Simon Evans & Öyvind Fahlström – First we make the rules, then we break the rules
Both Simon Evans (b. 1972) and Öyvind Fahlström (1928–1976) have developed separate cartographies of the world with the eyes of a traveller. Evans largely produces psycho-geographical maps that enable him to define his own standpoint and locate himself within his environment; starting from the personal, putting his finger on general human shortcomings and desires. Fahlström is interested in the laws governing the collective that are reflected in pop cultural pictorial worlds and in the accumulation of political and economic data. He composed paintings and installations from variable elements and formed politically charged information into complex geopolitical maps that relentlessly reveal global injustices. The variability of the elements, the game as the basis of the artwork clearly shows that the world can fundamentally be altered by the individual. Both Fahlström and Evans motivate the viewer to rethink his own position, whether within the global play of power or in the everyday. And the two artists also make generous use of sarcasm and irony in their analyses, with the result that Evans is far removed from any and all form of sentimental self-adulation and Fahlström’s work does not approach the realm of political propaganda. The formal ingenuity of the artists, both of whom utilise collage techniques and fragmentation, is likewise fascinating in equal measures. Fahlström treats the overabundance of visual information in compositionally condensed labyrinthal structures, combining appropriated images with fictitious forms or creating nearly dreamlike sequences when, for example, the swimming figures from Green Pool come together in ever new constellations. Like his associative observations, Evans’ works have an almost ephemeral and delicate character. Just as the external and internal world overlap in the collages, countless layers of text and image similarly overlap. Tiny snippets of paper cut out of notebooks, everyday elements, drawings, erasures and overpastings result in a concentrated network of interwoven elements. Traces of time, the flow of ideas as well as the awareness about the impossibility of fixation are consequently also reflected in formal terms in Evans’ works. He simultaneously counteracts situationist activities with concrete instructions, findings and assertions.
The idea of showing a double exhibition with works by these two artists came about in a dialogue about their works. Even more fruitful was the discovery that for Simon Evans – and doubtlessly for many other contemporary artists as well – Fahlström’s oeuvre represents a major source of inspiration.
The show focuses on a small selection of works depicting maps, groundplans and playing fields or – in Fahlström’s case – which actually function as games. The artists use these classification principles in order to structure complex contexts: First we make the rules. They break at the same with the usual means of systemisation despite employing their methods in terms of form: Then we break the rules – it is a claim that Evans redeems by way of the supposed typing error on the invitation and catalogue cover both in terms of its literal as well as its figurative meaning.
Curated by Elodie Evers und Magdalena Holzhey
The exhibition is accompanied by a catalogue published by the Verlag der Buchhandlung Walther König that features numerous colour illustrations, a foreword by Elodie Evers and Magdalena Holzhey, an interview with Simon Evans by Elodie Evers in addition to essays by Raphael Rubinstein and Maibritt Borgen.