Martin Widmer

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Neo Geography II
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martin widmer


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Neo Geography II

Yuri An / Chloé Delarue / Hwayeon Nam /
Jeehee Park / Tatiana Rihs / Matthias Sohr /
Text Intervention Martin Widmer

Curated by Kyung Roh Bannwart and Adeena Mey
Post Territory Ujeongguk, Seoul, South Coréa
탈영역 우정국

Opening october 3th , 18h
Exhibition november 4th - december 6th, 2017


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Written for the collective exhibition “Neo Geography II” at the Post Territory Ujeongguk of Seoul (South Korea). The text “Neo Geography II” was written under self-hypnosis as well as with the help of the “Oblique Strategies” card game (see the texts of Simple-Subtraction). The text, inserted in the program of the exhibition, was distributed to the spectators. (translation, Korean : Kyung Roh Bannwart and English : Adeena Mey )

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Martin Widmer

Neo Geography II, exhibition program and text



Neo Geography II

The interior of the plane was much bigger than what I had imagined. Whenever I dragged myself out of my seat to verify, once again, that my luggage was well placed in the overhead compartment, I thought about the time we took to pack our luggage, the care with which we slipped into our suitcases the objects and diverse documents which we carried with us for the exhibition. What in our belongings could have aroused the curiosity of security agents a bit too much had been hidden as best as we could. For nothing was illegal, if no object broke the law, some of our suitcases should not have been searched. How could we have explained, for instance, in a simple and convincing manner, the documents pertaining to the corpse?

It was the first time we used a Mental Map project management protocol. The version we had chosen allowed for the management of the different types of spaces entailed, be they physical, digital, or mental. In this way, our minds, our computers et mobile phones, diverse networks including the web, physical such as the CAN in Neuchâtel, Post Territory Ujeongguk in Seoul, as well as all the intermediary spaces including airports, planes and the diverse means of transportation were thereby connected so as to form one and the same space, a territory, a mental geography, which would exist in our heads only for the duration of this project. This construction was shared collectively thanks to spaces arranged in our brains and which communicated between each other. Self-hypnosis techniques enabled everyone to maintain its viability.

As the protocol invited us to do, journeys by plane between Switzerland and Korea had been carefully prepared. We had unearthed a plan of the aircraft that accurately detailed all the parts of the Boeing 747 the Korean company was using. In addition to a general plan, it contained several perspective drawings that included the main parts of the aircraft with passengers’ compartments, as well as various cabins and baggage holds. We gained a very precise knowledge of the craft to the point of being able, by closing our eyes, to wander virtually and in a fluid manner, within the meanders aeroplane. And so, together we had organized our journey. There was no difference for us between art centres and other places, we treated them on the same level, they were part of the same great exhibition.

The protocol imposed numerous constraints such as protecting ourselves from those external conditionings which could destabilize it and weaken its structure. By mutual agreement we kept ourselves distant from the news, especially from worrisome news related to the situation between the two Koreas. The stakes were little known to Europeans. With the help of messages conveying simplistic concepts, Western media had the habit of imposing a certain world vision from which we wanted to protect ourselves at all costs. Thought had become a place of resistance, and the fiction in which we had all decided to evolve was a political act, the only one that still seemed to be interesting to try.

Korean artists had, for their part, an entirely different way of contemplating their situation. During the many discussions held which addressed art as much as political issues we noticed how limited to communicate as well as incapable of conveying the subtle nuances of our remarks the international English we used was. Paradoxically, this very difficulty gave us the idea to create a new common space and to use a protocol. It had to be conceived based on entirely new concepts. To do so, terms such as: space, geography, site had to be reformulated as their meanings eventually seemed quite different from one culture to the other. This idea found an echo in the research carried by Hyungmin Pai the director of the Seoul Biennale as well as in the conversation held with him subsequently which eventually bonded all the participants around this idea.

The conference he gave as part of the first exhibition will remain an important moment for all of us. First of all, it was one of the few moments when we were all reunited, physically, in the same space. Impassively, we looked at the giant screen on which architectural images were projected. I still remember having looked lengthily at our faces. They were backlit by the light coming from the screen and distinctly detached themselves from semi-darkness the prevailed in this place. When some people brought their phones in front of them to film or take photographs, their faces got even brighter. Almost instantly, what was captured was posted on various social networks and we could them appearing in each other’s applications.

All of us succumbed to the charms of the black and white photographs of Korean architect Ahn Young Bae that Hyungmin Pai screened. How many of us, carried away by their fictional powers, found themselves teleported to the magnificent interior courtyard of Buseoksa Temple. How many crossed it and heard squeaking under their feet the small pebbles one could figure out on the old pictures. Who could today, and with the words of which language, clearly and convincingly describe how, at this precise moment, space and time unfolded?

The plane landed. I looked around me in the hope of recognizing someone. There was nobody. A doubt occurred to me, had we all finally taken the same plane? I closed my eyes. In my head, something opened itself. I saw a space. Then artworks. Sounds came to me, words that spoke of exile, they seemed to come from behind me. I glided further away, floated for a moment above a set of metal grids. Then something cold stuck itself to my skin. A smell of beast also, of carrion, filled in the space. A second door. The airport. Through yellow windows, I saw lamps hanging over long masts throw their lights onto a décor which could have been found anywhere and which, in that case, was nowhere to be found. I let myself carried by a treadmill. Bizarrely, some parts in my environment were blurry. As if by reflex, I took my glasses off so as to find, somewhere, a button which would have them made function properly but, there was none. Then, by reminiscence, I remembered the project, Korea, exhibitions, I also remembered the story of the protocol, ideas and hopes about new ways of thinking about space, geography and time.



Martin Widmer

Post Territory Ujeongguk, Seoul, South Korea