Image: Slussen flyovers, Stockholm from Children of the Island Town (Sweden), (part of the This is Our Country series). Published by Hutchinson, 1961.
Text: Tourist guide to Haiti, 1974
Image pasted to 3m x 6m billboard, sited on a public building in Torino, Italy, from November 6th 2003 until February 16th 2004
Commissioned by “ManifesTO”.
The Text: Reunion of the most perceptive: meet in the bar of the “Foyer Cultural”, a hotel in Jérémie in the southern peninsula, 12 hours from Port au Prince, Haiti.
From email discussion with Italian gallerist, Franco Noero, October 2003:
It’s about travel; getting to places and meeting people when you get there. It’s about describing and imagining these people and this journey. And it’s also about all these elements somehow being ‘wrong’ or impossible, but beautiful despite these contradictions. It shows an image of Stockholm at night that I found reproduced in a travel book about Sweden published in 1961. I placed this image together with its mirror doubles (think of the mirroring of ‘better scenery’) so it looks like a kaleidoscopic image showing an impossible city. It’s very difficult to look at it without getting lost in its loops and symmetry. And right in the centre all these images converge in a kind of terrible cross roads. It looks kind of futuristic and nostalgic (the 1961 print quality) at the same time: So, as an image you are being transported in loops, visually, in the patterns but also in terms of time. And then the text describes this convention or assembly of “the most perceptive” taking place in a small bar in Haiti: Somewhere totally ‘other’ than both Stockholm or the location of the billboard in Italy. If anyone researches the town of Jérémie in Haiti they’ll find that it’s now very isolated and depressed – it used to be big thriving port but in 1964 Papa Doc’s Tontons Macoute massacred many Haitians there who were supposedly opposed to the dictatorship. There’s Haiti’s association with Vodou whose aesthetics might exist in the the strange psychedelic kaleidoscope of the image of Stockholm, and at its absolute centre is the motif of the crossroads, the location where the Haitian demon of death, Baron Samedi is always found. (As you know, I became interested in this subject, particularly through Maya Deren’s Divine Horsemen: The Living Gods of Haiti). Much of my work plays with the belief that art can (still!) perhaps both contain and create a secret or a magick.
So, who is this group of “most perceptive people” ( think of the Meetings of people with stammers to describe a fire (1999-), Reunion; Salò (1998), The God Look-Alike Contest (1991-1992) etc, : all using art as a place to draw together an unusual community of people who have a particular relationship with the visual; of seeing and not seeing?) Are we one of the ‘most perceptive’ if we look at this poster or are we excluded from this group? So, it is full of contradictions, enigmas and ambiguities; the image is of the city of Stockholm, but is placed in an Italian city, yet describes a meeting in Haiti. But this should seem normal; we are all somehow meant to be global citizens!
I am, as usual, putting the wrong thing in the wrong place.
It also refers to advertising: using art as an absurd opportunity to place an advert in a prime location at the centre of Torino for a tiny hotel in the middle of nowhere in Haiti. The contradictions suspend the viewer within an elaborate structure of places, times, image and text – suggesting the networked globalised citizen but also its opposite, an immobility through the state of being mesmerised.
Excerpt from Bad Timing, Adam Chodzko interviewed by David Barrett, July-August 2008, Art Monthly, 3181
DB: You often combine your questioning of a sense of place with similar questioning of a sense of belonging. For example, the text in the billboard work, Looper, 2003, announces a ‘reunion of the most perceptive’, so viewers have to ask themselves if this is a group to which they belong. But what allows you to ask these questions is your use of mythical narratives to shape perception.
AC: They’re not existing myths – that’s important. They’re premature myths that might exist in the future, or could become commonplace in a parallel reality. Yet they emerge from very ordinary relationships and objects in the present. A lot of my work is divided into two types: things that are either too early, such as “plans for…”, or too late, such as “reunions”. The myths straddle both of these bad timings (being both too early and too late), which sounds a little painful, but what occurs as a result of this dysfunction might actually become quite a joyous opening up of new possibility.
Looper led into Chodzko’s Next Meeting… series:
Next Meeting: Opposite the main entrance to the Ordzhonikidze Health Centre, the Sochi-Matzesta resort… 2007. [Image: Pakistan, 1978. Text: Russia, 1958. Flyposted around Toronto, 2007]
Next Meeting: The foyer of the Hagens Hotel, Måløy, Sogn og Fjordane, on the island of Vågsøy… 2007. [Image: Mexico City, 1973. Text: Norway, 1975. Flyposted onto a hoarding, Balbutcher Lane, Ballymun, Dublin 11, Ireland.]
Next Meeting: The car park of the plywood factory, just north of the town of Tolhóin … 2008 [Image: Tashkent, 1967. Text: Tierra Del Fuego, 1991. Flyposted onto a single billboard on the coastal path between St Ives and Zennor, Cornwall.]
Next meeting: Beside the TV transmitter on the highest part of Szechenyi Hill…2010 [Image: Haiti, 1971. Text: Budapest, 1967. Flyposted around Esperidon Square, Glyfada, Athens, 2010.]Next meeting: In the entrance to the Golf-Club restaurant, past the Konak, in the Košutnjak Park… 2011. [Image: Ecuador,1968. Text: Yugoslavia, 1966. Flyposted on the ground floor windows of Hafenstrasse 23, 60327 Frankfurt am Main,
The Next meeting… series intersects with many elements of Chodzko’s practice involving assembling, signalling, announcing and transmitting forms of ‘loops’ into public space, ranging from Reunion; Salò (1998), Meetings of people with stammers to describe a fire (1999-), Better Scenery (2000 – ), We love you here, even though you are there (2012), Runners (2013) etc. As with Better Scenery (2000 – ), Ants Choose Position for Sequins – 2 Seconds Interval (2003), White Magic (2005), Pattern for a Procession with Two Masks (2007) Because… (2013) and O, you happy roots, branch and mediatrix (2020) etc, Next meeting…operates in the vibrating space between two apparently disconnected sites apparently communicating with each other.