“When you go to an artist’s studio I think is best to keep your mouth shut,” said art dealer Richard Bellamy. First as a director of Hansa Gallery (an art cooperative on East 10th Street), and later as the owner of the Green Gallery (1960 – 1965), Bellamy was influential in the careers of many contemporary downtown artists. Frequently meeting with the likes of Walter de Maria, Robert Morris, Richard Nonas, Claes Oldenburg, George Segal, Richard Serra, and Mark di Suvero (to name just a few), for studio visits at their “ratty lofts” or to hang out in Chinatown. “He was the best person to look at something, and his silences was so pregnant, so full of ideas, so rich”, recalled Alfred Leslie.
For the last few years, I have been collecting other people’s handwriting, laughter or voice in order to examine how my body and mind can become a biography of someone else – embodying different aspects of other people’s (mostly artists) lives in myself and my work. What fascinates me the most about Richard Bellamy is the silence that surrounded him; a radiating silence that served as his contemplative way of looking at art; the silence that enhanced his presence, as if a gesture. Silence as a peculiarity emanating from the aura of his persona, particularly during his visits to artists’ studios, which is something quite the opposite of what I have been experiencing throughout my journey with art, where everyone expects the artist to speak.
The idea of silence appears today especially significant when it is almost impossible to make others pay attention without raising an outcry. Therefore, I have dedicated “Conversation Piece (for Richard Bellamy)” to learning the attitude of Dick –silence—and to seeing what impact “Bellamy’s behavior” could have on the contemporary art world. What could we gain from silence? Can it influence the way we see artworks? How could this experience benefit other artists and me? Can I learn to be silent like someone else? How can this evoke personality? To do so, I conducted studio visits with contemporary artists in the downtown area of Manhattan, trying to follow Bellamy’s approach, and see whether silence can be an artwork…
— Weronika Trojańska
Part one of the 4-part Workspace ’18 exhibition series, featuring new work by residents of AAI’s LES Studio Program
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For the last few years, I have been collecting other people’s handwriting, moving or speaking in order to examine how my body and mind can become a biography of someone else – by embodying different aspects of other artists’ life in myself and my work. When the “I” can be a “storage” for elements of other people lives, my Self becomes a Polyphonic Autobiography. It requires constant changes and implies time, involvement and obsession. It’s a method that positions myself within the other person’s biography, trying to catch the essence of someone else’s feature and inhabit it by transcribing the gesture (reproducing, adapting and learning) by which means it becomes a part of me. It might be seen as a way of borrowing and going further – appropriation. Could this be a way to avoid destruction and oblivion (thinking about art works that are kept forgotten in a museum storage or the biography as a way of preservation)? If the Self could be perceived as a collection – is the body a museum? Is it possible to make a retrospective exhibition then?