Museum in Progress

Museum in Progress by Isabelle Arthuis

Isabelle Arthuis has been invited by museum in progress – as an artist – to take part in the World Economic Forum in Salzburg in July 2001. Within the framework of cooperation with scientists she uses satellite photographs of Europe. However, she proposes a different and marginal way of reading them. The satellite picture is a kind of photography, a global picture which includes – virtually – an infinity of images, a world which includes thousands of others. It is also a readymade image, partly illegible for whoever is not a meteorologist, a geographer or in the armed forces. Isabelle Arthuis often appropriates images. As a photographer she understands the world with its strata and degrees, experience of the world, experience of the image, indiscriminately.

Each year museum in progress – with the support of Austrian Airlines – makes approximately 2,500 billboards throughout Vienna available to an artist. Confronted with this proposition Isabelle Arthuis has, in the first instance, returned it to sender: on one of a series of posters she has printed the words "museum in progress", which is also the title she has given to her work. Perhaps in order to share the responsibilities of occupying advertising space and flooding the city with her pictures – and what a city, in what a country and at what a moment! – or also that of cooperating with an airline.

Perhaps because this is more than a providential encounter between a photographic practice which does not come to terms with the conditions inherent in contemporary art and an organisation which does not cease in proposing alternatives to these conditions, or perhaps from a notion of displacement intrinsic to the activities of museum in progress and those of the artist.

While she is occupied in encompassing all the images of this world, Arthuis also works at only stopping them provisionally. She invents slides, such as her Diaporama or her postcard edition, which enable her to use each of her pictures in its relation to the others, to create spaces – between these images – which the movement of experience rushes into both on specific and global levels. Such as this satellite picture with which she has chosen to start this poster series where displacements of all kinds will meet.

Displacements of passers-by and of workers which are made rhythmic in accordance to their direction and passing cars, also displacement of images, firstly the abstract pictorial satellite photograph, then concrete images from photography, zooms on moments of existence which will progressively cover the first image, alternating with the letters of the title or the completely black – pause. Displacements caused by the workers who hang up the posters and who can choose themselves how to hang the individual poster modules, pictures from which a new patchwork is always woven, will lay out an open truth by means of the game of chance and of difference. As opposed to all the logic of advertising, as opposed to all totalitarian logic. A reality which never ceases to decompose and recompose itself in accordance with displacements which are more intoxicating than the repetitive coming and going of aeroplanes which criss-cross the administrative sky of Europe.