Eat the Museum at Alte Fabrik / Rapperswil

Eat the Museum
+
Poczet 

Curated By Fanny Hauser and Viktor Neumann

Eduard
Akuvaev, Eduard Astashev, Adil Astemirov, Alexey Avgustovish, Yuriy
Avgustovish, Srazhdin Batyrov, Fedor Chernousenko, Thirza Cuthand,
Zuzanna Czebatul, Magomed Dibirov, Mueddin-Arabi Dzhemal, Omar
Efimov, Alirza Emirbekov, Dmitriy Fedorov, Grigoriy Gagarin, Elena
Gapurova, Dorota Gawęda & Eglė Kulbokaitė, Vasiliy Gorchkov,
Viktor Gorkov, Fedor Gorshelt, Omar Guseinov, Irina Guseinova, Gyulli
Iranpur, Zainutdin Isaev, Gadzhi Kambulatov, Dmitriy Kapanitsyn,
Arsen Kardashov, Magomed Kazhlaev, Albert Khadzhaev, Murad Khalilov,
Isa Khumaev, Vika Kirchenbauer, Yuriy Kirichenko, Zhanna Kolesnikova,
Galina Konopatskaya, Khairullakh Kurbanov, Nikolay Lakov, Evgeniy
Lansere, Andrey Livanov, Murtuzali Magomedov, Apandi Magomedov, Taus
Makhacheva, Alexandra Markovskaya, Ruvim Mazel, Yusuf Mollaev, Anna
Molska, Abdulvagib Muratchev, Abdulzagir Musaev, Timur Musaev-Kagan,
Khalilbek Musayasul, Raúl de Nieves, Yuriy Nikolaev, Oleg
Pirbudagov, Galina Pshenitsyna, Eduard Puterbrot, Zulkarnay
Rabadanov, Karol Radziszewski, German Ratner, Frants Rubo, Salavat
Salavatov, Bea Schlingelhoff, Magomed Shabanov, Sharif Shakhmardanov,
Vadim Skugarev, Mikołaj Sobczak, Aziz Suleimanov, Gasan & Gusein
Sungurovs, Ibragim-Khalil Supyanov, Nikolay Sverchkov, Ramaya
Tegegne, Viron Erol Vert, Klara Vlasova, Evelyn Taocheng Wang, Emma
Wolukau-Wanambwa, Magomed Yunisilau


04/09/2020 — 11/10/2020

Alte Fabrik
Klaus-Gebert-Str.
5
Rapperswil-Jona

Photo: Niklas Goldbach



The
two interrelated exhibitions 
Poczet at
the Kunst(Zeug)Haus and 
Eat
the Museum
 in
the Alte Fabrik Rapperswil take the exceptional and complex history
of the adjacent Polenmuseum (Polish Museum) and its soon expected
closure as a starting point to examine the logics and politics of
exhibiting and collecting, and to call into question the conception
of the museum as a neutral, apolitical, and non-violent space.

Founded
in 1870 by Polish émigré Count Władysław Broel-Plater
(1808–1889), the Polenmuseum in the Rapperswil castle came to
epitomize the ambivalences of cultural belonging and representation
within the framework of the modern nation-state ever since: initially
conceived as an important social and cultural hub for the Polish
emigrant community in Switzerland, the museum evolved during a Polish
era shaped by foreign rule, partitions and insurrections, and was
modelled in the  tradition of the 19th century national museum
revolving around the construction of national identity, the rule of
the sovereign and the formation of citizenship within emerging
liberal democracies. The different phases the museum underwent in the
20th and early 21st century must be understood as a mirroring of and
partaking within a larger political framework of significant
historical turns, including the establishment of the Second Polish
Republic, the Second World War, the rise and fall of communism, and
the installation of neoliberal, neocolonial, and authoritarian rule.
After residing in the Swiss castle for 150 years, the museum’s
residence is anticipated to be terminated by end of 2021. Consumed by
the interests of the now merged municipality Rapperswil-Jona and its
plans to re-stage the castle, the future of the museum and its
collection remains uncertain.

Inspired
by this local history and current debate and looking into the
still-alive and still-hierarchical tropes of traditional art and
folk-art, the group exhibition 
Eat
the Museum
 addresses
the transnational significance of a constant re-evaluation of the
normalizing, classifying, excluding, controlling, and governing
violence of visualizing practices perpetuated or constructed by
museums and other (art) institutions.

Highlighting
situated knowledges and embodied practices and decidedly opposing the
neoliberal condition and its impact on cultural institutions as much
as growing xenophobia, the exhibition unites local and international
positions who work with a variety of media including sculpture,
painting, video or installation, and find their commonalities in the
re-negotiation and re-imagination of transnational alliances that
serve a collective anti-fascist agency within and beyond
institutions.

Eat
the Museum
 is
the third of four exhibitions curated by Fanny Hauser and Viktor
Neumann as part of the 2019/20 Curatorial Fellowship of the Gebert
Foundation for Culture.


Thirza
Cuthand

(*1978,
CA) is a filmmaker, artist and writer exploring queer desires and
belongings, madness, and Indigeneity through experimental videos and
films. A part of her
NDN
Survival Trilogy

(finished in 2020) that investigates extractive capitalism and its
impacts on First Nation Indigenous people, the video work
Less
Lethal Fetishes

(2019) explores a latent gas mask fetish and links it to the artist’s
recent experiences around her participation in the 2019 Whitney
Biennial—an exhibition that was marked by activists’ demands for
the resignation of Warren B. Kanders, the then vice chair of the
board of the Whitney Museum of American Art and owner of the
war-profiteering company Safariland that capitalized on the
“less-lethal” teargas used, amongst others, in Palestine, the
US-Mexican border and during the uprisings in Ferguson. In this
video, Cuthand contemplates on the contemporary relation between
solidarity and complicity, agency and exploitation, the desires and
demands towards politically engaged art production, and the
contemporary condition of toxicity.

Zuzanna
Czebatul’s
(*1986,
DE) sculptures dismantle the ideological narratives of the triumphant
and heroic to the point of collapse. For this exhibition, the artist
was commissioned to produce a new iteration of her large-scale
sculpture
Twister
(2018), two tightly embraced obelisks initially proposed as a public
monument for the city of Warsaw, whose urban landscape has been
shaped by the dominant sculptural and architectural manifestations of
the patriarchal nation-state to this present day. In
Daze
(2020), the phallic monuments and symbols of power are still
affectionately entangled and have now moved into the horizontal. An
homage to Madelon Vriesendorp’s painting
Flagrant
Delit

(1978, English:
Flagrant
Crime
)
depicting a post coitus scene between the Chrysler Building and the
Empire State Building used for the book cover of Rem Koolhaas’s
publication
Delirious
New York

(1978), Czebatul’s most recent sculpture has been conceived during
a time that sees monuments of colonial violence torn down and
demolished across the world, and gives rise to the formation of
transnational solidarity opposing the recent anti-LGBT+ politics in
Poland targeting queer activists for putting rainbow flags on public
monuments throughout the country. In this light, Czebatul’s
passionately entangled obelisks become an emblematic symbol for the
desire of transmitting and monumentalizing pleasure and sexuality as
acts of resistance.

Dorota
Gawęda’s and Eglė Kulbokaitė’s
(*1986,
PL and *1987, LT) multidisciplinary practice emerges out of their
engagement with the historical and contemporary struggles of
feminist* discourses and their potentialities. Consisting of a wooden
rake and deformed lab glasses, the sculptural work

For when I look at you for a moment, then it is no longer possible
for me to speak; my tongue has snapped, at once a subtle fire has
stolen beneath my flesh, I see nothing with my eyes, my ears hum,
sweat pours from me, a trembling seizes me all over, I am greener
than

grass, and it seems to me that I am a little short of dying. (I)

(2019) belongs to their longstanding investigation of transcultural
and transhistorical signifiers across geographic, temporal, or social
boundaries. Borrowing its title from Sappho’s fragment 31, the
sculpture alludes to the ancient Greek ritual of Adonia during which
women gathered at night on withered rooftop gardens—the only public
space women could share and claim for themselves in celebration of
their female sexuality. Presented alongside the sculpture and
diffused in the exhibition space are the wet soil and turf fragrances
that

refer
to both the logics of pre-industrial labor and the politics of
territorial claims while creating a molecular imprint of collective
memories of belonging and sentiments of a shared history.

Vika
Kirchenbauer
(*1983,
DE) is an artist, writer and music producer. Encompassing video,
performance, installation, music, and theoretical writing,
Kirchenbauer’s practice radically challenges the politics of
representation, the semantics of normality and otherness, and the
cooptation of the affective dimension through institutionalized
mechanisms of power and neoliberal formations of subjectivity.
In
the context of
Eat
the Museum
,
Kirchenbauer presents two video works:
WELCOME
ADDRESS

(2017) is a reflection on the cultural politics behind rarely
intrinsic strives for diversification and the capitalization of
difference. The work was originally commissioned for the exhibition
Odarodle—An
imaginary their_story of naturepeoples, 1535-2017

at Schwules Museum* in Berlin

and is performed by its curator Ashkan Sepashvand who was invited by
the

museum in a first attempt to

challenge the hierarchical structures constitutive for the
construction of canons. Moreover, Kirchenbauer presents her most
recent video
UNTITLED
SEQUENCE OF GAPS
(2020),
an essayistic contemplation on the affects and effects related to
visibility, invisibility, and opacity, and historical and
contemporary accounts of both tangible and intangible mechanisms of
violence. Kirchenbauer interweaves personal experiences of trauma
related memory loss or the revisiting of a witch burning ritual in
her home region with reflections on physical phenomena or knowledge
production to ultimately highlight the potentially that lies in the
gaps of memory or visibility.

Taus
Makhacheva
(*1983,
RU)
uses
the mediums video, photography, performance, and installation to
challenge traditional forms of historiography and the normativity of
culture and gender by reflecting the role of traditional heritage in
the present. Informed by her Daghestani-Russian origins, Makhacheva’s
work pays particular attention to the structures of Caucasian society
and the politics of collective memory while functioning as mediator
of the complex cultural history of Dagestan—a culture torn between
modernizing and Westernizing tendencies, remnants of Soviet
modernity, Islamic models and local indigenous traditions. In the
context of this exhibition, Makhacheva presents the installation
Selection
of works from
Dagestan
Museum of Fine Arts named after P.S. Gamzatova, Makhachkala

(2015). Touching upon issues of selection processes, ownership,
preservation, censorship and representation, the installation
consists of 68 paintings and works on paper selected from the
Dagestan Museum of Fine Arts named after P.S. Gamzatova. Presented
both on the walls of the exhibition space and stored inside a storage
frame, the reproductions of these collection pieces—selected in an
attempt to construct a “canon” of Daghestani art history of the
20th century—are now liberated of their traditional national museum
context and are transmuted into a mobile museum, introduced into
different settings and contexts whenever exhibited.

Anna
Molska’s

(*1983, PL) semi-documentary video
The
Mourners

(2010) examines the social construction of communities through local
traditions and folklore and confronts them with the institutionalized
art world. Filmed in the Orangery of the Centre of Polish Sculpture
in Orońsko, the video features seven elderly women and members of
the folk choir “Jarzębina” from Kocudza, a village in the Zamość
region of Poland. As professional mourners, these women perform songs
at funerals that have been passed on over generations since the 12th
century. Taken out of their familiar environment and dressed in beige
winter anoraks in contrast to their traditional costumes, the women
spend their time in the empty exhibition space by engaging in
ordinary chatter, jokes and conversations about tradition, encounters
with the devil, sickness and the nature of life and death, and
introduce a broad repertoire of traditional Polish songs that mark
different festivities and customs. Here, the women’s voices conjure
a century-long tradition that evolves into a lament for long-gone
times and people and, perhaps, their very own exclusion of the
modernist project itself.

Raúl
de Nieves
(*1983,
MX) is a multi-media artist, performer and musician whose works
encompasses decadent and ornate sculptures, lavishly decorated
installations, painting and multimedia performances. His aesthetic
and material choices often include traditional Mexican color
combinations, the handicrafts of sewing, crocheting, knitting and
beading, references to indigenous, spiritual and cosmological rituals
and symbolism as well as the integration of cheap, found or donated
materials paired with the aesthetics of DYI production. For this
exhibition, de Nieves was commissioned to produce the site-specific
installation
The
Stories of the past rejoice through Children’s

skies
(2020),
four multicolored faux-glass stain windows that directly reference
the stained-glass window in the Rapperswil castle (produced by Edy
Renggli, 1922–1997). Situated at the entrance of the Polenmuseum,
the window image illustrates the founding myth of the city of
Rapperswil and its castle. The legend revolves around the mercy of a
count’s wife who saved a doe and her fawns from being hunted down,
and the count’s founding of the city as sign of adoration of his
wife’s act of compassion. De Nieves’s seemingly ecclesiastical
faux window fronts amalgamate his contemporary reading of this myth
with the negotiation of both the instability of the dominant order
and a concern around the vulnerability of traditional forms of
storytelling. Laboriously handcrafted and gradually shifting away
from the artist’s formal trajectory of geometrical orders in favor
of a more whimsical style and airiness in quality, the windows
emphasize the intuitive, forms of cyclic orientation in and to time
and space, and a deconditioning towards progress-centrist capitalist
demands.

Karol
Radziszewski

(*1980, PL) presents one of his most recent paintings, a portrait of
the physicist, queer activist and former member and eminent figure of
the Solidarity movement
Ewa
Hołuszko

(2020) that echoes the artist’s current exhibition
Poczet
in the adjacent Kunst(Zeug)Haus in Rapperswil. The artist’s
employment of the classical genre of portraiture functions as a means
to paraphrase and inquire the aesthetics of a variety of historic
artistic movements and practices, thus adding another perspective to
common visual codes and historical narratives. While
Hołuszko’s
large-scale
portrait at Kunst(Zeug)Haus serves as a powerful declaration of a
queer historiography and future, her portrait presented in the
context of this exhibition is reminiscent to Radziszewski’s portrait
gallery “Poczet”—an attempt to establish a genealogy of
queer ancestry through the means of portraiture.

Bea
Schlingelhoff’s

(*1971, DE) multidisciplinary practice engages with the traditions of
institutional critique, conceptual art and feminist theory. Informed
by the artist’s striving for structural changes and alternative
historiographies, Schlingelhoff’s interest in revealing the
political, economic and social conditions and power relations at work
within (art) institutions lies at the core of her practice. For
Eat
the Museum
,
the artist was commissioned to develop a new typographical font, now
dedicated to the Polish feminist activist and writer Irena Krzywicka
who, in the 1960s, briefly lived in Switzerland before moving to
France. The typeface is available for download during the runtime of
the exhibition. Schlingelhoff’s endeavors to acknowledge female
figures that have been excluded from history and its institutional
frameworks and engrain them into a public memory, further unfolds in
the
soft
mime win
,
an artist-authored written agreement advocating for anti-misogynist
and anti-violent structures within art institutions. The contracting
parties—usually the exhibition curators or the directors of the
respective institution—are free to sign the agreement or propose
amendments to be included in the document.

Mikołaj
Sobczak’s

(*1989, PL) paintings, ceramics and performances simultaneously
examine political and social-historical events, recent global
socio-political developments, and their visual repertoires. Inspired
by and reinterpreting existing historical paintings and graphics
found in history books, Sobczak’s work calls into question the
politics of memory. In this exhibition, the artist presents two of
his ceramics, displayed with white lilies and staged on the wooden
library shelve of the Polish painter, set designer and theater
director Tadeuz Kantor. Using the techniques of Delft Blue Pottery
that was brought to Poland by the Olędrzy (Mennonite settlers from
Münster that have been persecuted for their revolutionary views and
religious beliefs) in the 16th century, the ceramic vases oppose
historical images of tortured women accused as witches, and
homosexual couples taken from medieval illustrations with portraits
of marginalized historical and contemporary personalities, many of
them crucial figures for the emancipation of the LGBTQ+ community in
Poland and elsewhere: the Russian journalist and activist
Yelena
Grigorieva, the Turkish transactivist Hande Kader, the gay liberation
and transgender activist Silvia Rivera, as well as Polish activist
Ewa
Hołuszko.

Ramaya
Tegegne’s

(*1985, CH) multidisciplinary practice functions as a means to
challenge predominant mechanisms of art by observing its economy,
circulation, historicization as well as the power structures that
constitute the field of art. By quoting, borrowing, and reworking the
practices of other artists, Tegegne’s work reflects on the various
social, historical, and economic contexts that make and unmake the
dominant narratives of art history and its current model. The
sculptural work
Genzken/Wilson
(2019) references Isa Genzken’s body of work around Nefertiti
(since 2010) as well as the work
Grey
Area (Brown version)

(1993) by American artist Fred Wilson, first presented in the seminal
1993 Whitney Biennial—the first biennial of its kind to be
emblematically diverse in regard to both the participating artists as
well as the contents of the exhibition. Tegegne’s work readjusts
and situates the image of the Egyptian queen Nefertiti between
notions of cultural appropriation, restitution, economic politics
within art institutions and black feminist interests. A symbol of
pride and empowerment for Afro-descendant communities and black
women, the sculpture of Nefertiti is exhibited in the Ägyptisches
Museum Berlin and “belongs” to the collection of the Stiftung
Preußischer Kulturbesitz. The subject of ongoing discussions between
Germany and Egypt for almost a century, the bust of Nefertiti
moreover raises the central question of cultural spoliation in favor
of imperialism and colonisation, and becomes emblematic in the
context of current debates of restitution and provenance research.

Viron
Erol Vert
(*1975,
DE) is a transdisciplinary artist who creates objects, environments,
and situations that explore the transmuting cultural heritages and
migration of traditions, its linguistics, symbols, and myths, the
affective tensions between dominant and subjugated visual und
cultural tropes, as much as the fragility of masculinity.
Predominantly working context-specific and research-based, Vert
investigates the traces of visual memories and material cultures of
people, affiliated groups and cities, as much as his autobiographical
background of belonging to an Istanbulian family lineage with further
Greek-orthodox, Arab, Levantine, Armenian, and Sephardic roots. For
this exhibition, Vert presents two sculptural works of drastically
differing scale: The bronze sculpture
Ykhalili
Baydatak! / Long live your balls!
(2017),
refers to the little known 1964 expulsion of Istanbul Greeks under
the slogan “20 dollar–20 kilo”, a cruel and torturing decree
that, in a lottery style selection process via the daily morning
newspaper, forced non-citizens of Greek descent to leave Turkey
within 48 hours with an allowance of 20 dollars and 20 kilos of
luggage. By bronze casting his own feet as prostheses-like ashtrays,
the artist pays tribute to his grandfather who was both effected by
this eviction and tortured by Turkish secret service by putting out
cigarettes on his face as means of interrogation. The castings
include the artist’s tattoos on each of the feet, the Greek words
zōē
on the left and
thanatos
on
the right foot: Life and Death. The second sculpture is titled
Pearls’
Passage
(2017)
and consists of a handmade double head leather sling combined with
traditional Anatolian handwoven carpets and alludes to the
entanglements between sexual and cultural domination and subjugation
as well as the longstanding traditions of fetishization and
objectification of the Orient within and beyond exhibition spaces and
cultural institutions.

Evelyn
Taocheng Wang
(*1981,
CN) works in performance, video, and traditional Chinese and
contemporary styles of drawing and painting. Through delicate
aesthetic maneuvers, Wang poetically confronts experiences of
globalized conditions, often signaled through autobiographical
details. In her video series
Reflection
Paper
(2013–14),
the artist reflects upon the work of the Chinese modernist author
Eileen Chang (1920–1995) and a selection of her fictional writings
made during her time spent in isolation in Japanese-occupied Shanghai
during the 1930s. Shot in a deliberately off-the-cuff style,
the
here presented
No.
4
intercuts
images from Wang’s studio with those of a multichannel video piece
by an unidentified author that depicts blossoming flowers, as well as
with footage shot by the artist in Amsterdam’s Artis Royal Zoo, the
oldest zoo in the Netherlands (established 1838) and a testament to
Dutch imperialism. Superimposed onto the grainy and
at
times out-of-focus imagery are three lines of English-language titles
that appear onscreen simultaneously. Scrolling along the bottom of
the screen are direct quotes from a telephone conversation between
the artist and a friend about Wang’s experience living as a Chinese
immigrant
in
the Netherlands, and her attempts to navigate the prohibitively
bewildering and expensive bureaucracy in order to obtain an artist’s
visa. The wistful middle line borrows seemingly unrelated
observations and expressionistic memories from Chang’s essay
On
Music

(1945). The top line translates an inner monologue that Wang
synchronously speaks aloud as an unbridled stream of consciousness.
Interweaving various histories of economic, cultural, and ecological
domination with personal experiences, the texts rhythmically oppose
the brutal weight of post-colonialism and (hetero-)normativity.

Emma
Wolukau-Wanambwa
(*1976,
UK) is a multidisciplinary artist and scholar whose practice examines
the
visible
and invisible, materialized and ephemeral traces and representations
of colonialism within and beyond the institutions of art and
knowledge production. Belonging to the body of work
Uganda
in Black and White
(since
2010), the artist presents a newly produced iteration of her light
box installation
Paradise
(2012) that combines landscape photographs of contemporary Ugandan
savannah with a poetic yet drastic textual account of her findings.
Wolukau-Wanambwa retraces the little-known history
of
the settlement of thousands of Polish people from Siberia to the
Uganda
Protectorate under the British rule
(amongst
other East African countries including Kenya, Tanganyika, and
Northern Rhodesia) and of the refugee camps that existed from 1941 to
1952 in Koja near Lake Victoria. Entirely dismantled after its
closing by the British and neither included into any major Polish nor
Ugandan historical account,
Wolukau-Wanambwa’s
work revolves around the question of how to articulate memory in the
absence of both objects and architectures.
Through
means of archival research and oral interviews

the artist reconstructed a narrative that entangles the erasure of
history with the violent techniques of dehumanization, and of the
relation between sexuality and desire, miscegenation and eugenics
within the colonial and patriarchal order.