Tuesday, 1 April 2008

Thinking the Bench[space]

A bench is a chair is a stoop...

Within the realm of definitions a bench[space] is hard pressed, cornered, even, before
Joseph Kosuth, as far as its making present, its awareness, is concerned. However, the amnesia within which the bench[space] seems to exist contradicts most of its objects' formal characteristics: against walls, mostly upright, stiff, surrounding trees, encircling squares, delineating, even in parabolas, paths. Memorial benches, with memorial plaques – commercial, personal or arcane- essentially in memorial parks, attempt to transpose the bench[space] from its public to the private and back again. Few escape. Within this process the bench[space]'s relations with not only the memory of itself but with our remembrance of the bench[space] are radically altered. And ultimately with its use-value.

What is a bench for anyway?

One can not remember how many times (another) shoelace malfunction has forced a stop at a near-by bench[space] mid-way through a walk to step in it – the bench[space] and the malfunction. Or how many times a coffee-cup was placed onto an armrest only to be pushed over. Anyway if anyone would start remembering, by means of archiving and recollecting, such uses of the bench, he or she could easily claim an art-historical position between
Yoko Ono and Richard Long as maybe another name to be dropped by research students.
But one will always remember a drunk escapade into a locked embankment garden and all the kisses punctuating the night, cigarettes graciously smoked on bench[spaces] after the smoking ban, free wi-fi network searches in metropolitan squares' bench[spaces], eyeing cruising parades in municipal gardens and afternoons akimbo under the sun in hotter climates. Others can also remeber us asleep on public buildings' porches and verandas.
Most of these are also engraved, imprinted, retold, in one form or other, onto such bench[spaces], in a gesture of reclaiming the privateerting nature of the public existence of bench[spaces] from PPPs and PSPPs. Or as an extension of the virality of public relations and social networking.

Others are abandoned.

Bench[space] Marks: A Spot

The social function of remebrance sites – congregational or not – long since gasping to catch up with our collective biography, our engagement with cities and locales begins no longer with legends but with bits of information. In an age of extreme proliferation of recording technologies, it is the bench[space] that can still challenge the digital camera's output for a place in our personal pantheon of heroic memorials. Whereas the camera captures and reproduces, the bench[space] receives and disseminates. The innumerable photographs circulating hard disks and external drives in digital form, preserve, flickrs. The bench[spaces], scattered, marked even in Memorial Parks, mark, memory. A letter of marque: the bench[space]. A hope, a hop, an ollie even in absentia of the anti-skateboarding technologies which have marked the marked bench. And after David Hasselhoff singing, who cares about what the walls may remember?


How are we then to inscribe the bench[space]? Can the anonymous ink suffice? The pen-knife, would it be enough? Softly does it in such ocassions. When three are not a crowd and when such corner gin places, around the world, are welcoming islets. What are you looking at? As your are sitting next to me, across me, your body into mine.

Stuhlhockerbank by Yvonne Fehling and Jennie Peiz

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