Online Viewing Room "ART COLOGNE 2020"
Do I know what a person is?
Do I know who knows?
I don’t know what a person is
I only know its price.
Bertolt Brecht: The song of the goods
In her video work FASHIONS Keren Cytter dissects human action and feeling in the perspective of the exchange of commodities with blunt directness. Her personas are bourgeois: the center of society. They subject everything to a purely economically oriented internal rational. Love as well is only an exchange relation. Neoliberal thinking put on tracks, this is the train to Auschwitz.
Alf Lechner once said, he is interested in simplicity, because simplicity is highly complex – Beckett and Thomas Bernhard knew that too. Cube cuts, surfaces, cubes, cuboids. Unfolded, retracted, layered, condensed. The surfaces of Lechner’s sculptures are usually defined by the procedures of industrial processing of steal and its physical features. No pretentious fuss but respect and libidinous charge of reality. Not performance but power. Therefore most of Lechner’s works, particularly the enormous ones, are made of massive material. Their volume is steel volume not room volume. The stored energy is directed to nothing. It is pure resistance. The madness culminates in their immobility making the encounter an aesthetic experience.
Thomas Kilpper’s oeuvre reflects the political history of the 20th and 21st centuries. In this history, the success and gain of one often means defeat to the point of annihilation of the other. This constellation, which is hostile to the achievements of a democratically constituted society, seems to be repeated today in even shorter cycles. In Kilpper’s often large-sized woodcuts, the protagonists of the systems of justice and injustice meet in the form of collages. Woodcut is an ancient technique, that was used to circulate texts and illustrations in early letterpress as well as to produce critical pamphlets and manifestos of resistance. Thomas Kilpper uses the process not only to produce prints, but also to carve out pictorial traces of events of historical dimension in materials, that are often associated with their specific locations.
Born and raised in the tropical Paraiba Valley in Brazil, Wirz is influenced by the region’s massively changing ecologies, demographics, mythologies, and superstitions. In the face of environmental decline, Wirz investigates the interwoven realm of the organic, the synthetic, and the technological, as each become forces for both extinction and renewal.
Wirz, who lives and works in Zurich, was awarded the Gramercy International Prize for his exhibition at the New York Armory Show in 2020 and was the 2018 recipient of the ProHelvetia Cahier d’Artistes Prize. The artist’s sculptures were also included in KölnSkulptur #9 at Skulpturenpark Köln in 2017.
For a few years now Heimo Zobernig has been going outdoors with his camera to photograph plants. An experiment for him. He is not nostalgic. Zobernig is always interested in the latest technical possibilities. A digital camera can nowadays easily record sequences of 20 frames per second. The best picture may be that which cannot be made “consciously” at all, but one from the sequence that the machine takes when its release button is pressed (“It” photographs). In the magic moment Roland Barthes once called “punctum”, the machine makes the perfect picture. The art is above all to recognize it. The relationship between tools and artists is shifting. Authorship is not 100% autonomous – it has never been. High-speed cameras and their possibilities come closer to the image that photography has always dreamed of, the image of an imperishable presence of the captured. But they cannot do without the view, which filters out the decisive picture from a number of similar ones.
Stefan Müller is an artist who, regardless of what is happening in the context of what Max Horkheimer once called the culture industry, follows his own timeline. This is not a sovereign attitude, but rather corresponds to the difficult survival of the weak and unfinished in the whirlwind of medialization, which now encompasses all areas of life. The apparent openness of the media society subjects everything to calculation. How many clicks, how many users, how many followers? After ‚improvisation’ was made fully marketable by YouTube and Instagram, improvised biographies beyond the mainstream no longer count today. Müller meets hard facts with soft tones. He doesn’t improvise for money, but out of self- defense. He often seems to deal carelessly and destructively with his fabrics and materials, for example when he throws his canvases on the studio floor in order to walk on them while working. Müller crosses out the days, more like a child waiting for Christmas than the delinquent in prison. The lightness of his new paintings is also their strength. It is directed against the exclusion of the abjected.
In her photomontage Brunch à la loft (1987/88), Rosler shows the image of a New York loft scene and its flip side: the destruction of affordable housing through gentrification.
Kader Attia’s photographic series La Piste d’atterrissage (The Landing Strip) documents the lives of a group of Algerian transgender sex workers living in Paris in the late 1990s and early 2000s. The title of the series – The Landing Strip – is the name given by this community to the road on which they work. Taken over a period of roughly two years, the images focus on the group’s shared intimacy. Speaking of this series, Attia says:
“I wanted to represent the whole picture of their lives, to show that even illegal immigrants working as transgender prostitutes have moments of joy, of happiness, of hope.”
– Kader Attia
La Piste d’atterrissage was the first work that Kader got acknowledged for on an international institutional level. Like his other works, it deals with the notion of the transcultural process of injury and repair, appropriation and self appropriation. Today Attia uses these images in most of his institutional exhibitions, by placing one photographic print in life size in every room, like a dramaturgy or parkours of transgression (see ie. in his recent exhibition „The Museum of Emotion“ at the Hayward Gallery, London 2019.)