Sturtevant zou aan een opera over Spinoza's Ethica werken

Sturtevant in StockholmIn het kader van de Spinoza Manifestatie zou op 13 sep 2009 in De Brakke Grond Sturtevant’s “Spinoza in Las Vegas” (een productie van Tate Modern, Londen) worden gebracht. Maar de performance werd ‘geannuleerd vanwege een blessure van de kunstenaar.’ “We hopen u te mogen verwelkomen op een ander moment,” zo werd door De Appel geschreven, maar voor zover ik weet is het van een ander moment in Amsterdam niet meer gekomen. [cf dit blog]

Momenteel heeft ze een Solo Exhibition in het Moderna Museet te Stockholm. In een bericht daarover wordt meegedeeld dat ze bezig zou zijn met het maken van een opera over de teksten van Spinoza die ze gebruikte voor haar installatie uit 2008 Vertical Monad.
Dat voor de liefhebbers van deze eigenzinnige kunstenares.

Elaine Sturtevant
Vertical Monad, 2008
Installationsansicht in der Galerie Neu, 2010
Courtesy of Elaine Sturtevant; Galerie Neu, Berlin; Anthony Reynolds Gallery, London. Foto: Gunter Lepkowski, Berlin []
A video installation that reads aloud the opening pages of Spinoza’s Ethics in Latin. [zie fraaie impressie in Berliner Zeitung van 22 juni 2010]

Hier een tekst van Stéphanie Moisdon over Vertical Monad en daarna over de 'cyber-opera' Spinoza in Las Vegas  

The installation VERTICAL MONAD, first exhibited in 2008 at the Anthony Reynolds Gallery in London and then put back together for her Parisian show, is central to the relationship that Sturtevant maintains between the finite and infinite language of the exhibition; by eliminating the horizon of the object and image world, we get to see its movement and verticality.

In VERTICAL MONAD the viewer must listen to a text read in Latin. It is the opening pages of Spinoza’s Ethics, which resounds in a space whose monochromatic blue-grey color unifies all the other elements: a vertical monitor on its base, the geometry of the room itself, the light without any visible source, the low ceiling, the color of the carpeting, the color that practically appears to float on the screen, the inflections of the text, the rhythm of the reader’s speech, the tone of voice. This arrangement constitutes a precise experience which engenders a new mode of perception between the image of the space—which one might call an “image of synthesis”—and that of the invisible text. The work thus seems to be a veritable machine of power, outside of the networks of power, and inside ourselves. Faced with the constant and increasing leveling of systems of representation that have become modes of understanding and information, Sturtevant finds ways out—just as the concept of the “monad” in Leibniz, re-read by Deleuze, is a fundamental “way out” in the history of mankind and philosophy.1) Sturtevant does not assess the situation; she leads a work the way one leads negotiations, always maintaining the point of view that all is not equivalent. The ethics entail the permanent evaluation of values and practices, of forces exerted, and the aim is never to let life, and hence art, depreciate. As Deleuze used to reiterate, the problem is not and has never been to say “this is better” or “this is worse”—that is, “this is good” and “this is bad.” Every epoch, every society, has its own procession of horrors as well as its extraordinary creations. In every great unified whole we find units or, more precisely, monads without doors or windows, which make up the whole. We are these doorless, window less monads. We are radical singularities, differences linked together by one (or several) strings to the world of other monads. Exchanges with them remain fragile and uninteresting if they are not based, first and foremost, on agreements and on complicities of thought and sensation. Only thus are we able to construct new arrangements between monads and territories, which must inevitably be reorganized for each context. And only thus is VERTICAL MONAD connected to Sturtevant’s world, where one can clearly see how the artist perceives each creation and each situation as a unitary, constituent element of a much larger reality.

                                             * * *

                     'cyber-opera' Spinoza in Las Vegas 


In 2008, at the Tate Modern, Sturtevant produced a “cyber-opera,” called SPINOZA IN LAS VEGAS, about the great founder of an ethics of happiness and freedom and the inventor of rational pantheism who paved the way for political liberalism. As a staged piece, SPINOZA IN LAS VEGAS offered the artist new possibilities to intensify (internal/external) movement, and to create dynamic repetitions, short circuits in the great historical narrative of the spectacle and its avatars. And, as always with Sturtevant, an author and essayist in her own right, the preliminary text must be read and heard, as it gives back to us a living mind and already has the value of performance: Spinoza is in Las Vegas where he encounters our digi-cool world, which drastically changes his notion of truth, modesty, good and evil; getting into the divine pleasure of desire. His exciting adventures are full of fun and folly: he runs into trouble with the FBI, he meets a transvestite that thinks he is adorable and wants to dress him up or maybe stalk him; gets a crowd into a rave; escapes from what seems like hell and almost dies in the desert; he is saved by the Virgin Mary disguised as a young innocent girl and makes out; and confronts an in-your-face God, disguised as Prada. There is a chorus line of teeny-boppers, rappers; songs and dance; a prompter that encourages audience participation, a karaoke with its bouncing ball to sing-along: It’s a Wonderful World.2)

Tekst: Stéphanie Moisdon [a French curator and art critic. She is Editor-in-Chief of Frog magazine, and heads the Masters Program in Fine Art at the École cantonale d’art de Lausanne (ECAL)]. Translation: Stephen Sartarelli [PDF]

1) Gilles Deleuze, The Fold, Leibniz and the Baroque (Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press, 1992).

2) Sturtevant, The Razzle Dazzle of Thinking (Zürich/Paris, JRP Ringer, 2010), p. 225.

Zie over Spinoza in Las Vegas een uitgebreide beschouwing van Vanessa Desclaux, onafhankelijk curator en schrijver te Londen: "Sturtevant Binnenste buiten." In: Metropolis M 2010 No1, Februari/Maart. [Hier]


Aanvulling 19 dec. 2014

Van die Spinoza-opera zal het nooit meer komen: Elaine Sturtevant
overleed op 7 mei 2014, cf. obituary in The Guardian

Van 9 november 2014 tot 22 februarie 2015 loopt de expositie "Sturtevant: Double Trouble" in The Museum of Modern Art, New York. Cf. Review