Better Scenery   (2000 – )

  • Adam Chodzko / Better Scenery   (2000 - )
    Better Scenery 2000 (Finchley Road car park, London)
  • Adam Chodzko / Better Scenery   (2000 - )
    Better Scenery 2000 (Painted Desert, Arizona)
  • Better Scenery   (2000 – )

    3 pairs of installed signs: 2000, 2001, 2002
    (various dimensions/materials/locations with each sculpture lasting different durations, from weeks to years)

    The work exists as a photographic record of these three pairs of sculptural interventions in the landscape:

    For each of the three versions of Better Scenery:
    Dyptich of C-type photographs
    Each image is: 40” x 30”

    Better Scenery  2000

    [Text on sign in Sainsbury’s car park, London]
    Better Scenery
    From Flagstaff, Arizona take route 89 northeast, then route 510 east, then 505 northeast for 7 miles until you reach a left turn soon after passing Maroon Crater. Follow this dirt track (the 244A ) for 6 miles northeast passing the volcanic formations of The Sproul and the Merriam Crater on your right. Half a mile beyond a small well take the track that heads north towards Little Roden Spring. After exactly 6.7 miles a rough, overgrown cinder track leads off to the left. Head west along this for a quarter of a mile until you reach a fence post. Then walk 100 yards 160° south SE. At this point stop and face due east (visible on the horizon are the Roden Crater and the glow of pink rocks in the Painted Desert ).
    Situated here, in this place, is a sign which describes the location of this sign you have just finished reading.

    [Text on sign in Arizona desert]
    Better Scenery
    Heading north out of London along the west side of Regent’s Park is the Finchley Road (A41). Follow it through St John’s Wood and half a mile beyond to Swiss Cottage. From here, bearing north-west for a quarter-of-a-mile the Finchley Road veers towards West Hampstead. Keep Holy Trinity Church and the Laser Eye Clinic to your right and Finchley Road Underground station to your left. Then take a left turn, following the graceful curvature of the prodigious, concrete and glass, O2 building. This takes you down a steeply inclined unmarked road which opens out to an expansive tarmac car park bordered to the north and south by the tracks of railway lines.
    Situated here, in this place, is a sign which describes the location of this sign you have just finished reading.

    Better Scenery  2001

    [Text on sign in Grizedale Forest, Lake District, England]
    Better Scenery
    With the Duke of Aosta monument behind you drive from Piazza Castello south-east down Via Po out of Turin. Across the river, you will be facing the Gran Madre Church. Turn right and go 5.5 km along the road that runs by the river bank to Moncalieri, past the cemetery’s red brick walls. When the road widens keep to the right and drive on to the traffic lights at Piazza Caduti per la Libertà. Now turn left and follow signs to the industrial estate across the flyover and past the car scrap-yard on your right. After the bend, take the SS 393 road to a roundabout and turn left. Then past the shopping centre car park turn right into Via Achille Grandi. After about 100 m the road ends in front of a tall hedge. Leave your car in the car park on the left. Cross the street and walk through the white gate of Italdesign-Giugiaro at No.25 where you will be directed to door No. 10 of the Styling Milling Department. Upon entering, face the wall to your left.
    Situated here, in this place, is a sign which describes the location of this sign you have just finished reading.

    [Text on sign in car factory, Turin, Italy]
    Panorama Migliore
    Uscendo da Ambleside, Cumbria, dirigersi a sud, verso il Centro Visitatori di Grizedale. Una volta giunti al parcheggio, procedere fino all’ingresso del negozio. Qui, guardare in direzione sud-est e seguire i pali a strisce rosse, fuori dal giardino cinto di mura. Dopo essere passati attraverso la porta verde praticata nel muro, girare a destra e seguire la strada per Home Farm. Una volta giunti alla fattoria, girare a sinistra, per entrare nel campo attraverso il cancello. Ricordarsi di richiudere il cancello! Camminare o pedalare lungo il sentiero in salita che attraversa i prati, oltrepassare il recinto del bestiame e raggiungere la strada. Girare a sinistra e dirigersi a sud, attraverso gli antichi boschi di querce. Il sentiero che conduce a Hall Wood costeggia dei campi sulla sinistra. A 1,5 km dal recinto del bestiame, in direzione ovest (a destra), vi è una distesa di arbusti di mirtillo ai piedi delle querce, con un ruscello che scorre verso sinistra.
    In questo punto preciso, un cartello descrive il luogo in cui si trova l’insegna che avete appena finito di leggere.

                                   [English translation:

    Head south out of Ambleside, Cumbria, to the Grizedale Visitor Centre. From whichever car park you arrive in find your way to the entrance to the shop. From here face south-west and follow the red banded posts out of the walled garden. Once through the green door in the wall turn right and follow the road to Home Farm. Arriving at the farmhouse turn left through the gate into the field. Make sure you close that gate! Walk (or cycle) uphill on the forest track through the meadow, past the cattle grid to the road. Take a left turn and head south through the ancient oak woods. The track through Hall Wood passes fields on the left. 1.5 km further on from the cattle grid facing west (to your right) is a carpet of bilberry bushes beneath oak trees with a stream running down towards the left.
    Situated here, in this place, is a sign which describes the location of this sign you have just finished reading.]

    Better Scenery   2002

    [Text on sign in Islington, London, UK]
    Better Scenery
    Go North down 10th St and turn west onto 12th Avenue. Continue west on 12th out of Fargo until you see the big Supervalu warehouse on your right. Take that exit onto Interstate 29, heading North towards Grand Forks and Canada. After about 30 minutes (maybe 28 miles) you want to look out for the Gardner exit, which comes soon after you see four big silver grain bins on the right hand side of the road. Turn east and go about a quarter of a mile until you see a stop sign. Then turn left going north – you’re now in Kinyon Township – for maybe three miles. That would get you to a crossroads. Then turn east again. (In the distance you’ll see a tree line running along the horizon. The Red River runs behind it). One half a mile further on you’ll come to a farmstead on the south side of the road. This is the Pratt farm. Come into the yard, pass by the machine shed and at the shelter belt turn left into the soybean field. Standing facing you is a sign. It describes the location of the sign you have just finished reading.

    [Text on sign in Fargo, North Dakota, USA]
    Better Scenery
    Turning left immediately outside the entrance to Angel tube station you need to go down the hill a bit until you reach the traffic lights at this big, chaotic cross roads. There’s a Co-op bank on the other side of the road – but still on the Islington side – so cross over towards that, then pass it, walking along Pentonville Road. Maybe 15 yards along this in the middle of the pavement is a large shrub right in front of the Family Planning Association, which is in the dark glass and bronze-coloured rectangular block of a building on your right. A brown railing runs across the pavement at the point where Angel Mews begins. Stand in the entrance of this little street with Whittles House to your left. Following the line of black bollards which run along the pavement of the mews you’ll see, facing you, in a corner next to a broken concrete lamp post a single ash tree. In its branches about 8ft off the ground you’ll see a sign. It describes the location of the sign you have just finished reading.

    Excerpt from interview with Mark Godfrey, for catalogue essay for Adam Chodzko, Museo d’Arte Moderna di Bologna and Skira, published November 2007

    “…I think, despite its existence as sculpture and then photographic diptych, Better Scenery, where I sited two signs in apparently opposite locations, each sign containing precise directions to reach the opposite sign, emerged more from thinking about films.  Vertov, Marker and Keiller, of course, but particularly at that point maybe Atom Egoyan’s crystalline structures of tense and perverse interdependencies between people creating a  haunting of places, and times (“Calendar” in particular), as well as Haneke’s films where a form which is seductive and ‘convincing’ is also made to be simultaneously highly reflexive, provocative and unstable in order that we question what it is we are expecting from the act of looking…

    …Better Scenery and Settlement’s use of economy, the language of guidance and simple description reflexively exposing the structures of making comes partly out of Kiarostami’s films.  The idea of looking at a process of looking for something is paramount in my work.  Focus and distraction and coincidence.  Look at anything for too long and you see its instability and fluidity.  So, Better Scenery and Settlement both present a place and then set about both drawing us closer into the status of that site, its particularity, whilst simultaneously pulling us away from it.”

    Excerpt from Jane Rendell, Site-Writing, pp230, 232,233. IB Taurus, 2010

    ‘The two signs make no attempt to point to their immediate context, only to each other. Their relationship is self-referential. In speaking about where they are not, Better Scenery, described by Chodzko as ‘an escapist proposition’, critiques the ethos of site-specificity and accessibility behind many off-site programmes.’

    Excerpt from Jane Rendell,  Art and Architecture: A Place Between, I B Tauris & Co Ltd, pp.30, 32–33, 2006

    ‘The signs relate the two sites dialectically, giving neither one preference. … they make no attempt to relate to their immediate context. Neither sign can be described as marking a site or non-site; the two are entirely equivalent, each one bound up in the other. … If art is placed outside a gallery, why should it be more accessible, how and to whom? If art is placed outside a gallery, should it be closely related to a particular site, which site and in what way? ‘Better Scenery’ questions the assumptions made about its ‘off-site’ location and asks the kind of questions we would expect from the kind of fine art discourse firmly positioned within a tradition of gallery-based conceptual art.’

    Better Scenery  (2000) is used by the Tate Collection to represent the genre of ‘Site Specific’ art.

    Related works:

    Flashers       (1996-)
    Ghost     (2010 – ongoing)
    Involva         (1995)
    Nightvision    (1998)
    Night Shift       (2004)
    Runners  (2013)
    We love you here, even though you are there        (2012)
    Secretors          (1993 – )
    The woods shall rise up in those places where you pause    (1995)
    Too Soon, Too Late. (The delivery of KCommerzbank stationery to Kurt Schwitters’ Merz Barn, Ambleside, Cumbria, in anticipation of the eventual relocation of the bank’s Head Office).     (2013)  
    You’ll see; this time it’ll be different (2013)  
    Ants Choose Position for Sequins – 2 Seconds Interval   (2003)
    Settlement    (2004)
    Slip. A Flying Prison     (2011)
    Sowmat    (2007)
    Untitled Stile (Teenage Version)   (1991)

  • Adam Chodzko / Better Scenery   (2000 - )
    Better Scenery 2001 (Grizedale Forest, Cumbria)
  • Adam Chodzko / Better Scenery   (2000 - )
    Better Scenery 2001 (Car Factory, Turin)
  • Adam Chodzko / Better Scenery   (2000 - )
    Better Scenery 2002 (Angel Mews, Islington)
  • Adam Chodzko / Better Scenery   (2000 - )
    Better Scenery 2002 (Fargo, North Dakota)