Artist Jochen Dehn presents his first performance in the United States as part of the Intermissions series. Devised for the Renaissance Society’s empty gallery space, Arches and Avalanches is a series of demonstrations that use the discovery of “nothing” as their starting point (following after Otto von Guericke, Evangelista Torricelli and Blaise Pascal). We invite you to participate in this foray into the realm of “effectiveness.”
The artist sets the scene:
I like things that are close, things we know, things at hand: a rumor; first-, second- or third-hand information; a found or constructed object; a personal problem; a social structure or a physical, emotional, or imagined phenomenon. To link these materials I often use analogy, negation, exaggeration, and omission.
Obstacles are essential. They lead to falls, failures, and stops and thus to instants of realisation: moments in which gestures, places, forms, and concepts become tangible. If I use propositions derived from science, I do so to extract principles and apply them to concrete objects on a human scale.
Performance, as I understand it, is essentially a method of immediate publication with the audience as the principle witness. I like to think of my demonstrations as communions: gatherings of people who assist in the creation of a gesture. The corporal experiences that I share are transformed into rumors and memories, becoming abstract recipes. Once a formal principle is found, it can be applied to another context, another situation, to produce a new form.
Up to now my proposals have largely been based on faith in stumbling, failure, and misunderstanding. In Chicago I’d like to concentrate on things that work—on truths and doubtlessness.
Certainty can be blissful. You can start the day by looking out of a window, only to dress too cold or too warm. You know how to ride a bike as soon as you’ve learned to direct it towards the direction you’re starting to fall towards. My chances of being hit by a meteorite won’t increase by subscribing to insurance that protects me from such an incident, but the insurance brings the two of us together on a piece of paper. We form a phrase: me and the meteorite, united in a single thought.
Jochen Dehn lives in Paris and Hamburg. His performances and demonstrations have been featured in various art institutions in Europe including the Hayward Gallery, in London, and Palais de Tokyo, Bétonsalon, la Ferme de Buisson, and Mains d’ Œuvres, in Paris. His work has also been featured in international exhibitions and festivals such as the 11th Biennale de Lyon; the Printemps de Septembre in Toulouse; and the Nouveau Festival at Centre Pompidou in Paris.
This project is funded by a grant from the Efroymson Family Fund. Additional support is provided by the Cultural Service at the Consulate General of France in Chicago and the France Chicago Center.