Martin Widmer

WHOOSHH at Truth & Consequences

Martin Widmer


Kim Seob Boninsegni, Lupo Borgonovo and Martin Widmer

A project initiated by: Martin Widmer
Gallery Truth & Consequences
Geneva, Switzerland

The exhibition WHOOSHH was completely dreamed up using a mysterious deck of cards. Both the cards and the game, called “Oblique Strategies,” were invented in the 1970s by the artist Peter Schmidt and the famous producer of pop and experimental music Brian Eno. During recording sessions, the cards he drew forced musicians in the studio to change their usual way of working or take their art in a direction they would not have thought of taking it.

For WHOOSHH, four cards formed the working basis of the exhibition. The cards gave rise to a number of things, including the idea of a spectral place in which the exhibition is supposed to continue. WHOOOSHH plays out in two venues then, in the Galerie Truth and Consequences and more literarily in a text written under self-hypnosis by the artist Martin Widmer. That piece takes the form of a short story and features a group of friends who visit a so-called annex of the gallery located in the swimming pool of a residential building. There the group discovers several works by the three featured artists. The text is available at the show.

For both the real space of the gallery and the narrated space of the text, Kim Seob Boninsegni, Lupo Borgonovo and Martin Widmer have created works of art by obeying the injunctions found on the “Oblique Strategies” cards.


WHOOSHH at Truth & Consequences on artviewer




They left their vehicle nonchalantly parked across a sidewalk that ran along the Parc de la Grange. Further on, they rushed down Boulevard de Montchoisy. In the car, the twalk had been lively, the stories, anecdotes, and ideas had come thick and fast. They all saw the things they were talking about in a similar way, distinctly, too, as if they were being screen around them. That kind of common view, which developed over the years, was the basis of their friendship. Like a litany, their sentences inevitably ended with a “you see?” that would be immediately validated by the group as a whole.

Walking on the asphalt now, they were silent. Their bodies, on the other hand, seem to have synchronized and, without really marching in lock step, without really developing a rhythm in common, the totality of their movements worked a kind of coherent choreography. The group at that moment was unconsciously expressing through their bodies certain things that had been said previously in words. They had been given the key to the gallery annex a few hours earlier. They were firmly resolved that evening to stay longer than they had the earlier times.

They walked around and around in the Eaux-Vives neighborhood for a long time. As is often the case when looking for the spot, they got lost. How many times had they thought they had seen in the distance the building’s door, then having walked towards it, the spot would lose, as they drew closer, the resemblance it seemed to have had with the one they were looking for. Yet nobody ever really worried about the situation. The loss of bearings, the fatigue which ended up tagging along with that random walk was part of a kind of ritual that would lead them, when they no longer expected it, to find the door of the gallery annex in a street where they could have sworn they would never have imagined it to be.


Decorated with the image of a peacock engraved in a chrome-plated metal plaque, the door opened to a hall flanked on both sides by two broad staircases. Yes, its façade was what you would see on a banal bourgeois-type building while its interior architecture was clearly more baroque. The lines, angles, thresholds that delineated and defined the volumes and separated the different spaces had been systematically doubled and shifted slightly out of line, creating a most odd effect, a feeling of movement and unsteadiness. The building then seemed to be kept in a kind of infinite trembling, and if one had wanted to use a metaphor linked to photography, one would have said that the building seemed blurred.

On a floor higher up, the group stopped before a glass door. Someone got out a key from their pocket and it was slipped into the lock hidden beneath a small cover on the left of the door. A mechanism emitted a slight metallic sound, then the entire expanse of glass slid away, disappearing completely into the wall. When the last of them crossed the threshold, it shut automatically. The gallery annex was a large indoor pool that had stood empty ever since the gallery had begun mounting exhibitions there. The basin, some twenty meters long and a dozen wide, offered an original space for putting together those kinds of events. The main gallery was in fact much smaller than its annex. On the other hand, the latter, given its location smack in the middle of a private building, could not claim to be a space that was officially open to the public. For this reason, the place had an ambiguous status and nobody dared to speak about it as if it really existed. Over the entire right side of the space, broad picture windows offered a unique panorama of the city of Geneva. On the horizon, amid ghostly towers, a kind of dark puddle could be seen in which the writing of neon lights was abstractly reflected. It was the lake. It looked so far away.

The group contemplated the space of the pool from its edge. They had this odd impression of finding themselves above the show and contemplating it as if they were studying its layout on one of those A4 sheets that are made available in all exhibition venues. At the center of the pool an artist had deposited an imposing pile of stones. They were exaggeratedly large and most certainly fake. Together these stones formed a giant head, a bit like the way the painter Arcimboldo did with vegetables and various foodstuffs. The more the group looked at this sculpture, the more they noticed that each stone making it up had been precisely designed. The eyes were two perfectly round cavities whose diameter would allow a person to slip through. As if hypnotized, they remained a long time looking at those two gaping holes. Inexorably the eyes of the sculpture seemed to want to suck them in, and while someone did mention the urge to climb down and disappear wholly into one of the eye sockets, no one moved in the end.

In the space of the basin, winding around the stone head was another work of art made up of numerous rubber tubes. These wide tubes ran to an aluminum tank in one of the basin’s corners. The group took one of the small side ladders and hardly had they set foot on the bottom of the pool when they heard noises coming from the installation. Indeed, sounds, sorts of soft, wet “whooshes,” were regularly issuing from the tubes. They then noticed the shapes that were traveling inside the tubes. Slightly bigger than the tubes, they formed, when they passed, slight bulges that produced that very peculiar sound. Without being absolutely certain, someone thought they recognized in this installation one of those fish cannons used in Canada to help salmon clear various obstacles. They counted a dozen shapes circulating around them in the many entwined lengths of tubes, which proved to work in a closed circuit. Eventually they indulged in imagining for a moment that together the sounds coming from this piece ended up creating the ambiance by the sea or some lake, a sound of waves and surf. Then the thought they were surrounded by probably dead animals suddenly chilled them.

The door, which led to a second exhibition space, was located on one of the basin’s sides. A tube running through it propped it half open. The space within was a wide corridor that went completely around the pool. It was plunged in darkness. A tube wound its way through most of the space, giving off “whoosssshes” that took on a tragic dimension because of the echoes. Another sound, less loud but fuller, was also being piped in. That audible field was the sound of an orchestra. All its instruments were playing a full cord at the same time that seemed to contain the twelve sounds of the harmonic scale and this was being done without any variation whatsoever. Above this layer of infinite depth, the cry of an opera singer could be heard. Like the music of the orchestra, this cry had neither a beginning nor an end, and the imminent death it seemed to have always been announcing would never come.

None of them had spoken a word for many long minutes. Their eyes had hardly ever met. The group encountered the works featured in the exhibition in silence, as if they formed an indivisible entity. When one of them tripped on the tubes, each felt the fall as if they themselves had taken the spill. Similarly, they sensed together that their visit was coming to an end and that the experience of that exhibition would continue immediately elsewhere, in other spaces and at other times. Later in their heads, they knew the sounds would come back. Later in their heads, they knew that the images of the tubes, the stones, later in their heads words like “fish,” words like “stone,” would also visit them. Later in their heads, words, phrases, images born here will form phrases will form words still. Later some will doubt what they have seen here. Later some will still see in their head the pool. Others will still perceive that cry which they never heard.

They returned to the car. The wind and the rain had spread a layer of leaves and twigs upon its hood. They quickly crossed the city to return the keys they had been entrusted with, but also in the hope of seeing the artworks displayed in the main space of the gallery. But they had lingered too long in the annex; they found the door was shut. A note, however, had been stuck up there addressed to them.

Martin Widmer, 2015

Martin Widmer

Martin Widmer

Martin Widmer “Annexe Plan”, “WHOOSHH” texte, 2015

Martin Widmer

Martin Widmer “Rain”, “Green k.l.”, 2015

Martin Widmer

Martin Widmer “Rain”, 2015

Martin Widmer

Martin Widmer “Green k.l.”, 2015

Martin Widmer

Martin Widmer “Green k.l.”, 2015, Kim Seob Boninsegni “Kiviac Studies # 4, Lupo Borgonovo “Agua I”, 2015


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