Friday, April 17, 2009

Michaël Borremans - Kestnergesellschaft Hannover (DE)

The Belgian artist Michaël Borremans (born 1963) has made a name for himself internationally with his paintings and drawings. In recent years Borremans has increasingly worked with the medium of film. In the framework of his solo exhibition in the kestnergesellschaft, an extensive series of his filmic works will be presented, in addition to new paintings and selected drawings.

Michaël Borremans’ work spans a wide arc through the resonance chamber of art history all the way to the present. His painterly, graphic or filmic works present situations of human alienation and isolation, triggered by visible or imagined influences of power. He works here with the depiction of individual persons or groups which seem to be isolated in certain actions or rituals. Upon close scrutiny or through filmic repetition, the scenes become picture puzzles. Borremans’ works may also be read as possible commentaries on visual phenomena of the present which, in their impulse towards legibility, are increasingly coming to resemble each other and are thereby becoming inscrutable.

The graphic works of Michaël Borremans serve as the formal basis for his films, which may be designated as tableaux vivants because of their stage-like and performative aspects. Through a slowly-scanning camera movement, a concentrated and intense atmosphere is built up. With slow zooms, he directs the attention of the viewer to parts of the setting such as faces, bodies and pieces of clothing. Borremans’ films, just like his paintings and drawings, balance between an everyday reality of the ordinary and unfathomable, parallel worlds. In the kestnergesellschaft, his filmic works from the last three years will be shown as 35mm and 16mm spatial projections as well as screen presentations.

Just like his films, Borremans’ paintings live from a pronounced emphasis on light, color and dimension. This method makes numerous references to the paintings of the old masters. In the kestnergesellschaft, new paintings from 2008 and 2009 will be displayed.

Elspeth Diederix-Museum Jan Cunen 5-4-2009 - 28-6-2009 (NL)

"In her work, Elspeth strips everyday objects of their logical form or function and introduces them into a new and surreal world. She brings every variety of material and human character into view in such a way that causes them to lose their original meaning and take on a new one. The illusory image becomes stronger because the objects depicted seem to be suspended in an introverted dream world."

Monday, April 13, 2009

Akram Zaatari at Kunstverein München

In his work the artist Akram Zaatari examines the cultural and political conditions of Lebanon’s postwar society, dedicating parts of his research to the phenomenon of the national resistance movements, as well as underlining the inaccurate representation of territorial conflicts within the media.

As co-founder of the Arab Image Foundation in Beirut, collecting, archiving and analysing the visual history of an uneven modernity in the Middle East forms the basis of Zaatari´s work.

Akram Zaatari´s artistic practice is an ongoing study of historical photographic documents, and their relationship to personal histories - confronting personal with historical political events.

The short film “Saida June 6th 1982” for example, is an animated collage of photos, which Zaartari – when he was just 16 years old – took on the first day of the Israeli invasion from the balcony of his parents’ house. Often his chosen form of presentation can be read as a parable for the political and cultural shifts taking place in Beirut and across the Middle East.

Akram Zaatari (*1966 Saida, Lebanon) lives and works in Beirut. He has been showing his work in solo exhibitions (2007, Art Basel; 2005, Grey Art Gallery, New York; 2004 Portikus, Frankfurt; 2002, Palais des Beaux Arts, Brussels) and group exhibitions (2008, Centre Georges Pompidou, Paris; 2007, 52. Biennale, Venice; 2006, Sao Paulo Biennale, Gwangju Biennale,Korea; Sydney Biennale).

Akram Zaatari at Kunstverein München. Munich, Germany, March 27, 2009. Video by Gürsoy Dogtas.

Sunday, April 05, 2009

Guido van der Werve-museum de Hallen Haarlem NL

The Dutch artist Guido van der Werve (Papendrecht, 1977) has built an oeuvre of short films in which Van der Werve himself stars. Some of his films show him performing actions in the tradition of the performance art of the 1970s. For 'Nummer acht' (2007), for example, the artist walked out in front of an icebreaker on a frozen arctic sea, and for 'Nummer negen' (2007), Van der Werve stood for exactly 24 hours on the geographic North Pole. Van der Werve portrays a typical Romantic hero in these works: the solitary figure tempting fate by physically subjecting himself to the whims of Nature, in order to experience an intensification of reality.

In the current exhibition, Van der Werve’s latest, most ambitious film, 'Nummer twaalf' (2009), takes centre stage. This film revolves around three unsolvable ‘infinity questions’, which are dealt with in three separate scenes: the romantic King’s Gambit, a chess opening; tuning a piano; and counting the stars in the night sky. The artist filmed these scenes at three locations which symbolise these ‘grand’ subjects: the legendary Marshall Chess Club in Manhattan (where illustrious players like Bobby Fischer and Marcel Duchamp were once members), the active volcano Mount St. Helens in the north-western US and the San Andreas Fault in California. As in a number of earlier films, the ‘sublime landscape’ once again plays an important role in 'Nummer twaalf'.

While classical music always had an emphatic presence in the earlier films, in 'Nummer twaalf', the artist has found an inventive way to integrate the music with the work itself. Basing himself on a personally developed transcription of chess notation into musical notation, Van der Werve constructed a unique ‘chess piano’. In this chess board on top of a piano mechanism, each of the 64 squares of the game board simultaneously serves as a piano key. The moves made during a game of chess are automatically turned into notes, resulting in a composition. As a result, the game of chess played by Van der Werve and a Grandmaster, which serves as one of the film’s leitmotivs, literally produces its own musical score.

The artist seems to be looking for ways to ‘re-enchant’ the world – to effect minor, personal miracles that allow us to briefly escape our hum-drum everyday life and see the world with a fresh sense of wonder. As such he is a representative of a tendency in contemporary art, in which the artist – after a period of impersonal, analytical deconstruction of reality – once again explicitly becomes ‘author’ and the producer of personal and emotional experiences.

Besides 'Nummer twaalf' and the chess piano, the exhibition includes two other films from the museum collection, 'Nummer vier' (2005) and 'Nummer zes' (2006), which have strong thematic and formal ties with 'Nummer twaalf'. These films also make use of long shots and slow camera movements, for instance, and music plays an important role.