The exhibition How can you believe anything he says?! is Owen Land's first solo-exhibition in Germany. Rooted in the structural film genre, Dialogues conceptually strings together different episodes in a trash aesthetic; a fragmentary narration as long as a feature film. For the Use of Those Who See presents works by Alphonse Allais, John Baldessari, Harun Farocki, Jean-Luc Godard, Alfredo Jaar, Sean Snyder, Nedko Solakov, Javier Tellez, Luc Tuymans and David Zink Yi. With works that reveal the boundaries of the visual and display a firm believe in the image. The difference between mimesis and reality -inherent to every work of art- is seen as the distinct subject matter of the image.
How can you believe anything he says?!
German Interviewer: What is the New American Cinema? Owen Land: Well, it’s not really new, it’s not entirely American and it’s not exactly Cinema. Thus the final words of one of the episodes in Dialogues (2007-09), the most recent work by American artist Owen Land.
The exhibition How can you believe anything he says?! is Owen Land’s first solo-exhibition in Germany. Rooted in the structural film genre, Dialogues conceptually strings together different episodes in a trash aesthetic. In short dialogues—in part platonic, in part absurd— Owen Land collides mythology, theology and philosophy, pornography, art and cultural criticism. The result is a fragmentary narration as long as a feature film. Episodes from the life of a fictional Owen Land, represented by two actors, are mixed with parodies of well- known Hollywood films and cutbacks to the 1960s. Thus a dialogue between avant-garde and mainstream develops, emphasized through the deliberate use of music. Just as linguistic ambiguities, puns and humor, music has been a characterizing feature of Owen Land’s work from the beginning.
Undesirables (Excerpts from a Work in Progress) (1999) is visually dominated by quotes and appropriations of various experimental films from the 1960s and 1970s. On the basis of the story of the fictitious artist Carl Shitars—a pseudonym of Paul Sharits—Land narrates the decline of the 1970s New York avant-garde film scene in short fragmentary sequences.
In New Improved Institutional Quality: In the Environment of Liquids and Nasals a Parasitic Vowel Sometimes Develops (1976) a man is subjected to an intricate comprehension test. The test taker consistently escapes from the rigid instructions on how to act into his visual imagination. The discrepancy of the language, image and imagination is unveiled.
A man in a suit and with a hat on stands amid a supermarket and sings an ode to consumption. In No, Sir Orison! (1975) Owen Land reasons amusingly obvious analogies between love and the market: “Love makes man sail from shore to shore, so does the market.”
Owen Land (born 1944) ranks amongst the most important representatives of the structural film genre, such as Michael Snow, Hollis Frampton and Paul Sharits, for whom the media specific features of film were pivotal: the materiality of the medium, processes of perception and the relationship between the perceiver and the perceived; that is, artistic principles which became particularly crucial for the art of the 1960s and 1970s. Land’s Film in Which There Appear Edge Lettering, Sprocket Holes, Dirt Particles, Etc. (1965-66) is an outstanding example of this new cinematic language. It shows precisely what the title promises, namely a film test strip for color calibration with edge lettering, sprocket holes and dirt particles.
On display: Film in Which There Appear Edge Lettering, Sprocket Holes, Dirt Particles, Etc. (1965-66), No Sir, Orison! (1975), New Improved Institutional Quality: In the Environment of Liquids and Nasals a Parasitic Vowel Sometimes Develops (1976), Undesirables (Excerpts from a Work in Progress) (1999), and Dialogues (2007-09).
A catalogue will be published in collaboration with Kunsthalle Bern.
For the Use of Those Who See
Alphonse Allais, John Baldessari, Harun Farocki, Jean-Luc Godard, Alfredo Jaar, Sean Snyder, Nedko Solakov, Javier Téllez, Luc Tuymans, David Zink Yi
The group exhibition FOR THE USE OF THOSE WHO SEE presents works that reveal the boundaries of the visual and display a firm believe in the image. The difference between mimesis and reality—inherent to every work of art—is seen as the distinct subject matter of the image. The risk of failing at this point is deeply embedded in the consciousness of these works and yet convincingly depicted.
One hand holds an hourglass. The other holds a thermometer. Grains of sand fall as the temperature rises. Time/Temperature (1972-73) is a work by John Baldessari that makes time and temperature visible however solely through the use of measuring equipment. The work exposes and draws attention to the paradox inherent to this process, namely the impossibility of visualizing these non-visible parameters.
In his video Letter on the Blind, For the Use of Those Who See (2007), Javier Téllez captures six blind people touching an elephant and describing their experiences. Following the story of an Indian parable, the six protagonists associate the wrinkly elephant skin with completely different things. Their statements reveal that, while on the one hand they live in a world without visual concepts, they are on the other hand able to perceive their environment much more directly than us who see. In documenting and showing the blinds’ intimate contact with the elephant, Téllez’s film provides a visual access to just this arcane world.
Sean Snyder’s video piece Exhibition (2008) orbits around the veracity of art and the immediacy of its experience as only the exhibition and the encounter with an original artwork can provide. Snyder re-worked the Soviet documentary film Noble Impulses of Soul (1965) by Israel Goldstein in order to emphasize the special quality of exhibitions which visual reproductions in catalogues and films simply cannot communicate. However paradoxically, in the end this veracity can also be experienced in the artistic rendition of pure documentation.
In their attempt of making visible the difference between representation and reality, the artworks presented in the exhibition FOR THE USE OF THOSE WHO SEE explore the boundaries of what can be represented.
With kind support by the Ernst Schering Foundation and the Capital Cultural Fund, Berlin.
Denhart v. Harling . T +49 30. 243459.42 F: +49. 30. 243459.99 email@example.com
Opening: November 21, 2009, 5 – 10 pm
Press Preview: November 20, 2009, 11 am
KW Institute for Contemporary Art
Auguststr. 69 - 10117 Berlin
Tue – Sun noon – 7 pm, Thur noon – 9 pm
6 Euro, 4 Euro concessions
Groups of 10 or more: per person 5 Euro, 3 Euro concessions