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    And When The Panic RisesYou Shall Have This City’s Sympathy

    John Holten

    With Mundi and Joe Vasich

    September 13-18, 10-18h

    For this project John Holten directs his diverse artistic practice into an exo-novel spread across the city during Berlin Art Week, with its denouement in an immersive installation at Büro BDP in collaboration with Mundi Vondi. Entitled And When The Panic Rises You Shall Have This City’s Sympathy the work is conceived as a series of posters fly-billed throughout the city that accumulate to tell a story of Alyssa, a young woman living a somewhat chaotic life in Berlin, prone to panic attacks and searching for an elusive calm in her life, it is a story of love, family, movement and ultimately the city of Berlin itself. In Büro BDP the audience will have a chance to read the work, and the installation, created using Oculus’s yet-to-be-released clay illustration tool Medium, will deliver the story’s ultimate denouement. This possibly will give a lot of the audience their first VR experience.

    The work is envisaged to be spread across a handful of posters, with a title page and a colophon. It nods indirectly to works such as Félix Fénéon’s Novels in Three Lines, themselves culled from the faits divers city of Paris, Ed Ruscha’s billboard art (indeed billboard art in general such as the Biennale of the America’s extensive use of them in Denver, 2014) to Twitter stories by the likes of David Mitchell and Jennifer Egan.

    The story will appear in the mind of the viewer/reader in a haphazard way that brings to mind the idea of a reading dérive, it is an imagining of what reading can become in an oversaturated age when we read more than ever – on screens, phones, and advertising – yet seem to have difficulty reading long form books and novels. Taking this as an opportunity to re-imagine the role of the novelist, Holten’s project gives back to the city a work that will slowly seep into the consciousness of the denizen as she moves through the familiar streets.

     The work first appeared in Holten’s artwork A Potential Library (The Future of Reading) at BQ Gallery in July 2016. It was attributed to the doppelganger and namesake of Holten, John Holten from Paris, who first appeared in the novel The Readymades. These Potential Books of Holten are possible or speculative works, that may or may not be published at some point in the future. In the case of And When The Panic Rises… this came to pass quite soon in September 2016. In his last novel Oslo, Norway Holten wrote: 

    I feel like narrative is best served in space, sentiment in the mind, that is to say the stillness of an island of text on a page, justified. Narrative has outgrown the novel of the paperback book; stories roam across media and episodes in serial cinematic experiences…Why a gallery and not the page? I think because of time. The ideas born from the telling can get slowed down by words, which in turn are imprisoned within the page. If this story could occupy a space other than this page, objects could also help fill the void; how I would like to tell it with knives and pens and tables, soiled underwear and rusting oil platforms, the agitated air between my face and my computer screen, how, dear reader, I would like to throw a urinal at you. (Page 178-179, Oslo, Norway)

    A novelist who has worked with many artists, Holten most recently wrote an essay for (and published) an edition by Jonathan Monk, itself made up of various fly-posters Monk used, in which he mused that the act of fly-posting can reach toward a new art of narration. With the project And When The Panic Rises…  Holten’s work as art book publisher, fiction writer and operator in the field of contemporary art are all married and put into practice. As he wrote in summer 2016, and which becomes the starting point in how to perceive Holten’s project:

     The point then becomes that flyposting a la Monk is an activity that leads to palimpsest, a slow eradication, across points of prohibition, like a signal made of moonlight on a ruffled lake – fleeting and then gone for good – and viewing it after the fact we can track it as a tireless steadicam speaking from across the worlds’ cities, like a radicant, spreading roots in a heterotopic fashion. It creates in these cities topographical sets much like in this story or in the work of Mallo. For these random points connected by the action of Monk, we have a clear – or I should rather say vertiginous in order to keep the metaphor biological – example of the radicant moving in time and space. We are talking here not just about contemporary art and the globalized figure of the contemporary artist, but about story itself, and how stories are told.



    As part of its participation in Berlin Art Week, Büro BDP is very proud to announce the exhibition-cum-novel project And When The Panic Rises You Shall Have This City’s Sympathy by John Holten. This ‘exo-novel’ is spread across the city on fly-posters in the days running up to Berlin Art Week. First appearing in BQ Gallery as a potential book authored by a seemingly different John Holten, this project sees BDP’s editor-in-chief marry the practices of novelist, artist and publisher to create a work of fiction that is extended throughout the city of Berlin. Telling a story in the second person, it has its climatic crescendo in an installation at the project space Büro BDP with a VR scene created by Icelandic artist Mundi Vondi. For this scene, the audience will occupy the point of view of the main character. Envisioned in collaboration with Holten’s installation, Mundi recreates this environment made on one of the newest visualizing technologies – Oculus’ yet-to-be released medium. Telling a fiction with a centuries old medium of fly-posters, in the city, and the most contemporary technologies extent, the project points toward new ways of storytelling in the post-digital age.



    John Holten is a novelist, artist and publisher whose work often occurs at the meeting point of these domains. His work has been shown internationally in places such as Malmö konsthall, The White Building, David Zwirner Gallery (with Aengus Woods), NGBK, Agora, Villa Romana, Plan B Gallery, Sans Serriffe and Thyssen-Bornemisza Art Contemporary. His novels The Readymades (2011) and Oslo, Norway (2015) have both been published by Broken Dimanche Press, which he co-founded in 2009.


    Mundi Vondi is an Icelandic artist, filmmaker and designer. His work and collaboration has been shown most recently at Manifesta, the Serpentine London and BQ Gallery Berlin. He created over a dozen fashion collections the most recent of which SnowBlind launched at Harpa, Iceland's famous opera house, as part of a collaboration with the outerwear brand 66° North.


    Oculus medium combines art and play in an unprecedented manner. Medium is a specially developed application that enables the user to model virtual sculptures, to paint in the virtual environment and create objects that feel realistic.