Session #10: Sealing the Vacuum Bag
Piero Bisello

Online Talk


The final session of Taming the Horror Vacui is a meta-session. It is more about the program than it is in it. Art historian and writer Piero Bisello’s lecture elaborates on his experience of documenting Haseeb Ahmed’s long-term involvement with Rib. Working as an editor of the namesake publication Taming the Horror Vacui, which has been regularly released through multiple issues as a compendium to the program, Bisello has been in charge of creating a generative archive of the events organized by Ahmed with Rib since February 2020. By exposing the process of documenting, Bisello forefronts the narratives that Taming the Horror Vacui has evolved for 16 months.

Bisello’s editorial model for the publication is borrowed from the book The Serving Library Annual (Munari Obvious Code). The project at Rib invited nine participants from a broad range of disciplines for “sessions” that consisted of walks, workshops, talks, and performances. By inviting more contributors to create “annotations” for the resulting content, Bisello further elaborated on the concept of the artist as aggregator and its theoretical underpinnings present in Ahmed’s practice and a specific focus of his work at Rib.

The lecture delves into the topic of documentation of artist-curated exhibitions and artist-run spaces by presenting five relevant case studies from art history and putting forward the concept of the artist as aggregator. Bisello asks the following question from the Philosophy of Art: Is the artist as a curator an artist whose medium of choice is the exhibition? Taming the Horror Vacui provides a compelling counterexample insofar as both Ahmed, as well as Rib as a hosting institution, have challenged the fixed exhibition form in favor of sustaining an experimental space for thinking together publicly, which can still be experienced formally. In this regard, the concept of the artist as aggregator finds a fruitful context along with the challenges it poses for the documentation of a project.

Paradoxically, the formalizations of exhibitions often foreclose the most compelling instances in creating artworks. As discussed by Maziar Afrassiabi, director of Rib, and invited participant for Session #9, art historian Prof. Barbara Baert, the wind and air are not merely a theme, but rather a medium in Ahmed’s practice and artists historically. For Rib as for Ahmed, how concepts and phenomena mediate and inform modes of production and exhibition as well as working are paramount and have been the main productive challenge throughout the program and for Bisello’s work as editor.

The installation at Rib is an experimental space and Bisello’s event will also be generative. Before the lecture, he will activate Ahmed’s wind tunnel at Rib with a series of experiments following the concept of the artist as aggregator. Objects accumulated over the last 16 months in the so-called Library of Winds, another key feature of the installation, along with artworks by invited artists will be tested in the wind tunnel. A series of images of these tests will later be annotated by external contributors in a dedicated publication.

Artworks to be tested in the wind tunnel by: Christiane Blattmann, Gust Duchateau, Fabrice Schneider, Grazia Varisco, Kianoosh Motallebi, Antonia P. Brown, Florin Filleul, and Michiel Huijben.

Online Talk
by Piero Bisello
10.06.2021, 18:30-21:30
Zoom Meeting

Piero Bisello is the Editorial Director at Conceptual Fine Arts, an online art writing platform and gallery visiting program in Milan. He has a background in art history and analytic philosophy, with degrees from KU Leuven and Erasmus University Rotterdam. Among other topics, his editorial work has focused on artist publications and artist books. He has been based in Brussels since 2011.