I’m All Eyes & Ears!

Why is it that narrative so rarely takes center stage in the gallery space? What might happen if the star-crossed lovers of art and narrative should meet, merge, and perhaps even procreate? As the bard has said, “these violent delights have violent ends,” and yet artist, curator and gallerist extraordinaire Lorenzo Sandoval seems prepared to show that although star-crossed they have been, now is the time for the story as art.

With writing by John Holten, Maria Ptquk, Erik Sørdal and Sanna-Sophie Springer, Sandoval has opened a veritable pandora’s box of unmarked photographs and made magic from the mundane, weaving together the threads of a yarn from the most basic of materials. He has flipped the switch on us, presenting the story as the thing, and the photographs as mere accouterment within the tidy white space of Kinderhook & Caracas

BAPs has spoken to Sandoval before about his jointly-run project space, Altes Finanzamt; and then as now, his interest in the experimental is both intriguing and all-encompassing. On this occasion the experiment is born of the sixties, and the unmarked photographs taken decades ago at an office party in West Berlin, and found years later in a bare Ilford Photograph box. Four writers were selected to “interpret the photographs narratively, and to install their texts within an architectural device that provides a discursive space to host them.” 

The architectural space in question is an improvised quadrant of cubicles, utterly ordinary and strikingly similar to the office environment it emulates. Within each cubicle, the photographs are arranged according to the demands of the narrative. Mise-en-scene is provided in the form of props—the occasional cactus, pencil, pen, and always the text, simply bound beneath the headphones. 

The headphones themselves, squishy and dense, reveal the narrative most clearly, through the voice of the author. As I made my way around the office block, pausing at each cubicle, I found myself unexpectedly seduced by the stories—and I was not the only one. Long waits for a seat at the cubicle marked the piqued and prolonged interest of the audience. Whilst headphones often dangle untouched at openings, and yet throughout this evening they were in heavy rotation, still warm to the touch from the previous ear whenever I took a seat.

One of the stories developed for "Office Party" at Kinderhook & Caracas. Photo: Chris Phillips

Within the stories themselves, the explorations of the authors varied widely, reinforcing the stated desire to establish useful narrative models that can articulate the systems of a symbolic generation. The explicit desire to lend structure to symbol seems so fitting appropriate to the artistic enterprise, I find myself rooting for Romeo and Juliet. What a thriving, engaging, natural pairing—narrative and art—what a shame that the twain so rarely meet. Perhaps, after the success of Sandoval’s show, the story will finally establish itself as a staple of artistic investigation.  

Kinderhook & Caracas – Lorenzo Sandoval "Office Party: Multidimensional Spectrum of Voices" – April 24 – May 24 – Friday & Saturday 2-6pm [Works not for sale] 

Article by Hannah Nelson-Teutsch