Born from a series of ricochet invitations, Side Effects is an international artistic exchange orchestrated by Laura Kuusk, an Estonian artist, and Pascale Riou, a French art theoretician. The Contemporary Art Museum of Estonia (EKKM) houses the first part of the project, a collective exhibition that groups twenty two artists.
Side Effects explores the territory of art, in which the multiple and non-defined activities, the interwoven ecosystems of everyday and professional life, coincidences and other chain reactions appear to be a product and a means at the same time.
The exposed works mostly find their departure point in practices which go unnoticed because they are too casual or have not been considered an artistic practice at once, also being crucial, problematic and just. This is the case with Shopping Poetry, a series of photographs by the Latvian artist Ivars Gravlejs, inspired by receipts, or also the sculptures of cut crayon residues by the Russian artist Alexandra Galkina, titled A Dynamic Construction.
Just like all footnotes, derived from text corpus which could eclipse them, these oeuvres could be regarded as zooms to details. But like footnotes demonstrate the structure of a thought, the works exposed in Side Effects show the peritext of an activity, being in it therefore essential. Thus, when Fabrice Croux, a French artist, creates the sculptures in cross-stitched carton, like the Modèle Standard (Standard Model), he makes the preparatory designs onto openwork papers. The dotted abstract stylo lines appear then on the making of the work; in this way, these lines become oeuvres: Superamas (Superclaster).
The other works nourish from coincidences and hazards, for instance the Albums of the Czecho-Ukrainian artist Alice Nikitinova. Her painting takes interest in the everyday objects – insignificant, without importance – like for example a bottle, a shovel, the Tetris’ cubes. On the side of this pictoral activity, Alice Nikitinova takes walks and takes photographs; of these images she creates the artist books, the Albums.
The accidential and the surprise take a dominant place in these productions because they become the impulses of work. The series Best of, of the French artist Clôde Coulpier, is born from an error in the choice of scratchcards, already printed with a motive on it. The error could have aborted the work, but transformed in the end into a game rule. The question of letting go can be also found in the South Monument for a Douk Douk, an oeuvre constructed by a German artist Jaro Straub and a Belgian artist David Evrard with the rules that they mutually impose.
The artists present in this exhibition have an open positioning which they carry on with their porous activities in relation to the secondary sides. Thus, in his video This is not my space, the Dutch artist Gerwin Luijendijk confronts his work as a video-artist to that of a dancer; the Estonian artist Marko Mäetamm returns humorously to the difficulties of being an artist in his 10 Last Days; and the French director Luc Moullet fictionalises the artistic activity in his Les minutes d’un faiseur de films (The Minutes of a Film Maker).
In this way, Side Effects questions the notion of activity. The choices, the accident, the drift, the question of the making, the circumstances of production or also the work environment are just as much the parameters which define the artistic work. Here it aims at pointing out the bad weeds, footnotes, waste, surplus: all that seams unsubstantial, but participates nevertheless in the artistic life, sometimes secondary, often primary.
Text: Pascale Riou
Translation: Tiina Põllu