Artists: Jan Kiefer, Pedro Wirz
Venue: Nagel Draxler, Cologne
Exhibition Title: There’s no such thing as culture
Date: May 26 – August 31, 2018
Full gallery of images, press release and link available after the jump.
Images courtesy of Nagel Draxler, Cologne
Myths are narratives that, in the complex human process of adopting to specific environments, have proved culturally pregnant. By believe they become efficient not true. As it has been repeatedly demonstrated by critical cultural sciences since the first half of the 20th century, myth and culture are not primal but constructed. Critique of culture is therefore possible.
The artistic approaches of Jan Kiefer and Pedro Wirz could not appear to be more different. Both create imaginary cultures with completely different visual codes and connotations.
Wirz sculptures seem to bespeak a culture of earthy myths of origin and fertility and a primitivistic closeness of prehistoric man and animal. Animal architectures, termite or nest-building, cocoons and eggs merge with human cultural practices (house-building), or serve as their models. In a laboratory that takes its materials from prehistorical imaginaries, Wirz creates hybrid beings, inhabitants of pre-capitalist economies. In his artistic practice, that evokes memories of Art Brut and primitivism, he creates moments of constructed authenticity. An aura of origin emerges, that at no time was fact, and that relates to the cultivated world like, in Artaud’s sense, its double.
Other than that, Jan Kiefer in his sculptural arrangements and serial paintings addresses the myth of the achievements of a currently well to do middle class, that, caused by the ongoing redistribution of resources to the 1 %, already faces social decline.
Viewed from the front the bottles in the stylish designed wine shelves form a pattern of letters: JA, JA… The voice of Joseph Beuys soundlessly meanders through the sterile space of material wish fulfilment, ja, ja, ja, ja, ja, ne, ne, ne, ne, ne…. The ne, ne, nes are missing in Kiefer’s image. They are replaced by dots. In a consumer culture informed by tautologisms, the opposite poles remain void. In Kiefer’s work one hears the No (ne) as an echo, in which the counter world still resonates.
While one could describe the artistic practice of Pedro Wirz as transgressive materialism, with Jan Kiefer one deals with transgressive conceptualism. Both artists create an ambiguous aura of culture, that questions the validity of predominant cultural forces.