Migros Museum
Limmatstrasse 270
+41 442772050 FAX +41 442776286
Henry Darger, Cathy Wilkes
dal 23/8/2002 al 20/10/2002
+41 1 2772050 FAX +41 1 2776286
Segnalato da

Arthur Miranda

calendario eventi  :: 


Henry Darger, Cathy Wilkes

Migros Museum, Zurich

Darger: The Realms of the Unreal. Wilkes: an extensive installation

comunicato stampa

The Realms of the Unreal

Henry Darger (1892 to 1973) is an insider tip on the art scene. His works are much discussed, but rarely seen in the original. Darger lived in an obsessive fantasy world; he wrote a novel of over 15,000 pages, which he illustrated with watercolour drawings. The migros museum is now putting on an exhibition of a selection of these illustrations.

Orphaned at an early age, Henry Darger spent his childhood in Catholic homes and a school for feeble-minded children, from whose supervision he escaped as a 17-year old. Darger led a very unobtrusive and withdrawn life of near poverty. He worked as a hospital caretaker and dishwasher and lived in a tiny apartment in Chicago, which he filled from floor to ceiling with magazines, newspapers, diaries, weather charts and his novel. When he died in 1973, he left everything to his landlords, the Bauhaus artist Nathan Lerner and the pianist Kiyoko Lerner. They discovered Darger's life's work, his 15,145-page novel, originally entitled The Story of the Vivian Girls in What is Known as the Realms of the Unreal of the Glandeco-Angelinnian War Storm, as Caused by the Child Slave Rebellion and the illustrations that went with it, a collage of 300 undated watercolours, some of them double-sided, glued or sewn together.

The Realms of the Unreal is a portrayal of war, as we picture it in our collective psyche as the archaic struggle between good and evil: the innocent are enchantingly angelic, the evil ones unspeakably cruel. The story tells of the battle between seven heroic young girls, the Vivian Girls, who are defending a Catholic republic, and the apostate butchers, the Glandelinians. Darger places his wide-eyed little girls, often sexually neutral, naked, with small penises or wings, in the midst of a flourishing children's arcadia. In this picture-book idyll, they are constantly plagued by the evil ones. Glandelinians, clad in uniforms of the American civil war and the first world war, pursue, strangle or torment the sisters.

Although Darger himself was never involved in a war, the work is imbued with the violent conflicts of his age. His motifs were drawn from an immense range. He took his inspiration from newspaper articles, film stills, comic figures and children's books, and he adopted their simple perspectives, shaping them into a continuous narrative structure that can developed into a panoramic format.

Any attempt to classify Darger's works in terms of art history is inadequate. What is nevertheless interesting is the fact that his images seem to be as closely related to the writings of an Antonin Artaud, a de Sade or Lewis Carroll's Alice as they are to the works of several contemporary artists, such as Ugo Rondinone, the Chapman brothers or Karen Kilimnik.

The Henry Darger Exhibition has been curated by Klaus Biesenbach for P.S.1 Contemporary Art Center and Kunst-Werke Berlin, and has been made possible by the support of Mrs Kiyoko Lerner and the Mrs Kiyoko Lerner Collection, courtesy of Carl Hammer Gallery Chicago, Illinois, USA.

The exhibition is curated by Heike Munder. The migros museum of contemporary art is an institution supported by the Migros Culture Percentage.

Preview: August 23rd 2002, from 18.00

Opening times: Tuesday to Friday 12.00 - 18.00, Saturday/Sunday 11.00 - 17.00, closed on Mondays

Cathy Wilkes

24 August to 20 October 2002

Cathy Wilkes was born in 1966 in Belfast, and studied at the Glasgow School of Art and at the University of Ulster in Belfast. In 1989 she was a co-founder of the Women's Library in Glasgow; she organised exhibitions and worked in the artist's collective Elisabeth Go.

Cathy Wilkes's works are based on the concept of Constructivism, as it developed in the 1920s. Her work is characterised by the idea of a new way of life through a new way of looking at it: the world of visible objects offers no basis for sure insight, but is subject to the constant changes in subjective perspective. The sole invariable truth is the idea that finds expression in absolute (mathematical) abstraction.

In extensive installations, full of subliminal allusions, Cathy Wilkes arranges objects she has found with small-format paintings and delicate geometric constructions made of wooden sticks. A worn-out garden lounger, a wobbly folding table, a clapped-out heater are the central features of these sets. A patina of dust, scratches and rust coats the furniture and implies the story of its use.

Individual letters or words drawn with fine pencil lines appear like fragmented bits of lost property in various different places. Stylised eyes, hair, ears and a mouth are stuck onto a pink and white background. Beneath them can be read, in soft, faded handwritten letters "Mr. So & So". The work of the same name, from 2001, is an oblique reference to the awkward relationship between man and woman. All around the object is a sentimental aura of things past, things forgotten and things secretly dreamed of.

Wilkes's latest complex Untitled 2002, also deals with the relationship between the sexes. In the style of Duchamps, rusty heaters are lined up with silver trays. A geometric construction of ebony sticks suggests the silhouette of a man with a hard penis. Small-format oil paintings are a reference to the feminine side. There are hints of a female figure in a flighty red skirt or the contours of a female breast. The hidden allusions to a subliminal network of relationships lead not to a clear interpretation, but rather to the half-light of the poetic. The painting opens up another aspect, displaying the word "Value". It is a reference to an almost forgotten textbook about the Marxist understanding of economics, a treatise on the value of barter and the division of labour, by means of which a figure can be put on a person's value. But Cathy Wilkes fails to offer any more precise definition of the value of the relationship between the sexes.

One central aspect of her work is the portrait and the questioning of depictions of reality. Which reality can an installation depict that consists of a tray and an old mattress with a wooden construction, which reminds us of a person reposing on it? The ensemble Photographed by Dorothea L., 2001, is a homage to the American photographer Dorothea Lang. At the time of the Great Depression, she was commissioned by the Federal Arts Program to produce a photographic portrait of the "USA". Initially hailed as a realistic, impressive portrait, her works were later criticised as having created "icons of real life".

Cathy Wilkes's search is for the process of objectivisation and communication, and she uses a repertoire of shapes that are reminiscent of the art of the 1920s and 1930s. Amorphous shapes, abstractions tinged with constructivism and sculptural creations are suggestive of utopian dreams, dreams of a classless society, but like a dadaist poem their true meaning is elusive. Cathy Wilkes never lifts the veil. The inexpressible remains unexpressed.

We are grateful to the British Council for sponsoring this Exhibition.

The exhibition is curated by Heike Munder. The migros museum of contemporary art is an institution supported by the Migros Culture Percentage.

Image: Henry Darger, At Jennie Richee, frustrate the enemy twice

Preview: August 23rd 2002, from 18.00

Opening times: Tuesday to Friday 12.00 - 18.00 Saturday/Sunday 11.00 - 17.00 Closed on Mondays
Information: Tel +41 1 277 20 50 Fax +41 1 277 62 86

Resistance Performed
dal 19/11/2015 al 6/2/2016

Attiva la tua LINEA DIRETTA con questa sede