Real Presences. Marcel Broodthaers today
With: Tacita Dean, Olivier Foulon, Andreas Hofer, Henrik Olesen, Kirsten Pieroth, Stephen Prina, Rirkrit Tiravanija, Joëlle Tuerlinckx, Susanne M. Winterling, Cerith Wyn Evans
This joint exhibition by the Kunsthalle Düsseldorf and Kunstverein für die Rheinlande und Westfalen presents selected works by international artists that make explicit reference to Marcel Broodthaers or that examine and further develop motifs from his oeuvre. These motifs include those that question the museum as an institution, examine imagination and outer appearance as a deconstruction of the cinematic image, and explore the relationship between language, writing and images. Ideas that were dealt with much later under the heading of institutional criticism also turn up in Broodthaers’ work, whose radical, pioneering qualities survive to this day.
The exhibition conveys the Quadriennale theme “Kunstgegenwärtig” (art in the present) through the participating artists’ relationship with Broodthaers. By referring to Broodthaers’ work in a variety of ways and thus acknowledging him as a source of inspiration, they demonstrate the relevance and “real presence” of his oeuvre, even in his absence.
Tacita Dean’s work „Parrot” depicts a parrot under palm trees in front of the Atomium in Brussels. The photograph, which the artist came across at a Brussels flea market, seems to be a rebus, a riddle to which there can be only one answer: Broodthaers. Dean is interested in exploring what is hidden and what is visible, especially with regard to unusual places and their past and present. Her films are infused with a painter’s sensibility and reflect absence and disappearance with unsettling intensity while at the same time questioning the very medium in which they are made.
The installations of Rirkrit Tiravanija create a dialogue with their audience. This allows them to question the social relevance of art, how art is presented, and even exhibitions themselves. These characteristics link his work to Broodthaers’ approach to institutional critique.
In photographs, films and collages that frequently refer to notable women, Susanne M. Winterling explores themes such as the abuse of gender and cultural differences and the construction of identity. She finds her material in literature, architecture, music, the history of film and even mundane objects. These she links together to create complex narratives that oscillate between authenticity and fiction and presents them in atmospheric installations.
What is language and how is meaning constituted? These are some of the questions Joëlle Tuerlinckx explores in her works and room installations. She works with the open structure of language, which is also image – recalling the avant-garde poetry Broodthaers employed to subversive effect in his work. Reality must inevitably remain mysterious and an empty space can be full of concepts and new ideas.
The works and installations of Stephen Prina, on the other hand, refer to existing works and juxtapose them with looped variations on their themes.
„Retrospection under Duress, Reprise”, for example, incorporates aspects of Broodthaers’ Adlermuseum from 1972 and overlays them with new elements, thus bringing them into the present by enriching their historical significance with our current perception of them.
Olivier Foulon creates installations that are rooted in art history by appropriating works by other artists as well as documents and theoretical and literary references. His work underscores, challenges and shifts conventional concepts of the relationship between original, copy and reproduction and explores issues related to the presentation and reception of art.
Cerith Wyn Evans’ work is about interweaving “quotes” from a variety of genres. He combines references to works by other artists, to film history and to modern science with formal references to conceptual art of the 1960s.
His highly aesthetic works emphasize the non-final nature of subjective and associative perception, something which makes absolute statements and definite interpretations impossible.
Kirsten Pieroth’s work focuses on the possibilities of presenting everyday objects, events and myths of cultural production in ways that diverge from the expectations we have formed through experience and habit. By appropriating, re-interpreting and de-contextualising – and often just by taking established terms literally – Pieroth points out alternative ways of reading things we normally take for granted and explores the validity of our systems of categorization.
Henrik Olesen also uses conceptual strategies to reveal the construction of reality in general, and historiography in particular. is collages, installations and architectural interventions are ongoing examinations of sexual constructs and identity constructs as perpetuated by institutions inside and outside the art world. His works expose social conventions as the consequence of politically motivated categorisations and exclusionary mechanisms.
Andreas Hofer’s work, on the other hand, takes us into the realm of fantasy and science fiction. Besides Batman and Superman, his heroes are iconic figures such as Hedy Lamarr, Veronica Lake, J.G. Ballard and Jack Smith. His work „Un Voyage en Mer du Nord”, which quotes Broodthaers’ work of the same name, examines the transformation of popular culture and found objects into works of art and testifies to a wide variety of referential relationships.