The Things They Do was a one-day symposium coinciding with the Barbican’s Ragnar Kjartansson exhibition in 2016. For the symposium, a number of artists made responses to an invitation from Joe Kelleher, Nick Ridout and Orlagh Woods, which was inspired by Kjartansson’s interest in making art out of the things that other people do.
In Kjartansson’s work, the appropriation of these practices – like painting seascapes or playing in a rock band – involves a complex mixture of absolute seriousness and inevitable pretence, of sincerity and the ridiculous. Each of these practices is at once revivified, even as they are presented as somehow already used up and exhausted, by the contemporary artist’s own longing – but self-aware – investment in them.
During the course of the symposium, a selection of artists, writers and academics offered a series of performances, demonstrations, talks and other activities, in which they shared their investments in the things that other people do and their experiences of learning to do these things themselves.
Karen performed Judith Butler gets a sip and drinks it, the repetition of a 1 minute 28 second section of a lecture given by Judith Butler: in the midst of giving a lecture (Precarious Life: the Obligations of Proximity) at the Nobel Museum in Sweden, American philosopher Judith Butler takes 1 minute and 28 seconds to open a bottle of water and take a sip. This performance repeats that performance over and over again.
A related post appears in my blog.