Art Radar has a look at some of the artists participating in Skulpture Projekt Münster 2017.
Running until 1 October 2017, Skulpture Projekt Münster sees the participation of 35 international artists. Art Radar highlights some of the works, including a few coming out of the African and Asian art scenes.
With a gestation interval of ten years Skulpture Projekt Münster (SPM) maintains a reflective pace, while other regular contemporary art events thrive on addressing urgent questions in the gritty world around them. In Münster legacy is paramount. It is the lingering traces in the town that will change citizens by gentle and constant influence that are important; the event itself is a just a pop-up that creates some new spectacle to play to invasive visitors. To put this in perspective the last time the event took place was when Benazir Bhutto was assassinated, Xi Jingping was an aspiring party secretary in Zhejiang province, Apple launched its first iPhone, and Daesh was a fledgling organisation, just six months old; significant contexts that artists, at the time, might not have perceived as being prescient.
The three curators of the Project, Britta Peters, Marianna Wagner and Co-founder Kasper König, simply say in an interview with Flash Art:
Since we are in the middle of a rapid development, it is hard to define the situation we are in now.
This is at odds with the stance of many other international art shows, such as documenta, that opened in Germany in the same week as the Projekt in early June 2017. They are attracted by the difficulty of definition and constitute themselves precisely by addressing the contemporary situation. SPK is altogether a more open and permeable experience, eschewing both pedagogical messages and EUR100 admission tickets.
Münster has a high standard of living; it is a green and pleasant place, its population appearing to live between prosperity and leisure. For 2017 the Projekt maintains the original model of staging a group of new works in places spread across the town; some of these will remain, leaving a deposit of improving public sculptures that improves the town’s landscape. In seeking out the new works, this spectacular heritage is impressive. Works such as Huang Yong Ping’s The 100 Arms of Guanyin (1997) – a quirky fusion of Marcel Duchamp’s iconic Bottle Rack (1914) with the multi-armed Buddhist deity Guanyin – or Siah Armajani’s Study Garden (1987), an ideal outdoor library, are landmarks and help you to locate the new works. These are well spread and not always obvious. For example, Mika Rottenberg’s film Cosmic Generator (2017) is screened in an unassuming Asian food market and Angst (Fear) (1989) by Ludger Gerdes is an acrylic sign presented high up on the façade of a shopping area, blending into the urban environment.
There are few works in this edition that have the permanent gravitas not of some of the remnants from previous editions, notably, Claus Oldenburg’s Pool Balls from 1977 and Jorge Pardo’s Pier from 1997. Both of these are sited in the park around a lake, the Aasee, and conform to a monumental model of public sculpture that can take knocks and graffiti with a confident nonchalance. It is, however, an absent work from past Projekts, Michael Ashers’ (Caravan) (1977 – 2007) that sets an agenda for much of the current work. Seen in retrospect, in an excellent documentary exhibition in Der Landschaftsverband Westfalen-Lippe Museum für Kunst und Kultur, Ashers’ work foreshadows the attitudes to public art that are evident in many of the new pieces.
(Caravan), originating in the first edition of the Projekt in 1977, was exactly that, a caravan stationed in different places around Münster, moving once a week. This peripatetic work was restaged over four decades in the original sites where possible. The durational force of the work lies in the way it interacts with the subtle changes in the dynamic urban scene, demonstrating that, as certain sites become inaccessible, development has ironically made them obsolete – for parking a caravan that is – suggesting that the antecedent of permanence is intermittence.
The motif of the visitor recurs several times. New York-based Japanese artist Ei Arakawa’s Harsh Citation, Harsh Pastoral, Harsh Münster (2017) is a suite of handmade LED screens, hung loosely from frames in a meadow somewhere at the far end of the Aasee. It is not easy to recognise the images, which are in fact famous paintings that have been important to the artist. These are like the faces of old friends that have been altered by time so that a fresh encounter in a strange place makes them unfamiliar, changed by circumstances.
Oscar Tuazon’s Burn the Formwork (2017) was similarly in a relatively remote location. SPM were renting bikes so that even the furthest works were only a ten-minute ride. Faintly Brutalist in appearance the work provides a useful oven for cooking or keeping warm, like a homely hearth transposed to a wasteland setting: a warm welcome for the drifter.
The form of Burn the Formwork resonates with the architecture of Marl, a new partner city accessible by coach. Here beside post war buildings, such as Alvar Aalto’s Town Hall of 1957, you find previous works from the project relocated and, in the museum, miniatures of previous proposals and projects. Where Marl was redeveloped following the devastation of World War II, Münster faithfully restored the appearance of what was there before, but it is just a veneer. Some works pick up on this duplicity.
Raised in Cameroon but born in the Central African Republic, Hervé Youmbi’s Celestial Masks (2017) are hung high in trees in a pocket of parkland. At first sight they look like plausible brightly coloured ethnic artefacts, arranged like an entranceway over the path. Some are placed further off in the trees. They look cinematic, like the setting of a ‘native’ village in a King Kong or Tarzan movie. The reference to the culture of cinema is compounded, because the faces are quotes from the mask that features in the slasher film Scream (by Kevin Williamson and Wes Craven, 1996). The suggestion of a creepy forest setting is in fact sandwiched between a children’s playground and a main road, revealing that this too is a shallow misconception.
Nigerian artist Emeka Ogboh presents a different sort of illusion by blending a soundscape based on the music of maverick composer Moondog (born Louis T. Hardin 1916 – 1999) with the din of a busy underpass, below the main railway station. Entitled Passage through Moondog, the addition of sounds that cannot be easily discerned from the ambiance is in keeping with Moondog’s own allusions to sounds heard on the street. In tandem with this, Ogboh has brewed a special beer called Quiet Storm, a “honey ale with lime tree flowers, fermented to Lagos soundscapes, honey collected in the city of Münster”.
Several works extend the parameters of what could be described as sculpture. Koki Tanaka, who represented Japan at the Venice Biennale in 2013, and also features in the show “Viva Arte Viva” in this year’s Venice edition, worked with eight diverse local people for Provisional Studies: Workshop #7 How to Live Together and Sharing the Unknown (2017). Participants engaged in ten days of workshops considering the question in the title. Their experience and their views are documented a series of films.
CAMP, an interdisciplinary studio from India represented by Shaina Anand and Ashok Sukumaran, make an intervention, Matrix (2017), at Theatre Münster exploring both its history and public access. The building, constructed in 1954-55, incorporates a remnant of the previous theatre destroyed by wartime bombs. CAMP has bridged the gap between the old and the newer building with a network of electrical cables. These incorporate interactive push buttons triggering audio visual events around the site.
Pierre Huyghe, who contributes an installation in a disused ice rink, says in an interview with ArtNews that “The museum is a place of separation, in a certain way, and I need a place of continuity.” This could be a principle for all the works dotted around the city. Where museum art often aims to take a stand, in order to show that the seemingly inevitable is only a construct of interests and power, in Münster sculpture goes with the flow of changing circumstances, refusing both containment and control.
- “Drawing in the Dark”: Indian artist Shilpa Gupta at Bielefelder Kunstverein, Germany – June 2017 – the exhibition will travel to Le Centre d’art Contemporain, La Synagoge de Delm in France where it will be on show from October 2017 to February 2018
- “2 or 3 Tigers”: Asian new media artists at Berlin’s Haus der Kulturen der Welt – May 2017 – “2 or 3 Tigers” explores the tiger as a medium in the work of 10 Asian new media artists
- “Figures in a Landscape”: British-Japanese artist Simon Fujiwara at Kunsthalle Düsseldorf – February 2017 – British-Japanese artist Simon Fujiwara turn his anthropological gaze to the languages of social media, marketing and advertising
- Hong Kong sound artist Samson Young at Kunsthalle Düsseldorf in Germany – January 2017 – “A Dark Theme Keeps me Here, I’ll Make a Broken Music” is Samson Young’s first institutional solo exhibition in Europe
- South African Gabi Ngcobo appointed curator of 10th Berlin Biennale – November 2016 – the Berlin Biennale has announced South Africa’s Gabi Ngcobo as the curator of its upcoming 10th edition in 2018
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