Published by Black Dog Publishing Limited, London, 2000. Ed. By Locus+

(book review)

The title of the catalogue Locus Solus – meaning solitary or unique place – refers to the proto-Surrealist novel by Raymond Roussel in which a scientist named Canterel fits out luxurious laboratories in a villa near Paris. Each room demonstrates one of the ingenious inventions of his encyclopaedic mind yet, on the whole, the villa displays the nightmare of a shrine devoted to pure rationality and mechanical reproduction.

Though a dangerous metaphor to apply to an arts publication, the editors draw on its positive implications, that is the great variety of the art works displayed in the catalogue, as well as, the constant presence and catalyzing role of the artist throughout Locus+ projects. Founded in 1993, arts organization Locus+ aims at developing a commissioning policy which is centered on the artist instead of the institution thus opposing the norm accepted at the UK art scene. It considers the artist as a modern Canterel who distils his unique piece of art out of the components of fashion, design, architecture, film, music and information systems in his laboratory. By establishing a network of artistic centers in regional cities of the UK and Canada, Locus+ ensures the display and exchange of the works of artists outside the main stream of the art world.

Of the thirty-six art projects which have been sponsored by Locus+, this catalogue discusses twenty-one in the thematic units of ´site´, ´identity´ and ´technology´. The essays either focus on the elaboration of one of the above themes through a series of works, or analyze the work of a single artist in full details. It follows that some works are taken into consideration concurrently under different headings in different essays and although this helps the reader form a broader notion of the subject, it plainly shows the disadvantage of theory to first-hand experience. Rather paradoxically, the descriptions that make up the last chapter are quite illuminating in contrast to the considerable flow of theoretical studies as they give a brief but clear account of the projects and call our attention to the ephemeral nature of the work of art. And indeed, most of the projects that rank among a variety of genres, that is the installations and performances, some video and public works, certain paintings and sculptures do not exist today.

(Ágnes Ivacs)