Re-Thinking the Trace

‘Re-thinking the Trace’ is a dynamic changeable exhibition project based on site-specific performative drawing, supported by Tenerife Espacio de las Artes (TEA). It  involves 3 exhibitions at Red de Espacios Tea (Garachico, Candelaria and Espacio Puente) in Tenerife, Spain, along 2018 and 2019.

During the first week of every exhibition M.Lohrum performs a series of live drawings produced in situ, which when later exhibited are accompanied during the whole event by videos of the process of producing them. These performances are open to the public and one of them involves audience participation, providing an opportunity to co-author the work. The resulting drawings are displayed unframed, to emphasize the transitory nature of both the show and the creative process of the artist.

‘Re-thinking the Trace’ makes a statement that contrasts with the old-fashioned concept of static exhibition, where time and space are secondary concepts without a specific function. The features of the exhibition space play a fundamental role in the production of M.Lohrum’s works, since they directly influence their appearance. On moving the show to a new place, the same intended performance routines are repeated, but the resulting drawings are different due to the characteristics of the new space.

In this exhibition, M.Lohrum points out the blurred boundaries between contemporary art media, along with the unstable and changeable nature of both artistic creation itself and the social context of the contemporary subject. These performances involve crafting unique works intimately dependent on each exhibition space and participative interaction. The show creates a physical and intellectual framework for the audience to re-consider historically established conventions, which no longer make sense for contemporary art. Concepts such as ‘space mediation’, ‘trace’, ‘exhibition’, ‘art media’ or ‘authorship’,  can be re-examined by witnessing and experiencing new ways of producing and reflecting on 21st Century art.'

Espacio Tea Garachico

Between You and Me

In 'Between You and Me', two performers pass a graphite ball to each other repeatedly, creating a drawing that trace the movement of the ball. They are sitting on a window bench, an traditional element in Canarian architecture especially intended for two people to sit and have a conversation.

A metronome sets the rhythm and determines the end of the performance, which lasts until one of the performers hits it with the graphite ball and makes it fall down.

What's the Time Mr Wolf

‘What’s the Time Mr Wolf’ is a participative performative drawing whose aim is to question the meaning of ‘authorship’ and to highlight the importance of gesture in contemporary drawing. The audience was invited to create a collaborative artwork with the sole instruction of not looking at the paper while making marks on it, by turning their backs to the wall.

The drawing session lasted for 30 minutes and every participant had the chance to approach the piece of paper several times, which facilitated interactions between all of them.

Bleep Test

In this work the artist runs and slides repeatedly on a long piece of paper spreading graphite powder, leaving a trace of her performance and also registering the textures of the floor by friction. The resulting drawing was later displayed hanging from one of the beams in the ceiling, creating a dialogue between the wooden floor and ceiling of the traditional Canarian architecture of the exhibition space. Both the position of the paper band and the sliding marks on it recalled a waterfall. The video of the performance was played on a tv monitor placed on the floor next to the drawing for the duration of the exhibition.

50 50 Home

In this particular work a long piece of paper was displayed covering part of the floor and the walls of the exhibition space. The artist run repeatedly along the paper, leaving the trace of her steps on the horizontal part of the paper, which was previously sprinkled with a mixture of graphite powder and almagre (red ocher), a red pigment traditionally used in canarian pottery.  Every time she reached one of the walls, she also made a mark on the vertical parts of the paper using two compressed charcoal sticks she was holding in her hands.

Since the mixture of graphite and almagre powder is very slippery, and because the paper was only fixed to the walls and not to the floor, running on the paper became a difficult and tiring task. She repeated the action once and again, until she got exhausted and out of breath. The loud and hard sound of her breathing, along with the sound she produces when moving the paper by running and braking are important elements of this piece of work.

The Party is Over

In this particular performance the artist chose to work with with a block off door in the exhibition space. The inner space within the old frame of the former door was covered by a piece of paper, where the artist glued a number of black balloons filled with liquid graphite. She then exploded the balloons by crashing her body against them repeatedly, leaving traces of her performance both on the paper and on her body. The exploding sounds, which were strongly amplified due to the reverberation in such large and antique exhibition space, covey a sense of the architectural features of the room in which the work was performed and are an important element of the work.

Espacio Tea Candelaria

Between You and Me II

The performance was adapted for Espacio Tea Candelaria by using two benches located at opposite sides of the room, right next to the entrance of the exhibition venue. Two performers sat on the benches with a large piece of paper on the floor between them, and passed a graphite ball to each other. A metronome placed in the middle of the paper set the rhythm and determined the end of the performance, which lasted until one of the performers hit it with the graphite ball and made it fall down. Due to the long distance between the performers, they needed to use their hands instead of their feet in order to pass the graphite ball to each other.

The resulting drawing was exhibited hanging vertically from one of the beams on the ceiling, and the screen showing the video was displayed next to it, on one of the benches used in the original live performance.

Tracing Dialogues

‘Tracing Dialogues’ is a participative performative drawing whose aim is to question the meaning of ‘authorship’ and to highlight the importance of gesture in contemporary drawing. The audience was invited to create a collaborative artwork with the sole instruction of responding to other participant’s marks and gestures.

The drawing session lasted for 40 minutes and every participant had the chance to approach the piece of paper several times, which facilitated interactions between all of them.

The Swing. Re-Drawing Fragonard

This work is the result of adapting ‘Bleep Test’ for Espacio Tea Candelaria. The basic principles of the performance (using graphite powder and sliding on the paper) were repeated, but due to the different characteristics of the new exhibition venue, it led to a totally different result.

On this occasion the artist used one of the beams on the ceiling to hang a harness and swing at floor level, while tracing this action by spreading graphite powder on the paper with her feet.

The title of this work refers to the baroque painting ‘The Happy Accidents of the Swing’ by Jean-Honoré Fragonard. M.Lohrum re-interprets the scene depicted in this painting, but she devoids it of all eroticism and masculine presence, and transforms the female figure from an object of desire into an active and creative individual. The graceful swinging of Fragonard’s painting disappears and it is replaced, thanks to the slippery graphite powder, by a clumsy and uncontrolled oscillation that however produces a delicate and elegant drawing.

The resulting drawing was exhibited in the exact location where it was created, accompanied by the video of its making and the harness used in the performance, which was also left hanging from the beam above the drawing.

X, Y, Z. Two Sides to Inhabit

‘X,Y,Z: Two Sides to Inhabit’ is the result of adapting ’50 50 Home’ for Espacio Tea Candelaria. The basic principles of the performance (using a compressed charcoal bar in each hand and drawing on two gallery walls) were repeated, but due to the different characteristics of the new exhibition venue, it led to a totally different result.

The artist stands against a corner, and draws on two large pieces of paper with fluid movements, reaching as far as she can without moving from her position. The drawing and its evolution were not visible to her, until she finished the performance and walked away from the corner.

The resulting drawing was exhibited in the exact location where it was created, accompanied by a screen that showed the video of its making.

The Party is Over II

The performance was adapted for Espacio Tea Candelaria by suspending black balloons filled with liquid graphite from several black threads that were hung from a small diagonal beam in the corner of the wooden ceiling structure. The immediate surroundings were covered with paper, including the floor. The artist exploded the balloons using several parts of her body, creating a drawing that combines graphite splashes and body marks. The upper row of balloons was too high for her to reach, but she kept jumping and trying to explode them until she was exhausted.

The resulting drawing was exhibited in the exact location where it was created, accompanied by the rests of the materials used in its production and a video of the performance.

Espacio Puente Tea

Between You and Me III

In this space, the distance between the columns determined the size of the paper and the location of the lights on the ceiling determined the position of the performers, who sat right below them.
Since the architecture of the exhibition space was modern compared to the previous spaces and there were no benches, the two participants sat on a large piece of paper laid on the floor and used their hands to pass the graphite ball to each other. Contrary to the other spaces, the performers had no walls behind them. But there was some extra paper surface behind them, on which they drew by dragging the graphite ball describing arches.

As in previous cases, a metronome set the rhythm and determined the duration of the performance, which finished when one of the performers knocked it over.

The drawing was displayed vertically on the wall, between the columns along with the video of its making on a screen located on the floor below it.

You are It

You are it is a participative performative drawing performed at Espacio Puente, Tenerife Espacio de las Artes as part of 'Re-Thinking the Trace'. The audience was invited to create a collaborative drawing by tracing their performance subject to the following rules:
   -Walk along the paper.
   -Draw circles with your arm.
   -Stop below the lights.
   -Resume your march when other participant touches your shoulder.
While following these instructions, the participants were also allowed to improvise to some extent, for instance varying the speed they move at or the width of the circles they drew. Every participant had the opportunity to walk along the 10 meters piece of paper several times, and to interact with various performers.

Bleep Test II

As in Espacio Tea Garachico, in this work the artist runs and slides repeatedly on a long piece of paper spreading graphite powder, leaving a trace of her performance and also registering the textures of the floor by friction. In this case M.Lohrum focused her atention in the electricity floor boxes that were in this particular space, integrating them in the drawing she produced.

The resulting drawing was later displayed on one of the walls of the exhibition. The video of the performance was played on a tv monitor placed on the floor next to the drawing for the duration of the exhibition.

50 50 Home II

The performance was adapted for Espacio Puente by using the two columns located in the centre of the space to determine the length and width of the piece of paper, which was displayed on the floor between then and partially on the columns. Graphite powder was this time located right next to each column, and the artist spread it as she ran repeatedly along the paper leaving the trace of her steps. As in Espacio Tea Garachico, every time she reached one of the walls she also made a mark on the vertical parts of the paper using two compressed charcoal sticks she was holding in her hands.
Since graphite powder is very slippery and this time it was located near the columns, the artists needed to crash into each column in order to brake every time she needed to change direction, and running itself became a difficult and tiring task. She repeated the action once and again, until she got exhausted and out of breath. The loud and hard sound of her breathing, along with the rhythmical sound she produces when running, braking and making marks are important elements of this piece of work.
The resulting drawing was displayed in the exact location where it was made, and a screen showing the video of its making was displayed on the floor next to it for the duration of the exhibition.

The Party is Over III

The performance was adapted for Espacio Puente by displaying two large pieces of paper on one of the walls and on the floor of the exhibition space. This time black balloons filled with liquid graphite were attached to both the paper surface and the black outfit the artist was wearing. She bursted them during the performance using her whole body, leaving traces on the paper both of the action and her body performing it, as well as on her clothes and skin.

The resulting drawing was exhibited in the same location where it was created, accompanied by a screen showing the video of its making. The artist's outfit was also displayed on the wall next to the drawing, since it also was acting as a drawing surface in this ocassion.

© 2013 by M.Lohrum. 

Between You and Me III

Installation view. Photho credit: Jose Luis Camejo