100109: Political on second sight

KW Institute for Contemporary Art: Political/Minimal Political on second sight The „Monochrome“ in Yves Klein’s patented International Klein-Blue lasts 74 minutes and demands a new kind of reflection on art. Derek Jarman shows nothing but the colour blue in his film, with the exception of occasional white dust flashes that creep into the 35mm film. In contrast to the visual monotony different speakers take turns reading excerpts from diaries written by the artist, diagnosed as HIV positive. The diary entries describe his decrepit state of health and his anxieties; they list the potential side effects of his medication, and talk about the situation of homosexuals and HIV patients as well as a reflection on the hubris of charity events. Jarman’s work is a good example for most of the works shown in this exhibit curated by Klaus Biesenbach at the Berliner Kunst Werke, in which minimalistic form is combined with an explanatory text, through which the otherwise not obvious political content or reference is disclosed. This is how the artists differ from the minimalists of the 1960s, who accept nothing narrative, no outside world, only the work itself and the impact it has on the observer. On the one hand this type of approach criticizes the reduced forms of Minimalism and their postulated autonomy: already in 1963 – 65 Hans Haake underlines that his “Condensation Cube” is doubtlessly closely related to its surroundings. Some works could even be seen as an ironic allusion. Francis Alys seemingly wants to bury this art movement, which is based on form and material, with his Sisyphean task showing a slowly melting minimalistic ice cube. On the other hand, artists draw on this minimal form when they, like Jarman, don’t consider their topics presentable in a figurative form. Alfredo Jaar, for example, regarded his photos of the genocide in Ruanda as too weak, and therefore turned the front of the light boxes - in which they should have been presented - towards the wall. Now only the light escaping from the rim of these boxes reminds of the original negated function, and thereby of the non-presentable. However, the work loses its power on account of the bright walls of the Kunst Werke, their mythical light-effect is unfortunately swallowed. In general, the question raised through the exhibition is, if each individual work would be as effective without an explanation, if it comes across as not really aesthetically innovative. The works must face the danger of being considered as visually irrelevant after 40 years of accustoming to Minimalism. Conny Becker KW Institute for Contemporary Art 10117 Berlin, Auguststrasse 69, until 25.0109 www.kw-berlin.de

KW Institute for Contemporary Art
10117 Berlin, Auguststraße 69
Tel: 0049 (0) 30. 24 34 59 0, Fax: 0049 (0) 30. 24 34 59 99
Email: info@kw-berlin.de
Öffnungszeiten: Mi-Mo 11-19, Do 11-21 h

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