Jake & Dinos Chapman
Michael Ray Charles
Hubbard & Birchler
Noble & Webster
120 Years of Art and Mass Culture. The exhibition deals with the various forms which the space of the public domain, of the media and of illusions, has assumed over the past 120 years. Be it the creation of a scenario or an event, the amount of staging involved, or the site of cultural self-ascertainment, the elimination of the stage situation, or the reach of projection and transmission technology â€“ all these aspects changed considerably between 1885 and 2005. The exhibition looks at the transitions between art and society and thus also at the social concept of art; the artworks are the point of departure, the repertoire and the objects on show.
120 Years of Art and Mass Culture
Artists: Vito Acconci, Antonin Artaud, John Baldessari, Matthew Barney, Ford Beckman, Vanessa Beecroft, Daniele Buetti, Andre Butzer, Maurizio Cattelan, Jake & Dinos Chapman, Michael Ray Charles, Phil Collins, Hanne Darboven, Luc Delahaye, Marcel Duchamp, Marlene Dumas, James Ensor, Alexandra Exter, Peter Feldmann, Sylvie Fleury, GÃ¼nther FÃ¶rg, Marianna Gartner, Red Sniper (Kendell Geers / Patrick Codenys), Andreas Gefeller, Nan Goldin, Dan Graham, Richard Hamilton, Isabell Heimerdinger, Damien Hirst, Candida HÃ¶fer, Hubbard & Birchler, John Isaacs, Dennis Oppenheim, Alan Kaprow, Edward Kienholz, Martin Kippenberger, Yves Klein, Gustav Kluge, Bettina KÃ¶nnemann, Jeff Koons, Yayoi Kusama, Michael Light, El Lissitzky, Robert Longo, Urs LÃ¼thi, Ã‰-J. Marey, Paul McCarthy + Jason Rhoades, Jonathan Meese, Laszlo Moholy-Nagy, Otto MÃ¼hl, Takashi Murakami, Eadweard Muybridge, Shahryar Nashat, Noble & Webster, Dennis Oppenheim, Eduardo Paolozzi, Raymond Pettibon, Pablo Picasso, Richard Prince, Martial Raysse, Tobias Rehberger, Alexander Rodtschenko, Mimmo Rotella, Tobias Rehberger, Dieter Roth, Ed Ruscha, Jean Tinguely, Rob Scholte, Elfie Semotan, Cindy Sherman, Joel Sternfeld, Hiroshi Sugimoto, Nicola Tyson, Dziga Vertov, Catherine Wagner, Andy Warhol, Franz West, Catherine Yass and many others.
The exhibition â€œLes Grands Spectacles_120 Years of Art and Mass Cultureâ€ deals with the various forms which the space of the public domain, of the media and of illusions, has assumed over the past 120 years. Be it the creation of a scenario or an event, the amount of staging involved, or the site of cultural self-ascertainment, the elimination of the stage situation, or the reach of projection and transmission technology â€“ all these aspects changed considerably between 1885 and 2005. â€œLes Grands Spectaclesâ€ aims to show what effects these changes have had on art or have been spurred by art, and how the social significance of the sensational, the tragic or the deceptive has been understood in art and the material of the spectacle explored, extended, hijacked, altered or destroyed in artworks.
The very word â€œspectacleâ€ is a synonym for numerous phenomena; in German it stands for a great commotion, dreadful clamour or flashy distraction; in French, however, as in international theory formation, it stands for â€œdramaâ€, â€œtheatreâ€, or any kinds of event, and is therefore understood more often as a keyword for a philosophical or theoretical concept. In his book La SociÃ©tÃ© du Spectacle (Paris 1967) the French writer Guy Debord (1931-1994) described the spectacle as a complex system of delusion and deception which adapts people to the demands of the media and of work in modern society and robs them of their life. The focal point of the wordâ€™s meaning has shifted in the same way as the share of the spectacular in society: from being a marginal aspect of entertainment to being a major instrument of control.
The exhibition unfolds in three more or less clearly defined stages: starting with the invention of film and the standardisation of the bourgeois theatre-house in the late 19th century, it goes on to a further focal point with the modernisation and dissemination of the mass media after World War Two, and finally arrives at the situation of art at the beginning of the new millennium, where any event, however insignificant, has to cultivate a theatrical quality, and the individualâ€™s every intimate impulse can become entertainment for the masses. Even if an end of the so-called â€œfun societyâ€ has been in sight for some time now, the guidelines of â€œevent cultureâ€ persist. The significance of the spectacular is merely going through a phase of renewed change; in no way it is declining. Art is being increasingly forced to make events of its openings and use its exhibits as the stuff of mass-appeal happenings.
In the face of this development, â€œLes Grands Spectaclesâ€ follows several trails through the 20th century in an effort to present artistic strategies from various eras which aim at (also) turning the artwork into a scenario in which there is a clash with the ambitions of the society of the spectacle. Although the exhibition follows a historical course, the presentation of some of the individual exhibits will not be subject to a strict chronological order. Themes and phenomena from the early 20th century can therefore be interspersed with topical works, after all, the question of the stuff of spectacle and the conflicts this involves is not to be presented as one that is historically distant, or that has already been overcome. The exhibition looks at the transitions between art and society and thus also at the social concept of art; the artworks are the point of departure, the repertoire and the objects on show. This basic constellation demands attention: the aim is to adhere to the aspirations of the art, and not to make do with an image of art â€“ historically or conceptually determined by society â€“ that defines it as a â€œfree spaceâ€ and thus only accords it a peripheral existence and significance.
The exhibition will start with a thematically structured cabinet which outlines the diversity of the technical and social developments which so radically altered both perception and the concept of the image in such a short space of time at the end of the 19th century. The invention of the motion picture (Marey, Muybridge) was initially a scientific exploration of movements and sequences of forms. At the time, that exploration had a common interest with the aim of technically optimising working conditions through machines, which, as we know, gave rise to assembly line production and the automobile industry, while the motion picture persisted as a fairground sensation; it was the middle of the next century before it became a major medium of industrial society. The cabinet will therefore seem like a kind of Wunderkammer or speculative laboratory at first, and only later become an archive of the classical avant-garde, with works and documents by the Futurists, Dadaists and Surrealists. These art movements sought something with the potential to change society, and they sought it not just in modern technology, but also in the repressed realm of the sensational -- among circus attractions, on the stage of the dream, and in popular speculation about the fourth dimension.
In a second stage, the exhibition documents the concept of the â€œSituationist Internationalâ€ (1957) and presents their critique of the â€œsociety of the spectacleâ€ as one of the most progressive positions of â€œpoetic practiceâ€ in the 1950s and 60s. Even though after 1962 the Situationists rejected all art as part of the spectacle, their covert activities will be seen in the exhibition as a thoroughly aesthetic intervention, for the â€œSituationist Internationalâ€ was itself a scenario whose mechanism functioned in peopleâ€™s imaginations and was permeated with fictions. With a view to this radical position, works from that epoch (by Andy Warhol, Yayoi Kusama, Yves Klein, Niki de Saint-Phalle) will relax the rather strict documentary framework and show that the artists reflected on modern forms of industrial production and the new conditions of mass consumerism by addressing new and fundamentally other problems and by using different means of production. Outside of the â€œSituationist Internationalâ€ artists also explored the new idiom of mass culture in order to make their art -- sometimes with very similar means (Eduardo Paolozzi, Raymond Hains, Richard Hamilton) -- the scene of another mode of life or thought.
The exhibition will also deal with sites where illusions are produced, as a link between the 1960s and the current situation. Thus it will raise the issue of how art integrated and reflected film production technology, the film industry, the Hollywood system, Disneyland and Las Vegas (Ed Ruscha, Raymond Pettibon, Gustav Kluge, Catherine Wagner). At the same time, the real stage situation will also be focused on, with attention being drawn both to the act of producing illusion, of exaggerating the artificial figure on the stage, and to the reality â€œbackstageâ€ (Nan Goldin, Marlene Dumas). The empty stage or canvas is the scenario where -- not far from the â€œend of artâ€ -- spaces and images emerge in which the spectacle has been dissolved or has disappeared in the medium itself (Candida HÃ¶fer, Hiroshi Sugimoto).
The last stage of the exhibition concentrates on the 1990s, providing insight into artistic strategies that avoid being exploited by event culture through affirmative exaggeration, alternative social concepts, burlesque mimicry or cruel satire (works by Martin Kippenberger, Paul McCarthy and Jason Rhoades or Jeff Koons). Art now operates between the misery of an everyday life without adventure and the hell of a glamorous world devoid of experience. All events, wishes or desires are either avoided, levelled and punished, or have already been moulded, evoked and worked through before even approaching realisation. The control of individual fantasies, even the most intimate, through anticipatory mises-en-scÃ¨ne and patterns confronts artists -- above all in their role as clown -- with the question of how they wish to appear in a world that challenges each individual person to join the world of the stars in order to maximise his enjoyment or project his image. Here the difference between art and life, or the spectacle and the everyday, is eliminated, leaving behind only misery: the imaginative powers of the artist as a reservoir of lucrative extremes, and life as a spectacle in a fully supervised prison. Under these circumstances, artists are attempting to re-appropriate the notion of the extraordinary, the celebratory, the passionate and the overwhelming (Jonathan Meese) in opposition to the standardised signs of liberalism or beauty, and against the gestures of a pretended freedom from taboos, as propagated for example by fashion or reality TV.
Margrit Brehm / Roberto Ohrt
Image: Cindy Sherman, Untitled MP # 351, 2000
Museum der Moderne