Some 'extra' words
Steven ten Thije


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The ´Extra´, within the title of the ´Extra-Light-Project´ appears to refer as much to the ´surplus´ of linguistic production within the project as to the amount of light that will be produced on December 10th. In all its phases of development, the project seems to insist on staging words and voices that speak, somehow ´saying the work´, before it has happened. Even this written text is somehow a mid-action reflection on the entire project, which interprets the project yet again, in the limbo of a leaflet – this ambiguous factual text, that only should give information, but cannot resist the temptation to be self-reflexive. These words function as a mirror placed in front of another mirror, creating a seemingly infinite space of reflection upon reflection – for, what would stop someone from interpreting this interpretation again?

The project however, is not only a game of interpretation, which will finally be unmasked and completed by the last event. In this sense it is not a conceptual artwork, where the alpha and omega is an investigation into the workings of the work itself. The work is post-conceptual in the sense that it takes from the history of conceptual art this rigorous investigation into a concept, but allows this concept not only to be art (alone), but to be something actual and concrete as (Christian) ‘religion’. This also points towards the complexity of the work, for ‘religion’ may be a much debated concept today, as a concept it remains highly elusive and its relation to art is not easy to pin-point. This work, however, takes a distinct perspective on that exact blurriness by focusing on one particular element and that is the tension between language and experience.

The Extra-Light Project dynamically creates both language and experience. It instigates language in the form of discussions, it generates it in the form of answers to questionnaires that were filled in preceding the discussions, and it produces language as stated, in the text I’m writing. On the other hand this language is constantly staged and produced not only as a vehicle for comprehension, but also as being a theatrical moment itself that manifests as a form. The dramatic setting of the attic were the discussions took place, the presentation of these discussions again in an exhibition and the final climactic event in the church, are all relevant components of the project in their different shapes, be it sound or image. In the end it seems that the encounter between art and religion as it occurs within this project finds its “pingback” in this movement from language to experience and back again. Perhaps in this, the work raises this encounter above the specificity of Christianity, for it seems that many if not all religious systems depend on this exchange between mundane experience and revelatory idea; an idea that can perhaps allude to something ‘higher’, but in the moment only exists as ‘low’ visual or audible facts. The project’s roots lie in the etymology of religion itself religare, which means ‘binding’. That is, the work binds but does so by staging the distance between that what can be bound: between art and religion, between critics and theologians, between the light and the smoke, perhaps even, between my fingers and the language as it appears on the screen in front of me.