Jason E. Bowmans - Talk to the Hand

2023.11.17 - 2023.12.10

Talk to the Hand is the first exhibition in Sweden to assemble multiple concepts I initiated into one space. What is being exhibited is purposefully hesitant and may be read more as a set of prototypes rather than conclusions. As concepts, they are open to future modification, and materialisation. Other elements are like cover versions of previous projects that have been re-orchestrated. This is an exhibition that, therefore, is situated by an openness to change through acknowledgements of uncertainty. 

When approaching the development of this exhibition I decided to include aspects of my experience of teaching art in Higher Education. I have taught Fine Art at HDK-Valand, University of Gothenburg for over twelve years. A conventional expectation of exhibitions is that what is exhibited may be perceived as resolved – sufficiently completed by the artist and somehow ready for reception. However, artists in training and the teachers who work alongside them are much more often engaged in – and by – phases and processes that may have not yet led to conventional levels of resolution. Such projects are understood to contain too many unresolved elements, whether conceptually, technically, or materially, or more often in the nexus between these. 

Talk to the Hand places emphasis on the idea of quasi-artworks. It exhibits differing concepts at various realisation points, from rudimentary ideas to those more worked upon, or worried at. After more than thirty years of making art, it may seem risky to be open to different forms of scrutiny and assessment by claiming them as unfinished in public. However, I am more subscribed to how the importance of experimentation may be asserted than I am to the shame of failure. I aim to question when something is ready enough to become public through an exhibition, especially when an aim is resistance to closure.

I struggle to describe exhibitions of my concepts as solo exhibitions, even formally. My artistic concepts are largely open to interpretation and influence in how they are processed, made, and reach exhibition. It is rarely that I make anything by myself and transfer it from studio to gallery. Phases of production involve sequences of people and the application and passing on of their knowledge, skills, and judgments. In this case, I sought to describe and explain concepts or show examples, including previous versions, to other people who have now reinterpreted the different projects being shown. Many of the hands that have produced what is shown are not mine. They’ve been talked to by me instead. The hands here belong to artists whom I, with colleagues, have trained but are now independent. They have interpreted and re-interpreted, organised, and re-organised, designed, and re-designed. 

However, the line doesn’t necessarily stop there. What is in the room when the exhibition opens may differ from what is there when it ends. People and things may arrive and depart on elsewhen journeys to elsewhere, possibly unplanned, undecided, or not yet known.

Text Jason E. Bowman