Artist: Jan Vorisek
Venue: Kunsthaus Glarus
Exhibition Title: Collapse Poem
Date: March 15, 2020 – August 23, 2020
Selected By: Tenzing Barshee
Full gallery of images, press release and link available after the jump.
Jan Vorisek, Palinopsia, 2020, single-channel video on display (color, sound), 07:21
Jan Vorisek, Exercise in Isolation, 2020, single-channel video on display (color, sound), 06:14
Images courtesy of the artist; Galerie Bernhard, Zurich; and Kunsthaus Glarus. Photos by Gunnar Meier.
Even as the invitation card was being printed, Collapse Poem was seemingly a metaphorical expression of the regularity of collapses. While the works are installed in the space and I am writing this text, the image of collapse has moved into the (media) ubiquity of the everyday. An invisible virus is spreading rapidly through our bodies and minds, precipitating the destabilization of public life and infrastructure, the normality of our social and everyday habits and activities. The collapse as a condition where we can’t be certain whether it is—perhaps unnoticed— already there, or about to come, unstoppable as mathematical calculations have already predicted. At first still a statistically abstract and geographically distant threat, the virus is now here. Not with full force but invisibly, and yet ever present in numbers, data, and facts; as rumor it ruptures our notions of society and community, relationships and love, of work, and what we understand as freedom. The increased distance, the negative space between our bodies is permeated by a new state of affairs, by crisis opportunism as well as resistance and a desire for normality. The current seductively reading of the exhibition title which is above all meant to be aesthetic is tied to two important elements in Jan Vorisek’s exhibition: first, the referenced question of temporality and related social activities and habits, or, as here, institutional processes (the installing of work, the opening time, the exhibition duration) whose matter-of-fact-ness is undermined by the negative space of the virus. The temporal frame and associated conventions, such as visiting the exhibition, are always important parts of Jan Vorisek’s practice, which is linked to formats of presentation and performance. Jan Vorisek’s works are almost always created for specific exhibition settings and are unstable in a variety of ways: they are created on site as time-constrained material dispositifs, at the outset their eventual form is unknown. After the exhibition is over their shape is necessarily lost. The recycled materials employed are also not necessarily permanent. The often-used, industrial and technological objects or components find their way back into various modes of circulation after the exhibition. The layered materials and resulting configurations function as intermediary zones that are subjected to a theatrical temporality. On the other hand, Jan Vorisek’s installations and sculptures always stand in relationship to a psycho-social logic and play with physical and spatial impulses situated between sexualization and fear, between anxiety and delirium. The negative space and the feelings, fears, and euphoria expanding within them are therefore always part of these dispositifs, which, under entirely new paradigms of production and a global circulation of goods, repeatedly draw on set pieces from a history of sculpture situated between Land Art and Minimalism, between form and anti-form.
Collapse Poem forms two interrelated spatial settings in two exhibition spaces situated above and below one another in the right wing of Kunsthaus Glarus. Whether the collapse is still imminent or has already occurred is unclear. Two material mechanisms—collapsing in on and reconstituting themselves, reified in rotating apparatuses and layered building blocks—form the basis of the exhibition’s various overlapping and repeating structures. The accessible architecture is a kind of service-oriented readymade: such inflatable forms can be ordered online in all conceivable shapes and colors; typically they are shipped around the world as bouncy castles and inflatable forms of advertising. The industrially processed material and simple sculptural form reference a minimal aesthetics, whereas the monochrome, fetish-like black material of the oversized structure is also reminiscent of painterly gestures for example. When walking through it, it feels more like an eerie, science-fiction film set in the vein of Alien. At the end of the labyrinth, the feeling of latent, spatial panic is taken to infinity in the video Exercise in Isolation (2020).
Stretching out over the upper floor is a not-yet-finished or already ruinesque structure. Memory Hotel (2020) is immersed in a dystopian sunset. Here a fragmentary architecture constructed with manual effort; there a technological apparatus keeping the spatial structure in motion and thus in shape. The clear lines of the exhibition architecture—metal struts between skylights and artificial stone slabs on the floor—form the grid on which everything else is constructed. While circulating air ensures that the shape of the labyrinth remains constant, borrowed bricks serve as a solid, albeit fragile fixed image throughout the duration of the exhibition. Suspended from the exposed ceiling is a small model house of glass and lead that reminds one of the no-longer-visible transparency of the architecture here. The resulting gap also affords a view of the simple mechanism for blacking out light. The interweaving of acoustics and spatial order is one of Jan Vorisek’s central concerns. Palinopisa (2020), a video loop, and the endlessly rotating lamps, I forgot the word but I remember the feeling (2019), repeat overlapping lighting moods and sounds. The instant of rotation is just as unsettling given its meditative, immersive effect. Both spaces are linked by the photograph of a dragonfly hanging in the stairwell. The Fortune Teller (2020) as a figure that presages the truth points to the future as an unpredictable factor that, like the past, is populated by life forms with at times diverging interests.
Accompanying the exhibition there will be released an artist’s book.
Judith Welter, March 13, 2020