#208 Turned Table - Modum
84x124cm | Filler, oak frame
TABLES is a triparted art project. First, it is a participatory art event where I invite the public to do a mark or imprint of their choice in the wet filler inside a frame with legs attached, placed on the floor like a table. The table functions as a kind of recording device documenting any movement transcending its surface. Second, I exhibit the table and its surface-document of the event as it is. Finally, the legs are detached, I finish the work, tilt it, and turn it into a painting with the title Turned Table.
This work was produced during the Res Ipsa exhibition at Modum Kunstforening in 2019. More about that event here.
Table-turning is a metaphor for change in power. But it can also relate to a spiritual seans where a group of people holding hands around a table and by mysterious ways making it move. The seans was popular at the end of the nineteenth century, and Karl Marx refers to it in a passage in Capital about the commodity:
"A commodity appears at first sight an extremely obvious, trivial thing. But its analysis brings out that it is a very strange thing, abounding in metaphysical subtleties and theological niceties. So far as it is a use-value, there is nothing mysterious about it, whether we consider it from the point of view that by its properties it satisfies human needs, or that it first takes on these properties as the product of human labour. It is absolutely clear that, by his activity, man changes the forms of the materials of nature in such a way as to make them useful to him. The form of wood, for instance, is altered if a table is made out of it. Nevertheless the table continues to be wood, an ordinary sensuous thing. But as soon as it emerges as a commodity, it changes into a thing which transcends sensuousness. It not only stands with its feet on the ground, but, in relation to all other commodities, it stands on its head, and evolves out of its wooden brain grotesque ideas, far more wonderful than if it were to begin dancing of its own free will."
Karl Marx, Capital: A Critique of Political Economy, vol 1., trans. Ben Fowkes (New York: Vintage, 1977), pp. 163f.
Someone called Brookhenkel wrote an interesting essay about the connection between Marx concept of commodity fetishism and the interest for the supernatural and object-animation of his time. You can read it here.
Res Ipsa is an compilation of works made by some kind of action shaping the filler once it is prepared inside the frame. The works thus function as a recording device and give a statement of the event taking place while the filler was still wet.
Res Ipsa is Latin for "the thing itself" and is part of the juridical term "Res ipsa loquitur" (the thing speaks for itself), used when an injury or accident in itself clearly shows who is responsible, such as an instrument left inside a body after surgery.