ABOVE: Gordon Lebredt, The Museum Speaks. 1978 / 1989,photostat mounted on card, museum board, dry transfer, picture glass; 3 panels: 101.0 x 97.4 cm each, Collection of the Canada Council Art Bank, Ottawa,(94/5-0295). Photo credit: Ernest Mayer.
white walls:black holes
Commentaryby Robert Epp
white walls:black holes1 is the title of a book containing supplementary material to the exhibition By the Numbers. Compiled by Gordon Lebredt and placed on the modular seating in the gallery, the book contains photo-documentation of performances, installations, and videos from the 1970s that could not be included in By the Numbers. Lebredt has also reproduced the source material for several projects including preparatory drawings, source notes and photographs, film stills from B-movies, and excerpts from seminal philosophical publications. Lebredt prefaces his compilation with a short essay titled, Accessory After The Fact that considers the nature of the supplement in relation to the work of art, taking into consideration the permeable nature of borders, definitions, and meanings.
During the mid- to late seventies Lebredt produced a number of installations often with an audio/video component and performative aspect such as, Loci (1976-77), Stairway to Heaven (1978), Fence (1978), and Last Word/Second Thoughts (1978), originally titled, What Birds See (1976). Two earlier installations by Lebredt occupied the former space of Gallery One One One, i.e., Spectre/Spectator (What does it all matter?) (1978), and Gloss-(present appearances) (1982) that turned the gallery itself into the subject of the work. Shortly after graduating from art school, Lebredt executed a number of what he called "wall drawings" in 1976 that consisted of graphite and petroleum jelly applied directly to the gallery walls, and a rubber stamp drawing inked on the wall.
The supplementary material in white walls:black holes reveals how Lebredt's interest in film, for example, intersected with painting in his proposed film scan of the real field that served as the basis for Epokhé. Other documentation shows the conceptual origins of an artwork such as, The Museum Speaks (1978/1989). In a page excerpted from Alan Sondheim's, The Structure of Reality, can be seen the symbols representing the inward and outward movement of representation that Lebredt reproduced in his triptych. A reproduction of Robert Smithson's drawing, The Museum of the Void (c. 1967), offers another clue to Lebredt's thinking about galleries, museums, and exhibition display.
As Lebredt points out in his Addendum, a 1974 wall drawing featuring the words "Get Hold of This Space" set in Letraset is a precursor to a work such as Last Words No Exchange (part 2) (1977-1980). Last Words, which emphasizes the dis-jointed corners, refers to Lebredt's frame design for Epokhé and Title: not specified, and the notion of the "parergonal device." The self-published pamphlet titled, Notes from the Parergon (1979-80) reveals Lebredt's indebtedness to Daniel Buren, Jacques Derrida, Roland Barthes, and George Bataille, among others for the realization of the "parergon" in his work.
Lebredt ends white walls:black holes with a film still from the final scene in Wolf Rilla's film Village of the Damned (1960). It is an image of a brick wall superimposed on the professor's face2 as he tries to concentrate on the wall as a way of subverting the children from telepathically reading his intentions to destroy them. The film stills refer to the drawing What Birds See and the materialization of an idea.
To a certain extent the seating modules in By the Numbers serve as an "accessory after the fact," or as a "spectre, a ghost" to use Lebredt's words. The modules are a reference to Gloss -- (present appearances)3 an earlier piece he produced at Gallery One One One4 in 1982 in its former location in the Architecture II Building. Since Gloss, it has become Lebredt's strategy to consider all aspects of a space when it comes to display. All architectural elements are important, placement of objects is crucial. Lebredt considers the wall surface not unlike a long continuous strip or membrane punctuated with gaps for windows and doors that the artwork fits in and around. His approach runs counter to the traditional thinking of the gallery space as an empty box waiting to be filled with objects. Consequently, not even the content and arrangement of the gallery seating in By the Numbers is incidental.
1. Gordon Lebredt: "The title white walls:black holes is a citation from Gilles Deleuze and Felix Guattari (see a Thousand Plateaus, pp 167-91) and refers to their 'black hole/white wall system,' what they also describe as an 'abstract machine of faciality.' If I'm reading them correctly,'faciality' is an interface, an abstract plane through which the various levels of a binary programme intersect. A word of caution: For Deleuze and Guattari, such a system is to be contested given that it is reductive (only two choices exist: either running up against an impenetrable blank wall or annihilation in the depths of a black hole) and, libidinally speaking, very selective (race and gender, etc.) with respect to patriarchal demands or ends." [For an extended discussion see Lebredt's Addendum regarding What Birds See/Point of No Return, 1976.]
2. "The face constructs the wall that the signifier needs in order to bounce off; it constitutes the wall of the signifier, the frame or screen. The face digs the hole that subjectification needs in order to break through; it constitutes the black hole of subjectivity as consciousness or passion, the camera, the third eye," from Deleuze/Guattari, A Thousand Plateaus, p. 168, and included in white walls:black holes.
3. Gordon Lebredt: "The seating modules first appeared in the vestibule of the former Gallery 1.1.1. during the 1982 exhibition of Gloss --(present appearances). At this point they remain, in the context of By the Numbers, the only physical reminder of that exhibition and exist, again in the context of the One One One exhibition, as a parenthesis or bracket of sorts."
4. The gallery's name is based on the room number of the gallery's original location in the Architecture II Building at the University of Manitoba. It was originally written as "Gallery One One One," but was then abbreviated to "Gallery 1.1.1." The numerical designation however caused confusion, often being read as "one hundred and eleven," or the letters "i.i.i.," and so on. In the last few years the title of the Gallery has reverted back to its original designation of "Gallery One One One."
The Gordon Lebredt: By the Numbers CD-ROM includes links to other Gallery One One One projects: Gallery One One One, School of Art, Main Floor, FitzGerald Building, University of Manitoba Fort Garry campus, Winnipeg, MB, CANADA R3T 2N2. Gallery Hours: Noon to 4 PM (weekdays only).TEL:204 474-9322 FAX:474-7605
For information please contact Robert Epp firstname.lastname@example.org