( in )

( in ) (primarily Ola Ståhl & Carl Lindh, 1998-2001) was an artist collaboration primarily interested in an expanded notion of defacement in the sense of recurring, situated events; ways to relate to a city; ways to visit a city or to be in a city; ways to investigate how a city is always the site of a formative kind of violence, like a plane of composition facing whatever comes near it, giving it a face, the permanences, urgencies and histories of the city being precisely the continuities and discontinuities, the permanences and impermanences of its facing processes ( – and thus the tourist photographs and the postcards are not so much photographs and postcards of monuments as they are of faces facing – and as we enter the city, we experience this facing, the permanence of this facing, and we enter a system of law according to which we establish ourselves in relation to the plane of composition that is the city, as a face on the plane of composition that is the city – and as we walk into its museums and its galleries, we walk into the cavities of its eyes in which we find a smaller face with another set of eyes, and more importantly a mouth with which to speak – and what we speak is culture, the culture of the proper, and the culture of the proper is not so much a set of artifacts as it is a set of faces facing – )

The collaboration ( in ) was a way for us to engage with the violence of this facing, to think the city, its map like a facial plane of composition upon which is drawn and redrawn a system of spatiotemporal co-ordinates: flat spaces, like squares, but also cavities and orifices, nooks and crannies, pavements and canals radiant with capacities for seeing and speaking, expressing and signifying, articulating and registering; sites that have been inscribed, covered with a multiplicity of faces, but that are also inscribing, continuously facing whatever comes near. Think of the buildings and streets, the squares and canals and rivers that make up the map of a city, the smaller, more minute and detailed plans and architectural drawings of buildings and particular sites, and think of yourself, facing the city facing you, as you enter its systems of inscription, your face, smaller yet again, even more minute – and yours is a face that responds to the facial complex of the city, and it is a face that answers the calls of the city. Think of the city, its map an assemblage of cultural terrains and trajectories, with its privileged sites: museums, galleries, cultural- and amusement centres, cineplexes, squats, sport centres, bars, restaurants and other meeting places; multiple layers of maps on a monochrome plane of composition. You see a face, then fragments of smaller faces, again consistent of even smaller ones. You see a face in the eye of the mouth of another face, and you realize that looking is sometimes also speaking, and that a continuous process of facing remains integral to what appears to be the static, spatial coordinates of the city.

( in ) was an artistic exploration of and intervention within those complexes of faces – facings – defacements: abandoned and found materials moved around, assembled or reassembled in derelict warehouses, abandoned gardens and other spaces; wall- and floor drawings in charcoal and graphite on concrete and brick surfaces, in public sites, car parks, on pavements, in storefronts; windows partially blocked to let sunlight in creating patterns on floors and walls at certain intervals; installations using tape, stone, dirt, ceramic tiles; drawings, maps, architectural plans of buildings, fragments of text and assembled site-specific historical documents beamed in multilayered overhead projections onto physical surfaces and spaces that themselves existed only within the relational textures of the city itself, its map and its multiplicity of faces, its notions and hierarchies of culture, its sociopolitical organization, its economies and industries. In the process, we found micro– and macro cities within each city in which we worked. The macro cities of dominant history, dominant forms of remembrance and narration, the culture of the proper, and the micro cities with their sites of transience, direct action, the immediate presence of subversive cultural expressions. We found ways to map ourselves, our ways, between two (and more) cities within the city. We found claims to permanence, then immediately, transience and action. Permanence, but only through the permanence of action. We found cities not only in the geographical map and its multiplicity of faces but also in sites of transience and in processes of de- and refacing, de- and resurfacing; plunges into unknown depths of unbinding and deterritorialization and restitchings of identities and agencies in reterritorializing processes of defacement. To us, the events and situations that composed the exploratory, interventionist practice of ( in ) became means to address precisely this relation between the violent permanence of the macro city and the transient processes of the micro city, permanent only their impermanent recurrence; the relation between a violence which, in its claims to permanence, assures the continuation and reproduction of the culture of the proper, and a violence which, in the immediate presence of its ignition, bears within it the promise of the very death of the proper itself. 

The images below are from events, situations, interventions and exhibitions organized by ( in ) at Speedwell Works, Bloc Studios, and various public locations around Sheffield, UK (1999); Studiefrämjandet and various public locations, Hässleholm, Sweden (1999); Blauhaus Gallery, Xanten, Germany (2000); Kulturhaus Ennepetal, Germany (2001); Heinrichshütte Museum of Industry, Hattingen, Germany (2001); National Centre for Popular Music, Sheffield, UK (2001); and Protoacademy, Edinburgh, Scotland / UK (2001). At each occasion, informal conversations and discussions were organized in relation to the artistic interventions themselves. Additionally, posters and postcards with parts of the text above and reworked photographs from Block Studios (below) were printed and distributed locally. A further installment of the project took the form of a wider collaborative exhibition titled Booby Prize (Sheffield, 2000, with Jenny Baines and Chris Andrews) in which local artists were invited to showcase, intervene and deface each other’s works in an installation that also included a large number of smashed up cabbages and plastic angels and cherubs painted gold.

Speedwell Works
Sheffield, UK, 1999

Bloc Studios
Sheffield, UK, 1999

Studiefrämjandet
Hässleholm, Sweden, 1999

Blauhaus Gallery
Xanten, Germany, 2000

Haus Ennepetal
Ennepetal, Germany, 2000

National Centre for Popular Music
Sheffield, UK, 2001

Heinrichshütte Museum of Industry
Hattingen, Germany, 2001

Protoacademy
Edinburgh, Scotland / UK, 2001