PUT A CURVE, AN ARCH RIGHT THROUGH IT
Using methods and media such as sculpture, photography, text, video, performance, sound and graphics, Ruth Buchanan constructs both literary and built spaces that investigate the parameters of artistic action. Often these speculations depart from "meetings with meaning." These ‘meetings’ imply working intensely with, for example, an architectural location, archival collection or production format associated with a particular figure or scenario. In Buchanan’s work encounters turn into objects: historical narratives are manoeuvred into spatial propositions and situated words.
“Put a curve, an arch right through it” is a preface to the artist’s book The weather, a building that figures three intersections through specific points in the history of the State Library of Berlin. Matter is made of three points in time when the institution itself was subject to its own kind of splitting; the doubling from its original home on Unter den Linden to Potsdamer Straße, the temporary evacuation of its contents and the interior design of this new building. Intersections, perhaps, or dissections that are also interactions. Which is to say that this exhibition, or a dissected library, might be read as an occupied allegory, an allegory measured.
Allegory is a thing of figures. A simultaneous preservation and evacuation, where the two depend upon each other. The past is collapsed into the present through figures that stand in for it, or something, and this figuring effects a direct address. That is, a message is conveyed, the figure’s purpose is to be read, it operates like a vessel, a hollow form or even a structure.
A building without the contents that usually define it, occupied, is both, suddenly, an anywhere and somewhere particular. Its measuring is a radial pause, the map and location of a heightened state of observation, a reading of the act of reading. It reverses nothing, but brings together language, structures, signs, objects, images and the forces that act upon them (that is, perception) as equal components to be known as such only in and by their specific constellation, in the moment at which they are seen, in time, of time. Not subjects of disintegration, but as (and by) subjects otherwise constituted by the multiplicity of specifically evacuated objects.
So, then, if the preface for a book happened in a room (this room) and asked: What is material? Could it be this? Could it be the evacuation of a pictured hand. A building. A curtain. Shadow. Arrangement. The breeze. Geometry. Light. A body, obstacle, that seen. The seeing, or heard and hearing. The colour of something. Something spoken. The named and names changed, measuring measures, blinked. This hand thrown by a shadow. Folds. The shadow thrown by a page. The page known. And so on, but provisionally. The direct address of a looking away, already looked away. In time, cut through, changed and measured, because. A change of scenery on the open stage, a determined state, the stage fixed. Renovating us in public. Then it would be known, for a moment — Ian White.