The Showroom

Pierre Bismuth


4 March - 5 April 1998

Humming contains a telephone conversation between the artist and a friend during which only Bismuth's voice was recorded. Having removed all of the words from the recording, and over time forgotten the content of the conversation, all that remains are the non-verbal expressive sounds. These are stereotypical sounds which punctuate conversation and express listening and attentiveness.

This dislocation of the resulting works from their original source is further developed in Bismuth's series Things I remember I've done, but don't remember why I did them. Collected objects, drawings and photographs are presented as a random and infinite sequence. The works that were shown had been selected, with the objectivity that time allows, on the criteria that the artist no longer remembers his initial reasons for either making or saving the images. The possible narratives within these individual and collected works remain open to re-interpretation for the viewer and Bismuth.

In The Party, images and text were presented in parallel. The film was shown without sound whilst the projected text which juxtaposed rather than sub-titled the image simultaneously unfolded. The text had been produced by a typist who, having never seen The Party, was asked to describe by listening to headphones the scenes and atmosphere evoked, and to rationalise and transcribe this and as much of the dialogue as was possible. In separating and re-configuring the acts of watching and listening so distinctly Bismuths disrupts the usual focus the viewers attention so that the text subsequently becomes the main action of the film and the images a simple confirmation or qualification.

Bismuth selected the forms and means through which information is conventionally transmitted whilst acknowledging the ways in which it is usually received, through amongst other things, watching, listening and reading. By intervening in the configuration of various mediums with a deliberate rupturing of their function and content Bismuth exposed his 'will to produce errors of judgement as regards the nature of the medium we are confronted with as spectators...Questions of perception are not only the subject or the guiding theme of the work but also determine the modalities of its realisation'.

With accompanying catalogue, produced by The Showroom in collaboration with C.C.C., Tours, France and FRAC Languedoc Rousillon, Montpellier, France.

Pierre Bismuth is represented by the Lisson Gallery. He lives and works in Brussels and London.