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Conceptual works by Spanish artist Dora García on view at Kunsthaus Bregenz
Dora García, The Sinthome Score, 2013. Installation view KUB Arena, Kunsthaus Bregenz. Photo ©: Christian Hinz© Dora García and Kunsthaus Bregenz.

By: Eva Birkenstock

BREGENZ.- The Spanish artist Dora García’s conceptual works comprise texts, photographs, films, performances, and installations, frequently involving actors from the fields of performance or theater as well as members of the audience. Departing from an interest in challenging the boundaries between reality and representation, improvisation and staging, between artist, work, and audience, Dora García, in a manner reminiscent of a director, designs stories, scenarios, and situations which permit her to experiment, interfere with, and invert expectations. Fiction is deployed as a means of creating alternative models of reality, questioning and undermining the rules of the art world and the role that each of us takes within it. The results are ongoing processes of performative, site-specific ensembles which open up the exhibition space beyond merely static gestures.

In the past Dora García has taken part in numerous important exhibitions of contemporary art, for example in 2011 at the 54th Venice Biennale, where she developed a project for the Spanish Pavilion, and in 2012 at dOCUMENTA (13) in Kassel. Her most recent high-profile project is The Joycean Society (2013), a film project in which she accompanied a James Joyce reading group based in Zurich over a time period of one year, whilst they developed ways of interpreting and translating Finnegans Wake.

An aspect which is crucial in differing ways to all of García’s works, is an explicit interest in language: language as a possibility for creating communities, language as an access code to secret societies, language as a space for action and therefore as translator and constructor of reality, as well as language as the structure of the unconscious, as poetry. For her exhibition The Sinthome Score, which she has developed especially for KUB Arena, García continues her artistic involvement with language, raising questions of representation and translation and incorporating the collaboration of the local population.

Initial evidence of the exhibition is located outside, on the rear lakeside entrance to the Kunsthaus, which bears the inscription »Sinthome.« The term originates from a text of the same name by the French psychoanalyst Jacques Lacan, Seminar XXIII – Le Sinthome (1975-1976), which also provides the point of departure for Dora García’s work.

In response to an involvement with James Joyce, Lacan supplemented his basic triad of the imaginary, the symbolic, and the real – with which he was attempting to grasp the constitution of the human psyche – by a fourth element, the sinthome. To demonstrate his theory, Lacan employed the model of the Borromean rings (three rings which are joined in such a way that they would fall apart if just one were removed), a motif which is quoted in the exhibition space on the wallpaper of the temporary partitioning wall. The sinthome (the old French spelling of symptom) describes precisely that area formed at the center of the three rings, creating quasi the core of the subject that binds the knot of the three rings. KUB’s converted backdoor offers an alternative way of entering the institution, and to approach García’s sinthomatic area made spatial from the rear – metaphorically speaking, visitors on the groundfloor step over the threshold of the real in an interaction with the unconscious, which is rarely accessible directly, and likewise only via diversions and detours.

Continually changing performers from Bregenz and the surrounding region enter into a dialog in pairs, one reading whilst the other strikes various poses. Throughout the exhibition’s presentation, they will be performing a score developed by Dora García. The textural part of the script was based on a German translation of the Sinthome text by Max Kleiner, which was initiated and edited by the Lacan Archive Bregenz. The drawings accompanying the text show different sequences of movements that have been selected and developed by García, partly borrowed from choreographies of conceptual dance. The photographs leaning against the wall depict participants during specific movements, providing a reference to them even in their absence. For the duration of the exhibition García’s Sinthome Score will be performed in endless repetitions, as soon as a pair of performers reaches the end of the score, it will be repeated from the beginning again. The ground floor of KUB will become a stage for countless differing interpretations and negotiations of the score, a space, in which the depths of the unconscious can be explored.

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