Thomas Demand: Mirrors without memory / ghost work: duration, difficulty and effect – announcements


The Garage Museum of Contemporary Art is proud to present two fall exhibitions, both of which opened on September 10th and will be on view through January 30th, 2022.

Thomas demand. Mirror without memory

Mirror without memory is Thomas Demand’s first exhibition in Russia. It consists of deliberately fragmented sections that are spread over two floors of the museum. The concept photographer is best known for his life-size cardboard reproductions of symbolically charged scenes – often from current events – which he constructs, photographs and destroys. The philosopher Jacques Rancière described Demand’s work as a “mirror” that reflects emptiness, hence the title of the exhibition.

Demand’s sets exclude human figures or visible actions and live in their photographs as autonomous units that combine to form formal or content-related syncopations. To this end, a number of the works in Mirror without memory are accompanied by comments intended to trigger mnemonic mechanisms in response to certain events and images.

The core of the exhibition spans two decades of Demand’s practice, from 1991 to 2021. The latest work is a series about Edward Snowden that the artist created specifically for his display in the garage. Corresponding, Mirror without memory is a complex systemic reflection of reality, unreliable memory, and vague consensus about events of one kind or another.

The exhibition also shows works by the filmmaker, writer and ideologist of the New German Cinema Alexander Kluge, which are shown on three hanging sculptures. These floating film pavilions, which were designed by Demand and have a distant reference to constructivist design, serve as a vessel for Kluge’s video sequels and interpretations of three Demand works shown in the exhibition: Repository, Five globes, and Ruin / ruin.

The ground floor focuses on the concept of models and modeling. By interacting with architects (the Japanese firm SANAA and the British-Swiss firm Caruso St John Architects), the artist presents a comprehensive study of the model: its life cycles, internal dynamics, the regimes of its synchronization with physical reality.

Spiritual work: duration, difficulty and effect
In memory of Nikita Alexeev (1953-2021)

Artists: Chingiz Aidarov, Vyacheslav Akhunov, Yuri Albert, Nikita Alexeev, Luchezar Boyadjiev, André Cadere, Eugenijus Antanas Cukermanas, Gino De Dominicis, Duan Yingmei, He Yunchang, Hamlet Hovsepian, Tehching Hsieh, Vital On Kawara, Koh Nguang, Wie Elena Kovylina, Andrey Kuzkin, Tetsuya Noda, Roman Opałka, Nam June Paik, Ghenadie Popescu, RASSIM®, Yoshiko Shimada, Mihai Stanescu, Fiete Stolte, Sun Furong, Melati Suryodarmo, Vyacheslav-Yura Useinov, Alexander Yulikov, Zhou Bin

The exhibition Ghost labor brings together thirty artists of different generations from Southeast and Central Asia, the Caucasus, and Eastern and Western Europe, whose works examine the most important and complex substance known to man – time and its duration. Through the artist’s body or the act of creating and displaying art, these works explore the possible forms of expressing time through art. There are attempts to archive time, slowing it down or speeding it up, expanding it, repeating it and repeating it to the point of implosion, which calls into question our perception of continuity and the progressive flow of time.

The English title of the exhibition, Ghost labor, is borrowed from the video essay of the same name by the British performance historian and curator Adrian Heathfield, in which he analyzes a specific type of artistic work based on overcoming forces such as time or natural phenomena. In examining time through the dimension of the ghost, the exhibition explores the many different aspects of what duration can mean. Yet Ghost labor, how Artist Melati Suryodarmo has pointed out that it’s not about the mind itself (at least not in the religious and transcendental meaning of the word), but rather the underlying principle behind the making and performing of some works, which is an enduring one practice of the ghost.

Such a sustainable practice of the mind can be seen without exception in the “body”, which becomes one of the central objects of representation in the exhibition. This is reflected in the narrative, which ranges from persistence and radical body art to conceptual and physical practices, creating a variety of sometimes non-linear connections between different art traditions and specific works. However, the exhibition design encourages the viewer to experience each work for himself, in an intimate space that is not unlike a monastery cell. In this exhibition, categories such as time, perseverance and intellectual work become tangible and reveal their strong connection to one another and show that works of art are fundamentally demanding, be it in relation to the work of the artist or the effort and attention of the viewer.

A virtual tour of both exhibitions is available as a stream in English here. Mirror without memory is curated by Katya Inozemtseva, chief curator of the garage. Ghost labor is curated by Snejana Krasteva and Andrey Misiano, both curators of Garage.

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