Art socking. Used socks left in the pavilions and the collateral exbitions at 56th Venice Biennale. the final part of the 4 years project Exuviation.
In 2002 I travelled to Istanbul to see Depeche Mode in concert, the band which had fascinated my teenage years. Although I haven’t been wearing them in a long time, I took my cowboy boots with me, those “Depeche Mode fan” boots with pointed tips. I was going to wear them for the very last time, because they were too small and tormented my feet during the 2 hour concert. I’ve abandoned them in the hotel closet. This is how I’ve started Exuviation. In 2013 I’ve begun “Sock of the Day” project, an attempt to compensate a clothing object which, until then, I had been treating indifferently, scornfully even. I have taken photos of the socks which held a sentimental value and I have written their histories.
Since 2010, when I’ve started travelling more, I got the habit of leaving socks in the houses and flats where I had been living. Then I started leaving clothing objects in the important places of my life, like the nine blocks in Bucharest where I had lived until I bought the studio apartment where I’ve been living in the last 10 years. In 2015 I’ve decided to close these 2 projects, which often intertwined, by “The Parasite Socks Project at 56th Venice Biennale”. In this project, my socks became temporary exhibition pieces in the most famous Art Biennial. I believe that this is the maximum tribute I could offer to some clothing objects which I was once ignoring.
I spent some time studying each of the pavilions, examining the space in order to find the proper moment. Fortunatelly, I never got caught. It did happen 3 times that the supervisors noticed the sock before I could photograph it. In a couple of pavilions I couldn’t find a suitable time; for example. in the Mauritius Islands’ pavilion, the guardian was following me in every room, as if he had already read this text ! In other pavilions, like Poland’s, where there was just a huge screen running a musical drama, it would have been useless to intervene without causing the sock to tamper with the space or body of the exhibit for at least a couple seconds. Basically, every sock became a site-specific intervention and its placement became a performance. The quality of the pictures I took is not that great because oftentimes it was a “hit and run” situation. The easiest was working in the pavilions outside Giardini-Arsenale. They were usually empty, while the bored supervisors spent time in front of the computer. Quite ironically, that period I was working as a supervisor myself, at the second Romanian pavilion, the one within the Romanian Cultural Institute.
In any exhibion’s context, an outside object is an intruder that violates the exhibition’s concept. A cheap, smelly after a couple hours of wearing object, placed in a white cube becomes a desecration. Apart from the personal subtext, placing them among exhibits with great financial value cannot be interpreted in too many ways. I’ve always found it difficult to understand how the art market works and what makes the criteria to evaluate works of art.
Two years ago I took part in the Biennial project “An Immaterial Retrospective of Venice Biennale” as a performer. For five weeks I recreated, along other nine performers, art works displayed in over one hundred years of the Biennial. Four hours a day I was an anonymous body, like a worker in a sock factory. From a certain perspective, I embeded the Biennale history in my own body. When I sit in a certain posture, it reminds me, for example, the moment I was representing a work of Mueck. The socks are a textile and olfactory extension of my body. Their presence in the Biennial pavilions for various amounts of time, from a minute to whole days, has given me the possibility to extend, tint and personalize the previous experience. Through this project I have exhibited and I have also self-exhibited.