February 9th, 2011

“Displaced Fractures” at Migros Museum

Artists: Phyllida Barlow, Tacita Dean, Emilie Ding, Klara Lidén, Ulrich Rückriem, Kilian Rüthemann, Oscar Tuazon, Klaus Winichner

Venue: Migros Museum, Zurich

Exhibition Title: “Displaced Fractures”

Date: December 11, 2010 – February 20, 2011

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Full gallery of images, press release and link available after the jump.


Images courtesy of Migros Museum, Zurich. Photos by FBM-Studio, Zürich.

Press Release:

Art has always been the sensorium of the fragile, brittle and porous of the human. In this group exhibition, however, human fracture lines are not treated directly in terms of the human body, but instead by using architecture as a surrogate. The fractures and interfaces of buildings form metaphors for the breaks in human existence. The term “Displaced Fractures” derives from the medical world, and describes a phenomenon whereby bone fractures reveal themselves in other places than the major stress site. The term “displacement” is also used in psychology. In the new spaces of the migros museum für gegenwartskunst, installations, spatial interventions and sculptures working with the displacement of symptoms are given prominence. What dominates here is the area of tension between the refusal of form and monumental creations, between subjective and formal, rational gestures.

In an analogy to the notion of “Displaced Fractures,” projection surfaces are rendered on the building which, in spite of its stability, is subject to temporality, and an opening up to questions of its existential orientation and existence. Through such actions on this alleged fixedness, the discourse on sculpture demonstrates the precariousness of the present and makes it palpable. In works exhibited by artists such as Klaus Winicher or Phyllida Barlow, the formless, already posited by Rosalind Krauss and Yves Alain Bois as a synonym for that which is repressed, is elaborated upon in material and form. As the work of Oscar Tuazon and Kilian Rüthemann shows, it is not alienation that is thematized here, but instead the impossibility of bringing the modulations of the building’s fracture lines and the unruly ability to live to expression. Lifeless material becomes a metaphor for the body, as Klara Lidén’s work shows, whether in cautious construction or spontaneous collapse. The works exhibit the structures of the architectonic exactly like personal traces. They are precise attitudes in which the formal culmination materializes, as Emilie Ding’s concrete support structures or Ulrich Rückriem’s stone cuboids testify. The dynamic application of colors and the use of free forms make these subjective interventions particularly distinctive. They bear witness to the presence of the human and ultimately, through free and defiant handling, signify the vulnerability of the present and of memory.

Since the 1970s, Phyllida Barlow (born 1944, UK) has grappled with sculpture and installation and from that time has worked, in the tradition of the post minimalists, against the heritage of the auratized object. In her works, raw materials pile up into dense clusters of forms. In part bundled into dwellings, they persistently display an elementary physical presence, and for a long period have not only supported the smooth aesthetic of minimalism but have stood in precise opposition to the polished and popular aesthetic of a Jeff Coons or Haim Steinbach prevalent in the 1980s.

Tacita Dean (born 1965, UK), former student of Phyllida Barlow at the Slade School of Fine Arts in London, works primarily in the media of film and sound. She is particularly interested in the connection between the elapsing of time and its narration, and the expectations incorporated within it. The film Palast (2004) is amongst her most famous works, and was shown at the Venice Biennial in 2005. It is a portrait of the Berlin Palast der Republik before its demolition. Heavy protests were held in front of the DDR showcase building before it was torn down. The steel and glass building was to be replaced by a reconstruction of a much older Berlin palace that once stood on the same site. Instead of the evaluation of cultural history as political symbol through a loud demonstration piece, Dean here puts forward a silent elegy. The insight – filmed with slow and thoughtful camera direction – reveals gold- colored light play, shadows and strange coloring.

The sculptural works of Emilie Ding (born 1981, Switzerland) chafe at the discourse of American minimalism. On the exhibition floor, Ding places distinct form elements that always signify use-properties. They are pieces of concrete, which – angulated and with steel bolts attached – appear like hinges, support elements or modular components used in architecture. The arrangement of the blocks creates a debate with the formal discourses. The reference to minimalism is also reflected in the concept of seriality, whereby Ding’s sculptures are treated as unique objects with barely any visible imperfections.

The functions and failures of urban spaces form central themes in the works by Klara Lidén (born 1979, Sweden). She makes installations from found materials such as cardboard, torn-off poster paper or used furniture. The compositions are akin to historic décollages and speak a language of revolt against material and the environment. Likewise, in her video works she engages public space through what appear to be odd de-placed bodily activities when, for instance, she dances in a subway train or performs a “Moonwalk” on the streets of New York. Irritation and rebellion against all the regulations of public life are constant characteristics here. In her video work Position 0310 (2010) the artist clamps herself to public appliances such as gas pipes and advertising pillars, and like a petrified animal, remains almost invisible to the pulsating traffic.

Ulrich Rückriem (born 1938, Germany) numbers among the most important German sculptors of the Post-war period. Hand crafted precision and a distinctive plastic consciousness determine his works, which are imbued with monumentalism and formalism. He takes ideas and procedural methods from American Minimal and Conceptual Art but nonetheless creates an independent work. Enclosed stone blocks are sawed into or drilled into to make memory and historicity sculpturally legible by dint of hairline cracks, cut edges and fracture lines. For Rückriem the work process and the concept preceding it always remain central to the work.

Kilian Rüthemann (born 1979, Switzerland) subtly confronts the architectonic properties of the exhibition location in his works. The aesthetic of his works is determined by the exposing of structures and a search for the unstable and fragile in the seemingly fixed. In the attempt to elicit the unseen poetry from the spaces he works with, he at times uses brute means – for instance when he pours out an additional concrete floor on a stairway, making the entry considerably less convenient.

The interests of Oscar Tuazon (born 1978, USA) range from the relation of tension between architecture and nature, displayed in the disintegration of the public space, to the extreme conditions of almost untamable nature. The essence of this confrontation is conveyed by a reduced architectonic language in the exhibition space, for which he uses simple building materials. At the same time he shows a great interest in a formal language in connection with hard and soft elements. In the architectonic conditions of the exhibition spaces, Tuazon makes a second inner structure grow, making the two architectonic levels vie with one another: that of the inner, which nestles in, and that of the outer, which covers.

Central to the work of Klaus Winichner (born 1967, Germany) is the debate on the human portrait in terms of sculptural discourse. He approaches his theme through various media such as sculpture, painting and drawing, to which he frequently adds industrial construction materials or construction waste. The portraits are created not just through illustrations but also through fragmentary architectures that represent the human. They are abstract assemblages put together by the artist from mattresses, books, flower troughs and materials that are seemingly amorphous. These often space- filling sculptural form-conglomerates, give an impression of the coincidental remains of human existence.

Exhibition curators: Heike Munder (migros museum für gegenwartskunst), Thomas D. Trummer (Siemens Stiftung).

In the field of Culture the global acting Siemens Stiftung wishes to accompany and help impart the social changes registered by art and culture. The challenges of the present have been thematized by the leitmotif “Shifting Societies”; an art that depicts time-determined problems, damage and mental states renders our contemporary living environment and existential problems manifest and tangible. siemens-stiftung.org

Link: “Displaced Fractures” at Migros Museum

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