Gold Euro chocolate coins distributed to audience as part of statement read at ‘Real Presence 2010: Expanded concept of art practice and art education’, held in Belgrade and organised by Biljana Tomic and Dobrila Denegri, nKA-Ica,
ARTIST STATEMENT Statement prepared for ‘Real Presence 2010: Expanded concept of art practice and art education’, held in Belgrade and organised by Biljana Tomic and Dobrila Denegri (nKA-Ica, Belgrade).
I am truly disappointed and saddened to not to be there with you all. This is due to circumstances
beyond my control. In this regard I have sent along a small component of the talk and the performance that I was due to give as part of the program.
The artist Gary Stevens has kindly agreed to distribute some gold Euro chocolate coins amongst the audience and to read this statement. Whilst you listen I ask that each of you take one and pass them along. You may do with these coins whatever you desire but with the exception of any diabetics in the audience, it is my sincere hope that you will eat them at some point.
Given the turn of events, the gold euro chocolate
coin now seems an apt – if somewhat obvious – reference inasmuch as it brings together a number of ‘threads’. These threads are as much conceptual, as material, artistic, practical and political in nature: I am not with you for I have had problems obtaining a visa. This due to the fact that Belgrade is not part of the EU – for which as luck would have it I currently do have a temporary Schengen visa. Moreover, I am currently living in London on a temporary student visa. It’s all somewhat Kafkaesque and my situation is far from unique or extraordinary.
Moreover, I am a South African and gold does have a particular history there, in the messy politics and history of the ‘new world’ too. The promise and subsequent discovery of gold at the Rand in 1852 in no small way contributed to my being what and
who I am today – a white African with the eponymous first name of ’Johannes’. (Statistically speaking it is estimated that more than 40% of all the gold mined in the world thus far came from the main gold reef in Johannesburg – ergo the nickname ‘the city of Gold’).
It may be said that the gold coin implies some dominant form of ‘currency’ – one that shapes who we are, how we move around in the world (or not) and most specifically how this ‘frames’ the role of the artist therein.
In order to keep it short, I am just going to say one more thing: I have sent along these gold chocolate Euros because I think there is an important way in which artists communicate through materials – transforming ourselves and the world around us in the process. This way of communicating cannot simply be framed by discourse and language – a statement by which I mean to imply that such material exchanges will always modify, exceed and question the representational structures that we have so carefully cultivated in order to make sense of the world and our place in it.
In short, apart from what this gold chocolate coin looks like, it has a number of material properties that somehow resonate with the core of our very being as humans: its smell, taste, texture and so on all contribute to some kind of mutual affinity between us and it. This simple material affirmation of the world draws our attention not only to what we are, but rather, to what we could become.
And unlike the visa that participates in the more one-sided process of ‘writing us’, this story always has more than two sides or possible outcomes – a simple fact borne out by the sheer diversity and vastness of the natural world that surrounds us.
Johan Thom, London 2010