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Reading stanley brouwn (2015-2016)

Book by stanley brouwn my steps 12.12.2005 – 1.1.2006, modified metronome, table.

Duration: 21 days


The work Reading stanley brouwn addresses the theme of everyday walking, measuring, archiving, reading and rhythmic temporality. By way of reading the artistic book my steps 12.12.2005 - 1.1.2006, the project establishes a relationship with the opus of the conceptual artist stanley brouwn (Suriname/Netherlands), whose many works address the (im)measurability and materiality of the distances and their archivisation through the process of counting his own steps.


The present work questions the understanding of the written documentation-archive of everyday activity as something tied exclusively to the past, and through the process of re-enactment suggests a reading of the archive as an instruction. This gesture transposes the archive outside the passing of time, giving it rather a double temporal orientation — into the past and simultaneously into the future.


The project contains three elements — the book my steps 12.12.2005 – 1.1.2006 of the artist stanley brouwn, an action of Tao G. Vrhovec Sambolec, and an installation which repositions the book and the action “in the now” as an unclear and elusive rhythmical instruction, suggestion, norm or support for movement, reflection or listening.


The book consists of twenty-one pages, each page having the date and the number of steps printed on it. Sambolec reads it in a way that in the period of twenty-one days (from 1.2.2016 – 21.2.2106), on each day he walks precisely the prescribed number of steps, simultaneously recording their rhythms. The installation consists of the book and a modified metronome which ticks in the recorded rhythms of Sambolec’s steps.


Through the activity of inscribing the text into his own body, Sambolec inhabits brouwn’s archive with his own presence. The measured-out walk makes concrete the printed number of steps by bringing them back into the everyday, from which they have originated. If brouwn’s archive points to a walked distance and thus invites the reader to imagine this distance, of which the measuring unit is an unknown variable, brouwn’s step, then Sambolec’s reading transposes this (un)defined distance into the dimension of time — into rhythm and duration. 


The recorded time of the steps constitutes a new invisible digital archive of rhythms, whose variations echo Sambolec’s walked path, his intentions, as also his spatial and social bearings. And like brouwn’s, this archive too is imperfect, abstract, directionless, ambiguous and open.

Reading stanley brouwn is a part of artistic research project Rhythms of Presence.


Tao G. Vrhovec Sambolec

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