Eva Barto's presentation at Bâtard Festival
Recording of Eva Barto's presentation
00:00 Introductions by Ronny, Jesse (on the live-writing possibilities of this pad as a co-creating process) and Florence (on the festival's programme 'publishing as performing' and artist Eva Barto, who's practice is based on gambling).
07:00 Eva Barto: Share attempts in publishing and creating a proper economy. On own practice, important interests: intellectual & private property, collecting, ownership, and their consequences, such as abuse and corruption. 2016 Grant from sponsors "Mécènes du sud", produced to gamble the money to produce a book (gambling was pretext, not subject) important was evaluating the impact of money (gains and losses in book production, whether money can generate quality). Impact of accidents and coincidences. Received funding as an artist and decided to gamble it at casino roulettes together with curtator and other artists, in order to produce a book. Interest: impact of money on book production. Lost a lot. Decided to gamble the last 2000 also as a spontaneous descision, developed strategy strategy to win or lose the maximum, facing the question of wasting waste money and wrote a letter beforehand to explain to the funding body that she had gambled all the money and that that was the project, with the letter as only result. Came up with a roulette tactique. Won the jackpot of 5.240 and was kind of dissapointed to win failure is an important element in practice).
16:00 Book Buttonwood Press "T (1)": All in, An Anthology of Gambling has texts all related to gambling in the broad sense, 1 page each, taken from different existing books. Book also chronologically charts budget state, gains and losses: 3000 euro at the beginning and 5240 at the end, including quote of the designer and invoice by the editor, which covers part of the text. One of the artist's refused to be part of it, which was not a reaction to this book in particular, but is part of the artist's larger practice. With each presentation of the book, the page needs to be removed. Those who buy the book receive it without the page, but will receive it separately by mail (buyer is asked to not put the page inside of the book) - which maybe raises questions about artist's rights in general.
21:00 Most important factor was the connection with the sponsor and showcasing the reality of the economy. About Buttonwood Press (based on stock exchange agreements which used to be negotiated underneath a tree): idea is to do 10 books, all dealing with financing and sponsorship. No format, just a logo connecting them. In Barto's practice there is a constant rewriting and cancellation - so this is not a fixed structure.
24:00 Reactive to invited context. Example of context with Rennes Biennale. Director closed the door on collaboration, so published all e-mail traffic on the Biennale's budget. Printed and devided in two parts. First part are crossed out e-mail to remove sensitive information. 'Poetics of the negative.' Second part gathers all the information missing from the first part. Important to think about how people would have access to the book. You could buy one and exchange it for the other part, but never obtain both. There was an external space, far removed and unrelated where you could buy both parts, but it was unnanounced and presented with a black cover, lacking all kinds of explanation and any indications about the author. Book Buttonwood Press "U": L'Abandon au profit
28:00 On including distribution in a project from the beginning. Actually trying to find a sponsor to recycle the book into a new one.
30:00 On future book: not a book in itself, but a book embedded in another book. Ongoing project, first one - the first page - is in a book called "Active art", gathering different contributions and mine is the first page of my next Buttonwood project. It is the cover page of the next book and on the back there is an open call to other authors/artists to propose something on writing issues related to private or public funding of the book itself. For example the Active art book is financed by the Ricard Foundation and blurry Lithuanian funds, what is it's impact on the book and its translation? It is a way to invlove other artists an authors. Next book will be the second page inbedded in another book, maybe inviting the authors to publish the same txt in another book, to see how the context of the book influence the text.
34:00 Received second Commission from same sponsors as the gambling project. On book that was funded but not produced after sponsors didn't answer EB's email inviting them to discuss her plans (interest in involving sponsors). Included only a line on her website "Mécènes du sud project, not published.". The budget was used for another project.
35:00 Faced ethical problems with an association. Book with children about currency. Incorporated this project into the Buttonwood project, sponsors withdrew the money. Logo of a new sponsor printed over the logo of the former sponsor who cancelled their engagement. Work is about making connections. Maybe in next talk I'll talk about the next project in a totally different way because it's direction shifted completely.
40:00 About Athens project, which was a total failure, but might potentially become intersting. Barto is opposed to the model of a collector buying a work and constantly tries to propose alternatives to this model. On sale of her first work, a book, to a collector who hadn't recognised it as a book, but just thought it looked nice. First confrontation with questions about the collection, ownership and speculation. This confrontation is at the origins of her practice.
41:30 On interest in failure. On buying relations instead of objects. "I'm against the idea of the contract as an artwork." Intentional blurryness about eventual outcome.
44:00 It is a continuing research project. On work for Kadist, and freeports - places where one can store goods without paying taxes -Kadist uses these to store it's entire collection, so EB wants to create a project conceived for the freeport. Want's to prevent the fact that they would entirely own the work - negotiating co-ownership. Addressing specific issues and providing different answers according to diffent contexts, collections and types of collectors.
48:00 On new project, yet to be developed, where certificate certificate is only outcome, but which is also a voucher that inviting institutions can use to invite her again for free. (A zero-operation.) The value remains the same, if in time the value would change, this would open up a different negotiation. This is where it becomes interesting as well.
52:00 On money-job project involving the fluctuating costs of her rent (changes on monthly basis). Sending monthly letters to supporters, each month they can be in or out, outcome fluctuates monthly. Max is 400 euro (which is rent). Letter contains mistakes and mistranslations, which are intentional and important to the work.
54:00 On a fictional work she is writing on a corrupt lawyer.
56:00 Start of Q&A Question by Quentin: On sculpture EB showed at Wattis Institute, San Francisco. EB: First time I made a real sculpture that gathers all the questions embedded within my work in one object. Important in my work is that you do not have to grasp everything. Title of the show it was presented in was: "Nothing is ours to offer". Wanted to create a work about the idea of offering and being free or having a free entrance. Self-reflexive machine to refund money while entrance to the space is free, so it is a dead body. It offers nothing. Every element in this work is equally important, but it is her most complex work, difficult to discuss. That was second exhibition of the work, therefore adapted and the entire process is documented and written down, so public has full access, but noone reads that.
1:01:30 Question by Lola Martins-Coignus: What is your difficulty with contracts as artworks? It is about 'merely hanging a sheet of paper on the wall' or the nature of the contract itself as a work of art? EB: Both. We speculate on and fetishize objects. That's why you can find my work in people's pockets and not on their walls. - I said that because Kadist wanted to have the contract on the wall. I never hang objects on walls (one exception: a fake painting with a fake title). I think it was an error to contractualize a relation , maybe an error of youth. To contractualize a relationship could be an artwork, but not as a designed object. The more important thing is the relation with time. My problem with objects is also why I don't show images of my work. I'm more conceptual in my approach. Showing images renders work unflexible, cathegorizes it, you lose all potential interpretation. A contract is an artwork is too written, determined.
Question by Aurélie Gravelat: Do you sometimes work with lawyers, or are you adviced? Because you seem to take quite some risks. EB: Law and legal language always come back into my practice, even though my knowledge of it is very limited. I'm interested in voids and loopholes, but I don't really have legal support. Discussions about it are important for me.
Question by Ronny Heiremans: Some notes: If you call it a sense of failure, I would rather call it trying to look for the ingraspable, to not fetishize fetish the work in any form. I have have the impression that all of your projects sort of end when you finish them. One thing a contract does, is to define what the artwork is, it's identity identity. It defines a work of art, sets conditions conditions. If consider the contract as problematic since it "fixes" an artwork, how do you approach the process of defining the artwork in contracts?
EB: It's not the description that describes the work, it's the connection between the different works in time. You can read one work through the other. There is always a necessity to take distance and most of the time it is related to the context. I can include mediation mediation and other details into the description. In my shows you can read the titles, like a book, or read the connections, it's just a narration. Pictures, visibility visibility and publicity publicity do not work in my practice - shortcuts are not possible at all. RH: It' is very much in the context and moment, in in another moment it shifts because it's a different constellation. Only a catalogue raisonné would do the job. EB: That's why there is this idea of the collection, of recycling. It is not about speculation, it is project-driven. Questioning the archive archive by recycling recycling.
1:18:00 Question by Florence Cheval: I don't really agree with the way you define the contract. We're here to redefine the contract. Contract can also be a script, like franck leibovici mentioned yesterday. It's not a necessarily about the contract in the traditional sense. EB: It's a means, not a project. I don't consider the contract as a project or artwork in itself, but as franck leibovici puts it, as a script script.
1:20:00 Kobe Matthys: Yoko Ono's instruction paintings, are scripts, instructions or proposed actions literally hanging between the paintings.
1:22:00 End and announcement next day's programme.