Mark marathon

10 March 2011: Invited guest Mark Titchner at La Place Mignonne

In retrospect, it was a bit of Mark Titchner marathon that weekend: 3 talks in 2 institutions over 3 days. And although Mark was only in town for 4, he still generously agreed to participate in one of Societe Anonyme’s meetings! Bless his heart…

From my point of view, it turned out to be a rare and unusual occasion to better familiarize myself with his work in an intensive and strangely intimate manner, for it was much of the same crowd that found itself in all 3 events. In a way, it reminded me of the experience of going to the Thessaloniki Film Festival two years ago to catch as many Werner Herzog movies as I could possibly attend, along with his Q&A. I remember thinking at the time that the personal commitment and attention that it required was completely different from wandering through an important retrospective exhibition. There was a slowness, an immersion and a stubborn dedication on my part to learn more about one creator’s work day in and day out for over a week that I haven’t experienced in a contemporary art context in quite the same way, despite being much more familiar with it than cinema. Of course, I have seen my share of large-scale exhibitions, biennials and yes, Obrist marathons, but there seems to be something much more consumable about those formats, perhaps owing to the fact that one needs to process several different practices at once as opposed to engaging in a slow and patient reflection on a single artist’s work.

Without wanting to make any misguided comparisons, there was something of that experience in making my way downtown three days in a row to attend three different lectures by the same artist. For the Thursday night lecture at the MMCA auditorium, Mark focused on his practice more generally; during the Friday night talk at MIET (National Bank of Greece – Cultural Foundation), he explored the role of writing in his work, while the final talk at Project Space in the MMCA examined different ways in which artists have reflected on the studio, in line with the space’s mission. Some of the ideas that have stayed with me from these talks include: the way in which Mark’s text-based pieces empty out language as a means of reflecting on belief, the idea of craft as a form of devotional work, the use of bombastic forms and ideological texts as a potential means to signify silence and the way in which advertisement strategies operate by suggesting temporary revelations that are almost immediately forgotten.

If I haven’t gone into great details in this post about our Societe Anonyme meeting with Mark at La Place Mignonne, it’s due to the fact that it ended up being much more of an informal and somewhat personal chat than usual, which is no wonder given the intensive talks and lectures around his work. While it may not have yielded the most dramatic ideas, the SA meeting nonetheless exemplified one of the things that I like most about living in Thessaloniki as opposed to a larger center, which is the possibility for people from the community to get together with visiting artists and theorists around food or drink to exchange in a much more informal way and perhaps gain a wholly different perspective on their work.



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