In her performances, installations, audio works, publications and films, Ruth Buchanan often uses language in a unique way to explore the conditions for processing information in the context of cultural production. She often grounds her research-oriented works in collections, archives, libraries and exhibition spaces. In her investigation of these institutional structures, Buchanan questions the unspoken norms of processing, organising and presenting materials.
Buchanan collaborated with the Badische Kunstverein in Karlsruhe and the Institute of Modern Art in Brisbane on her most recent series of works in which she focuses on encounters between human and system. The exhibition Or, a camera Or, a building Or, a screen at Kunstverein Harburger Bahnhof in 2015 was the third part of this exhibition series and served as a kind of epilogue. In it, Buchanan assembled several audio works with graphic, sculptural and performative elements within a single room. The audio works, which are language-based, act like a compressed audio echo of other parts of the series that were shown at the other locations – a performance, a film and an exhibition. Buchanan uses the seven audio pieces as a kind of appendix, referring to current and historical examples of an encounter between body and apparatus (in the sense of a structure that processes and organises material), while also forming a basis for her investigation. In Or, a camera Or, a building Or, a screen and other works, Buchanan goes beyond these research-based references to explore the relationship between subject and system. This is done primarily through language, since this is necessarily a field of interaction between subject and system. In her associative language pieces that are sometimes reminiscent of concrete poetry, Ruth Buchanan replaces continuously repetitive terms and re-contextualises them. Each alternative order breaks up the structure that she has established while generating new constellations. These newly created relations change the status and meaning of the objects in question, revealing their unrealised potential along with language’s power to define. Not only her sound works, but also her works on paper can also be seen as graphic equivalents of these associative pieces of poetic language. For her annual edition (Jahresgabe) for the Kunstverein Harburger Bahnhof, Buchanan chose three different motifs, each of which are available in a double edition.
Ruth Buchanan (born 1980 in New Plymouth, New Zealand) lives and works in Berlin. Some of her most recent solo exhibitions were at the Badische Kunstverein, Karlsruhe (2015); Kunstverein Harburger Bahnhof, Hamburg (2015); Hamburger Bahnhof, Berlin (2014); Hopkinson Mossman, Auckland (2014); Grazer Kunstverein, Graz (2011); Casco – Office for Art, Design and Theory, Utrecht (2010); and The Showroom, London (2009). Her performances have also been shown at the Institute of Modern Art, Brisbane (2015); Tate Modern, London (2011); and Kunsthaus Bregenz, Bregenz (2010).