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Traffic
by Emily Tsingou

Miltos Manetas, "Sad Tree" 1995

To the casual visitor of the show, "Traffic" seemed a bit confusing. Screened by the foggy principle of interactivity, the show included a large number of interesting artists from Vanessa Beecroft, Noritoshi Hirakawa, Henry Bond and Liam Gillick to Jason Rhoades, Philip Parreno and Douglas Gordon. The works involved a range of approaches to different media, setting the tone of the show as an urban cabinet where one could easily find an area of interest ranging from computer animation (Miltos Manetas) to a hanging-out area (Xavier Veillan's fireplace).

For a brief moment, and on a theoretical level, the show attempted an interesting claim. The idea, though, of interactivity is not a very lucid one, especially if one considers that it could be stretched to such extent as to encompass any art work and the presence of a viewer (even in its traditional sense, art functions on that quality). Trapped in a need to claim a direct rapport with interactivity, some artworks (especially video work and painting) seemed forced to "fit in" with the rest. This, resulting in a lack of concreteness, turned the plausibility of interactivity, on the whole, very slim on a visual level.

The large hall of the Capc Musée--featuring heavy stone walls, impressive archways, and a warehouse-chaos ambient--proved a difficult setting, leaving the works to appear unintentionally muddled together, resulting in a disruptive whole. A museum is not the ideal space to put forward such ideas, because the works tend to lose their dynamic once placed in vastly edited architectural surroundings--works tend to intercede rather than interact. Crucially, though, the museum functioned as a shield for the exhibitors, declaring acceptance and respect for artists that belong to a relatively young generation. Contrary to one's expectations, this was the most interesting aspect of the show: that is, turning the building into a "shock-and-shield" vessel--shock because the works evidently were not catered for in this context, and shield because they were accepted in an environment of academia. Overall the show bore the characteristics of a traffic jam: at a standstill and agitated.

Emily Tsingou

Athens, Greece
1996

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