press a series of posters that read The Absence of Work, pulling impressions until ink faded and the text completely disappeared. It took twenty-five impressions to go from full ink to no ink.

Her inspirations come from different horizons. A line in John Cage’s An Anarchist Poem declares: “work is now obsolete”. The line recalls the words, embodying the philosophy of the Situationists, that Guy Debord inscribed on a wall in the Rue de Seine in Paris in 1953: “NE TRAVAILLEZ JAMAIS” – never work. Work, social and political dimensions of everyday spaces, strategies for conceptualizing resistance, the poetics of ideologies, and the relationship between temporalities and subjectivities have long been at the forefront of Bajo’s art. Together with Rirkrit Tiravanija – who also seized upon the Situationist slogan and has employed it repeatedly in his own practice – Elena Bajo calls up to ask what forms it is possible for art to take and what the relevance of art is to contemporary society. Also, art historian Rachel Haidu in her book The Absence of Work argues that all of Marcel Broodthaers's art is defined by its relationship to language. By showing us the ways in which language is instrumentalized across society—used for its efficiency despite the complexities it introduces into communication—Broodthaers shows us how we imagine language to work and points us to its hidden operations. Earlier, Marcel Duchamp introduced language as a determining factor in the visual arts. In the show, the sculpture and the framed work, both undergo duchampian principle – found objects are transformed into ready-mades. They showcase a heterogeneous status of the artwork, somewhere between sculpture and installation and/or painting. They are reminiscent of their original context and past actions.  

Elena Bajo (Madrid 1975) lives and works in Los Angeles and Berlin. She has gained international recognition and has extensively exhibited in Europe and the United States. The exhibitions include Marlborough Contemporary, London (2013); D+T Project, Brussels (2013); Liste 17, Basel, (2012); Manifesta 9, Genk (2012); the Performa 11 Biennial, New York (2011); etc. (D+T Project press-release)

D+T Project Gallery, Rue Bosquetstraat 4, 1060 Brussels Belgium

Image: Elena Bajo, I'mTrying To Be Unfamiliar With What I'm Doing, concrete, pedestal. 2012