“The Turn from the Turns: An Avant-Garde Moving Out of the Centre (1986–1993).”

Review

“Rather than reproducing existing discourses pedagogically, in a purely illustrative manner, Armaly’s work directed research tools towards the exhibition situation itself, and vice versa. Questions concerning the historicity of presentational forms and institutional exhibition formats were raised to address their implicit political meaning (or the ‘political unconscious’, according to Fredric Jameson). For example, the fact that art museums and academies might be grounded in colonial and nation-building fantasies was brought to the fore, with such ideological foundations shown to underwrite social exclusion and violence as problems reaching far into the artworks presented in such institutions. The question of how an artistic practice could and should function within those material and symbolic conditions became crucial; how to work within those conditions and reflect on them at the same time? Articulating that kind of ambivalence was not possible through new, discrete works that would be displayed within the given framework (which is why the door to the main exhibition space in ‘Orphée 1990’ was locked), nor through an academic text describing the representational sphere of an institution’s visual and textual culture. Armaly opted instead to link a ‘script’ to a constellation of institutional conditions, and vice versa. Through installation art, exhibition design and montage methodologies, the exhibition became the real medium for visualising the discursive and also for showing the exhibitionary itself as both the limiting and enabling condition of his own institutional performance.”

(Excerpt)