Wool and Water at Kunsthalle Düsseldorf / Düsseldorf

Li­li Du­jou­rie, Isa Genz­ken, As­trid Klein, Mi­scha Ku­ball, Aron Meh­zi­on, Rein­hard Mu­cha, Stur­te­vant, Ro­se­ma­rie Tro­ckel und Ger­hard Rich­ter

curated by Gregor Jansen

01.10. – 27.11.2016

Künsthalle Düsseldorf
Graberplatz 4
40213 Düsseldorf

Images courtesy the artists and Künsthalle Düsseldorf
Photos: Katja Illner
Every day we ta­ke se­ver­al pro­lon­ged looks or flee­ting glan­ces in the mir­ror and ba­re­ly think about the me­di­um and its fa­sci­na­ting pro­per­ties and ap­p­li­ca­ti­ons: in­ver­ted, de­pic­ting, ima­gina­ry, spa­ti­al, re­flec­ting, trans­pa­rent, nar­cis­sis­tic, me­di­cal, etc. The 1871 book Through the Look­ing-Glass by Le­wis Car­roll leads us in­to the won­der­land, in­to the fa­sci­na­ting, sur­re­al world of dou­blings and re­flec­tions. The tit­le of the ex­hi­bi­ti­on is ta­ken from the fifth ch­ap­ter of the book. Against the back­ground of fic­tio­nal, ima­gina­ry space, and en­te­ring in­to the re­al space of the mu­se­um, va­rious ques­ti­ons open up that ha­ve to do wi­th our re­flec­tion and its in­ter­pre­ta­ti­ons, and ul­ti­mate­ly wi­th the self and self-con­scious­ness. The fa­sci­na­ti­on of the self in the vir­tu­al pic­to­ri­al space of the mir­ror re­veals ten­si­ons bet­ween the sub­ject and its en­vi­ron­ment. Be­gin­ning wi­th the gen­re of sculp­tu­re and its con­cre­te ma­te­ri­als, the works in the ex­hi­bi­ti­on re­flect re­la­ti­ons­hips bet­ween the in­di­vi­du­al and the world and al­low tan­gi­b­le in­ter­pre­ta­ti­ons.

The Ame­ri­can ar­tist Elai­ne Stur­te­vant’s co­pies deal wi­th ques­ti­ons about the ori­gi­nal, and the Bel­gi­an ar­tist Li­li Du­jou­rie asks equal­ly di­rect and con­cep­tu­al ques­ti­ons about art and its mi­ni­ma­list and sen­so­ry re­la­ti­ons­hips in her work. A po­li­ti­cal at­ti­tu­de and a po­li­ti­cal space ap­pe­ar just as ra­di­cal­ly in the work of As­trid Klein: the de­ter­mi­na­ti­on of the va­lue of a re­fe­rence lies in the sub­jec­tive fee­ling of the view­er. Ro­se­ma­rie Tro­ckel ad­dres­ses this as­pect in a very per­so­nal and hu­mo­rous way. In the work of Isa Genz­ken, a Lar­ge Win­dow be­co­mes a ba­sic expan­si­on not on­ly of ar­chi­tec­tu­re, but of pro­por­ti­on and built space. The win­dow on­to the world is al­so a re­flec­tive foil of the world, as Mi­scha Ku­ball de­mons­tra­tes wi­th pla­ton’s mir­ror. Pro­jec­tion screens, mo­ni­tors, foils, and mir­rors are me­ta­phors for our hu­man ima­gi­nati­on.

The ques­ti­on of the ma­te­ria­li­ty of ob­jects and their un­cle­ar re-func­tio­na­liza­t­i­on plays an im­portant dou­b­le ro­le as a work and an ef­fect in the works of Rein­hard Mu­cha. Work, his­to­ry, and mea­ning are stored in ma­te­ri­als and lo­ca­ti­ons, and con­text and en­vi­ron­ment al­ways al­so de­fi­ne an at­ti­tu­de and a po­si­tio­ning. Aron Meh­zi­on, by con­trast, leads us in­to a la­by­rinth of re­fe­ren­ces to the phi­lo­so­phy of per­cep­ti­on, an end­less ima­gina­ry space; af­ter all, our world is be­co­ming in­crea­sin­gly com­pli­ca­ted—me­dia, sci­ence, our sel­ves. Our tasks are be­co­ming ever mo­re com­plex, and our per­spec­tives on ti­me and space are be­co­ming in­crea­sin­gly tan­g­led. Fur­ther­mo­re, Meh­zi­on and Ku­ball in­di­rect­ly al­lu­de to a cen­tral re­fe­rence for this ex­hi­bi­ti­on: the work Mir­ror by the pain­ter Ger­hard Rich­ter, which has be­en shown at the Kunst­hal­le Düssel­dorf sin­ce 1981.

The ex­hi­bi­ti­on is a spa­ti­al ex­pe­ri­ment wi­th mul­ti­laye­red le­vels of de­pic­tion and re­flects va­rious as­pects of the re­la­ti­ons­hip bet­ween space and pic­tu­res, from mul­ti­ple per­spec­tives, from ori­gi­nal ima­ges and co­pies. It asks ques­ti­ons about what art, art­works, work, the world, the self, and its re­flec­tion can be as mo­dels of know­ledge. In the dou­bling of the world be­hind the mir­ror, pa­ra­do­xi­cal­ly a con­cre­te frame of re­fe­rence opens for our ques­ti­ons about the re­al and pos­si­ble forms of rea­li­ty that lies bet­ween things. Thus, in ad­di­ti­on to the ge­ne­ral ques­ti­on of sen­sua­li­ty and aest­he­tics, the ex­hi­bi­ti­on ex­plo­res know­ledge, va­lues, and cor­re­la­ti­ons as a cen­tral ques­ti­on and an­s­wer in space.