Circuit Gallery presents a solo exhibition at Prefix ICA of new work by Canadian artist Robert Bean, which considers the importance of “Things,” historic sites used for social and political gatherings. In Nordic and Germanic culture, the Thing was a public assembly where governance, laws, and dispute resolutions were discussed and negotiated. The gatherings were organized in open-air locations with distinctive characteristics as well as effective acoustic resonance. The practice of “making things public,” a description initiated by French philosopher Bruno Latour, has contemporary implications for how we represent, experience, and utilize public space for the potential of expressing democratic principles.
The exhibition is based on two Thing sites: the Althing in Iceland and the Thingstätte in Heidelberg, Germany. The Althing is one of the most celebrated tourist attractions in Iceland, while the Thingstätte in Heidelberg recalls the propaganda narratives of the Third Reich prior to the Second World War. The original purpose of these sites, however, is not reflected in their contemporary uses. Tourism, access to the natural landscape, geological landmarks, walking paths, ruins, outdoor concerts, theatrical reenactment, training locations for athletes, and festival venues are just some of the current uses of these Thing sites.