Cercle de La Horla’s Chapter Two : The 67th Evidence
New York, Various Locations
Following Des Absents—the Paris installment of a two-part exhibition from Cercle de La Horla—The 67th Evidence took place throughout May with a precise, yet absolute, determination: to experience randomness. Edgar Sarin and Ryan H., two of the founding instigators of the cogitation society that forms Cercle de La Horla, and I met in a nondescript New York City deli to discuss their ongoing production, the morning before their return to Paris.
“We departed from Paris with no work, no plans, just a time frame and a location: New York City. The show’s beginning and end was geographically determined – an intersection of space, time and chance,” says Sarin collectedly.
Their work subtly balances on the line between performance and life, negotiating the space between the deliberate and the uncertain. As such, the second chapter was staged in a progressive sequence of actions: from random gesture(s), to appointed gesture(s), to (1) conclusive manifestation.
“We have a relatively modest way of showing our work; in a sense the work and the means through which it is experienced cannot be distinguished, they become one unit, one body. We are seeking an artistic paradigm as close to life as possible; we aim for tomorrow’s trial, ” Sarin explains.
The random gestures left no trace, and the artists were adamant not to reveal any information about them. From what I understood, the experience of art belonged to the random, unsuspecting recipient(s), who unknowingly became the actor(s) in the artists’ ephemeral and unspoken manifestations. The appointed gestures, on the other hand, were more deliberate. A small sample of people, randomly determined, would receive a note in the post specifying the date, time, and location of the next occurrence.
When asked to describe the outcome of these appointments, Sarin coyly responded: “What happens belongs to those who show up at the appointment, and is not to be divulged.” With an irresistible curiosity growing, and upon insisting to learn more, Sarin continued: “Our first appointed gesture took place in a pile of NY city trash. Our pieces were situated within the landscape of trash as well as in the middle of the sidewalk. We observed from a distance.” (more footage on CercledeLaHorla.com).
The conclusive manifestation of The 67th Evidence, or otherwise known as the “Physics of a Cloud,” took place in two adjoined buildings currently under construction in Hell’s Kitchen. As the spring sky broke open with torrential rain, I joined 11 other guests on the ground floor of what is currently a construction site. We were seated in a four-by-three grid of plastic chairs, asked to remain silent, and each handed a piece of cardboard with a handwritten number on it.
The sound of a saxophone burst into the street, competing with the drumming of the pouring rain and people’s voices on the other side of the post-no-bills scaffolding. Was this construction paraphernalia part of the show? Were we being filmed? Was this the installation?
The audience was left to wonder until four consecutive stomps descended from the ceiling above.
We looked at each other in silence. The visitor with the number four stood up, confused, and silently walked up the stairs. “There must be a first one,” Sarin later said to me. The John-Zorn-Lol-Coxhill-esque saxophone howl and pouring rain were now accompanied by the sound of footsteps tracing the path of the first “patient” as she meandered in the space above us. Upon her return, shortly after, we could sense a slight transformation in her disposition, an errant smile forming at the corners of her lips.
The stomping continued and as I looked down to realize that it was my number that had been transmitted through the floorboards above; I rose with apprehension and burgeoning delight. I ascended the half-demolished stair into a rather uncanny (extra-ordinary) multi-sensorial reality. The artists (who were present) and their work (brilliantly implanted in space) somehow managed to deliquesce into pure atmosphere; offering me in turn a purely subjective, yet wildly choreographed, experience of space.
In keeping with the spirit of the artists’ work, I will withhold the particulars and reflect solely on the aftertaste. In re-focusing the sphere of art to encompass the subjective experience, Edgar Sarin and Ryan H., are effectively constructing space within which a dialogue can take place. A singular, yet shared conversation between the artwork and the recipient. In its inherent resistance to reproducibility their work resonates across time, a reminder perhaps, of how experience values oneself.
The works created/presented during The 67th Evidence have been acquired and are now the possession of their original owners; not to be shown, but nevertheless, to be intimately sustained.