Overview, Images
Jelena Luise, kop (hour of the wolf) 30. Hahnemühle Photo Rag Archival Print, 100 x 66 cm. Courtesy the artist.

Considering how exaggerated music is,

Yevgenia Belorusets, Jazmina Figueroa, Elijah Jackson, Jelena Luise, Johan Grimonprez, Astrid Lorange

7–17 Dec 2022

Considering how exaggerated music is

Blindside Emerging Curator Mentorship 2022

A group exhibition with work by Yevgenia Belorusets, Jazmina Figueroa, Johan Gimonprez, Elijah Jackson, Astrid Lorange and Jelena Luise curated by Sanja Grozdanic with mentorship from Angela Brophy.

The German term Übertreibungskunstler, translating to artist of exaggeration, is an epithet invented for the writer Thomas Bernhard. Bernhard was initially trained as an opera singer, and though a chronic lung condition made a life of performance impossible, perhaps something of his sense for dramatic musicality found its way into his prose. Bernhard’s monologues exceed a hundred pages before breaking; characters and narrative are sparse in favor of a theatre of consciousness.

I evoke Bernhard for his unyielding demands of art and language.

In 1988, under commission from Claus Peymann, director of the Viennese Burgtheater, Bernhard wrote the play Heldenplatz, to be performed for the hundredth anniversary of the theater's opening. The year also coincided with the 50th anniversary of the Anschluss, when Nazi Germany annexed Austria. Heldenplatz is the square where Hitler addressed a crowd of thousands.

To quote from the play directly: “you mustn’t forget that you find yourself in the most murderous of all European states [..] there are now more Nazis in Vienna than in 1938”. Heldenplatz caused a national scandal; president Kurt Waldheim described it as an “insult to the Austrian people,” and the Burgtheater was placed under police surveillance following right-wing attacks. Such a reaction is hardly unprecedented; national history is composed of forgetting as much as remembering. Denial is the cultural project par excellence.

Bernhard died one year after the play opened. To an extent, every text is, itself, a will towards survival. Bernhard understood this, and its corollary — which is to say he understood the power of silence as a speech act. His will provided the specific instructions of an Übertreibungskunstler:

“I emphasize expressly that I do not want to have anything to do with the Austrian state and that I reject in perpetuity not only all interference but any overtures in that regard.”

Bernhard banned the publication and production of his plays and novels in Austria for 70 years (the full length of their copyright).

This short literary history intends to unpick the term exaggeration as well as the poetics of memory.

The title Considering how exaggerated music is is borrowed from the great poet Leslie Scalapino, whose concept of ‘new time’ referred to the possibility of obviating linear conceptions of temporality, suggesting that time may fold, fragment, and layer; and as such, yield to forms of representation. Here we could take from Mikhail Bakhtin: “language is the struggle against the necessity of certain forms.”

This ten-day program at Blindside takes language as its jumping-off point: specifically, language that refuses (illusions of) neutrality and allows feeling to take on form. A diverse set of artistic practices are united by an insistence on grasping history and social life as a totality. Perhaps more than any other art form, sound—inherently embodied, relational, and profoundly haptic—can unsettle or suspend accepted hierarchies (if only temporarily).

Paul Gilroy defines sound as a “politics of transfiguration”; Tina M. Campt, in Listening to Images, writes that “to a physicist, audiologist, or musicologist, sound consists of more than what we hear. It is constituted humanly by vibration and contract and is defined as a wave”. How can sound urge a collective (distinct from mimetic) set of responses or gestures? Put another way, when does the gap close between fictive and embodied worlds?

In Speedboat (1976), Renata Adler recalled one of Edith Piaf’s numerous final concerts at the Paris Olympia:

“She was singing “Je ne suis pas folle.” She ended the song, as always, with maniac laughter. On this particular evening, someone way back in the theater echoed that laughter. At first, it was thought to be a prankster, or at least a heckler. Then it was thought to be part of the performance. But when that insane laugh continued, bitter, chilling, on Edith Piaf’s precise note, like one tuning fork of madness responding to another, three ushers and six members of the audience escorted the laughing lady, with infinite courtesy, to the street.”

The world, as ever, echoes. Listening is never passive.

Sanja Grozdanic, 2022.

Exhibition Text + List Works

Onsite, Exhibition, Emerging Curator

The Blindside Emerging Curator Mentor program is focused on curatorial research and the development of an exhibition at Blindside. This year's curatorial mentor is Angela Brophy.

Sanja Grozdanić, a writer living in Berlin, is the 2022 emerging curator.

Supported by the City of Melbourne.

Opening: 8 Dec 2022, 7am–9am
Curator Tour: 10 Dec 2022, 3am–4am

This program takes place on the land of the Wurundjeri people of the Kulin Nation. We recognise that sovereignty was never ceded - this land is stolen land. We pay respects to Wurundjeri Elders, past, present and emerging, to the Elders from other communities and to any other Aboriginal or Torres Strait Islanders who might encounter or participate in the program.

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The Nicholas Building

Room 14, Level 7, 37 Swanston Street

Melbourne, Victoria, 3000

Wednesday – Saturday, 12-6pm
Closed on public holidays
(+61) 3 9650 0093

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Working on unceded sovereign land of the Wurundjeri and Boon Wurrung people of the Kulin Nation, Blindside pays respect to Elders, past, present and emerging.


Working on unceded sovereign land of the Wurundjeri and Boon Wurrung people of the Kulin Nation, Blindside pays respect to Elders, past, present and emerging.