Diego Bruno at Alkovi, October 2014

Written by Arttu Merimaa
8th of October 2014

This text was written for and about Diego Bruno’s show at Alkovi gallery. The concept behind the text is to come up with a second “location” to encounter the piece. Now the exhibited artwork is present both in the Alkovi space and in this text. These two deliveries are distinct by nature.

Myself, Miina and Diego started this artistic affair in the spring of 2014. The previous year we had invited Diego to hold an exhibition in Alkovi and the discussions went on from there. Already, we had had countless talks about what Alkovi is as a space and as a context (what it does, what it stands for) during dinner parties, gallery opening and bar nights. The shared opinion seemed to be that Alkovi is a context, a place of presentation and above all an actor of potentiality in the public space. The name of the space Alkovi ([eng.: alcove] given by the person who started it in 2005: artist Otto Karvonen), describes quite profoundly the nature of the “gallery” – it is an extension of public space: the corner on the small square it’s located at, the street and the city with its activities. We (me and Miina) feel that in the window of Alkovi artists bring forward issues and concepts that are at the junction of what is private and what is social and political. Public space (actual or mediated) is a platform for people to act out their positions in these societal realms and artworks presented in public space come to address the breaking points and soft spots of this agency as well as its potentiality and power.

What Diego wanted to do was to open up his work-in-progress for us; the material, the footage, the thoughts he was working with, and start a discursive process where discussions between the three of us, our conceptions and positions would constitute the work. Of course Diego had a bunch of ideas for an exhibition already in mind, interesting ideas that very much deconstructed the concept of the Alkovi space, but during our talks it became increasingly appealing for all of us to create a circle of communication, assessment and exchange. This is what I call a discursive romance. It’s a game of give and take.

In the beginning we received a bulk of material from Diego. This consisted of a transcript Diego is using for his ongoing moving image project as well as of archival photographs showing the scale model of the seating in the Helsinki City Theatre designed by Finnish architect Timo Penttilä. The transcript describes a debate at the Faculty of Philosophy in the University of Buenos Aires in 1965 concerning the politicization of psychoanalysis and the “intersection” of ideology and psychology together with a list of parameters depicting an inside of a building which becomes apparent is a theater space. These are formed to be a script for a film. The title of the work is “The Problem of Intersection Remains”. We agree to Diego’s opinion that during the exhibition Alkovi should not present anything else than this sentence – in the outside of the space, perhaps as a neon sign, or a light box, 30’s style text banner, copper plate. We go through different ideas.

So, we meet up at restaurants and cafés. We have lunch at a Ukrainian place near Alkovi, we have coffees at Bulevardi, we drink a glass of wine at a wine bar next to the Museum of Architecture. Diego wants to build a scale model of Alkovi and sneak it into the archive of the Museum of Architecture. We go to see the archive. We look at the aforementioned photographs of the seating of Helsinki City Theater. The archive is a small space, tables and shelf tops are filled with photographs and slides, scale models of various buildings and cardboard boxes. This is a familiar place for Diego, I visit for the first time.

I think of Alkovi as a stage. The things on display perform for an audience: by-passers, viewers, the street, the outside. The “fourth wall” is made of glass but it’s almost violent in its separation. Here the breaking of the fourth wall is not merely a theoretical concept. It is very much a potential demonstration of participation. I think of Alkovi as a scale model. Depicting the inside of the space doesn’t provide sufficient information. You would have to depict the outside space as well. What does a scale model depict anyway? What kind of information can it carry? A scale model is a materialization of detachment. It is cut out from the site and the context. Diego flies off to Argentina to film his new piece. Via email he gives us the key for this obscurity: “The sentence is the scale model.” This is a whole new understanding of a scale model – it’s a scale model of a concept. The sentence “The Problem of Intersection Remains” portrays a situation where something is left unsolved. Intersection is a place where concepts cross, come together, crash, merge or entwine. The window is an intersection. Intersection of what? Is it too banal to say art and life?

Last year Miina and me organized a screening event in New York by the title “Mediated, The Act of Filming as an Osmotic Force”. Miina says in an essay she wrote for the screening publication: “Osmotic force is the act of infusion or movement without adding or removing, just finding balance and stability between the elements in action. That means the act in question (filming, shooting, capturing…) in its active presence and the way we depict with or through it our surroundings – ourselves involved with and in it. It is not an easy thing – but it happens effortlessly. The act just passes with us, like we pass moments. The act of filming has a membrane-like quality; it’s there to depict the passing – to capture the act itself – to show that it is. It composes us in that moment; it finds us a place, a function, a way to relate – to happen in here, to create the now – a way to act in the presence of life. [sic]”

In terms of Alkovi, the act in question is the presentation of artworks. The window is the semipermeable membrane, there’s art and life in the both sides of it. The interaction of those is osmosis. The problem of intersection is in the impossibility to sieve one from the other – there is difficulty in the separation.

In the end we come to the conclusion that the sentence should be printed on a polished aluminium plate and attached to the tiles on the right side of the Alkovi window. Size of the plate is 20 cm x 13 cm. The text (in mirror image) is engraved and blackened. It’s fabricated in Hyvinkää by Aripa Kaiverrus company. I will pick it up tomorrow. Diego put it in a nutshell in one of his email “I give you a sentence, then you exhibit it. I think the particularities and detail of the process in this case, are relevant.” Here the process in question is the coming together of different artistic practices. In the intersection there is discussion and confusion and understanding. And an exhibition.

Diego Bruno is an artist living and working in Helsinki whose work deals with information, language and conception of memory.

Arttu Merimaa & Miina Hujala are artists / organizers who run a display window space Alkovi in Helsinki.