Thursday, 26 August 2010

Window of Opportunity

Duccio Di Buoninsegna, Flagellation, 1308ca
Tempera on wood panel,
Museo dell' Opera del Duomo, Siena, Italy

Definition of "Window of opportunity" from an on-line source:
Idioms: Fig. a brief time period in which an opportunity exists.
What we see in this image is what our friend Duccio must have thought to be an incredible breakthrough in the much sought-after use of perspective in painting at that time. Like Giotto, Duccio was a pupil of Cimabue, the undisputed pioneer of the creation of the third dimension according to the biographer and first art historian Giorgio Vasari.

It was the XIV century in Italy, and religious painting was greatly influenced by Byzantine examples in which flat, uncanny figures of Madonnas with Baby floated about with no chiaroscuro in their clothes nor any shadow on the ground. In short: no sign of humanity was to be recognised in such icons representing the Divine, and the Italians did what they do best: copying, and re-elaborating in better quality. Little by little, the use of perspective opened a window of opportunities in figurative representation, bringing Gods and Saints back to reality, down from the heavenly sphere to mingle with the common people who, in turn, felt closer to them.

Now, this image nowadays makes us smile a little, because we can see that something is wrong with it: Pilate is neither inside nor outside, with his arm outstretching in front of the column; we can tell the construction of the "box" hosting the scene is weird, whereas the layers of the attending people land on no floor, like cards laid on a table. Despite Duccio's efforts, the image is still flat; it would have taken at least another century to get, for example, to this.

After all this I hope interesting stuff, you may be wondering why I have chosen this particular image and am posting this particular post. First of all, Habda was inspired by the image - during one of her visits to the National Gallery - which can be used as a tool leading to develop free interpretations of the concept  "wrong perspective". This triggered a whole series of thoughts that the other curators and I are going to develop into shows, in another window, starting at the end of September. 

Apparently, windows really are receptacles of opportunities at the moment. 

Regarding the wrong perspective, let me tell you something more: it's not that Duccio wasn't aware of the wrongness of his image; he deliberately chose to emphasize Pilate's death sentence through the gesture, even if this literally had to come out of the scene. In my opinion, this makes a huge conceptual difference. On the basis of this, what would be the wrong perspective, his or ours?

Saturday, 21 August 2010


Don't worry, I am not insulting anyone in another language.
Especially in German, which is something I don't even have a smattering of. I can pronounce Oranienstraße or Ja correctly, but that would be all.

According to Harald Szeemann, the Ausstellungsmacher (translated, the vulgar "Exhibition Organiser" before the advent of the fancy word "Curator") is:

- Administrator
- Amateur
- Author of Introductions
- Librarian
- Manager and Accountant
- Animator
- Conservator
- Financier
- Diplomat

Just a German word, to summing it up so well.

Thursday, 19 August 2010

Performance Anxiety

Wednesday the 18th. Opening day.

I must confess I use the old trick of "No Great Expectations" to survive the evening, which is also called common sense: if you have just started an exhibition project in a city that is not your birthplace, which is to say where you don't know a huge amount of people, then if five souls show up at your openings you may consider it a success.

It's 6:30 sharp. I am in Cleveland Street, opposite The Bay Window, leaning on my own on the iron fence. The work by Salvatore Mauro is in place and looks great: a series of different photographs, arranged in repeating patterns, of a girl holding some shower hoses behind her neck. Gossip detail: I have asked the artist to remove the bit in which a glimpse of the girl's breasts appeared. I didn't want to have any "moral order" problems with neighbors, passers-by or parents: in the end, The Bay Window is not a private gallery, it's a sort of public space. Moreover, its function is not hundred-per-cent clear: I bet some people must think that who lives in that flat has a very strange taste for fancy curtains.

I am holding a bunch of home made flyers, the latest idea in matter of promotion. Word document, printed and cut in half. I am going to hand them to people strolling by and just try to inform them about what is going on under their noses. Normally, I wouldn't have any problem in approaching total strangers on their way home to harass them about an art project: my latest cheeky deed was smiling at Noel Gallagher like he was an old friend of mine while we crossed paths on the street for the second time. He nodded back, bless him.

Well, back to the flyers, at the beginning I just can't do it. It's very different when you have to face people concerning a project of yours: there is no distance from it to save you, you're just too much involved. I think we can call it "performance anxiety" and it comprises several factors, including still being on my own on a street at 6:42 pm on an August Wednesday evening. OK, everyone shows up late at the openings (Ah, really?), but what if no one comes this time? I lift a flyer, looking hopefully at a man in a suit approaching. He snatches it absentmindedly and mutters a thankyou.
"No no, thank YOU", I hurriedly say. I start observing people's behavior, the unmistakeable don't-nag-me signs: a girl leaves the pavement and walks on the road to put the maximum distance possible between me and her. Come on, darling, it's just a flyer... it doesn't bite! Other people just say NO and walk away. It's normal, I would probably do the same, but frustration starts to arise. Flyers apart, no one has really noticed the window.
For a split second, this is what I think: Why the hell did I do that? I just want to go home. 

That's when people start to arrive. One in particular is my hero: my G., who is my partner in crime and supporter for this project, handles the flyers much better than me (and he claims to be a shy person). The people coming to see the window are all acquaintances of mine, and what pleases me is seeing new faces in addition to those who can be called the regulars (two, in fact). Chattering and explanations begin, with other people briefly stopping. A smiling lady approaches us from the restaurant on the other side of the road to ask what this is all about. She grabs a flyer, looses it to the wind and goes fetching it again.
Among the small public there are three curators and two artists, the ones with whom you can have a serious talk later on at the pub.

Artists always speak their minds, which is much appreciated: one in particular, after my explanation about the meaning of the presented work, says that in his opinion the work fails to convey such message and that maybe this time the choice isn't exactly appropriate for the window (I knew! I knew the images were too small! I knew...). Habda, who is there too, asks him in what way and I know she won't let go until she has a straightforward, satisfying answer. I like her way of digging into things. After a good deal of "er" and "hum", the artist replies: "I don't really know..."

Salvatore Mauro, Intimate Parallelism, 2010
Plotter print, 4 panels on window glazing, dimensions variable.

Courtesy The Artist and SybinQ Art Project

Before going home at 9:30ish, G. and I are approached by P., restaurant owner and participant observer of The Bay Window Project since they are one below the other.
P. is a very very nice man, and he tells us that, while we were at the pub, a bloke showed up to see the window and was quite frustrated not to find anyone; he also complained to P. about the difficulty of finding the place. In short, he was disappointed.

I am wondering who this is, or, perhaps, if he was Mario.

Tuesday, 17 August 2010

The Bay Window Project: NEW ENTRIES

Speaking of the we are with the Press Release for next event, opening tomorrow:

curated by sybin

SALVATORE MAURO: opens Wednesday 18 August at 6:30 pm.

SybinQ Art Projects
The window on Cleveland Street, London W1T 6DP. MAP here.
(please note that there is no physical address: the window is visible where Cleveland St meets Carburton Street)

Information: 07913717999 -

SybinQ Art Projects is pleased to present NEW ENTRIES, a section of The Bay Window Project dedicated to new talented artists who never had a solo show in London before. The window becomes a place of patronage, discussion and exchange in the project’s aim to promote young artists and the production of new artworks.

The research of young Italian artist Salvatore Mauro (Born in Augusta, Italy 1977. Lives and works in Rome) is centered on the human body and its relationship with the place where one feels more vulnerable or safer: the bathroom. In there we stand naked, lapsing in our own intimate rituals, unprotected and concealed to indiscreet eyes at the same time. Or so we think. As Alfred Hitchcock showed us in the movie “Psycho” (1960), should this intimacy be violated disaster follows.

For The Bay Window Project, Salvatore is presenting Intimate Parallelism, 2010 (193 x 180 cm, Plotter print on window glazing. Courtesy: The Artist).

The female figure mixed with bathroom accessories gives shape to an icon in the conventionally religious sense: this icon is, on one hand, reinforced by its repetition; on the other hand, repetition leads to the loss of meaning, symbolising a path in which the body, exposed to different kind of lights and postures, seems to become even more conscious of its own frailness and uncertainty. The shower hoses, an industrial apparatus sprouting from the young woman's neck, look like prosthetic appendixes, distorting and contaminating the body, accentuating its transient nature. The bathroom is the place of passage where transformation happens, either in a regenerative or destructive way. The street is the public place where private daily changes remain safely unknown behind the curtains. Exposed to the passer-by gaze, who this time is forced to watch, Intimate Parallelism not only questions the boundaries of intimacy and the places where we expect to find it, but also invites the viewer to consider his or her position in the world as a transient being, changing every day in front of the bathroom's mirror.

Salvatore Mauro exhibits widely in Italy since 2000 both in solo and group shows. He is the creator and organiser, together with artist Anna Carè, of BOX Art Festival in Rome. Now at its third edition, the festival was hosted at MACRO Museum of Contemporary Art Rome (Mattatoio) and MLAC Museum Lab of Contemporary Art at the University La Sapienza, Rome. The aim of the event is to promote new artists and projects with a focused attention to experimental language and the use of new technologies. He also works as editor of the on-line magazine NextExit.

Do you like sybin? Say it on Facebook!

Did you see The Bay Window with the video by Luana Perilli and would like to comment?
Leave your thoughts on the Guestbook post.

Will come next: CADAVRE EXQUIS VIDEO, Group Show, in September.

I am very proud of having been able to invite new, fresh artists, and to produce their work. That's what I mean for support: you can write about their art, but nothing is more effective than the actual work seen in a public place like The Bay Window.
Best of luck to Salvatore, who unfortunately won't be able to join us, and hope to see people coming tomorrow.

Thursday, 12 August 2010

There must be a reason

With every preparation of a show, here comes the moment every young curator dreads the most: sending the Press Release.

If you don't have the luck (or funds) of having a proper Press Office doing it for you, then be prepared for a good deal of stress which will probably end up in calling the computer every name under the sun or, more politely, putting your hands in your hair not exactly to pull them out, but to prevent them from falling off.

Too melodramatic? In the end it's not a big deal, is it? It's just about sending some emails... well, there must be a reason why people study hard to become Press Officers.

First of all, dealing with the press means tight deadlines, well in advance of the event, which can't be ignored; therefore you need to squeeze your brain out and get the press release done before that date. If you have the writer's block or suffer from chronic perfectionism, you're screwed.

Once everything is nicely ready, the image is in place in the email's body, the writings make sense - not too boring, not too long - and the timing is right, you suddenly realise that you can't send it at once to all your contacts. Most of the on-line email servers now have anti-spam filters activating themselves as soon as you try to go over, say, two-hundred emails per day - Two Hundred! Wow, you have a hell of a mailing list! - OK, people don't like spam and that's a fact, but there is a difference between selling Viagra and informing about an upcoming show... I am sure these spam filters, which must have been devised from the CIA's greatest geeks, are aware of the email's content.

How do you solve this? By splitting your contacts in not too large groups. Ype, but this takes half of your day. Moreover, you can be the most organised and precise person in the world... there will always be a skipped, forgotten or even added twice contact ending up in the wrong group. Like That Gallery Director getting, together with the show invitation, a personal message saying: "Hello dude! Hope to see ya there!" Face it: you're not Superman.

After having tried to pull your eyes, that have started twitching, together, you are ready to press the 'Send' button. Read it again.
Adjust that double space.
Add something.
Delete something.
Wait! Don't forget to add the Bcc otherwise every contact will see everyone else's email and they are going to hate you.
Ah! Add the disclaimer, too. Explain to people why they are getting this email, that you are blah blah, rules about privacy, blah blah blah and that, if they don't want to receive such information anymore, they can unsubscribe.
Put your email in the "To" field, so you can monitor everything.
Done. Take a breath... Send.

Aaaaah, first batch gone, you start to relax and even to feel smug. Piece of cake! You receive the email that you have just sent to yourself and...instead of the image, there is a nice blue square with a question mark in it. What the hell? Simple: the image has jumped. That's when you start to loose it because you just have informed a group of people of a show about a work that they can't see. And it's not just any group, like "Friends" who will definitely understand: it's "Press". This doesn't really help.

To avoid repeating the embarrassing mistake, you start all over again, create a new fresh email, re-add the image, and avoid the "Forward" button like the plague. This, for five or six times minimum, depending on how many "Groups" you have. In the mean time, is 1.59 am and you have been at it all day. Well, at least it's done. Life is beautiful!

The day after, you open your email account to finish sending the invite to the rest of your contacts - you were clever enough to keep the ones not subject to deadlines for the day after because the spam filters have indeed blocked you. - Among the many "Out of Office" auto-reply and failure notices because you typed 'hitmail' instead of 'hotmail', what do you find?
A couple of "Unsubscribe". Like this. No reason given.

Well now, after all you have been through!

Tuesday, 10 August 2010

Sorry We're Open: installation shots

Sorry, We're Open, Unit 2, London Metropolitan University. 
Installation view from the entrance with the video 
Fremdkorper by Katja Pratschke and Gusztav Hamos (2002, 35 mm, duration 28').

Left: Charlotte Braicegirdle, Nightgown, 2010, paint on photograph.
Right: Nathalie Guinamard, Interior 3 (Doors), 2008, collage.

Sorry, We're Open, Installation shot from the back

Dylan Shipton, Luminal, 2010, timber, damp proof, plasterboard, screws, dimensions variable

Left, from bottom then up and right: Martina Geccelli, 3 Books With Gold, 2008, Digital C-Print, Aluminium board, 50 x 60 cm; 2 Books - 1 Leaning, 2010, Digital C-Print, Aluminium board, 50 x 60 cm; 2 Boxes - Liter, 2004, Digital C-Print, Aluminium board, 50 x 60 cm. Right: view of Nathalie Guinamard's second collage (in detail below)

Nathalie Guinamard, Round Round, 2009, collage.

Sorry, We're Open: Installation shot towards the bottom

Left: Sophie Vent, Dancing on Kekule' (B-End), 2010, video.
Right: Silvia Iorio, Odyssey, 2010, 160 switches, enamel, MDF, aluminium, wood, 224 x 118,4 cm. 

Russel Charter, iwozeree17pf, 2010, window cleaner, glass.

All images: Courtesy Digby Washer, 2010.

Thursday, 5 August 2010

The Bay Window Project: Luana Perilli


Six Artists in a Frame
curated by 

OPENING: Thursday 22 July at 7:30 pm
Until Thursday 12 August.

SybinQ Art Project
The window on 
Cleveland Street
London W1T 6NW

Tube: Great Portland Street
(the window is visible when Cleveland St meets Carburton St)


The Bay Window Project continues exploring the concepts of perception and representation by using the ordinary frame of a window as a display device, disconnecting it from its normal function of a private threshold.

The second artist invited to exhibit in The Bay Window is LUANA PERILLI. 
(Born in Rome, 1981, where she currently lives and works).

Exhibiting in London for the first time, Luana’s choice of expression is focused on language, instruction for use and memory. She is interested in the concept of refrain, of breaking a sequence and therefore disconnecting the objects from their normal function, making them, according to Duchamp’s lesson, “bachelors”. Perilli uses the mediums in a spurious way, putting audio and video in relation to other forms of narrative by images. Her research started through theatre, where a compromise between the scenic illusions and the representation of reality always stands: since then, she has been looking for a relation between automatisms and their reproducibility.

For The Bay Window Project, Luana is presenting the video Sì Dolce è il Tormento, 2009 
(duration: 1’09’’. Courtesy: The Gallery Apart, Rome).

The title – So Sweet is the Torment – refers to a tune conceived by the Italian composer Monteverdi in the XVII century for a castrato voice. In a video which features objects, the castrato is perceived as the first bachelor, a human being deprived of his reproductive function and turned to a full-blown singing machine. In opposition to this, ordinary objects are shown coming to life, satisfying that little poetic childhood fantasy about the secret life of toys when the house is empty. However, these objects cannot have a life of their own: the imprint of those who inhabited the house for a temporary period of time and were then replaced by others determines their will. In a present time characterised by people’s frantic mobility, the concept of home has become transient, and houses are transformed into spaces concentrating the residual energy of different lives. The objects are then silent witnesses of desires, frustrations, hopes, dreams and little daily cruelties of the household occupants. The video spies on them behaving in a passionate and incongruent way, as to summarise in a whole act their unresolved wish of becoming human, which, according to the artist, is often imbued with cynicism. 

To respect The Bay Window’s neighborhood, the video will be shown with the sound at the opening only and will then be projected muted from 9 to 11:30 pm every day.

The Bay Window Project is kindly supported by Invite Me to Dinner


The Bay Window Project: Martin Westwood

A new exciting project space is opening in Fitzrovia, but this time it's not another commercial gallery.

Six Artists in a Frame
curated by sybin

OPENING: Wednesday 9 June at 6:30 pm
Until Sunday 23 June.

SybinQ Art Project
The window on Cleveland Street
London W1T 6NW

Tube: Great Portland Street
(the window is visible when Cleveland St meets Carburton St)


A private residence with tenants. A square bay window that overlooks the street, looking like a huge frame hanging on an anonymous building’s façade. When the curtains are open, from the street it is possible to gaze - peeping inside other people’s home and lives. Derived from its shape and meaning, the bay window has been designated as a functional place, like a white cube – to host art. This unusual, limited space (193 x 180 x 60 cm), is offered to six artists to create, one after the other, a site-specific works, which will engage with the concepts of home and gallery, private and public, gaze and voyeurism, disruption and continuity.

sybin is a young curator based in London and interested in supporting young and established artists, especially through the creation of peculiar show settings outside the so-called normal exhibition parameters. One interesting aspect about this is being able to bring art into the street, like an open-air gallery, for every passer-by to enjoy. SybinQ Art Project is a not-for-profit organisation aiming to create networks and sustainable conditions for the commissions of new artworks.

The first artist invited to exhibit in The Bay Window is MARTIN WESTWOOD
(Born in Sheffield, 1969. Lives and works in London).

Martin’s projects investigate the state of contemporary society, with a recurring focus on themes of bureaucracy, commerce, economy and corporate culture. He created complex systems of codes and symbols that incorporate and reference familiar objects – suspended ceilings, watercoolers, chequebooks, promotional balloons, invoice sheets - artificially decomposed and then reconstructed. His artworks vary in scale and format from large installations to paintings and multi-layered collages.

For The Bay Window Project, Martin is presenting Flat-field, a work which takes inspiration from the social relations we experience every day. The eye is captured by the bright background, on which different images, deprived of their three-dimensional status, are reduced or enlarged to the same size. The viewer can recognise objects, details, places and situations we are so familiar with that we experience them almost automatically. The street, the advertising signs, the private dimension of the window switching to public: everything constitutes a hierarchy of objects that the artist is trying to disassemble and analyse on the base of the Actor Network Theory (ANT) studies. Developed, among others, by Bruno Latour, ANT is a branch of Sociology trying to map relations that are at the same time material (between things) and semiotic (between concepts), and tries to understand how certain relations (networks), which imply human interaction with inanimate things, are formed and kept. If a network ceases to work, each single element in it can be examined and re-interpreted: as Latour puts it, speaking about Pandora's Box, when closed it is perceived as a box, whereas when opened the elements inside are visible. It is about communication, the messages we give and receive in the working and private dimension, the signs we interpret and how unwittingly we relate to all of it, performing our social interactions over and over again to avoid our created network to dissolve. This is the artist's aim in The Bay Window to present a flattening out of the hierarchy that organises social relations, to suggest a suspension of the performance of the social.

Part of The Bay Window Project is also the creation of The Fitzrovia Map, which will be available on line soon and highlight places of interests in the area, from the famous art galleries to the less known landmark buildings, from fancy restaurants to interesting shops.

Take a stroll with your nose up!

Next: LUANA PERILLI in July.

Tuesday, 3 August 2010

Behind the scenes

It is a customary complaint nowadays to say that we are continuously bombarded by images. 

This can be a valid example...

...watching TV with The Bay Window on can become quite interesting.

Sunday, 1 August 2010

Peeping Toms

G: Passers by!
sy: Coming!
G: Where is the video camera?
sy: Here, here, you're laying on it!
G: Whops...
sy: ...
G: Ah. they're walking, they're looking!
sy: Yeah, they are!
G: (filming)
sy: (staring)
G: (whispering) is filming with a mobile phone...
sy: (whispering) Why are you whispering?
G: Don't move the curtain, they'll see you!
sy: Oh, they're going. Did they looked like they liked it?
G: ...
sy: Quiet again.
G: More people coming!
sy: Look! One saw it!
G: Yeah, but they are keeping on walking...
sy: Film it!
G: Naah, they won't stop. Trust me, I saw it several time: when they keep on walking they don't stop.
sy: (bemused) OK...but that guy is laughing.
G: Yeah, and now he's kissing his girlfriend. Another typical reaction.
sy: ???

Now, this isn't the newest antropological or social experiment: this is an ordinary evening since we started showing the video for the second Bay Window Project. We might well apply for a job as professional stalkers and start a whole new career.

Perhaps Kate Fox would be interested in hearing from us.