Wednesday, 21 November 2007

24h Experiment Marathon – 14th and 15th October, Serpentine Pavillion - Reviewed by Catherine Borra

During Frieze Art Fair, Hans Ulrich Obrist invites the art public to another epic, called “24h Experiment Marathon”, as a prosecution of his last year’s “”24h Interview Marathon”.
This year’s project is curated together with artist Olafur Eliasson and takes place in the pavilion designed by the latter and architect Kjetil Thorsen. As the artist himself has stated, the structure is completed by a series of talks that have taken place since the pavillion’s opening in late September, of which the Marathon is part.
Finely structured in its program, the event started off with its lengthy mission of “creating reality” / educating the mass through a load-full of experiments, spanning between science, literature, art. Illustrious scholars from a variety of different fields were united under the directions of the curators, who imposed on them the chore of talking about the ambiguous subject of the “self” using the form of an experiment: this obliged the artists to rationalize their practice and focused the scientists on an unreasonable subject.
This experience, according to Eliasson, would help the public to produce its own reality. Indeed, at the beginning of the Marathon the artist invited the pubic to participate and to read this series of experiments as a sole happening that would give life to the architecture that hosted them.
The first voices to be herd were those of the scientists, coordinated by Dott. Israel Rosenfeld, who demonstrated a number of physical phenomena that are caused by subjectivity and by neurological / psychic adaptations.
After this solemn introduction to the matters of the self given by such a legitimate authority as science – which always makes a certain effect on such a desperately positivist society, there came a more “experimental” approach to the argument from a long list of artists including Marina Abramovic, Spartacus Chetwynd, Pedro Reyes, Tomas Saraceno, John Baldessari. Although the approaches were very different from one another, they all fitted perfectly in the context of the Marathon, producing a linear discourse that fulfilled the overall aim of presenting the subject.
The event is orchestrated in order to produce relationship with the building, and to build a view of its own regardless of the individualities of the lectures /artists. Thus, the Marathon is an active part of Eliasson’s art although maintaining its independence and relevance as a curatorial project.

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