The Momental – Curatorial Text (2006)
“ Through all the changes ‘something’ remains – that something is the moment…no sociological or historical determination can adequately define this temporality…its wish is to reinstate discontinuity, grasping it in the very fabric of the lived.1”
The Momental is a neologism, which was coined when going about the arduous task of preparing a personal statement of artistic work. The hybrid term (between the Moment and the Monumental) came about when describing an interface between a highly subjectivized temporal interval (the moment) and its’ subsequent perception as a phenomenological, albeit fleeting, ‘monument’ of sorts. When one experiences a Moment, time is stalled, alluding to the variability of time itself, shifting our mundane experience of mechanical time into a an unmeasurable realm, where duration itself is malleable.
The grandiose monument, which freezes an event into a legible form for collective gaze, fails to resonate with our daily situations. Our everyday experiences, on the other hand, refuse a universal and enduring expression, residing rather in the fluctuating imbroglio of anonymous and co-present temporalities. The inherent tension between the everyday and the monument is echoed in the paradox of the moment itself – of standing out from the continuum of duration and wanting to endure, yet it cannot – of disappearing, yet making itself felt. This extended present of a moment ruptures linear clock-time, and can be seen as a personalized revolution2 against the colonization of the everyday , jarring us out of the homogenizing daze of routine.
The percolation of duration by moments, maps out a terrain of emergent possibility against the rather muddled ambiguity of everyday triviality. The grey arena of the banal obscures it from concentrated study, remaining at a distance, estranged due to its familiarity. How can this mundane terrain be re-negotiated in order to subvert our liberal, individualistic neutrality? How can a politics of distraction, or the glance co-exist alongside the gaze of the monumental or catastrophic? Where are the monuments for those fleeting fragments of time when you catch a strangers’ eye in the underground and share a silent, yet intimate mutual understanding?
The repositioning of these initial thoughts behind ‘The Momental’ into a curatorial endeavour, seeks to flip these ideas out by inviting others to intervene upon the terrain – to intersect theory with practice so to speak and operate via encounters. The broad reaching nature of the question, which is largely responsive to Lefebvre’s unrealized dream of a Science of Moments, necessitates an equally diverse programme of activities. The gallery space is therefore situated as an evolving hub, encompassing an exhibition, a discussion series and street-level workshops. The residues of participatory activities will be folded back into the exhibition itself, coupling the existent works with pedagogical remains. Like the inducing of a Moment itself, the platform can been seen as a composition of gestures which are collected in space and yet permeate beyond the walls of the gallery, instigating reverberation.
The diverse collection of works and events operate as experiments in dis-alienation. Strictly speaking these are not performance works, although they embody a performative modus operandi at their core. They seek to instigate responsive situations for their receivers by giving voice to silent codes of common behaviour3 through the distractive mechanisms in the environment of the everyday. From an anonymous gift, to the audibility of a stranger to the penetration of time itself into its smallest components – the works dwell in the infra-ordinary, yet subtly twist its numbed course, skewing the habitual beyond habit. As gestures of encounter, the works collectively induce an engagement with the co-present, be it with others and/or the surroundings; they seek to re-write co-habitative rituals from the inside – the lived. The works deliberately stall the ethics of circulation4, preferring rather to delicately and partially obstruct the negligent flow of efficiency, opening up a space where other relational narratives can find a temporary abode.
The performative quality of the works/events parallel the happenstance situations within which they thrive, operating through exposure and its’ inherent risks, they seek to forge a form of knowing from the other side, away from reductionism. Like the indeterminacy of the moment itself, these forms of knowing refute a purely rationalist definition, residing rather in the excessive interstices between the proverbial map and the territory, between the read and the spoken. This alternative grammar of the everyday percolates through our coherent surroundings, producing novel choreographies of the quotidian – where lived time re-enters the stage and reveals the poetic potentiality inherent to the theatre of the trivial – The Momental being its bit-part actor.
1. Lefebvre, Henri. Critique of Everyday Life Volume II, p. 342. Paris: L’arche 2e edition, 1958 ; translated by John Moore. London: Verso, 1991.
2. Debord, Guy La Société du Spectacle. Paris: Buchet/Castel, 1967. Editions Gallimard, Paris, 1992.
3. DeCerteau. The Practice of Everyday Life, p. 13. Los Angeles: University of California Press; translated by Steven Rendell, 1984.
4. Sennett, Richard. Flesh and Stone, pgs 255-270. New York: Norton, 1994.