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The Chisenhale Residency as Disaster

The Chisenhale Residency as Disaster

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Published by Daniel Rourke
Throughout 2010/2011 three experimental art writing workshops will take place at The Chisenhale Gallery, London, focusing on representations of Disaster and the exhibitions of Hito Steyerl, Daniel Sinsel and Janice Kerbel. Led by Daniel Rourke and Art Writers from Goldsmiths the workshops will culminate in an event on Thursday 16th June where participants will present their work as part of Chisenhale Gallery’s 21st Century events programme. These workshops are for the students on the Art Writing MFA at Goldsmiths, however, select materials will become available to download from these pages as the residency continues.
Throughout 2010/2011 three experimental art writing workshops will take place at The Chisenhale Gallery, London, focusing on representations of Disaster and the exhibitions of Hito Steyerl, Daniel Sinsel and Janice Kerbel. Led by Daniel Rourke and Art Writers from Goldsmiths the workshops will culminate in an event on Thursday 16th June where participants will present their work as part of Chisenhale Gallery’s 21st Century events programme. These workshops are for the students on the Art Writing MFA at Goldsmiths, however, select materials will become available to download from these pages as the residency continues.

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Published by: Daniel Rourke on Oct 25, 2010
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11/02/2010

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Chisenhale Residency, 2010/2011 website:thisdisaster.posterous.com 
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This work is licenced under the Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 3.0 Unported License.To view a copy of this licence, visit http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc-sa/3.0/ 
The Columbia Reconstruction Project Team attempt to reconstruct the bottom of the NASA orbiter as part of the investigation into the accident which occurred on February 1, 2003.
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The Chisenhale Residency as Disaster
Rationale
The word disaster derives from the Greek prefix
δυσ 
-
, (
dus-
) "bad” and
ἀστήρ
(
aster 
), "star". Asymbol plucked from the heavenly network which spoke of impending calamity. Today, ratherthan read the heavens to predict events on Earth, we re-write disasters after the fact, sketchinggiant grids on airplane hangar floors onto which fragments are placed/re-placed/cajoled. Andfrom the endless cycle of mitigated disasters (robust economic models/off-shore oil responseteams/earthquake-proof skyscrapers) we develop new ways to imitate, avoiding risks which mightproduce hazards, leaving us vulnerable to further disasters. Disasters
we don‟t know how tomitigate. Disasters we can‟t even imagine
. Yet.We can prepare for disaster, but we are only judging the system, holding probability to account.Disaster is t
he perpetual „before‟, a point where the network collapses in on itself, leaving a
fissure, a ghost of an event, a subject/object that organises a new network we sketch on the hangarfloor. As we analyse, model and re-enact we move away from prediction. We will never reach the
disaster itself. The true disaster hasn‟t happened yet.
 
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Chisenhale Residency, 2010/2011 website:thisdisaster.posterous.com 
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This work is licenced under the Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 3.0 Unported License.To view a copy of this licence, visit http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc-sa/3.0/ 
The disaster compels us, repels us in equal measure to mitigate, to network as verb and plan asnoun. The disaster is here, but only just. The disaster is bound to happen eventually.
Proposal
Inspired by
Chisenhale‟s forthcoming
Hito Steyerl exhibition,
 In Free Fall,
 
I propose „Disaster‟
as the starting point of our year long residency. Following our first Steyerl inspired workshop wewill respond to two further Chisenhale exhibitions
(see „
Timetable
‟ below).
What if the Chisenhale residency is a disaster? Would that be such a bad thing? For many moons
afterwards we‟d have
witness statements to write and letters of apology to draft, harking back tothe terrible, impossible instant when everything went wrong. Should we mitigate now? Prepare
for the worst? Isn‟t that what we do anyway
when we ready an exhibition or performance? Shouldwe warn them? Who is the disaster going to affect?I propose that rather than preparing for the worst, we prepare the worst. I propose we plan,orchestrate and affect a disaster. Is it possible to intend disaster? Can we, with dignity, plan,orchestrate and shape The Bad Star itself - shimmering there, on the Chisenhale gallery floor -warning others of the ordeal (the one
that hasn‟t happened yet)?
 I propose that for our first workshop we manage risk inappropriately. We hunt for the vulnerablepoints in our work and make them weaker. I propose that hazards be acted rather than re-enacted.That we
redefine the word „mitigate‟
as:
to make severe
. That we allow the very worst toperform us, to map us on its hangar floor: to enable the perfect disaster.
Timetable
Workshops, Mondays 12-2pm1.
 
8
th
November / Hito Steyerl2.
 
21
st
February / Daniel Sinsel3.
 
4
th
April / Janice KerbelFinal ExhibitionThursday 16
th
June
 
Chisenhale Residency, 2010/2011 website:thisdisaster.posterous.com 
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This work is licenced under the Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 3.0 Unported License.To view a copy of this licence, visit http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc-sa/3.0/ 
Primary Sources
Forthcoming exhibitions at Chisenhale (please visit and read around the work):http://www.chisenhale.org.uk/exhibitions/forthcoming.php?id=108 Maurice Blanchot,
The Writing of Disaster 
(please read at least the first 7/8 pages):http://www.scribd.com/doc/25472176/8519-The-Writing-of-Disaster 
Extract 1 :
J.G.Ballard, The Atrocity Exhibition
(Annotated) Flamingo Modern Classics - Harper Perennial, 2006
 
(extracts taken from early in the „novel‟
- more specific references available on request)
 
Mimetized Disasters.
The helicopter banked abruptly, pulled round in a gesture of impatience by the pilot. Theyplunged towards the underpass, the huge fans of the Sikorsky sliding through the air like thewings of a crippled archangel. A multiple collision had occurred in the approach to the underpass.After the police had left they walked for an hour among the cars, staring through the steam at thebodies propped against the fractured windshields. Here he would find his alternate death, themimetized disasters of Vietnam and the Congo recapitulated in the contours of these brokenfenders and radiator assemblies. As they circled overhead the shells of the vehicles lay in the dusk like the crushed wings of an aerial armada.
 Ballard’s
 notes on) Mimetized Disasters.
 Most of the machines that surround our lives - airliners, refrigerators, cars and typewriters - have streamlined their way into our affections. Now and then, as in the caseof the helicopter, with its unstable, insect-like obsessiveness, we can see clearly the deephostility of the mineral world. We are lucky that the organic realm reached the foot of theevolutionary ladder before the inorganic.
A Cosmetic Problem.
The star of the show was JFK, victim of the first conceptual car crash. A damaged Lincoln hadbeen given the place of honour, plastic models of the late President and his wife in the rear seat.An elaborate attempt had been made to represent cosmetically the expressed brain tissue of thePresident. As she touched the white acrylic smears across the trunk Koester swung himself 
aggressively out of the driver‟s seat. While he lit her cigarette she leaned against the fender of awhite Pontiac, their thighs almost touching. Koester took her arm with a nervous gesture. „Ah, Dr Austin . . . ‟ The flow of small talk modulated their sexual encounter. „ . . . surely Christ‟s
crucifixion could be regarded as the first traffic accident -
certainly if we accept Jarry‟s happy
piece of anti-
clericalism . . . ‟
 
The Transition Area.
As Trabert prepared for his departure, the elements of apocalyptic landscapes waited on thehorizons of his mind, helicopters burning among broken gantries. With deliberate caution, he

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