Thérèse Mastroiacovo’s work is about art itself as an idea, artistic process itself as methodology. It is about the precarious relationship art has to its own definition, open, half open, or slightly open for reclassification at any given time. The varying degrees of openness create space in-between, a space that gives way to meanderings, processes, and procedures. Her work is situated here, in a space of potential created in the middle of existing structures. It is this—this large, large thing stated so, so plainly—that makes her work both familiar and unknowable. She has produced works in a wide range of media including drawing, sculpture, video, performance and photography. Her works are often formally independent of one another, and appear determined from an internal logic that lead to idiosyncratic ends.
Photo credit: Toni Hafkenscheid
In the Following Following Piece (Montreal, July 8, 2008 to June 2, 2010), Thérèse Mastroiacovo has extensively researched instances in which images of Vito Acconci’s Following Piece (1969) have appeared in print. She then draws these appearances in print, rendering the iconic images, following the layout, keeping text indicators such as page numbers, titles and captions but excising any text extraneous to Acconci’s own. The drawing hand follows the performer’s footsteps. The translation is meticulous, yet still idiosyncratic and replete with anomalies. This artistic take on bibliographic research opens a discussion on the legacy of conceptual art broadly stated. The current field of conceptual art practices is densely populated with an ever-widening scope of hyper-referential tactics which deny origin, abrogate expression and swallows its source materials whole. In Following Following Piece, the transpositions from furtive performance to photographic document to historicizing print and finally to framed fac-not so-simile durational drawing for exhibition are all at play as they each inflect their unique alterations on the mimetic process. The drawing series obviously required the deft hand of a human scanner to activate. But more crucially, it required a willingness to pass through the referenced work. The digestive process entailed is considerable when the dissemination of the reference has produced an ample bibliography—the Following Piece has propagated in publications on performance art, as well as other disciplines, including recently, surveillance. The theoretical and the technical method deployed by Mastroiacovo to produce the series of 53 drawings: a muted hermeneutic blended with a mimetic mechanic. Current conceptual practices often favor such nuanced and fine tuned projects. Projects following tactics that don’t push, but nudge. They are panegyric acts also intended to prick lineage, to deflate aura, and debunk artifice. One step forward and backward at the same time. In its gallery presentation, Following Following Piece will formally resemble a straight line, but it will not be a clean line for it will be charged with static. The kind of static that is parasitical and noisy—it’s an endlessly recombinant line, a followed line to follow. The line drawn is a noisy affair. Saturated and suffused, it goes as far against the grain of honed perfection as to include unfinished followings, thwarted drawings. They are left hanging along with the rest in order to further distort the replay. In time, the line circles back onto itself. Following Following Piece is a work tuned in re-, the prefix of return, rewind, repetition.