Dominique Gonzalez-Foerster. It is precisely such a diversity of versions that the exhibition Multivers presents. In four rooms the artist plays with panoramic and detailed views, with closeness and estrangement, certainty and speculation not to mention the activity of observation and the position the observer adopts during observation a manifold field of perceptive options that as we move from room to room gives us a different vantage point. The show by American artist Christian Holstad (born 1972) in the other rooms of the Kunsthalle Zurich will run parallel to the exhibition on Dominique Gonzalez-Foerster s Mulitverse. This simultaneity gives rise to a stark visual contrast.
French artist Dominique Gonzalez-Foerster (born 1965) is familiar to the public from group exhibitions in Kunsthalle Zrich. In 2002, she participated in the No Ghost just a Shell show in which artists created multiple personalities for Manga figure Ann Lee. In A Room is a World (2001), one of the works was displayed with which Gonzalez- Foerster first made a name for herself, namely one of her chambres. These works (atmospheric room-filling installations that pay homage to figures from literature, the movie world or relate the artist s biography), address, as do all her projects and enterprises, the relationship between individual and surroundings. Not only do they reflect the decisive influences that shape us but also the attendant recollections, projections and dreams.
Since the 1990s, her oeuvre has become more diverse. Alongside film projects, photographs, room installations and numerous collaborations with colleagues such as Pierre Huyghe, Philippe Parreno, Liam Gillick, Rirkrit Tiravanija and Ange Leccia, she has also designed scenic arrangements for concerts (e.g., for the performance of chanson-singer Christophe), built a house for a collector in Tokyo, transformed the Parisian Bonne Nouvelle subway station into a cinematic ideal world, and even created large-scale displays for the Balenciaga stores in New York and Paris.
Dominique Gonzalez-Foerster, who was awarded the Prix Marcel Duchamp in 2003, and delighted visitors to the Documenta in Kassel in 2002 with her Parc plan d'vasion, a true hybrid of cultures, aesthetic codes and exotic worlds of fantasy woven into the piece of parkland, is now presenting her oeuvre in a comprehensive exhibition in the Kunsthalle Zurich. It will take the form of four large environments or room installations. It is central to Gonzalez-Foerster s approach to use locations that are simultaneously intimate and visionary to augment both space and the way we experience it. She likewise views collaboration as an extension of own space, and has teamed up with Peter Fischli and David Weiss for this show. The two artists are not only co-curators but also collaborated on the book accompanying the exhibition, which is entitled Alphavilles?. Over some 200 pages, it features views of cities: a compendium from Acapulco to Zurich, a subjective photo album, a fictional dream and a journey round the world.
Alphavilles? is closely related to a set of works Gonzalez-Foerster has produced in recent years on the topic Tropicale Modernit. In a series of films and spatial installations she explores the diverse cultural phenomena of Modernity. Forever on the road, Gonzalez-Foerster has incorporated into her work the architectures, design, cityscapes and park landscapes in which vestiges of Modernity are to be found. The art thus forms a hybrid amalgam that reflects the transmutable, processual aspects of these manifestations, highlights their subjectivity and testifies to her interest in the tropical aspects that lend places potential. In the same way that she understands art as the metabolism of the real, the experience of space and time in her works is also metabolic . We find ourselves in a process of constant exchange and change but also of warming up through individual experiences that can be experienced in the artist s films and photographs through fictions, desires, wishes and dreams inspired by the visual worlds of mega-metropolises and landscapes. Copacabana, Rio de Janeiro, Acapulco, Mexico City, Kyoto, Tokyo, Hong Kong but also Taipeh, Chandigarh and Istanbul are places Dominique Gonzalez-Foerster has visited. Yet the artist s work also references inner journeys, giving equal weight to literature (Joris-Karl Huysmans, Virginia Woolf, Paul Auster, Haruki Murakami, Adolfo Bioy Casares, Marguerite Duras, Paul Bowles, Raymond Roussel and others) and film (Rainer Werner Fassbinder, Tsia Ming-Liang, Takeshi Kitano, Alain Resnais, Chantal Ackerman, Abbas Kiarostami, Michelangelo Antonioni and many more), and thus creates a space-time-fiction-realitycontinuum that permanently alternates between rooting and uprooting landscapes, narrations and characters, offers in-between spaces as public areas.
From her early chambres, that serve as a kind of theater without actors by implying the presence of persons, experiences or events, through to the more recent films in which the scenery consists of deserted cityscapes exuding abstract, atmospheric light moods in which persons are at most sketched vaguely, the noticeable absence of humans in Gonzalez-Foerster s oeuvre functions as the actual basis of suggestive force and potentiality, a basis we can then infuse with our own fantasies. In her art we do not encounter a universe that can be understood and analyzed, but are repeatedly confronted with multiple universes comprising realities, fictions and fantasies, which create an equally multiple canvas of the world as a promise.
It is precisely such a diversity of versions that the exhibition Multivers presents. In four rooms the artist plays with panoramic and detailed views, with closeness and estrangement, certainty and speculation not to mention the activity of observation and the position the observer adopts during observation a manifold field of perceptive options that as we move from room to room gives us a different vantage point. We start with Multivers (2004), a chaotic twisted mass of aluminum tubing that reveals the title more in the spaces between the silvery wire loops, continue with Trous Noirs (2004), the room as a black hole in which we discern barely visible a black shape against a black background that produces a 3D spatial effect. Next comes the room installation Insects, in which strips of wallpaper are placed over the exotic, ornamental world that is the white cube of the museum to create another surface, one that is identical to the hard, patterned shells of tiny insects on the floor; then comes Atomic Parc (2003-4), filmed in White Sands, a section of desert in New Mexico, where the virgin white sand blends menacingly with our awareness that the area was used to detonate an atomic bomb, and is today home to a nuclear and space research agency. Finally, we come to the work Petite (2001), in which being observed observing in other words our experience of exhibitions per se is represented in the work itself: In a modernist looking room sits a girl whose perceptions are projected as a film. Since the room housing Petite cannot be entered, we become caught up in a never-ending interplay of interior and exterior, observation and introspection, reality and fiction.
KUNSTHALLE ZURICH, JUNE 12 TILL AUGUST 15, 2004
PRESS PREVIEW: FRIDAY, JUNE 11, 11.30 A.M.
OPENING: FRIDAY, JUNE 11, 6 P.M.
Supported by Swiss Re The Kunsthalle Zrich thanks: Prsidialdepartement der Stadt Zrich, Swiss Re, AFAA Association Franaise d Action Artistique, Avec le soutien de l Ambassade de France en Suisse
Saturday, June 12, 2004, 12.00 PM
Dominique Gonzalez-Foerster talks about her book and its topic Tropicale Modernit and shows slides of the cities and places she has visited. Brunch and presentation of the book.
Dominique Gonzalez-Foerster Alphaville? Compendium of photographs featuring 80 cities, arranged alphabetically from A Z with texts by Dominique Gonzalez-Foerster in collaboration with Peter Fischli and David Weiss. Co-production Kunsthalle Zrich, de Single Antwerpen, JRP/Ringer and Les Presses du Rel, Paris.
Dominique Gonzalez-Foerster Multiverse, 2004 Aluminium tube, bearbeitet. Edition 10. Price on request.
Guided tours Every Thursday at 6.30 p.m. with Medea Hoch: June 24, July 15, and August 5, 2004.
Our communication program is supported by Swiss Re
In the image: 'Chambre en ville', 1996.
GAIETY; DISCOVERING THE LOST ART (IN ABSENTIA)
The show by American artist Christian Holstad (born 1972) in the other rooms of the Kunsthalle Zurich will run parallel to the exhibition on Dominique Gonzalez-Foerster s Mulitverse. This simultaneity gives rise to a stark visual contrast. Although one could argue that both artists create individual universes using room-size installations, there is a profound difference: Unlike Gonzalez-Foerster s works, which employ reduced images to evoke memories and experiences, Christian Holstad offers an overflowing universe of images and materials.
Collage runs through his work at all levels. Christian Holstad is engaged in various occupations : he is a performer (alongside Delia Gonzales and Gavin Russom he is the third member of Black Leotard Front a group that melds disco, drag and art performance), works as a window dresser and material designer, is, of course, an artist and likely his artistic activities do not end there. Holstad s other means of artistic expression are drawings, collages, objects, sculptures, costumes and installations. What these myriad art forms share both in formal terms and content are the principle of intersection and overlap, of contrasting and confronting heterogeneous realities and potential states.
While Dominique Gonzalez-Foerster s work can be read as involving the subjective reactivation of modern manifestations, central to Christian Holstad s work is the affinity to post-modern diversity and the parallel nature of phenomena. His works are characterized by a culture, and the contents and forms of a reality that erodes the distinctions between high and low , mainstream and counter-culture. He adopts the guise of the once highly effective phenomena of counter-cultures to scrutinize the foundations of the reality they created: gay culture, glamour, camp aestheticism, Gothic are vehicles he uses as he casts about to identify ways of reactivating them by altering their context. His work can perhaps best be seen in the tradition of filmmaker and performer Jack Smith, who represents one of the most influential figures of the camp, gay and underground culture prevalent in the 1960s and 1970s.
Christian Holstad draws over newspaper pictures such that they seem somehow menacing and ghoulish, he dresses stuffed animals to look like exotic disco creatures, transforms masks and mannequins into monsters, has make-up artists work on the public in his rooms. For his images Holstad sometimes add ornaments to drawn figures, which are then inserted into another photograph creating a hybrid assemblage. This wild, rampant assemblage is added to the room itself in which we also become part of the same collage, are additional ornaments and decoration. Categories of pictures are constantly mixed and undermined. Real objects and real persons are transformed in Holstad s installations into reflections and formations reminiscent of Rorschach tests that flow into mental imagery; horror scenarios mute into spirituality, pathos is transmuted into decoration a theater setting that constantly calls into question the meaning of the images and reality, seeks to redefine and creates new definitions.
''From the moment of birth, when the Stone Age baby confronts the twentieth-century mother, the baby is subjected to these forces of violence, called love, as its mother and father, and their parents and their parents before them, have been. These forces are mainly concerned with destroying most of its potentialities, and on the whole this enterprise is successful.
By the time the new human being is fifteen or so, we are left with a being like ourselves, a half-crazed creature more or less adjusted to a mad world.
This is normality in our present age.''
R. D. Laing. Quoted from the back of the album cover YEAR ONE by Culturcide.
''For a certain time period, people would scratch text into the inner ring (dead space) of records before they were shipped out. This was scratched into my copy of A Sucked Orange by Nurse With Wound : Never knowingly undersell the excitement of mental stimulation man.''
KUNSTHALLE ZURICH, JUNE 12 TILL AUGUST 15, 2004
PRESS PREVIEW: FRIDAY, JUNE 11, 11.30 A.M.
OPENING: FRIDAY, JUNE 11, 6 P.M.
The exhibition is accompanied by a catalog. For further information please call 01 272 15 15.
Every Thursday at 6.30 p.m.with Medea Hoch: June 24, , July 15, and August 5, 2004
The Kunsthalle Zrich thanks: Prsidialdepartement der Stadt Zrich, Maja Hoffmann