Everything was placed in the right spot, then the works were removed. Now there is only a postcard.
Arrangement (Opstelling) (intervention and edition of postcards)
Postcard — Concept and design: Maud Vande Veire, Emmanuel Depoorter / Dimensions: 21 x 10 cm / Print: digital print / Publisher: Self-published / Year: 2004
(images above: exhibition view, Gele Zaal, Ghent, BE)
Heterogonie der Zwecke (or Heterogony of Ends) was an expression introduced by Wilhelm Wund, a famous German physician, psychologist and philosopher. It refers to how one can set out to do something with a particular goal or motive and be influenced during the process by new elements which are introduced, in such a way that one is driven towards new, additional goals. This is a manifestation of what Wund calls creative synthesis: the way in which one mentally combines new and old elements to end up with something new that is not merely the sum of it all. Creative synthesis alters the relations between its constituent elements. New motives or goals come in beside the primary, original ones. Original goals fade into the background while new ones come to the foreground.
At the time, we failed to look up the origin of this famous expression that served as the title of the group exhibition we were part of. We simply went along with the curator’s interpretation. As far as we both remember, the curator envisioned an exhibition that would be the result of an intensive interaction between the artists, between the artist and the exhibition space, and between the artist and the curator — in short, between the artist and all other constituent elements of the exhibition. He had in mind a result that would differ significantly from the initial intentions of each individual artist, and that would be more than the sum of their artworks. We vaguely remember him mentioning the notion of ‘the primordial soup’.
What we expected to happen did not take place. Most of the constituent elements did not show up the following days and weeks. Apparently we had a different schedule in mind than the others (fig.1).
Awaiting their arrival, we transported our sculptures to the site, considering them to be the first ingredient of the primordial soup. One week later, the only constituent elements were still ourselves, our works and the exhibition space. We decided to change our strategy. We divided the surface area by the number of artists and calculated how much floor space we were entitled to. We moved all works to the left rear corner and took a few days to arrange them.
By the time the curator and the first of the other artists showed up, we had created our own primordial soup and we were quite pleased with the outcome (fig.2). Understandably, the curator did not really welcome this side dish to his meal. He suggested we mix our works with the others.
Retrospectively, it becomes clear that by then, as we no longer saw a contribution to the primordial soup as our main and only goal, a change in relationship between the constituent elements had taken place (fig.3).
During the next few days we sat down to find a solution that would meet our mutual expectations. We hoped that formulating an alternative might be the first step to come to an arrangement. We rejected each idea that could not potentially close the gap.
Arrangement, preparations for the picture / 2004
Before removing all of our works we swept the floor and took a picture of how they were arranged. The curator seemed relieved when they were gone. A few days later we presented him our proposal. He supported our plan and gave the green light. We printed a small edition of postcards with the picture of our initial arrangement. At the start of the exhibition we displayed the postcards on the counter at the entrance. The left rear corner was now the site of someone else’s work. In no time our work had mixed with the others.
Dimensions: 21 x 10 cm / Print: digital print / Year: 2003