Jan Svenungsson

Bird, Terri. "Blind dates and other fictions of being",

in: Fictions of being, h., Melbourne, 1998

A blind date to meet someone with little prior knowledge about them is an uneasy encounter. It is also a description that in part portrays the organizational structure of h., h. has initiated a series of exhibitions between strangers, these have solicited varying forms of contact.

I sent a set of photographs to my prospective partner Jan Svenungsson, made in the location we would later share. I requested, by way of a reply, photographs of the same 'things'. Jan chose to find the corresponding elements for his photographs in the Musee d'Art Moderne de la Ville de Paris. This was the location of his previous exhibition which preceded ours at h..

Through this transaction I hoped to instigate a passage, an itinerary, between these 'things'. This was not a desire to overcome the distances and spacings that figure in every aspect of the transaction. Neither the multiple distances that separate each of our specific moments of attention to actual things that produced these photographs, nor the distancing inherent in photography between the image recorded and recording surface, or any materialization from these images. On the contrary, this procedure aimed at producing intervals.

In reply to my request, I received a generous response that paid careful attention to framing and context. The exchanged photographs chart an inventory of material relations, which map correspondences and modulations between the two spaces and their locations. These modulations have been materialized for the present exhibition through the transposition of corresponding attributes: peg board on a mobile wall; plywood sheeting bridging down pipe and pier; marble over rendered brick; travertine over plasterboard etc.. The positions and proportions of the elements have been contrived from the sent and received photographs respectively.

Instead of regarding the interchange of attributes as simply a material displacement, this manoeuvre attempts to rethink the connection between the conceptualization of materiality and the materialization of concepts. In these terms, materiality is always more than merely material and never simply reduced to a signifying effect.

The transposition of material attributes activated through the exchange of photographs has manifested a provisional threshold. This threshold is constituted through the movement, or passage, of the interchange. This is a zone of engagement that Jan has also negotiated in order to map our shared location according to his territories and their proliferating disturbances.

The processes of the transaction have rendered perceptible an interface between two practices - an interface that acts as a hinge affirming both symmetry and incongruity.

Terri Bird