In co-operation with Bas Heijne.
Featuring work by: Fischli/Weiss; Michel Houellebecq; Krijn de Koning; Germaine Kruip; Sharon Lockhart; Rita McBride; Janice McNab & Wolfgang Tillmans.
“_It is that unreal reality from which art is meant to help us escape; not by striving to imitate realism, which is a phenomenon already omnipresent in our visual and information culture, but by bringing our consciousness, so relentlessly dulled, in touch with reality again._”
Quote from De werkelijkheid (Reality) by Bas Heine.
Bas Heijne’s essays define a new urgency for art: “In response to the artifice of the mass media, contemporary artists are burdened with the task of restoring the broken links between consciousness and the world.” Curated in collaboration with Heijne, De Vleeshal staged Reality: an exhibition of work by artists who teach the public to look anew. No short-lived intensifications or obscure fantasies, but precise sublimations and critical examinations of reality. Bas Heijne’s collection of essays, also titled De werkelijkheid (Reality), was presented at the exhibition’s opening.
Krijn de Koning created a new sculpture specifically for Reality. As do De Koning’s other works, this architectural composition compels us to look anew. A chaotic cluster of walls and passage ways constituted the middle section of his installation, through which visitors passed time and time again in order to reach each next part of the exhibition. An autonomous work, De Koning’s sculpture also carried the contributions by the other artists featured in Reality.
Wolfgang Tillmans perceives the simple beauty of everyday life with a lyrical eye. His airily composed still lifes and casual scenes are pervaded by a desire to experience reality as intensely and un-inhibitedly as possible. Germaine Kruip’s work demonstrates the reverse. She collects photographs from newspapers and magazines that remind her of paintings, or of other images. Kruip displayed these in pairs, with for example an image of a seventeenth century painting on one side and a magazine photograph on the other, thus revealing how photographers (and sometimes models) tend to cultivate beauty and to make use of acquired compositions – either consciously or unconsciously.
Rita McBride’s Mini Managers are sculptural abstractions of household control panels for, for instance, central heating, intercoms and alarms. By slightly ab-stracting their shapes and by stripping them of their purpose, McBride awakens us to their presence and to their potential beauty.
Fischli/Weiss unreservedly give proof of the sublime qualities of mundane objects. They gave new meaning to concrete sheeting by exposing it to the elements; moss and water residue transforming the rough surfaces into Betonlandschaften. Sharon Lockhart’s film No is a cinematic landscape. From a fixed camera position Lockhart filmed a Japanese farmer and his wife slowly and systematical-ly covering a newly ploughed field with straw. Their simple act and Lockhart’s unaffected portrayal of the scene derive beauty from the careful attention paid by the artist.
Janice McNab illustrates our urge to find refuge from the constant stream of images bombarding us by taking refuge in our minds. Her Floating Tanks have been specifically designed to provide such relief. However, McNab’s manner of painting the tanks shows these exclusive life style products to be every bit as banal as the reality they were meant to shut out. Michel Houellebecq also grapples with the banality of modern life. Yet his photographs of Lanzarote, published in a single volume with his same titled novella, reveal him as having lost himself in the beauty of the island’s volcanic landscape.
Reality was curated by Tanja Elstgeest and Rutger Wolfson in collaboration with Bas Heijne.
Special thanks to: Hans Kemna, Amsterdam; Museum Boijmans van Beuningen, Rotterdam; Barbara Gladstone Gallery, New York.