John M Armleder
ohne Titel (Furniture Sculpture) 1993
The current exhibition includes about 60 works by 25 artists from 11 nations, and concentrates on two key themes: Modernism's critical revision of styles and utopian designs for one, and secondly socio-political reflections.
One of the most intelligent and radical oeuvres in terms of ›refocusing‹ the abstract avant-garde was created by the Geneva artist John M Armleder from about 1970 on. His provocatively decorative »Furniture Sculpture« consisting of a monochrome picture and two circular lamps effectively sums up how art and design have crossed each other's borders in the 20th century. We have placed Bojan Sarcevic's photo-collages close to Armleder in the exhibition; these examine the post-war Modernism's ideal image of rational building closely, critically and with relish. Next to him are Mathieu Mercier's systematic distortions and reconfigurations of classical style forms between Mondrian and New Bauhaus. The Israeli artist Uri Tzaig's minimalist games table seems to bring us closer to the Schiller-like ideal that play without any specific purpose is the apogee of cultural development for the human race.
Sylvie Fleury's post 1990 videos form part of a piece of broadly based media research from a decidedly feminine point of view, presenting the alternate exploitation and undermining of the claims of ›high‹ art and ›low‹ fashion awareness as a 20th century sign.
Of the total of six artists with biographies linked to Stuttgart or Berlin, Ulrike Flaig's wall object clad in iridescent car paint in particular can be seen against the background of a balancing act between artificial showpiece and functional object.
The Stuttgart artists Thomas Raschke and Sebastian Rogler, operating under the »Das Deutsche Handwerk« label, charge their subject matter with political explosives from Michel Houellebecq's successful novel »platform«, which has a whiff of scandal about it. Bernhard Kahrmann's drawings are intended to be read in a broader sense as graphic analyses of socially determined spatial constructions.
Works by Sandra Hastenteufel and Eva Teppe seem to fit in with the classical genres of photography and video art, though both are definitely arguing from within the conceptual tradition.
Three South African artists provide essential accents for the second key topic in our exhibition - socio-critical and political reflections. Guy Tillim, like Jane Alexander one of the winners of the DaimlerChrysler Award for South African Culture, which has been available since 2000, is represented by an impressive series of photographs of young Kamajoor militiamen.
With Jane Alexander's monumental ten-part series African Adventures they form one of the high points not just of South African photographic art, but generally within committed contemporary photography. The large-scale double projection Snow White by Berni Searle, who lives in Cape Town, is similarly significant for video as a medium.
The lightbox by the Chilean artist Alfredo Jaar, well-known since his 1987 documenta appearance as one of the major socio-critical concept artists, pays tribute to Gandhi's grand design for a non-violent revolution, but at the same times asks questions about a possible redemption of this utopia. Jaar's work is linked with that of Martin Gostner, Dmitry Gutov, Thea Gvetadze or Patricia London Ante Paris: they all consider the fact that language and image are used more for self-deception, obfuscation and deliberate falsification of history than they could be a medium for liberated encounters with one's own and the alien self.
List of participating artists
Jane Alexander *1959 in Johannesburg/SA, lives in Capetown, SA
Are You Meaning Company Nagoya/J
John M Armleder *1948 in Genf/CH, lives in Genf/CH
Das Deutsche Handwerk Thomas Raschke/Sebastian Rogler
*1961 in Schwäbisch-Gmünd, D; *1961 in Tübingen, D, live in Berlin
Ulrike Flaig *1962 in Esslingen/GER, lives in Berlin/GER
Sylvie Fleury *1961, Genf/CH, lebt in Genf/CH
Andrea Fraser *1965 Billinger, Montana/USA, lives in New York/USA
Martin Gostner *1957 in Innsbruck/A, lives in Innsbruck/A
Dimitry Gutov *1965 in Moskau/GUS, lives in Moskau/GUS
Thea Gvetadze *1971 in Riga/LV, lives in Düsseldorf/GER
Sandra Hastenteufel *1966 in Stuttgart/GER, lives in Stuttgart/GER
Alfredo Jaar *1956 in Santiago de Chile/RCH, lives in New York/USA
Bernhard Kahrmann *1973 in Geislingen, D, lives in Berlin, D und Amsterdam, NL
Patricia London Ante Paris *1959 in München/GER, lives in München/GER
Vera Lossau *1976 in Haan/GER, lebt in Düsseldorf/GER
Mathieu Mercier *1970 in Conflanse-Sainte-Honorine/F, lives in Paris/F
Kirsten Mosher *1963 in LaJolla, California/USA, lives in New York/USA
Jerome Saint-Loubert Bié *1970 in Straßburg/F, lives in Paris/F
Bojan Sarcevic *1974 Belgrad, Serbien, lives in Paris/F
Berni Searle *1964 in Capetown, SA, lives in Capetown, SA
Eva Teppe *1973 in Volkmarsen/GER, lives in Stuttgart/GER
Beate Terfloth *1958 in Hongkong/CN, lives in Berlin/GER
Guy Tillim *1962 in Johannesburg/SA, lives in Johannesburg/SA
Uri Tzaig *1965 Kiryat Gat, IL, lives in Tel Aviv, IL