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Since March 2016, Random Institute is running the curatorial program for Despacio in San José, Costa Rica.
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Despacio

Florence Jung is an artist, kidnapper, Disney princess, luxury goods smuggler, chicken forger, punk stripper, crook, dead academic painter, Marxist nail stylist, clandestine street seller... But what is tragic – she says – is the impossibility of being someone else.

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Don Quixote is a gentleman who one day decided to become an heroic knight in Spain. Florence Jung takes on the quest to make Don Quixote disappear from Costa Rica: buying all the copies in all the bookstores, borrowing all the copies from all the libraries and offering to buy people’s personal copies. This singular one-book library is now hidden in a secret place in San José.






EXHIBITION TEXT


The book you have in your hands is a rare exercise of reinvention—a collection of one and the same book, El ingenioso hidalgo Don Quijote de la Mancha, a crucial text for the Spanish language and obligatory reading in the school curricula, even in Costa Rica.

The book you have in your hands is a rare exercise of reinvention—a collection of one and the same book, El ingenioso hidalgo Don Quijote de la Mancha, a crucial text for the Spanish language and obligatory reading in the school curricula, even in Costa Rica.

Collecting all existing copies of the book is both a way of breaking the colonial phantom of the language and its origin, Spain, and a way of constituting a singular library, where one can only read that text. Then another book is produced, one that does not actually refer to the classic text but to the covers of its different editions.

The covers are text, a continuous exercise in interpreting the figure of Don Quixote and Sancho. Flipping through them, they aim to activate the imagination regarding the text, its cultural status, its philosophy, and its relationship to the practice of art today. The sum of the library and the book of covers prefigure a kind of artistic research concerned with the transcendental conditions of knowledge, that is, with the a priori that make possible empirical knowledge in general and artistic knowledge in particular. What is still knowable? How can the relations between ideas and things, ideas and ideas, things and things, things and beings, beings and ideas, beings and creatures be challenged? Speculation is a possible method.

It is not by chance that Florence Jung decided to study this pioneer Modern “novel.” It has to do with a key question we need to confront again and anew: the production of the possible. To speculate is to let the imagination take a place in our working methodology. What distinguishes an artistic practice that undertakes the risk of engaging in speculation—as a method rather than an idle diversion—is its capacity to make clear that the reality of the empirical existence of things and beings is nothing without the irreality of its value.

There is no purpose for art, but it is its force, its movement, as Deleuze would put it, towards the irreal that makes thinking possible. Producing new hypotheses is crucial to culture. Space is not the result of critical reason (rather, critical reason produces diagnostics), since space only mirrors an already existing space. But by provoking the appearance of a different logic, critical reason will help us to relate differently to the real.

This project constitutes, as well, a strange colonial to postcolonial exercise. El Quijote, as a mandatory reading in the schools, not only in Central America but in Spain and many of the Spanish-speaking countries, is not a novel any more but a vehicle of a norm: how to speak and how to feel Spanish. Therefore, collecting these text-novel books constitutes an act of freedom and also, by concentrating on their covers, a liberating library, since the images and not the words take the central position.

This book of covers, this library-exhibition represented a wish to turn art into a mandate of the general will and common good by reflecting differently on the past and the nature of a commonality: the language. It takes to almost wild lengths the idea of service (a public library), of mediation, to a public in transit through a familiar substance—a book they all read or should have read in school—teeming with aesthetic and political redundancies, in order to boost to the full the idea of a single culture, of society as a contract that we must all comply with, of a wish to bow to a common good defined by a group in a historical and economic context that is now increasingly remote and which, for this very reason, is more present in a type of intellectual life akin to a mediocre imagination and ready to believe that things will go back to being “like before.”

The importance of this exhibition, in my view, lies in the exuberance with which the artist arranged all the elements that conditioned the mechanisms of trust in a reading of cultural bonding that remains capable of generating an idea of continuity. The ultimate value of this exercise lies in its ability to situate all the cultural apparatus that surrounds an event—the collecting of a book—in a place in which this ingenuous gesture will be able to make the machine function at unexpected maximum. This produces an idea of a new cultural exuberance that reveals the absolute apex of our humanist ideas of the common good, but which also pushes us, if not today, then in a tomorrow yet to come, to find a way of contradicting it.

Text by Chus Martínez. Born in Spain, Martínez has a background in philosophy and art history. Currently she is the Head of the Institute of Art of the FHNW Academy of Arts and Design in Basel, Switzerland. Before she was the Chief Curator at El Museo del Barrio, New York, and dOCUMENTA (13) Head of Department and Member of Core Agent Group.

The exhibition ran from July 28th until August 20th 2016 at Despacio in San José, Costa Rica. The opening took place on July 28th from 6pm - 9pm at Despacio.

Exhibition reviews: ArtCritical (in English) / La Nación (in Spanish)

Sandino ScheideggerJohanna SchaibleBookRamon StrickerJean-Dominique NgankamHoiko SchutterVinzenz MeynerRenaud LodaSebastien VerdonMarion QuartierLaurentino RodriguezNicola RuffoSimone HuserCarlos GonzalezAndreas WagnerSascha LinglingMonika StalderAnnika EbneterHans WirzChristian MesenhollLukas ErardRenato AebiLilian KlosePhillipp SiegenthalerChristophe KuenzlerMarcel MeuryEmanuel SenAnna ErnstJrene RolliRomano StrebelBarbara StreuliStephan AebischerToby MatthiesenAnna RhynEli RhynLorenz HuserMagdalena OberliMichael BaeriswylSimon GrossenbacherJulia WeissDiana Abi KhalilMarco StrickerArnim MahlkeFabian NiklausLuca MüllerResearchLindsey CashMarlen HaushoferMarcel BroodthaersMartha NussbaumMalcolm McLowryMartin SuterMcElweeMichael MooreN.R.KleinfieldNiels van MaanenNietzschePaul D. MillerPaul ÉluardPaul McCarthyPeter MountfordPlatoPopeProustR. P. 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