Benoît Lamy de La Chapelle
Apartment exhibitions have always been a way to organize art projects without the drawbacks of running a place specifically dedicated to art and, to rethink what art shows could be. The SOTOSO project belongs to one of those artist-run apartment shows that are not visited as much as they deserve. Organized by German artists Peter Wächtler and Hans-Christian Lotz in their own apartment in Brussels, this project already counts six solo shows of international artists – Michael Callies, Georgia Sagri, Manuel Gnam, Nicola Brunnhuber, Micheal Part and Loretta Fahrenholz – which all result from friendships and a desire to present some rather unknown art practices in Brussels.
Unlike curators who may have a specific concept to develop an exhibition, Wächtler and Lotz program their shows without caring much whether the exhibited practices may have something in common or share a certain aesthetic. Their personal tastes guide the program. Neither is SOTOSO’s purpose to create an alternative to institutional venues or galleries. If apartment exhibitions are sometimes displayed in furnished and personalized interiors to create some sort of connections with the inhabitant’s lifestyle, Wächtler and Lotz, as true proponents of the white cube, have completely cleared their flat in order to offer invited artists an empty space which they can exploit as they wish. Except for the chimney against the wall, their apartment is a perfectly neutral place, quite close in this sense to the spaces traditionally devoted to art.
Wächtler and Lotz believe it is becoming increasingly difficult to distinguish between public and private art venues as the boundaries between museums, art centers, artist-run spaces, and other independent art venues become blurrier. They present similar exhibitions, run parallel programs of performances, lectures and screenings, and even hire the same curators. It would therefore be pointless to try to create another alleged “underground” artistic project which would eventually turn out to be exactly like the traditional art spaces it criticized in the first place.
Even if SOTOSO demonstrates no differences from institutional art spaces, its means of communication are rather unusual, almost ineffective. When websites are considered efficient platforms to learn about art events, SOTOSO’s website seems like complete nonsense at first sight (even at a second glance). It is an imageboard with no information and no explanations, where everyone can post images or comments, or even use it as their own blog-page! As such, SOTOSO’s website presents little information, a couple of installation views, and almost nothing about the invited artists. Unlike art galleries, SOTOSO does not wish to act as if it were promoting artist’s practices, which is the reason why no biographies, no links and no other pictures of works are available on its webpage. SOTOSO's webpage gives anyone the opportunity to post images until it becomes a chaotic virtual space which runs the risk of bearing no relation to art anymore. The question of archives and their preservation doesn’t seem to be much of an issue for Wächtler and Lotz. It simply aligns with the principle of their proposal: a decent artist, an exhibition, and that’s about it.
As exhibition coordinators, both remain first and foremost artists, not curators. When asked if they see a difference between curators and artist-curators, their answer is that they already have a lot to think about as artists, and such a question should not be addressed since they don’t feel they are directly concerned about those issues. That being said, the answer to this crucial question is still pending and the debate about the curators' status remains open.
Current exhibition : Loretta Fahrenholz “Europa” (until 20.11.2011). Sotoso is open on Saturdays from 2 to 6pm and by appointment. Address : Boulevard Maurice Lemonnier 167 – 1000 Brussels