Under the title From the Laboratory of Thomas A. Edison, Pieroth will show a new installation consisting of two works. The exhibition confronts an empty sheet of writing-paper from the laboratory of the important inventor, which the artist bought at an auction, with a large heap of building material.
FROM THE LABORATORY OF THOMAS A. EDISON
Invitation to a conversation with the press on Friday, December 12, 2003, at 11 a.m.
Opening Saturday, December 13, 2003, 8 p.m.
Under the title From the Laboratory of Thomas A. Edison, Kirsten Pieroth will show a new installation consisting of two works. The exhibition confronts an empty sheet of writing-paper from the laboratory of the important inventor, which the artist bought at an auction, with a large heap of building material. In connection with a photo documentation, the laths, boards, window and door elements already cut to size and sorted make it clear that we are faced with elements for constructing a building. This work entitled Building #11 is indeed a reconstruction - compiled from photos - of the materials that were most likely needed to erect Building #11 of Edison's laboratory complex. The sculpture is therefore a kind of full-scale model kit of the building's exterior.
Edison's largest research centre was built in 1887 in West Orange, New Jersey, and was initially a complex comprising five brick buildings. In the following years, it was expanded by further buildings, including Building #11 which was erected in 1899 and used as a chemical laboratory. In 1940, the house was given to the Henry Ford Museum in Dearborn, Michigan. To this end, all individual parts of the building were meticulously disassembled and numbered, to then be built up again piece by piece in Michigan as an attraction on the museum's historical outdoor grounds. The building stood there for the next 60 years. Last year, however, the Henry Ford Museum wanted to accommodate a different part of its collection on that spot, so the wooden shack was again disassembled and re-erected back at its original site in West Orange. Due to this double repositioning of the facade as well as the fact that over time decrepit wooden components of the house were long replaced by new ones, Building #11 has meanwhile become it's own full-scale model, even though it is again situated at its original location. It has completely given up its function as a chemical lab and become a pure exhibit.
By fabricating a copy as a model construction kit, this famous laboratory theoretically becomes available for everyone, even if only as a facade, container or casing. The empty sheet of writing-paper, although it is the only original object from Edison's laboratory present in Pieroth's installation, is also a container that never became the carrier of authentic contents. Both the reconstruction of the laboratory as a model and the piece of paper are characterised by their lack of function, in the latter case based on a missed opportunity, in the other case given up for the sake of authenticity. Kirsten Pieroth's feigning of the possibility of a further geographical shift of the lab and its confrontation with a blank piece of writing-paper reveal in a simple but highly precise manner the complexity of the notions of originality, fake and copy. By means of strategic interventions, rearrangements and recontextualizations, Pieroth repeatedly succeeds in offering a different readability of common concepts and familiar conditions.
Kirsten Pieroth (born 1970) lives and works in Berlin.
Schoene Aussicht 2 D-60311, Frankfurt
tel 49 069 21998760