27 September 2014 – 11 January 2015
opening 26 September 2014
Guest curator: Pierre Bal-Blanc
Artists: Mathieu K. Abonnenc, Silvano Agosti, Marie Cool Fabio Balducci, Josef Dabernig, Alberto Garutti, Marcus Geiger, Isa Genzken, Prinz Gholam, Dan Graham, Mauricio Guillén, Sanja Iveković, Benoît Maire, Marcello Maloberti, Marianne Maric, Rä di Martino, Mattin, Isidoro Valcárcel Medina, Marta Minujín, Deimantas Narkevicius, Rainer Oldendorf, Roman Ondák, Christodoulos Panayiotou, Emilie Parendeau, Gianni Pettena, Pratchaya Phinthong, Emilio Prini, Lili Reynaud-Dewar, R&Sie(n) François Roche, Stéphanie Lavaux, Jean Navarro, Bernhard Rüdiger, Matthieu Saladin, Santiago Sierra, Terre Thaemlitz, Slaven Tolj, Ron Tran, Annie Vigier & Franck Apertet, Marie Voignier, Clemens von Wedemeyer, Lois Weinberger, Lawrence Weiner.
Including works by: Raimund Abraham, Robert Breer, KP Brehmer, Marcel Broodthaers, CAPC musée d’art contemporain de Bordeaux – Philippe Thomas, Achille Castiglioni, Giorgio De Chirico, Felix Gonzalez-Torres, Pier Paolo Pasolini, Walter Pichler, Carlo Scarpa, Allan Sekula, Sturtevant.
The museum between light and shadow
The title of the exhibition Soleil politique (Political Sun) is taken from a work of the same name by Marcel Broodthaers, made in 1972 using a black and white illustration cropped from an encyclopedia. The artist altered the illustration depicting the relative size of the planets in the Solar System. In adding the word ‘politics’ to the largest sphere depicting the Sun, Broodthaers praises the Sun’s emancipatory force and, at the same time, reveals the hegemonic character of a power that demands obedience. In completing the work by altering the smallest circle, depicting the Earth, he places his discourse in space and affirms a consciousness of its finitude. In merging planet Earth with the darkness of the universe, as rendered by the page’s black background, the former director of the Musée d’Art Moderne, Départment des Aigles (Museum of Modern Art, Department of Eagles) brings to light the risk of a return to obscurantism. With the stroke of a pen, Broodthaers eclipses the entire planet with ink, and thus points to the somber threat that an identity oblivious to its incompleteness and insufficiency poses.
The exhibition Soleil politique is presented at the Bolzano Museion (Italy), the name of which takes us back to the origins of the museum as it was founded in 391 BC by the Ptolemy Dynasty. During the French Revolution, the term ‘Museion’, from the Latin ‘museum’, referred to the sanctuary that housed the riches of collective memory previously in the possession of the monarchy or the clergy and subsequently handed over to the people. At the time, it was still inhabited, as indeed it was in Ancient Egypt. Ancient or revolutionary, it is the refuge for a community of artists and trans-disciplinary scholars in constant dialogue with their students and temporary guests.
We return here to this polymorphous and living model shared by philosophers, from both the ancient world and the Enlightenment, in order to build the Museum of the twenty-first century. The industrial age and its taxonomy gave body to the modern art museum in the twentieth century. Yet its dogmatism, such as that of the encyclopedia, the outmoded form of which Marcel Broodthaers relied upon to make his work, will end up decalcifying the skeletal structure of an edifice otherwise subjected to economic profit, divisions of labor and the compartmentalization of specialized areas of competence. Recent attempts to reinvigorate the museum institution with internal changes (by introducing museum educators and docents or de-compartmentalizing disciplines) or external trends (opening the museum to new geographies and populations) should not hide the causes of such reforms. Endogenesis or exogenisis are not sufficient to stop an organism from reviving the same dangerous traditions in which it continues to prospect for deposits of authenticity as a potential source of profit, as its architecture and segmentary programs reveal.
Is the museum the site that consecrates capitalist homogeneity or the site of a ‘heterogenetic’ process?
In the age of urban and digital revolution, the domestic market colonizes the globe and mental space. The exhibition Soleil politique infiltrates the vast, multitudinous systems to which we belong. It relies on the stories and scripts of artists or authors and borrows their distinct creative and operational methods in order to thwart the organized insecurity which pervades society through the dominant system of commodity exchange. Existing or specially commissioned works produced in the heart of the borderland Alto Adige Valley introduce spatial perspectives that, in all ways, exceed distinct regions. They establish temporal rhythms that stimulate an intentionally involuntary memory. The exhibition Soleil politique replaces this years trends and media events with an program of moods and feelings.
Pierre Bal-Blanc, Paris, 2014.
L’intenzione della mostra è interrogare il ruolo del museo nella città ripensando alla sua storia attraverso lo sguardo di artisti provenienti da diverse discipline: architetti, registi, performer, musicisti e compositori. Il visitatore è invitato a intraprendere un percorso che, una volta superata la soglia del museo, inizia direttamente nel cuore delle opere per svilupparsi in seguito nella città.
Il primo gesto curatoriale è infatti invertire la gerarchia che regola la suddivisione degli spazi museali dall’entrata ai piani nobili, dal basso verso l’alto dell’edificio. Quest’atto spaziale sottolinea l’uso del luogo. Il museo d’arte contemporanea, così utilizzato, si distacca dalla regola normalmente imposta dai musei tradizionali. Dall’ultimo piano del museo, trasformato in belvedere, il visitatore potrà lasciar vagare il proprio sguardo sulla città, condizionato dai riferimenti offerti nella mostra al piano terra, per poi in seguito scendere e proseguire la visita degli spazi urbani imboccando realmente strade, vie.
Saranno presentati in mostra maquette, sculture, cortometraggi o documentari di artisti già riconosciuti (Marcel Broodthaers, Achille Castiglioni, Giorgio De Chirico, Isa Genzken, Sanja Iveković) o che lo stanno diventando (Deimantas Narkevičius, Slaven Tolj, Alejandra Riera, Josef Dabernig, R&Sie(n) François Roche, Stéphanie Lavaux, Jean Navarro, Roman Ondák), ma anche opere più intime come quelle di Isidoro Valcárcel Medina, Emilio Prini, Terre Thaemlitz.
La mostra è associata inoltre a opere chiave che hanno ispirato il progetto e che hanno partecipato alla nostra comprensione della storia della museografia, da La forma della città di Pier Paolo Pasolini, alla presentazione della statua equestre di Cangrande della Scala di Carlo Scarpa al Museo di Castelvecchio di Verona e altre ancora.
L’exposition Soleil politique invite le visiteur a s’engager dans un parcours qui débute, une fois le seuil du musée franchi, directement au cœur des œuvres, pour s’étendre ensuite a l’échelle de la ville.
Le premier geste curatorial est d’inverser la hiérarchie qui distribue d’ordinaire les espaces d’accueil et les contenus nobles, du bas vers le haut de l’édifice. Cet acte spatial souligne un usage particulier du lieu. Cet emploi des espaces se distingue de la règle imposée par le Palais des beaux-arts traditionnel ou par le temple religieux qui préparent l’accès aux contenus progressivement et par paliers. Du dernier étage du musée transformé en belvédère, on pourra promener son regard sur la ville, conditionné par les repères offerts dans l’exposition, pour ensuite redescendre et poursuivre la visite de la cité en empruntant réellement ses rues, ses avenues et ses ponts.
Le contenu de l’exposition est formé par des maquettes, sculptures, courtsmétrages ou documents, émanant d’artistes reconnus (Marcel Broodthaers, Achille Castiglioni, Giorgio De Chirico, Isa Genzken, Sanja Iveković) ou confirmés (Deimantas Narkevičius, Slaven Tolj, Alejandra Riera, Josef Dabernig, R&Sie(n) François Roche, Stéphanie Lavaux, Jean Navarro, Roman Ondák), mais aussi à l’appui d’œuvres d’artistes plus confidentiels comme Isidoro Valcárcel Medina, Emilio Prini, Terre Thaemlitz.
Leur travail est associé a des œuvres-clefs qui ont inspiré ce projet et qui participent à notre compréhension de l’histoire de la muséographie : La forma della città de Pier Paolo Pasolini, l’exposition de la statue de Cangrande della Scala par Carlo Scarpa au Musée du Castelvecchio de Vérone, le portrait du musée d’art de Cincinatti par Félix González-Torres, le Nu descendant un escalier d’Elaine Sturtevant, l’œuvre identifiée sous le nom CAPC musée d’art contemporain de Bordeaux de Philippe Thomas ou l’obélisque couchée de Marta Minujín en sont quelques exemples.
Marta Minujín, El Obelisco acostado, 1978–1985, Music by Laurie Anderson. © Marta Minujín
1-5. Lili Reynaud-Dewar, Vivre avec ça ?!, 2014
6. Marcel Broodthaers, Soleil Politique, 1972, print and collage on paper and ink, 25,5 x 35,5 cm. Copyright Estate Marcel Broodthaers
7. Prozession mit Tragbarem Schrein, 1970. (Walter Pichler and Werner Stupka). Photo: Marina Faust
8. Allan Sekula, Meat Mass, 1972. Photo: Allan Sekula and David Alward. © Generali Foundation
9. Emilio Prini, Stampa di un consumo – Monaco ’71 Il caffè del Kunstverein, 1971. Courtesy Galleria Pio Monti, Rome
10. Marta Minujín, El obelisco acostado, 1978. 1st Latin American Biennial of São Paulo. Courtesy of the artist
11. Marcel Broodthaers, fig. 1, fig. 0, fig. 12, 1972, paper and photograph collage, white soft-lead pencil frame, 36 x 44 cm. Copyright Estate Marcel Broodthaers
12. Marie Cool, Fabio Balducci, Sans titre, 2011. Courtesy the artist and Marcelle Alix, Paris. Museion 2014. Photo: Luca Meneghel
13. Marcus Geiger, Sozial, Radikal, Minimal, Kapital, 2007-2010. Museion 2014. Photo: Luca Meneghel
14. Alberto Garutti, Madonna, 2007. Courtesy the artist. Museion 2014. Photo: Luca Meneghel
Cecilia Canziani In Bolzano, for the exhibition Soleil Politique, Pierre Bal-Blanc wanted to have the first piece you showed in a gallery: the door of your apartment, installed vertically on hinges in the exhibition space. The main part of the work, though, is the effect of this action: you lived without the door for almost two months back then. Who would come to the gallery would not be the same person passing by your apartment and perhaps peeping in. The work engaged two different kinds of public, each only perceiving half of the story, and reading the dislocation of the door in relation to the context from which they were witnessing it. Can you describe this first presentation and how it came to life?
Ron Tran I was invited to be in a group show by curator Juan Gaitán, which took place in Vancouver. It was more or less a survey of minimalist and conceptualist strategies and approaches. I have always been interested in performance art but don’t necessary consider myself to be a minimalist artist so I took this on as a challenge. Most of my projects are very simple but not minimalist by any means. The title of the show was Everything Should Be Made as Simple as Possible, but Not Simpler. I thought about it for a while, how can I make a piece relating to my performative practice but appearing to be minimalist art. I recalled not telling anyone including Gaitán what I was going to do for the show. I asked everyone to reserve a small wall space for me and planned to install the work on the day of the opening. It was a very strange feeling to unhinge my door off and walked away from my living space. My first audience was my neighbor who lived directly across from me. Coincidentally, he came home from work and witnessed me carrying the door away that day… I considered it was a performance moment. As well as anyone who enters my apartment while I’m there: I would consider it an unintentional performance and this is the audience outside of the gallery or the institution. The idea was too simple and I had trouble installing it when I brought it to the gallery. My original plan was just going to lean the door against the wall and leave it as that. However, I decided to install it on hinges so the audience could physically swing the door back and forth as it would normally do, but somehow it lost its functionality of protecting one’s private space. I also left my set of keys in the lock. I reckoned I wouldn’t need it anymore until the show ends. With this particular piece, I was interested in take a ready-made object and display it as art much like Duchamp’s Fountain but then later I destroyed this “art object” by returning it back to its origin and continued to use it afterward.
C.C. In Bolzano the public is confronted with a slide projecting onto a wall the view towards the entrance of your flat from within the apartment. The spectator shares your point of view, which may account as a third possibility to experience the piece…
R.T. I didn’t have a studio at that time and I work mostly from home so a lot of my projects became very personal. When I met up with Pierre Bal-Blanc at Bethanien, we have talked about the possibility to recreate this work but I didn’t feel like home there. Most of the household objects belonged to the institute and the whole entire building is occupied by international artists. It would be very strange for me to create this work at this residency and not in a flattering or challenging way. I didn’t think about using the image of my interior space looking out the doorless frame into the hallway and my neighbor much later on. I actually came to Bolzano with a documentation image from the installation of the show. I tested it out on the Museion’s wall but it didn’t work so we decided to use the interior photograph. This image was never meant to be an artwork to begin with, I took the photo using the camera on my phone to archive my visual memory somehow it became an artwork itself. This image has a totally different experience for the gallery goers compared to my original installation even though it came from the same project. The audience is informed with the concept of the work as well as getting a glimpse of my private space this time through an image. The fourth possible audience of this work are the people who have heard of this work or have asked me directly, in some way they don’t really need to see it, it became a story-telling.
C.C. Your show at Bethanien addresses the notion of artistic labor in Berlin: you invited a number of expat artists that moved to the city because of its economic conditions, but cannot support themselves through their work. You offered them a space, and helped them putting up an activity. For each person you created a special, working and comfortable space. There is something deeply gentle and delicate in this, which marks a difference between your project and many similar ones that aim at transforming the institution from space of contemplation into space of action. In your case, the institution makes visible the disfunctions of an economical system, and at the same time mends its failures by acting as business incubator.
R.T. This project was an interesting observation for me. I was supposed to produce and put on an exhibition to represent Canada at this international institution. After months from living in Berlin, I have attended many openings and other social gathers. There was an ongoing dialogue with the people I have met, mostly expats expressing their concerns about economic conditions in this city. Berlin is still considered to be one of the cheapest city to live in Europe although this notion is changing very quickly. Berlin becomes an international art hub for so many reasons besides the so-called affordable living standard. However, the biggest concern here is how the city is over-saturated with artists, how it is difficult to find work or at least make a living as an artist. I don’t come from a privileged background by any means or feel pity for anyone. I actually can relate to these artists. I figured since I don’t produce physical art objects perhaps I should embrace that notion and invited various acquaintances from different creative backgrounds where I made on numerous occasions in Berlin to be in the exhibition. Instead of producing and displaying their creative work, I offered these guests a place to experiment and expand their side gigs with a chance to start up their own business in the gallery space. I worked with these guests and designed their business identity, built and use my entire production budget to purchase any necessary thing for their needs. These guests were encouraged to continue with their artistic labor after the exhibition is over. There is something peculiar about how I have spent an entire year in Berlin to produce an exhibition that wasn’t my own work. When I return to Canada, I will bring back the same suitcase that I brought with me to Berlin except maybe a few extra books.
Ron Tran, Apartment #201 (Artist’s apartment door removed and displayed in the gallery for duration of exhibiton), variable dimensions and objects, 2008, Photo: Ron Tran