Sunday, March 30, 2008

Thursday, March 27, 2008

Tuesday, March 18, 2008

Lucas Lenglet A Canary in a Coalmine

picture: tools for rescue installation shot Bethanienhaus Berlin
March 22 – May 12, 2008

Opening: March 21, 5 – 7 p.m.

With the exhibition 'A Canary in a Coalmine' this Spring at Stedelijk Museum Bureau Amsterdam, Lucas Lenglet continues a series of installations in which he explores the ambiguities of 'the architecture of security'. The paradox noted by the German philosopher Rüdiger Safranski could serve as the point of departure for this series: the safer a society becomes, the greater its fear of threats. This is a given that Lenglet works out in an idiom all of his own, in sculptures, architectural settings and photo works.

In doing this, Lenglet builds on the strategy of Minimalism with its characteristic rudimentary, geometric forms and basic materials. A good example of the way he works is a sculpture that with its cruciform shape is directly inspired by the aggressive appearance of anti-tank barricades. But Lenglet's use of materials is much more seductive. His crosses are subtly assembled from relatively fragile aluminium profiles. A soft yellow light gives the aluminium a mysterious glow.

A second element of his strategy, which is somewhat related to the post-minimalism of, for instance, Bruce Nauman in the 1970s, is his involvement of the viewer. That is certainly the case in his spatial installations, such as those realised last year in a project space of Palais de Tokyo in Paris, and now in Stedelijk Museum Bureau Amsterdam. The environments surround the visitor; within these spaces narratives unfold, based on images and structures that are derived from the architectonic formal language of security, such as hoardings, roadblocks, specific lighting fixtures, fences and cages. But Lenglet avoids the street aesthetics. Every component is worked out with the same precise feeling for detail, texture, colour and lighting. In this way he invests the raw formal language of security, which often implies threat and danger, with a high degree of intimacy. If Lenglet's work can be regarded as a visualisation of the increased state of vigilance in Western society, at the same time he uses the aesthetic means of the sculptor to create a sort of dramaturgy of trust to accompany it.

Despite that, the work preserves its cool sovereignty. Lenglet provided another fine example of this with a sculpture for public space, which has stood in both the Renaissance city of Zamość in Poland, and in Potsdam, with its post-war plattenbau. The work, ‘Columbarium’, was comprised of a stark cylindrical form inspired by the shape of a 16th century dovecote (or columbarium), built from brick nogging which lent it an open, airy character that contrasts with the charged symbolism of a funerary columbarium, the word's other meaning. In Zamość the sculpture, built of local brick, had a strong historical connotation; in Potsdam it stood in sharp contrast to the concrete residential blocks, at the same time becoming a symbol for their reticence. Nevertheless the six-meter-high sculpture became a warmly-regarded meeting point for people from the neighbourhood, as if it shared their destiny.

The language of security, the implication of danger and the symbolism of fate are also the thread running through the exhibition 'A Canary in a Coalmine' in Stedelijk Museum Bureau Amsterdam. The title refers to the canaries that were once used as indicators for build-ups of poisonous gasses such as carbon dioxide or methane in mines. Canaries are more sensitive to these than humans are; at the point where the canary fell dead, the mineworkers still had enough time to flee the claustrophobic mine passages. The chirping bird is thus also an indicator for the kind of experience that Lenglet created in Stedelijk Museum Bureau Amsterdam. Work by two other artists, the painter Tjebbe Beekman and designer Willem van der Sluis/Customr, is also to be seen in the show.

Lucas Lenglet (b. Leiden, 1972) graduated from the Gerrit Rietveld Academy in Amsterdam in 2000. Since then he has participated in various exhibitions in The Netherlands and elsewhere. 'A Canary in a Coalmine' is part of a series of works and installations about security and violence. Previous exhibitions from the series took place in Künstlerhaus Bethanien, Berlin ('Tools for Rescue / Tools for Hiding', 2006) and Palais de Tokyo, Paris ('Inaccessibilité et connecteurs hiérarchiques', 2007). In addition, Lenglet was a participant in the exhibition in public space, 'Ideal City – Invisible City', in Zamość and Potsdam (2006). Last year he also realised a temporary installation on the Rosa-Luxemburg-Platz in Berlin.

An essay by Roger Bundschuh will be appearing in SMBA Newsletter nr. 103 to accompany 'A Canary in a Coalmine'.

Saturday, March 15, 2008

Luc Tuymans Forever at DAVID ZWIRNER

A pivotal figure in the field of contemporary painting, Tuymans has explored diverse themes ranging from the colonial history of Belgium, the effects of images from 9/11, to the elusive power of the Jesuit order. In David Zwirner his seventh solo exhibition at the gallery, the artist will focus his exacting gaze on the globally influential, yet distinctly American phenomenon of Disney. Founded in the early 1920s as a small animation studio, The Walt Disney Company has become one of the largest media and entertainment corporations in the world. A conscious purveyor of family values and the virtue of American industry, Disney has vigorously defended its role in the creation of what the artist has termed a “spiritual utopia.” With characteristic intensity, Tuymans explores the transformation of entertainment into ideology, while at the same time offers a critique of the hegemonic control of economic and cultural capital and the implicit dangers in a reality based on the production of magic. The exhibition will include eight new paintings and eight new drawings, in which Tuymans puts forth the image of a disintegrating utopia. Largely depicted in flat, muted hues, an uneasy sense of nostalgia pervades, which shuns the obvious and circumvents easy interpretation. In a key painting entitled Turtle, we are confronted by the looming image of a mechanical float in Disneyland’s famous, now-defunct attraction, the Main Street Electrical Parade. Divorced from the bright lights and whirring excitement of the parade, the familiar childhood favorite is rendered gruesome and hollow by Tuymans’ broad brushstrokes and anemic colors. Clear from a distance, the image dissolves into abstraction upon close view.

Integral to the artist’s practice is the reliance on existing visual materials, including drawings, photographs, and film stills. Referencing a 1960s promotional film, the work W presents a shadowy vision of Walt Disney before his original, unrealized plans for an expansive residential project known as EPCOT (Experimental Prototype Community of Tomorrow). Employing discomfort as a formal device, Tuymans crops the corporate leader’s actual body from view, thus raising questions of control, labor, and invisibility, while simultaneously suggesting a latent grim reality that undermines the proposed fantasy ideals. Large drawings continue to explore the two-dimensional plans for EPCOT, which consisted of a complex tunnel system for covertly supplying the imagined, carefully controlled community; through repetition the images metamorphose from practical proposals into disassociated patterning.

A striking aura of concealment emerges from the collection of works in the exhibition, as Tuymans explores the history of Disney’s adamant and complex entertainment agenda. For example, one of the smaller paintings depicts a set from The Carousel of Progress, an attraction that Disney developed for the 1964-1965 New York World’s Fair. An unabashed celebration of the history of electricity and American domestic improvements, the attraction notably depended on theatrical scrims to hide multiple rotating stages. The painting and exhibition’s shared title, Forever, seemingly refers to the endurance of an ideology and a timeless, fairytale paradigm. Rife with paradox, it simultaneously proposes the practical opposites – anachronism, mortality, and dissolution. In these works, plans fail, memories fade, and perception is clouded by illusionism.

Saturday, March 08, 2008

Artists announced for Berlin Biennial

The names of the artists participating at the next Berlin Biennial were released yesterday in New York.

The curators, Adam Szymczyk and Elena Filipovic, introduced the Biennial and explained its unusual format: divided in two temporal moments – day and night – it will develop though an exhibition (day) and a program of events including performances, lectures, screenings (night), one event/artist per night for the whole duration of the Biennial (Mondays excluded).

The list of invited artists covers a large generational range and focuses mainly on European artists. Most of them (about 50) are producing new works, commissioned for the occasion and therefore strictly related, in the wish of the curators, to the places where they will be shown.

In the Day: Caner Aslan, Michel Auder, Nairy Baghramian, Pedro Barateiro, Cezary Bodzianowski, Marc Camille Chaimowicz, Manon de Boer, Thea Djordjadze, Jos De Gruyter & Harald Thys, Aleana Egan, Haris Epaminonda, Patricia Esquivias, Cyprien Gaillard, Masist Gül, Daniel Guzmán, Susan Hiller, Sung Hwan Kim, Daniel Knorr, Susanne Kriemann, Gabriel Kuri, Luciana Lamothe, Lars Laumann, Janette Laverrière, Goshka Macuga, David Maljkovic, Babette Mangolte, Jacob Mishori, Ulrike Mohr, Anna Molska, Melvin Moti, Nashashibi/Skaer, Ahmet Ögüt, Paulina Olowska, Giulia Piscitelli, Paola Pivi, Pushwagner, Lili Reynaud-Dewar, Pamela Rosenkranz, Kilian Rüthemann, Katerina Sedá, Paul Sietsema, Ettore Sottsass, Zofia Stryjenska, Stefan Thater, Piotr Uklanski, Mona Vatamanu & Florin Tudor, Tris Vonna-Michell, Susanne Winterling, Kohei Yoshiyuki, and Zhao Liang.

In the Night: Danai Anesiadou, Alexandra Bachzetsis, Balázs Béla Stúdió, Ludovic Balland, Ursula Block, Augusto Boal, Manon de Boer, Oksana Bulgakowa, Banu Cennetoglu & Philippine Hoegen, Dorit Chrysler, Holk Cruse + Luc Steels, Aleana Egan, Maria Eichhorn + Seth Siegelaub. Matthias Einhoff + Philip Horst + markus Lohmann + Harry Sachs + Dan Seiple, Chris Evans, James McFarland, Cyprien Gaillard + Koudlam, Goodiepal, Dieter Hacker, Emma Hedditch, Susan Hiller, Idea Arts + Society, Cameron Jamie + Keiji Haino, Tellervo Kalleinen & Oliver Kochta-Kalleinen + Miss Le Bomb, Joachim Koester, Susanne Kriemann + Philipp Gutbrod + Urs Staheli + Alexander Tull, Thomas Macho, Goshka Macuga + Johansson/Schlippenbach Quartet, Babette Mangolte, Kobe Matthys (agency) + Lina Lindheimer + Bjorn Frank, Melvin Moti + Olaf Blanke, Rabih Mroué, Nikakoi, Kristina Norman + Paul Davies, Ahmet Ogut, Pil and Galia Kollectiv, Falke Pisano, The Production Unit, Claus-Dieter Rath, Rebond pour la Commune + Arbeiter- und Veteranenchor Neukolln, Lili Reynaud-Dewar, Jimmy Robert, Dieter Roelstraete + Renate Flagmeier, Wilhelm Sasnal, Aaron Schuster, Superflex, Pilvi Takala, Harald Thys & Erik Thys, Roi Vaara, Annie Vigier & Franck Apertet, Vinyl-Terror & -Horror & Dr. Nexus, Bettina Vismann, Whw – What, How & For Whom, Susanne Winterling, Dolores Zinny & Juan Maidagan, Arthur Zmijewski + Slawomir Sierakowski, and Andrzej Zulawski.

This year’s Biennial, titled “When things cast no shadow,” will inhabit 4 venues, each different in terms of history and topographical position. Besides the main historical venue of the Biennial, the Kunst-Werke, this year includes: Mies van der Rohe’s Neue Nationalgalerie in former West Berlin, the outdoor park Skulpturenpark_Berlin Zentrum, and the Schinkel Pavillion. In the latter, Szymczyk and Filipovic invited 5 artists to curate in turn 5 solo shows of the artists that they find particularly influential. The series of solo shows will be shown in sequence, the first one is Janette Laverriere, selected by Nairy Bagharamian.

Friday, March 07, 2008

Angela Bulloch


The paradox of Angela Bulloch's art is that while her works are difficult to apprehend perceptually, they depend on heightened sensory responses for their affective power. Her show at the Kunstbau, titled "The Space that Time Forgot," consists of five new pieces, among them a projection of images of the earth onto a three-dimensional object; a computer-controlled LED installation mimicking a starry night sky; and an assemblage of structures evocative of modernist architecture but of indeterminate function. The works will respond to and influence one another both visually and acoustically, creating, in effect, a single, room-size installation. The exhibition is accompanied by a catalogue that includes essays by curator Matthias Mühling and critic Diedrich Diederichsen.