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the pink gaze
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We have now reached a point where we see not the art but the space first.

Brian O’Doherty 1986

The Long Studio on Fogo Island sits like a Latourian black box in the landscape. It is prominently there, but what happens inside is mystified. A masculine object not to be dismissed, but not to be too friendly with either. The only thing you need to know is that artists go in and art comes out. There is little transparency here. The window is a male gaze on the ocean that is not open to a return gaze. You may see shadows of figures inside but the view is never clear. A building with the purpose to connect to and enhance the local, keeps a distance by creating its own monumentality in a place traditionally free of strong hierarchies.

The white inside, like the white cube as defined by O’Doherty, is a space for high art. Although the windows, especially towards the ocean, draw your eyes outside, you remain aware that you are inside a white space. The long white wall cannot stay empty; art has to cover it, for the wall to reach its potential. The gallery character is emphasized by the window in the ceiling through which light falls onto this big wall. Anonymous light will mainly come in through this window. These white walls can hardly be seen from the outside as they are shielded by height from the people on the path below. You have to pass the building to see the white porch on your way back. Only the people who know what is there will venture towards the back, which is made highly inaccessible due to its location with high steps over the pointiest rocks around. The inaccessibility adds to the exclusive character of art. It is nearly a rite of passage; to be allowed to step onto the porch and into the white space.

With the site-specific work The Pink Gaze we, marjolijn kok and line kramer, aim to make a strong critical reflection on the Long Studio as an object: its purpose, its appearance, its identity. The work addresses different issues, two of which are critical: first, the colour Pink, representing femininity, queerness, political consciousness and naïve positivity; secondly, the Gaze, representing ways of seeing — institutional and artistic — and the hunting gaze as well, referring to “Cooper’s Gaze” in front of the Long Studio.

In our political attitude, that has its roots in collective thinking, we insist on making an art statement on the outside. The outside is something that concerns and can be discussed by everybody. Reacting to the architecture forces us to think about architecture itself.

In claiming this colour — impatient pink — we want to reflect on the use of one colour to identify or colonize a place or object. Yves Klein has used his ‘Yves Klein blue’ — derived from his deeply rooted spiritual studies and his love of the hues he found while deep sea diving — for blanketing his object and thereby claiming ownership. We deliberately don’t want to claim the object but merely ‘tag’ it. This graffiti or sign frees us from the architecture but not from the discussion.

When Sylvie Fleury claimed the Givenchy 318 in 1997 in the work Skin Crime 3 (Givenchy 318) she not only blanketed the object and took ownership, but also commented on hard-edged male art. By determining her palette simply by considering the latest colour trend from Givenchy’s line of nail polish, she criticized the high fashion industry and consumerism by embracing it in her pop-art style —truly feminizing her objects by this colouration. But again, we don’t want to claim this architecture or feminize it, we just want to question it: its proportions, its folly-style in this wild open space. By adding this queer tattoo, mimicking the adding of lipstick or nail polish we strive to surpass the object with its male connotations.

We hope this work will provoke an open and ongoing discussion within the community and the art world, on the politics of residencies and the relation between the local and the global.

marjolijn kok and line kramer, Fogo Island, 2013

This project was made possible by Fogo Island Arts.