Ander Mikalson

I create objects and drawings that invite human connection through their use, instruction and affordances. I use the language of scores, contracts, stage direction and diagrams to bend drawing towards the purpose of ritual and communal activity.
Considering the space of an exhibition as an opportunity to engage a multitude of collaborators as well as the audience, I investigate a practice of expanded performance, where unrehearsed tasks allow for exploratory (rather than performed) action and offer a direct experience to an audience. I am interested in the potential for art works to evolve or change from day to day or hour to hour through activations by a community that forms around an exhibition, rather than approaching an exhibition as a finished form. Though never completed, the work achieves aesthetic resolution again and again in myriad ways. As in the many-worlds interpretation of quantum mechanics – which holds that numerous realities exist in parallel to ours – many branching
climaxes and resolutions are explored and played out over the course of my performances and exhibitions.
Building on a long history in conceptual art, performance art and music, my scores take the form of graphic drawings, audio recordings, maps, sheet music and text. Like the narrow part of the hourglass or the catch in the prism that bends the light, the score is the place where trajectory and intention is compressed, emerging from the other side transformed. The score allows for chance and spontaneity. Between the making of the score and its interpretation something will inevitably be lost (and gained) in translation, offering a genuine experience of discovery. The score unseats the artist as sole author and renders her a fellow witness; she observes the work unfolding with surprise, delight, uncertainty and discovery alongside the audience.
In my current project, Scores for a Black Hole (2019), events both quotidian and profound unfold daily around a seven-foot hole excavated from the concrete floor of the gallery and filled with black ink. Large enough to fall into, this void serves as a site
for collective action and shared experience, exerting a powerful gravitational field. Numerous collaborators—from artists to actors to novelists to children to yogis and more—are invited to enact a scripted yet unrehearsed response of their own to the black hole, allowing for the spontaneous, unforeseen and unrepeatable to take shape.
A poet tells every joke she knows to the black hole; mothers nurse their babies around it; an astronomer delivers a lecture to it; a murky creature casts pennies into it; a brother and sister lock eyes across it; dreams are whispered to it; a metronome keeps
time next to it; an artist vows not to struggle anymore and does her taxes at the edge of it; an opera singer serenades it. Steadfast yet mutable, the black hole becomes a manifestation of and metaphor for the unconscious, the unknown, the void, the infinite, collapsed stars, absence, sorrow, darkness, stillness, reflection and contemplation.
Forty-three hand-made, black-and-white ink drawings also line the walls, functioning at once as instruction, archive and poem. These text – and image-based scores serve to describe what has happened and what will come over the course of the exhibition.
Through their aesthetic restraint and precision of language, they create a tension with the ongoing performative actions across the room. With their arrangement on the wall, the drawings dually act as calendar, calling attention to the exhibition’s unfolding nature and emphasizing a rhythm of daily life.