WLGTDWI - a performance evening
Nino Baumgartner, Claudia Comte, Dawn Mok, Petrit Halilaj, Egon Elliut Paul Kneale, Karin Lehmann, Guillaume Pilet, Antoine Renard, Clémence de La Tour du Pin, Alvaro Urbano, Megan Rooney & friends. Opening: Thursday 18 June 2015, 6 – 10pm
18 Jun –

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WLGTDWI is the acronym for What’s Love Got to do With it, a song recorded by Tina Tuner in 1984. It was her first and only number one hit, and the most popu­lar single from her celebrated solo album Private Dancer. The song also gave its title to a biographical film containing most of the revelations Turner made about her life-changing, yet -destroying marriage with music producer-cum-manager Ike Turner. The film was released in 1993.

For centuries, love has been one of the great subjects of Western art, and of­ten used to illustrate the depths of human mind, or to bolster the value system in place. Used in countless allegories, love was a strong political tool used by Romantic painters to depict the authority of concepts such as nation, religion or monarchy. Though love is still the prime preoccupation of songwriters and filmmakers, most of today’s plastic artists seem to neglect the topic. Arguably, this breach sparked with the postmodern turn and its reexamination of Western values, which shifted artistic relation to many longstanding paradigms, including love. Love was no longer a transcendental, serious artistic topic.

For WLGTDWI, SALTS invites 13 artists to develop a new performative body of work together with their romantic partners. With the aim to discuss how couples with different and autonomous artistic practices influence each other, and to uncover the poignant banality of daily romantic life, the show sets out to legiti­mise the silent collaborations often at play. Collaboration brings the opportunity to fight the individualism that monopolies the art world, while blurring authorship and shifting the conceptual and formal results of a shared process. On the other hand, negotiation becomes crucial when affect is involved, as the rules of the game inevitably change under the pressure of irrational parameters.

A follow-up of a previous collaboration exploring the body as an object, and fascinated by extreme manifestation of violence, Clémence de La Tour du Pin and Antoine Renard invite Frederyk Rotten, a death metal singer songwriter to sing excerpts of Zato Crev, a song he wrote in 2001. Screaming, almost growling, Rotter sings a melancholic song in Czech, his mother tongue. As if ignoring the ramble and the crowd surrounding him, Rotter performs unannounced, yet at regular interval throughout the opening night.

Double Take (2015) revisits Paul Kneale and Megan Rooney’s first and only collaboration back in 2008, a film about the Grand Canyon Skywalk which in­volved a 8000 km road trip during production. Here they update the space of this journey via an identical car to the one they originally drove on the filming trip, coincidentally owned by one of SALTS‘ assistants. An audio track is composed of live recoded material heard while driving on Florida radio stations, combined with new texts the artists have written and performed. Viewers are encouraged to experience this work from inside the car.

Though working independently, Petrit Halilaj and Alvaro Urbano very often serve as each other’s assistant in respective projects. In What Comes First (2015), they built a sophisticated henhouse (with atomic shelter) in the shape of a giant egg. Reflecting on the chicken and egg question (“which came first?”), the project combines specific aspects of each artist’s current research - Urbano’s habitable structures, on the one hand, with strong sociological investigation of the past, on the other; a continuation of the biographical and site-specific emphasis that is so present in Halilaj’s work.

Somewhere between a countryside fun fair and sculptural scenography, Claudia Comte’s installation reflects on her childhood memories of Grancy, the Swiss village where she grew up. Sitting on a stage that the artist blowtorched and carved with a chainsaw, three booths respectively host an arm-wrestler, a flam­ing shot bar and a music performance by Egon Elliut. Here again, the audience is welcome to engage with the performers.

Karin Lehmann builds objects meant to be activated by Nino Baumgartner during performances that he usually documents with a GoPro camera. Topped with a USB stick that contains a film of Baumgartner’s latest performance in the rivers Sense, Aare and Birs, a large-scale zucchini sculpture is plugged into a flat screen laying on the floor. Over the course of the night, Baumgartner per­forms a choreography adapted from a military manual describing how to move in enemy territory. For each movement sequence, the artist imprints surrounding artworks with a silicone previously mixed by Lehmann that he laters hangs like trophies in the gallery.

In a 40-minute sound piece largely containing material from their debut album Eternal Love (Dial Records), Dawn Mok with singer Andreas Bundi bring a vocal reconsideration of the love song genre, through a deconstructive musical ap­proach inspired by pop, program and lo-fi experimental music.
La Mesure Harmonique (2015) involves Guillaume Pilet’s recent research on body painting. A prolongation of his painting practice mixed with reflections on anthropometry, architecture and movement, a human-size painting interacts with the crowd and surrounding architecture.