Tamara Henderson Unpacked


78 Tamara Henderson “Sloshed Ballot & Anonymous Loan”

Spatial perspicuity involves a complex correlation between composer, medium and responder. That a single space or object has a plethora of potential interpretations or methods for deconstruction, grounded by a multi-layered set of preconceptions, predilections and presumptions that operate to frame the reading of the object or image. It is this individually constructed frame (whether conscious or otherwise) that incites the responder’s interest and causes them to read, reflect, pull apart and reconstruct a personalised compilation of the form.

In the rotunda space in the rear of the Friedrichsplatz there is a compilation of a number of works that operate to “condense and centre the thought lines” of the dOCUMENTA. The space incorporates a variety of works in various mediums at a range of scales collectively exploring the primary concerns of dOCUMENTA13. The space operates on controlled entry (50 people as max. capacity) and when entering the viewer is overcome with a multitude of places in which one can begin. A small video was projected onto the white wall at the entry on the right hand side. It was no more than postcard size and resided no higher than my knee. The video appeared to be an amateur documentation of an interior space and its objects, panning unevenly, at various paces and traversing in and out of focus. The elements contained within the frame are not always recognisable and lighting functions as a mechanism to obscure or illuminate. The viewer is then compelled to watch and re-watch in an attempt to first comprehend what is happening, and then further begin to understand the artist’s intent. This obstruction – fabricated through the manipulation of recording – functions to skew the individual’s perception of the content within the frame and generates an impediment, hindering the development of a clear understanding of the subject matter and its intended objective.

Henderson’s installation was the only filmic piece within the ‘brain’ and was void of any specific social or political overtone. I think this was intended to indicate the variety of films in the video section of the dOCUMENTA along with the vastness of different readings or interpretations that are possible. It may also operate to generate the behaviours required/desired when interacting with installations throughout the dOCUMENTA – that is that the responder is encourage to observe, consider, re-observe and continually interrogate or question in order to understand. The notion that the projector acts as an object that plays a part in the actual artwork and contributes to the reading and understanding of the work as a whole is an interesting notion to consider when viewing Henderson’s piece. The decision to display/ expose the mechanical elements that function to generate the piece resonates with the seemingly choreographed movements within the film, alluding to the notion that there is a presence of technical factors operating external to the frame that aid in the composition of the film.

The scale of the piece is important to consider when attempting to understand the installation in it’s context. The author notes the application of 16mm film when recording the piece (I was informed this was a reference to late 50’s and 60’s architecture) a gauge often used in motion picture and industrial or educational filming, that was know as an ‘inexpensive amateur alternative’ to 35mm. The installation at post card size remains relatively inconspicuous and subtle within the room referred to as the ‘brain’, the sense of chaos is mediated by this very considered size, to prevent the work from imposing or overwhelming the other pieces in the room that are foundational in dOCUMENTA 13.  It is also important to consider that the size of the frame aids in the confusion of the perspective and the notion of unattainable/elusive sense of realising and knowing. The height of both the projector and the projected image resonates with the height at which the film appears to have been composed (with few deviations). This immediately implores the responder to crouch to position the projected film at eye level in an attempt to further understand, making this installation one that demands an active audience and active inquiry.

A musical piece does play on a loop with the film, it is almost inaudible and echoes the disjointness of the film piece. It features what sounds to be a string instrument over-layed with sporadic  piano keys and what appears to be pre recorded sounds that would be audible on a busy street, adding to this is the continual hum of the projector, casting the recording onto the wall of the rotunda.

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